5 in 5: How to successfully implement AI into your business (EP 2)

AI of Things    19 November, 2018

As many firms embark upon their digital transformation, confusion is growing around the use of Artificial Intelligence and what it will mean for the business world. As we have previously discussed in episode 1, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the fundamental application of the ideology of creating a computer that is capable of solving a complex problem in the same way a human would.

The proper implementation, planning and care must be taken for its impact to be successful on a business. Last week, we considered 5 ways in which AI could help a business, from improving efficiency to increasing revenue, and we will now delve into 5 ways AI can be successfully implemented  into a business.

1) Make friends with AI

When introducing anything new into a business, it is crucial that one has done their thorough due diligence of the topic. Firms must know exactly what AI is, its uses, and the differences it will make to them before beginning its implementation. AI is comprised of many factors, so it is vital to also familiarise with all of the areas that form it, such as machine learning, predictive analytics and big data.

Firms will also need to clean their current data sets. Often data within a company is spread across many platforms and teams, with a lot of this data having little to no use and simply being an unproductive resource. It’s necessary for firms to decide which data holds value to them, and which is null, to help the system run best once online.

2) Identify areas of use and what it will do: Create a strategic and specialised project

The system must be built with balance. The role of AI and purpose of its creation is ultimately to aid us in our practices. However, too frequently, AI systems are designed around the vision the team has of creating its goals, when in reality it should be designed with the business goals at its core.

For the application of AI to be successful, firms must identify the areas where they want/need AI. Without a specific role or responsibilities (similar to a human job description), money and time may be lost, and the very benefit of AI lost also in the process. A detailed description of what role the AI will play and its functions, will greatly benefit the business as it will set boundaries and help with the adjustment to this modern technology. 

It is important to bring a team of experts to create and execute a specific pilot project. In this way, outside experts can be invaluable in their consultancy and knowledge. The initial ´pilot´ usually covers a relatively short period of time (2-3months), bringing with it a small team of external and internal employees together to set straightforward goals. It´s important to integrate external experts and internal personnel to ensure that the plans and strategies are set up with a deep understanding of the business as well as expertise of AI.  

3)  Teach employees

AI also offers the opportunity to become part of workers´ daily routine. Many employees are wary of this technology as they fear it will make them redundant. By introducing it as a way to augment their daily tasks and, ultimately, make their life easier, employees will feel more comfortable with the change. Companies must be transparent in their plans for AI so employees are satisfied and issues in workflow don´t arise as a result.

The biggest challenge will always be people, human behaviour. It will be vital to re-skill the workforce to shift the focus to decision-making effective management. This will create a culture that requires continuous learning and adaptation, which has the potential to demand a lot from employees, so firms need to ensure the correct training and development is provided to their personnel. Flexibility is also needed to ensure positive reactions to changes or issues that may arise.

Figure 2, Successful AI implemenation can greatly improve business practice 

 4) Start small

By starting small, businesses will be able to learn how to use the AI, collect feedback on its performance, and expand as necessary. At first, output will be of higher value to the company if the AI is able to focus on a specific area or dataset. It will also make the integration easier for employees as they will be able to give definitive comments on its performance which makes remedying the issues a much more streamlined process. The AI needs to be integrated as part of existing business processes, so there is no need for drastic cultural changes or new processes.

5) Remember the cognitive gap, respect your intelligence

The successful implementation of AI can take a long time. Too many firms believe that this process requires less time than it does, but the internal preparation beforehand needs a lot of careful planning. As we have seen many times in previous blogs, human intelligence remains the most fundamental asset today. It is important to respect the capabilities we hold,  to ensure that the AI remains under our control. 

Experts have calculate that around 40% of financial processes can be automated using AI and that it will save half a billion people two hours per day this year alone. Strong, executive leadership is needed to support the implementation process. Both business and technical leaders should work together to ensure business goals are kept in focus.

One should not that the role of AI will be different for every business. Its important to recall that there is no ´one-size-fits-all´ with this technology; the needs of a call centre will vary drastically from the needs of a bank´s fraud detection unit. Firms must be confident and bold in their approach; an offensive digital strategy has proved to be the most effective to avoid the dreaded digital disruption

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