This post first appeared as Steve Wunker's piece for LinkedIn
Most corporations are progressing at a VERY different speed than the rate the technology is advancing. That’s natural, but this disconnect is a real hazard to their future competitive advantage. Here are three best practice ways to get going:
1. Task IT with creating a handful of fully functional, lighthouse implementations. The cost of these is dropping dramatically, as is the timeframe for execution. Frequently, we see them marrying more traditional algorithmic AI with generative AI. That aids with controlling the outputs.
IT may be the best department to work with private data clouds and other tools that will become essential as the tech spreads. But don’t assume they’ll be terribly user-centric in implementation. Limiting the number of IT-driven forays can ensure that each benefit from meaningful user input and isn’t simply tech-push. It also ensures that you’ll do these well.
2. Empower departments across the company to undertake their own experiments, with very clear guardrails (e.g. AI can summarize customers’ unstructured data or inputs, but not provide them with unedited outputs).
Be careful, though – just as IT-led ventures can sometimes become a low utility Science Fair, unsupervised experiments can become Pilot Hell. Insist that these experiments have clear hypotheses, measurable outputs, and specific mechanisms to capture learnings and iterate approaches. Experimentation isn’t a core competency of many companies outside their R&D departments, and the technological revolution that’s upon us is going to increase the need for experimentation quite rapidly.
3. DO NOT pursue AI just as a productivity aid. You will not win the future simply through AI-ifying the world as it is today. Think back just a few years to the advent of the Internet and the smartphone. Were the big winners those who just put their existing businesses online and into mobile form? No. Ensure that you’re looking – at a senior level – into how AI can completely remake business models, internal operations, customer experiences, and whole industries. (Yes, my firm leads projects like this, but that doesn’t make this advice biased. This is the well-proven way to deal with major disruptions.)
The AI revolution is coming fast, and this is the right time to prepare for it.
by Steve Wunker