2017 is seen by many as the year that AI has broken into the mass market, and all signs point to this trajectory continuing into the future. A recent PwC report predicted AI to be a $70billion dollar industry by 2020, with potential to revolutionize business, government and society. This isn’t just a consideration for the future, with many early adopters seeing big wins from using Artificial Intelligence to overcome problems in all areas of business from improving efficiency to revolutionizing customer experience.
With mass public interest in AI and everyone from Mark Zuckerberg to Elon Musk voicing an opinion on the potential and threats of widespread adoption without the full understanding of potential, it is easy for business owners to see AI as a silver bullet with the potential to fix any and all problems that your business faces. Those seeing real success currently are the ones with a clear and defined strategy and understanding of where AI should be used, and a clear understanding of the expected results. Similar to the Big Data revolution of the last 5 years, Artificial Intelligence will have it’s biggest impact when used as a means to an end, not as an end in itself.
While AI does offer many potential benefits, buy in from senior leadership “is the most important driver for success in the space” Justin Rao, Chief Economist at Homeaway.com told us. This endorsement from senior leadership can give a project time to succeed and simultaneously encourage support from across the organization where culture can also prove to be a limitation.
Understand what you mean by AI
“Artificial Intelligence is a catch all term and its creating some unrealistic expectations” says Sol Rashidi, Chief Cognitive Officer at RCCI, in order to organize a project for success it is first essential to understand what each stakeholder means when they use the term. Recommendation systems, virtual assistants, and data analysis are all different applications of what we class to be Artificial Intelligence , the challenge then emerges on agreeing a common understanding of which processes will be affected and improved through AI disruption.
Understand what you want to achieve
In creating a long-term strategy, understanding what can have the biggest impact on the business is key. If the goal is to improve customer interaction then building a chatbot may free up your customer service team in other areas, if it is to allow management to become more strategic then employing machine learning for large scale data analysis rather than having this done by humans can provide augmented intelligence for your workforce. AI can be expensive in terms of time and investment, so without a clear understanding of the potential ROI for a project it is doomed to fail.
Addressing Cultural Differences
Much of the media narrative currently surrounds fears of an automated workforce leading to unemployment on a massive scale. A clear understanding of how new projects will improve the effectiveness and efficiency of a workforce is essential in increasing adoption and seeing real gains. AI is still at it’s early stages in terms of enterprise-wide adoption and is most effective when providing stakeholders with the information they need to make an informed decision, so working closely with stakeholders in order to create products that will work for the people who will use them means greater impact for the business.
Be Clear on the Limitations
Not doing everything straight away does not show lack of ambition but an understanding of the limitations of the potential of what can be achieved when focusing on longer term success. AI talent is in short supply and specialist skillsets on new technologies are limited and expensive. Clearly knowing what can be achieved in addition to what you want to achieve makes you more likely to be able to weather the inevitable ‘trough of disillusionment’ that comes with any business application of a new technology.
There is much debate over we are seeing the 4 th Industrial Revolution and a foundational change to the way businesses operate. What is obvious is that as with any new technology, those who have a clear strategy on how it can be deployed, the benefits that they are hoping to see, and understanding of the current limitations that is communicated to all stakeholders will find the most success in seeing real benefits from adoption of Artificial Intelligence in the enterprise.
Please share your experience of enterprise-level adoption of AI – and the challenges that you’ve faced along the way – in the comments section below. If you would like to hear more about this subject and hear case studies from industry leaders, join Chief AI Officer, USA in San Francisco on November 28-30.
By David Barton
David Barton is a Content Director at Corinium Global Intelligence, where he works on business events for the emerging C-suite. He is currently working on the role of Artificial Intelligence in business. David can be reached by email at [email protected]