Your Guide to Navigating to an AI Future
As Artificial Intelligence becomes more prevalent, the struggle for talent and the competition for value generation is becoming increasingly evident in the race for adoption. Business models are being disrupted, new corporate competences are being required, and organisations’ competitive positioning has been shifting. Your business will no doubt be affected in multiple ways, irrespective of where your organisation sits on the digital transformation continuum. Naturally, the question arises, how can we prepare for that transition with minimal risk and to our greatest advantage?
With this being said, now is the time to consider how you can successfully navigate to an AI future. To help you prepare, we have put together a complete guide which will enable your business to thrive amongst so much change.
1. Familiarise Yourself
AI technology is significant because it enables software to carry out human functions such as understanding, reasoning, planning, communication, and perception, in an effective, efficient, and affordable way. Every industry can benefit from applying AI to provide new opportunities and efficiencies. However, if you’re not familiar with artificial intelligence, you will certainly fall behind as you will not be in a position to utilise the benefits that come from understanding AI capabilities. It is key that you take the time both personally and professionally to understand the capabilities of AI. Only once you become familiar with this new approach, can you start recognising potential new solutions. There are lots of online courses, tutorials, videos and workshops that you can use to learn about AI. Examples include ‘Learn with Google AI‘, ‘Machine Learning‘ from Stanford, or AI courses from Udemy.
2. Start Small
One of the biggest mistakes a business can make is to view AI as a plug-and-play technology with instant returns. If your initial goal is to build an all-singing, all-dancing ‘bot’ that solves all your business problems, then you will not succeed! The reality is, the bigger the project, the greater the risk of failure. This is due to the fact that there are many more factors to take into account with a larger project and ultimately, the more uncertainties there will be. Therefore, it is a good idea to start with the simplest project that still adds value after reducing the project scope. By reducing the original project concept to its most basic objective, a project can have a clear scope, be readily conveyed, and prevent investments that don’t bring value.
The key is to start small, learn from your first project, and ensure you successfully build something. This will set the foundations to tackle larger problems in future projects. One reason why it is best to start small is that in most organisations that aren’t born digital, traditional ideas and working practices run contrary to those required for AI. Hence, aligning a company’s culture, structure and methods to support the widespread adoption of AI can take time, and rushing the process won’t benefit anyone.
3. Identify Key Areas
Like the majority of other business investments, AI should have clear objectives. You should ask yourself: What specifically do I need AI to perform to get the best return? Then, when it comes to planning your AI roadmap, you will be in a better position to prioritise areas within your business that stand to benefit the most. A good starting point is to think about the key pain points or bottlenecks within your business. Essentially, your organisation should have in mind particular use cases where artificial intelligence may help the business solve problems or offer tangible benefits. Alternatively, explore whether there is an opportunity to integrate AI into existing products and services to improve the experience of your customers. Do this as a gradual process and along the way, ensure you are measuring the changes so it can be clearly evaluated for ROI.
4. Prepare Your Data
While your business may not be quite ready to start building AI applications, you should at the very least be thinking about how your data will be used to fuel smart solutions in the future. Artificial intelligence thrives on data … lots of data! It specifically utilises “big data,” which is increasingly unstructured and frequently in real-time. The accuracy of the algorithms and, ultimately, the effectiveness and maintainability of the AI solution, are directly correlated with the quality of the data. Therefore, data quality is vital at every step of AI adoption and a huge factor when creating an AI solution.
Start with the process of ensuring that you are capturing and storing data for core processes. If historical data is poor quality, then it may need to be cleansed. This may include updating incomplete data elements, removing duplicate records, consolidating disparate data sources and setting up data policies. After all, any AI or machine learning programme will only be as good as the data it is fed.
5. Future Proof
Even though you are likely to start small, it is necessary to choose an AI solution that can grow your business. It is vital to ensure that you invest in an AI platform that is affordable, flexible, scalable and can adapt to your specific needs (both now and in the future). This means choosing an agile platform that is API-driven, cloud-based and constructed using contemporary technologies to maximise the value of the data and generate actionable insights, enabling organisations to accelerate decision-making at scale and automate procedures.
One way you can future-proof your business in this regard is by establishing an overarching AI strategy, which successfully connects all divisions with a simplified tech infrastructure. Organisations must transition away from tactical and opportunistic AI decision-making and adopt a more strategic perspective. Once you have done this, make sure everyone in each department grasps those interdependencies while maintaining a consistent communication loop. This will allow for more innovative ideas.
6. Address Concerns
Artificial Intelligence is revolutionising the employee experience and enriching our workplaces. For this very reason, employees are likely to fear that the implementation of AI will lead to the loss of their jobs. Within an organisation, it is important for everyone to feel valued and secure. How can you navigate to an AI future when facing this potential concern? Although it may sound inconsequential, simply listening to employees’ concerns and doing what you can to address those can make a huge difference. Take the time to educate them too. Invite employees to regular discussions to explore AI’s broader impact, publicise the ways it will improve their work-life, and provide extra training if job roles change.
Yes, over the past decade, many of us have heard about the significant benefit that artificial intelligence will bring to most industries. This technology is rapidly advancing and has evolved in ways that very few business owners could have predicted. If you are not prepared to adopt AI then it is likely that your business will be left behind. That’s why we think you need to consider whether you are ready to navigate to an AI future?