Last week I attended AI World in Boston, where thousands of business and tech executives gathered at the Seaport World Trade Center to explore the current state of artificial intelligence. From debating the very definition of the term to presenting countless use cases and applications for how AI is transforming the ways we live and work – the conference panels and presentations covered everything imaginable, and a great deal more.
Speakers shared incredible insights about how AI is being used to leverage vast amounts of data to help businesses evolve in ways we couldn’t have imagined even five years ago. For example, we learned how machine learning is being used in cybersecurity to create what’s being called an immune system for the enterprise. We saw how natural language processing and digital assistants can improve the employee experience. And we discovered how AI technologies can – and ultimately will – re-invent healthcare and improve patient outcomes. The expo showcased some very impressive entrepreneurs who have leveraged AI technology to imagine and bring to market new, game-changing products (imagine never having to take meeting minutes again!).
One thing is certain, AI is here and there is no going back. The next generation of customers will expect AI features to not only exist across their devices, but also to be woven into the customer experience with their favorite companies.
I’ll spend the holidays this year doing a deeper dive into all the information I collected at the conference, and I’m excited to share more posts exploring specific topics in 2019. But what I can tell you immediately is this: whether AI is a priority for your organization or not, if you want to remain competitive, you need to consider a few key angles now.
Get your data strategy in order. Never has the saying, “Garbage in, garbage out,” been truer. AI may be many things, but above all else, it is a data-driven innovation. Companies with large amounts of well-organized data will be best positioned in the age of AI.
Make continuous improvement processes part of your organizational DNA. Artificial intelligence necessitates ongoing feedback in order to learn. No scenario involving AI can be a set-it-and-forget-it implementation – like any effective, improvable process, there has to be a working feedback loop. The sooner you establish on-going feedback processes, the better positioned you will be to take advantage of AI opportunities.
Embrace innovative connections. To move at the speed of AI, organizations are going to have to become experts in building relationships with new strategic partners. For example, many large organizations are partnering with academia and start-ups to accelerate their own progress.
AI is not magic. And no matter how dazzling the possibilities, it does not apply to every problem. Rather than bankrupting your organization with cool but unnecessary solutions, apply AI to the problems that have the strongest opportunity for success – those that are virtually impossible to solve without it.
Develop thoughtful decision-making. Marvel said it best – “With great power comes great responsibility.” Embracing AI solutions will require us – even at the day-to-day business level – to evaluate recommendations made by machines. That means knowing when to trust and when to question machine-delivered recommendations. At least for the foreseeable future, the “human in the loop” will have a tremendous moral responsibility. They will need a level of understanding of how machines behave given certain situations, and organizations will have to think critically about when, how and why AI is being used. Inputting data, building algorithms and applying recommended outcomes will all need to be done with care.
The bottom line
Integrating AI into the corporate fabric is about following your data where it leads, being willing to experiment and learning from failures. It requires dedicated planning and the continuous application of measured, critical thought. And more than ever, it will mean partnering to leverage the collective intelligence of academia, enterprise, innovators and government.
It’s not the solution to all our problems. But can you afford a wait-and-see attitude? The reality is, AI is an innovation you cannot ignore. Doing so will only accelerate a backward trajectory and cost you your competitive edge.
How cShell can help
The most proactive step you can take is to evaluate the impact of AI on your market and gauge its potential for disrupting your business. Our consultants can help. With analysis rooted in MIT's views of AI implications on business strategy, cShell is at the forefront of helping organizations bring AI solutions to real-world business challenges. Engage us to help your leadership team evaluate the impact of artificial intelligence on your business and identify potential AI use cases to support your evolving business.
Contact us today for a free consultation.