3 2 1 AI …Getting your organisation ready for Artificial Intelligence

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When was the last time you saw an athlete stop mid-race to munch fast food or sip cola? It made me think – how do they get from cruising a couch, like you and me, to competing on track or road. Athletes are fine-tuned engines. They eat well, exercise religiously, building strong mental fitness that is 100% focussed on a solid winning strategy. It’s more than sport – it’s physical and mental mindset.

More nuts and bolts than lightning bolts

Enterprises that seize the possibilities in Artificial Intelligence need to look at the nuts and bolts of their organisation, to examine the opportunity and to focus on a solid strategy. Success doesn’t mean that you have to wear a headband do a ‘lightning bolt’ pose like Usain Bolt! It’s far easier and less painful with the right approach and the right strategy.

AI could contribute $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030. (PWC)

Seize the opportunity

Most enterprises that have adopted AI have seen an increase in income (McKinsey). According to PWC, AI could contribute $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030. (PWC) The number of enterprises using AI in business grew by 270% between 2015 and 2019. (Gartner). But, despite this, there are many companies yet to start their journey with a workout plan or an AI strategy.

The number of enterprises using AI in business grew by 270% between 2015 and 2019. (Gartner)

AI workout plan – Research

The foundation to any AI success is good solid research, especially the use of AI and how it could benefit your own organisation. The technology can seem daunting, with over 15 cutting-edge AI scientific papers published daily (AI index). Don’t let this deter you. AI technology is evolving at breakneck speeds anyway. Jump in, take advice to choose either a turn-key solution or bespoke build that adds value to your own IP (Intellectual property).

Analytics or AI?

Business analytics are said to be like looking in the rear view mirror of your business, yet helping extract key insights. Commercial AI offers this with an added level of ‘intelligence’. Often made of a number of different technologies, it is completely autonomous, with the ability to make assumptions, test and learn from a wider dataset. [Forbes] The key is to find the level of business insight that is right for you and then work out the probability of return.

Insights could be:

  • Increased sales
  • Increased productivity
  • Increased opportunity
  • Attracting more customers
  • Attracting more sales per customer
  • Lower overheads
  • Reduced bottlenecks
  • Etc

Success in AI is choosing the best projects to give you the maximum benefits possible. As Andrew Ing (Google, Deep mind, landing Ai) would say, start with a small project first, something technically feasible – a quick win in order to build momentum for your team.

AI workout plan – Direct usage case

What if you can’t choose with any confidence or see the benefits? Don’t despair. Simply focus on your issues or circumstances. Start with an actual problem or need and work out an approach from there. For example:

  • A company needed to increase sales with AI compound selling – Customers browse a website and enquire about a product on the online chat bot. The AI issues a discount based on buying history data, browsing history data and interest in discounts. The sale is increased as the incentive was targeted, relevant and timely.
  • A company needed to reduce waste from fresh produce. AI was used to predict buying patterns, combined with weather details, logistics, giving better buying predictions and less wastage.

By working from a particular usage problem, a direct application can be found.

AI workout plan – Resources

It’s no use trying to hammer in a screw. The right tools or resources allow you to solve issues quickly without having a sudden tyre-screeching and costly stop. Key things to check are:

  • Support – Check if C-suite (Company board of directors) is 100% behind your idea, your plan and that the funding is in place. Also, check if everyone in the team is aware of AI and the benefits it will bring.
  • Skills and training – Check to see if you want to produce the AI in-house, externally or a hybrid. See if anyone needs training to make the process easier.
  • Technology – Check to see if you have the tech ready to handle the data capture, storage, processing, insights and integration.

Having the right resources at your disposal, allows your team to have the fullest confidence in the project and a better better chance for success.

AI workout plan – Setup your monitoring. ROI and KPI’s

How do you know if you getting the best value for your business? The key is to define a clear ROI (Return On Investment) with measurable KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) along the way. ROI is calculated (profit – cost) / cost. It a great way to measure clear results against clear objectives. KPI’s are the spotlight on measuring progress at key milestones. Ie sales numbers, hit rates on a website etc. Use these to guide and measure a project through to completion. For a deeper look at ROI for your use case, have a look at Daniel Faggella’s article.

AI workout plan – Focus on data

The most successful businesses are putting data centrally at the heart of their organisation. Data is said to be the life blood of most digital businesses. Data can help a business gauge progress, spot opportunity and grow quickly in a more competitive world. However, it said that 42% of companies don’t assess or measure their data governance (Bruno Aziza – Google from Gartner ) Having a data awareness culture can help focus on what is valuable to your enterprise. Data governance is a belt and braces approach to understanding the importance of controlling the flow of data through your organisation. A good data governance plan will give confidence in managing data from capture through management, integrity, security and value extraction.

There is a growing movement for data-centric AI (Andrew Ng). This is where you concentrate on getting the right quality of data. Evidence shows that you can have less data, but if the data is good, it will give you better insights. With better data, the AI programmers will be able to do a lot more with far less.

As indicated in Bernard Marr’s book (Intelligence revolution), ethics and integrity are also very important. Get these right and you won’t be caught out in future years as legislation roles out.

AI workout plan – In-house or external?

Once you have established the framework of what you are going to do, the next key decision is whether to develop your AI in-house or externally. 5 years ago, most companies took on data scientists and developed internal systems tailored to their needs. Today, there is an army of developers and companies that can help you hit the ground running quickly. There are many pros and cons to suit your situation. Many companies opt to start with external development, then build a team and eventually take over the reigns at a later stage.

AI workout plan – Planning is everything

If you have covered these steps, you should be well on the way. But, before you do, lay everything down in a strategy and roadmap document. This critical document ensures that everyone understands both journey and destination, and sings from the same hymn sheet. Make sure everyone adopts this document and uses it as the map for the project. It is much more likely to succeed if everyone understands and is behind it by choice, referring to it at every stage, reducing any potential project drift. Sadly, project drift leads too many projects astray or into abandonment. Project planning and focus is key to success.

AI fitness matters

You are all set. With a clear idea, resources in place, a solid plan and everyone onboard your project is ready to go. Being AI fit does matter and will make the difference. By doing the legwork, you learn and establish a successful framework for your organisation. It improves the probability that your project will succeed and adds value to your company in the longer term. It does not mean that you have to jump out of the blocks straight way. It simply means carefully choosing the right path to success and learning how AI can add value to your business from the start. If done correctly, you will develop a solid framework for future AI projects.

Who knows? 

…..as a newly-tuned super fit AI athlete, you may have the confidence to stop mid race and enjoy some fast food and win too.

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