How to Know When Your Business is Ready for Artificial Intelligence
By Drew Blazaitis
Is your organization ready for AI?
When McDonald’s announced plans to customize its drive-thru services using artificial intelligence(AI), the news shocked some business leaders. Others commended the corporation’s strategy. McDonald’s wants to improve the customer experience by optimizing menu displays tailored for each individual. By analyzing factors like previous purchases, license plates, and local weather, the solution will generate product suggestions onto each menu that are designed to improve efficiency and encourage more sales.
Many executives in professional service industries are looking for AI to provide similar progressive improvements for their organizations to what McDonald’s anticipates. The problems are that they find their firms are unprepared to adopt the technology or they jump into using AI without considering all the variables involved in a successful deployment.
Three key concepts to prepare organizations for the adoption of AI into business operations
Artificial intelligence (AI) can be an asset to law firms or other professional services enterprises when implemented properly. I’ve found three key concepts helpful to prepare organizations for the adoption of AI into their business operations and maximize the AI’s effectiveness.
1. Have a solid foundation
The foundation for a successful deployment of AI for an enterprise occurs prior to selecting and implementing the system. Consider whether your organization knows the answers to the following questions:
Do you have access to the right talent?
Do you have a platform able to scale, integrate, and support all of your needs from an AI solution?
Is your data of high quality?
Do you have enough data to train the solution?
Have company-wide processes been implemented and communicated?
Have you thought about how AI will fit into the processes?
Who best understands your business and data?
Who can curate the data, train the system, and hone the algorithms?
Are you aware of the potential biases that can surface if not properly addressed?
This information is critical to have upfront if you want to prevent critical errors in incorporating AI into your business successfully. McDonald’s decided to use AI in its drive-thru operations after it had the support infrastructure in place and knew what data its restaurants needed to capture for analysis. Likewise, you need to have a review process with specific preparation, tasks, and goals attached to your use of AI to be effective. Otherwise, you’ll be generating results that are incomplete, inaccurate, or inadequate for what you want to accomplish for your business.
2. Collect and analyze as much good data as possible
While McDonald’s hopes the introduction of AI will better serve customers and drive incremental revenue, its restaurants still will rely on employees to make changes for customers and distribute food and drinks to vehicles. The same expectations should apply to what AI can do for your organization. Analyzing the data that AI solutions produce or unearth through these customer interactions is just as valuable—if not more valuable—than the initial deployment of the tool. Intelligent systems need consistent streams of data for analysis, training, and more to better solve the problems they were put in place to address and do so without the need to have continuous manual intervention.
3. Plan how AI can best supplement and support your workforce
AI is very helpful in handling tasks that are repetitive, require high volume analysis or computations, or are time-consuming. Handling all of these tasks with efficiency and accuracy is a distinct capability of well-positioned AI. A good example for professional services industries—or frankly any industry—is accounts-receivables collections. I know of one law firm where the clearance rate of matching incoming payments with invoices for clients increased 40% after implementing and properly training an intelligent ML receivables management solution.
Additionally, AI is strong in providing predictive insights from analysis of mass amounts of data. This feature can help determine the most strategic approach to take. For example, AI can reveal how a judge has ruled in cases similar to your client’s and provide a potential best course of action. Results from AI can also show how a new law may impact an industry and the operations an organization may need to change to stay in compliance.
While AI will undoubtedly have a tremendous impact on the professional services industry, we can’t neglect the importance of client and interpersonal relationships as well as the inherent knowledge, creative, and strategic thinking within this highly skilled workforce. By relying on AI to take over mundane and monotonous processes, your employees have more time to establish and cultivate these interactions and focus on value-added initiatives. Knowledge workers in professional services should regard adding AI as a boon to their operations rather than a threat to their positions.
Where can intelligent solutions add value?
McDonald’s knew that its announcement of using AI would provide the following advantages beyond the enhancement of its services:
Win back interest from former customers.
Provide a huge rebranding value with current and potential customers.
Generate renewed interest from other vendors
There is no economic value to AI solutions that cannot be deployed effectively. By laying the appropriate groundwork and identifying areas where intelligent solutions can add supplemental value, adoption of AI should become much more of a reality for your company.