Offering Value for Investment in Artificial Intelligence

As public interest and enterprise investment in Artificial Intelligence grows, businesses still face several key challenges that they must overcome before wholesale adoption is possible or even realistic. There are so many applications that currently fall under the broad umbrella of AI that it ‘has become a ‘catch all’ term that is creating some unrealistic expectations’ says Sol Rashidi, Chief Cognitive Officer at Royal Caribbean International. The issue is that ‘Artificial Intelligence’ is seen as a solution to all business problems while there’s no clear definition on what AI means.

The issue is that what impact AI will have on society, and the nature of the technology itself. ‘Will it be foundational or incremental… I think the jury is still out’ say Justin Rao, Chief Economist at HomewAway, an Expedia brand. The issue as he sees it, is that the industry as a whole isn’t clear on whether AI will truly herald ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution’ or simply be another of many technologies which will provide business impact without being the answer to all of your problems. In order to be able to deliver projects with realistic expectations on what could be considered successful, it’s essential to understand the capability of the technology being used.

It is a common assumption that AI is hyped beyond all realistic expectations, ‘it’s stratospheric’ offers Anand Iyer, CSO at WellDoc, and that’s where he sees one of AI’s biggest challenges lies ‘it needs to offer value.’ This is where we see the limitations currently, focusing a project or strategy on delivering value as a key indicator of success ensures that executive support is maintained, that stakeholders are happy, and that the AI team is offering RoI. AI needs to become one of many essential components for any team to draw from.

This is where we see AI projects needing to tread a fine line – offer value in the short term while becoming essential for the long term. ‘[Senior leadership] is the single most important driver for success in this space’ suggests Justin Rao. With realistic expectations set and a clear understanding of what a successful project will look like to all stakeholders, support from the boardroom is where enterprise level AI adoption will live or die. Those hiring a Chief AI Officer are already one step ahead here, in hiring a boardroom advocate these organizations facilitate the conversation in the boardroom and can urge patience and support at times when a project may not be going as planned.

While there’s clearly still debate as to what the future truly holds for Artificial Intelligence when it reaches the dreaded ‘trough of disillusionment’ for business executives, what is clear is that there is already some real potential for AI to be integrated into the way businesses operate to improve efficiency and minimize costs. Patience is required from stakeholders and from senior leadership as RoI may not come straight away and the nature of machine learning means that the longer a model works the more efficient it can become. In partnering and communicating with stakeholders to understand their expectations of the project, it’s possible to cut through the hype and agree to mutually agreed standards of a successful project and also build collaboration for the future.

It is clear that many businesses still struggle not to be swept up in the hype of AI as the ‘fix all’ solution to their business problems, particularly with the current media hype approaching Big Data levels. In creating a clear understanding of expectations, on what can be achieved and a realistic timescale it is possible for organizations to cut through the hype and work towards creating a culture driven by AI.

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]

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