From the AI Global Council: How leaders can prepare to enter the AI spaceTaylor Poe
As artificial intelligence (AI) has continued to emerge as a transformative force in our rapidly evolving technological landscape, the AI Global Council has set out to address important questions regarding AI adoption. The AI Global Council is a group founded with the vision of fostering collaboration and reshaping the responsible development and deployment of AI and includes council members from educational institutions and organisations such as Credera, Mastercard, AWS, McDonalds, United States Patent and Trademark Office, GoGuardian, and Pluralytics.
To prepare executives who are interested in getting started with AI and are early on the maturity curve, the council discussed a key question: What are the prerequisites to be ready for AI?
Watch the council's full conversation and read key takeaways below:
1. Overarching AI principles
When thinking through AI adoption, executives must consider existing principles for building new AI tools or processes. These principles include security, privacy, data, and governance requirements as well as discrimination, diversity, non-discrimination, fairness, and transparency considerations.
In terms of transparency principles, thorough documentation of the AI-development process can help teams think through the correct points and questions. Another key point for teams to think through is strategies and procedures already in place in their organisation to avoid the creation or reinforcement of unfair bias. These considerations can assist teams in the process of creating an AI tool with fair and non-discriminatory outputs and outcomes. While applying other principles such as governance requirements, teams can also benefit from considering a wider lens that expands to governance around societal and environmental well-being.
Substantial work has been done around AI governance. For example, many organisations have utilised pre-existing self-regulatory codes of conduct to develop guidelines for trustworthy human-centric AI. Although these are high-level principles, they serve as a great starting point to identify what headlines executives need to think about when approaching AI.
2. A learning agenda
To successfully begin implementing AI in their organisation, leaders must understand what they want to learn about the AI space. The entire ecosystem of AI is evolving quickly, and rapid evolution can often lead to mistakes. Developing AI processes and tools involves experimentation and taking risks. If leaders are dedicated to AI implementation in their organisation, they need to be clear about what they want to learn from the implementation process and how they are going to manage expectations about making mistakes.
When entering the AI space for the first time, leaders can benefit from implementing AI to address or create efficiencies in an internal process. Internal initiatives are a great place to learn because they aren’t customer facing, so they involve less risk and allow for a longer learning timeline.
3. Offensive and defensive strategies
It’s important for leaders to develop an offensive and defensive strategy for AI implementation in their organisation. On the offensive side, leaders and teams must consider where they are going to create value for their consumer. The offensive strategy should focus on building the business and speak to how the AI process or tool is going to make consumers’ lives easier.
On the defensive side, leaders and teams must consider where they want to create efficiencies in their ecosystem or work in processes with AI. When thinking through the defensive strategy, leaders and teams should consider if they can leverage AI to build opportunities for potential revenue, create efficiencies, or reduce costs. For example, teams can consider if there are processes that could be automated with AI to free up staff availability and resources.
4. Your competitive advantage or strategic fit
After engaging in scoping activities to determine an offensive and defensive strategy for AI, it’s important for leaders to understand how implementing AI is going to strategically differentiate their company. Figuring out this competitive advantage determines a lot of how leaders and their teams can start implementing AI.
One important question for leaders to ask is what the durable, long-term competitive advantage of AI in their organisation will be. If leaders are trying to make their business stand out from competitors, they should consider going “all in” with AI and ensure they’re leveraging the organisation’s information—the data no one else knows. That information is key to making their business stand out from competitors using AI.
Making this pivot to going “all in” with AI to create a competitive advantage is very different from generic, smaller projects like adding AI as the next best action for an organisation’s website. In those smaller scenarios, it may be best to use vendors to implement AI quickly, cheaply, and efficiently.
5. Resources you can leverage
After deciding on strategies and the competitive advantage they’re looking to gain with AI, leaders must leverage their teams to begin implementing the AI tool or process. The project could be given to a variety of teams like a strategic planning team or business strategy team. After scoping activities are led by a strategy-focused team, leaders must ensure that AI or data science experts are brought into the project. The involvement of these domain experts is essential to understanding the organisation’s data, including what data is needed, what current data quality is like, and how structured the current datasets are. Making these considerations is key to understanding how AI will run up against organisational data.
Strategy and data experts aren’t the only roles leaders can leverage when venturing into the AI space. Legal experts also play a key role in getting an organisation ready for AI, especially in the generative space. It’s important for leaders and their organisations to lean on legal experts to understand the legal risks associated with implementing AI tools and plan what they’re going to do contractually to mitigate that risk.
To not “set it and forget it” when it comes to implementing AI, it’s also important for leaders to lean on their technology and change management teams to facilitate change on the technology and people sides. On one side, maintenance is required from a change management perspective since AI can involve large, strategy-level changes that impact many employees who may need substantial time to alter behaviours. On the other side, technology teams will need to continually maintain the functionality of the AI tool itself.
The four most important considerations
When beginning the journey to implement AI, there are many key considerations for leaders to make. According to AI Global Council members, the most important among these considerations include the following:
Ensure your processes and data are inclusive.
Tackle an internal problem you want to solve first.
Make sure leaders and employees support the change.
While there are many things leaders will strive to get right in the process of implementing AI, it’s most important for them to just get started and be OK with making mistakes. Identifying quick wins and learning from mistakes can help set organisations up for scaling AI as leaders and teams focus on just getting one step further than where they are today.
As leaders plan to approach the AI space, the best thing they can do is to set their teams, their organisation, and themselves up for success.
Interested in learning more?
The AI Global Council is focused on taking amorphous and challenging topics and sharing a balanced and holistic perspective that can move everyone forward.
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