In this segment of “Office Optional with Larry English,” Larry discusses shares how you can catch up with the AI revolution if you’re feeling behind.
When ChatGPT exploded on the scene in late 2022, it caught the business world by surprise. We all knew AI was coming, but suddenly, this new tool with seemingly limitless potential became available, leaving organizations scrambling to figure out when, where and how to use it.
So, if you’ve been caught off guard by the AI revolution, don’t worry — you’re hardly alone. A recent survey found that 94 percent of leaders are struggling with “tech anxiety” following the emergence of AI. More specifically, leaders are worried about the pace of technological change and how it will impact business models and workflows.
“Tech anxiety” aside, now is the time to take steps to catch up because AI technology is only going to keep growing and advancing. For instance, Microsoft technology chief Kevin Scott recently predicted Microsoft’s AI business to be “the fastest growing $10 billion business in our history.”
Here’s how to fast-track your organization’s AI readiness:
Get your fundamentals in order first.
AI has great potential to become the ultimate business differentiator. But for businesses to use the technology to get to the next level of performance, they must have the fundamentals in place first. You can’t leapfrog levels of maturity, as enticing as that might seem.
What are these fundamentals? You must understand your core capabilities and differentiators so you know what to invest in and grow to enable a competitive advantage. Then, you must use that knowledge to develop a strategic roadmap with a vision grounded in how your business will change as the world continues to evolve. How will you build out the capabilities that will help your organization not only remain relevant but also become a dominant player in the market?
Whatever shape your AI transformation takes, the cloud will serve as the business enabler, and data will act as the business driver. You need to have your data in a cloud — public or private — to meet the vast storage and compute requirements of AI.
Amp up AI literacy across your organization.
Many organizations have a serious lack of AI literacy. And we’re not talking in technical terms. People often don’t truly understand AI or its capabilities. For example, they think in terms of ChatGPT, but that’s only one of many, many AI tools available. Or, they think of AI as a silver bullet that’s going to magically solve all their problems. But it’s a tool like anything else.
To truly capitalize on AI technology, leaders must become literate in:
- AI, the technology’s capabilities, and the tools available.
- Data quality and data management.
- Data storage in the cloud.
Only then can organizations move on to the next step of imagining a future powered by AI.
Learn to envision the future differently.
Organizations must learn to reenvision how they do work, their products and services, how they deliver those products and services, and more. Yes, AI can help companies become more efficient and save on the bottom line, but that’s only scraping the surface of how AI technology can transform organizations.
Many companies will need outside help from thought leaders or consulting firms to really break out of their normal streams of thinking. Executive teams tend to be hyper-focused on their current business (understandably so), making it difficult for them to open their eyes to other possibilities and access unique ideas and diverse thinking.
For example, What Chefs Want!, a wholesale food distributor, recently enlisted my company, Centric Consulting, to help identify where AI could resolve its pain points and achieve its business objectives. They wanted to get a jumpstart on leveraging AI so they could continue being a market disrupter.
A three-day AI vision workshop resulted in over 40 ways the company could leverage AI. These ideas ranged from tactical things the company could tackle in the near term as well as multi-year capital investments.
“With the growing excitement around ChatGPT and new AI technologies in early 2023, we knew we wanted to be at the forefront of exploration and implementation,” says Chanel Smith, What Chefs Want! chief knowledge and excellence officer. “The challenge was that there was so much new and changing information, we weren’t sure where to start. We now have a solid roadmap to execute right away and lay the groundwork for what our future could look like.”
Embrace the education and experimentation phase.
It’s not realistic to have all the answers right away with AI — organizations are still learning how to apply the technology. Doing so successfully requires trying out different things and creatively exploring how AI can solve unique problems.
Consider your organization’s major imperative or problems. Then, think through how AI can help you accomplish those goals or meet them faster. You don’t necessarily have to entirely redo your strategy. You simply need to figure out how you can leverage AI to achieve your strategy faster or in a different way.
It’s undeniably exciting when new tools arrive on the scene with big promises of transforming the way we work. While organizations need to figure out how to leverage AI, it’s important to do so thoughtfully by thinking end to end about your business today, your business tomorrow, and the road to get there.