3 things to do in Q3 to get ready for AI

Science fiction movies have been warning us for decades that artificial intelligence (AI) is going to rise up and take over the world. As it turns out, those movies were right; AI is poised to take over the world.

The business world.

More accurately, the organizations that are able to adopt, implement and maintain AI as a part of their business model will have a competitive edge in the marketplace. Fortunately, accomplishing this may be easier than you think.

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There are still many people who think of AI as a technology of the future, but the truth is that AI is already here as a part of our daily lives. Tools we take for granted like Siri, Alexa, predictive text, and even certain calendar reminders and GPS functions contain elements of AI. Essentially, AI is likely just an extension of the ways in which you’re already working with analytics to solve your business problems by aligning data and utilizing new capabilities.

In short, AI has already changed the world, and unless you want to be left behind, your organization needs to start planning today for how you’re going to leverage AI in the future. As it happens, getting started is actually quite easy. Taking simple steps towards AI now will position you to readily and confidently make bigger changes down the line.

To that end, here are three tips for what you can start doing right now to prepare your business for AI.

1) Identify business use cases

A business use case is a model that describes the interactions between any business and its related external parties, like customers and partners. Creating such business use cases for AI projects, though, can be a bit of a challenge, because of the added difficulty in predicting costs and benefits.

In order to create an AI business use case, then, the first thing you need to do is recognize that AI projects are different from other IT solutions and account for these added potential challenges in your plan. Such AI-specific challenges (according to Gartner) include:

  • Added up-front costs that don’t see immediate benefit
  • A new/different set of requisite technology and problem-solving skills
  • The need for significant cultural change within your organization
  • Additional time to be spent on data, training and algorithms
  • New governance demands required by AI algorithms

You should take these factors into consideration when identifying and building out your own AI business use cases, so that you won’t risk trying to fit new technologies into an outmoded model when you’re ready to fully launch and implement your AI projects.

2) Partner with innovation-minded project managers

Today’s AI isn’t just a plug-and-play piece of software that you purchase, download and put to work. Rather, the implementation of AI requires skilled talent to see the potential for ROI and to innovate business practices so as to take advantage of automated abilities.

Begin training existing staff and hiring talented, visionary project managers who can implement and adjust your AI initiatives in innovative, productive ways so that you get your money’s worth out of your organization’s technology.

This might also mean going outside your own walls and partnering with consultants or others who have this mindset of AI innovation. The most productive approach may be to set up a workshop with AI thought leaders who can help you to identify use cases for your business problems and help you plan the steps to achieve that vision.

3) Schedule an AI workshop or planning session

Implementing AI for your organization doesn’t mean taking the decision-making out of the hands of the humans you trust. Far from it, in fact. One of the most important concrete actions you can take right now as you decide on your AI strategy is to call together those important individuals for a workshop or planning session.

You’ll need to get all the concerned parties in your company—the C-suite, LOB leaders, senior developers, and other IT representatives—into one room together to talk about how AI can be used in your business. If nobody at your organization feels comfortable leading such a session, you may look for an outside partner with greater knowledge about AI to facilitate it.

At IBM, for example, we work with customers who have an interest in AI and help them to discover their own, unique business use cases. We hold discovery and design thinking workshops, ideating and problem-solving together in order to start them down the path towards AI by helping them build a plan on which they can easily follow through.

Ultimately, making sure your business is ready for AI is a project that will require the buy-in from your entire organization, and holding this kind of meeting will help you ensure that. It’s this human side to AI implementation that you need to focus on—and take concrete actions towards—as you establish your AI battle plan for the future.

If you’re interested in setting up your own AI ideation workshop, feel free to reach out to me at cgoodman@us.ibm.com or to the Cognitive Systems Solutions Center at CSSC@us.ibm.com.