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Keeping An AI On The Horizon: Navigating The Implementation Of New Technologies

artificial intelligence

At Manchester University, almost three-quarters of a century ago, the first successful artificial intelligence (AI) programme was published – theoretically capable of playing a game of chess.

In the current business landscape, AI implementation often seems like a similar game of strategic moves and counter moves. No one wants to put their “queen” (business) in jeopardy, so it is essential that we play the game carefully and implement AI strategically.

But not everything can be planned out piece by piece. So, approaching the game with creativity is imperative to secure the benefits: more innovative processes, heightened productivity and engaged workforces.

Despite the advantages, fear is still impeding progress for many businesses. Leaders are grappling with questions such as “How do I keep control of my customers’ data?”, “How well can AI integrate into my existing infrastructure and processes?” and “How can I educate my staff to use AI safely?”

Many leaders are also unsure about where to begin when seeking answers to those questions – with only 21% of organisations that reported AI adoption said they had established policies governing how employees use generative AI. Additionally, a limited number are addressing common risks – with only 32% mitigating inaccuracy and 38% mitigating cybersecurity risks.

A successful, long-term AI strategy requires businesses to consider three factors: staying smart, unifying the approach and aiming to empower.

Start smart 

Given the rapid pace of AI development over the last two years, maintaining a steady sense of control, and feeling ahead of the curve can be difficult. Leveraging AI requires us to be smart about when and how we use the technology to make it work for our teams and goals.

However, many businesses have witnessed disjointed adoption across their organisation due to uncertainty about the protocols of using tools like generative AI. So, many leaders are often unaware of how their workforce is using the tech in their day-to-day work.

The first step of implementing a comprehensive AI strategy involves regaining control of this disorganisation. The aim is to embed standardised processes and engage in calculated experiments that help your business gain comprehensive knowledge of different AI tools.

With this approach, you can gain a clear understanding of where your business would most benefit from AI, and what skills and steps you need to integrate it.

When conducting experiments, it is essential to explore the advantages AI can bring to your internal processes before leveraging it externally.

For example, does your finance team need more assistance editing long contracts? Would your social media team value more support for generating and editing new content? Or could your HR team use help optimising existing workflows?

Once your internal processes are optimised, you can experiment with how to improve client engagement and experience.

Creating a custom AI tool from scratch is not always necessary, especially when the resources are already available. The key is ensuring flexibility – such as avoiding dependence on specific AI models so you can always use the best and most mature algorithms on the market. Being free to switch whenever you need gives your teams the best arena to do what they do best.

Unify the approach 

As with any area of business transformation, you cannot implement AI without the backing of your people – especially senior leaders. Everyone needs to be on the same page about the added value for teams after investment, the technical approach, and the expected results of collective commitment. This unified collaboration is essential for ensuring that AI strategies become more than just exciting conversations.

For AI adoption to have the most valuable impact on society, public services, and the labour force, we need a collective shift in mindset to embrace the courage and determination needed to make it work.

The demand for a collective approach extends to safety too. Leaders need to encourage proper AI engagement, with an open mindset to learn and collect the information required to ensure AI is adopted in the most innovative and secure ways.

Aim to empower 

This unified approach aligns with one of the central goals of AI implementation: empowerment. Amid concerns about job displacement and obsolescence, leaders need to actively communicate with their teams about plans to utilise AI for enhancing productivity and job fulfilment.

AI implementation should not just be about producing client deliverables more quickly – it should prioritise giving teams more time to collaborate on challenging tasks, explore creative ideas and reduce time spent on tedious, repetitive tasks. For example, Salesforce found that generative AI could give marketing professionals as much as 5 hours back per week – saving time for more meaningful work and helping to prevent stress and burnout.

It won’t be perfect 

Your journey to implement AI will not be perfect, but the important thing is to start now and start right. My advice is not to worry about it being perfect. Just focus on working smart and collaborating with the goal of empowerment. If you can do this, you will undoubtedly pave the way for AI success.

Richard Davies, UK Managing Director, Netcompany.

PM Today Team
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