In part three of our blog series about AI adoption, we take a look at why you need an AI vision and strategy to ensure success.
The fascination with artificial intelligence is undeniable in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape. Everywhere you turn, someone is proclaiming, “AI is coming for you,” or “AI is here to stay.” However, if businesses don’t carefully sort through the noise and resist the urge to jump in too fast, they may face a ripple effect they can’t predict.
For example, AI has great potential in healthcare. It can improve cancer diagnoses or identify patients at risk for complications. But in the rush to achieve these benefits, some early AI adopters in healthcare used large sets of old data that contained racial biases. The results were misdiagnoses and an erosion of trust between patients and their providers.
Developing an AI vision and strategy can avoid such failures and help you fully realize AI’s potential. That vision and strategy – forged from alignment between your strategic goals and the capabilities your operating model enables – can revolutionize your organization, leading to increased productivity, creativity, innovation, and growth. Without it, your AI investments go to waste, you miss opportunities, and you can’t manage the risks.
Start Your AI Vision and Strategy Journey
This blog will provide the steps to creating an AI vision and strategy that aligns with your operating model and leads to successful AI integration.
As the third blog in our series of posts about the art of AI adoption, it builds on our previous blogs covering the importance of organizational change management (OCM) and enterprise portfolio and program management (EPPM) to AI adoption, as well as the roles that business architecture, business process improvement, and performance measurement play.
The road to AI integration and adoption can be disruptive, challenging, and expensive, but with caution and planning, you can make your AI vision come true. It all starts with charting a course through your AI journey.
Chart the Course to AI Integration
The first step in aligning your AI vision, strategy, and operating model is understanding your organization’s current state — its operations, challenges, capabilities, and risks.
One approach is to conduct interviews with those closest to the business. Good, open-ended questions stimulate critical thinking and unearth core beliefs and assumptions. They encourage reflection, challenge preconceived norms, and often lead to further questions that open the door to a better understanding of the current state and inform the formation of a vision for the future. Questions might include:
- Who are your main competitors, and how might they use AI to differentiate themselves?
- What are some of the most significant challenges your business faces today?
- How might processes impact the successful outcome of strategic goals?
- What are some of the underlying assumptions your employees have about AI?
- What technology platforms does your business need?
- How does your organization make decisions?
Returning to healthcare, consider this Mayo Clinic case. The well-known hospital and research center has had a chief digital officer since 2020, before the explosion of AI as we now know it. Mayo does not allow its clinicians to use AI models until its creators have stepped back and determined its governance model, scope, possible biases, and trustworthiness in different use cases. Answering — and addressing — those questions upfront helps avoid problems later.
Develop Your AI Vision
Once you understand your current state, you can develop your AI vision, which involves defining how you want AI to transform your business. Keep your AI vision ambitious but achievable, and ensure it aligns with your business strategy. The Mayo Clinic’s vision, for example, is to make medicine more proactive than reactive. However, their vision follows some key principles that all AI initiatives must follow:
- It supports the clinic’s overall goals.
- It is ambitious but achievable.
- It includes insights from across the organization.
- It is widely and clearly communicated.
Your vision guides your strategy and enables you to choose direction and investment to execute successfully. With its broad vision of making medicine more proactive, Mayo guides its AI research and development to overcoming challenges like narrow data sets, which restrict training models to specific use cases rather than larger patient populations.
Formulate Your AI Strategy
After you establish your vision, you’re ready to formulate your AI strategy – the roadmap for how you will achieve your AI vision and the capabilities you need to execute.
At the Mayo Clinic, the Department of Artificial Intelligence and Informatics provides insights and direction for the clinic’s AI strategy, including some of the core elements we believe are critical:
- Guiding Principles: Establish policies and guardrails that ensure ethical AI deployment across the organization.
- Relevance to the Core Business: Determine which AI initiatives align with the clinic’s goals and objectives to produce the desired outcomes.
- Future Readiness: Evaluate whether the organization can embrace AI solutions and identify needed capabilities.
The clinic uses its guiding principles, outcomes and capabilities to drive alignment across the organization and with customers, stakeholders and partners, and you should use them in your business, too.
If you are in finance, for example, you need to understand how to use customer data in an unbiased way and protect their assets. If your vision is to keep customers’ fees to a minimum, you might focus on AI that increases efficiency or lowers the cost of new customer onboarding. And you should know how ready your organization is culturally for the changes ahead, both known and unknown.
Thinking these requirements through allows you to create a clearer path to where you want to go with AI, which will help keep the organization aligned and make adoption easier.
Gain AI Strategic Alignment
Managing the evolving environment of AI requires continuously gaining and maintaining strategic alignment. At every step of your AI journey, you must focus on aligning value, stakeholders, and the business operating model to your long-term AI vision. Balancing all three can be challenging, but it’s an important driver for success:
- Value Alignment ensures that investments and resources result in ROI that drives business value.
- Stakeholders Alignment keeps individuals and teams committed to the vision and strategy.
- Operating Model Alignment coordinates your business’s structure, process, metrics, information, technology, and people in a way that enables the vision and strategy.
Many visions and strategies have failed because of misalignment. Maybe they lacked clarity about the target future state or the path to get there. Maybe they didn’t consider different communication styles or break down siloed interpretations of how to execute the strategy. Or maybe they failed to standardize how they would define or measure goals. Early awareness of potential misalignments will keep everyone focused on the same outcomes and enable the organization to move forward together.
With your vision and strategy aligned, you have now positioned your organization to design a roadmap that will lay out the investments, resources, and timing required to achieve your vision.
The transformative potential of AI in the corporate world is vast, but to unlock its full promise, organizations must align their AI vision, strategy, and operating model. Through such alignment, organizations can avoid common pitfalls, maximize ROI, and harness AI’s power to drive competitive advantage.
Our next post in this series will summarize specific use cases for AI and describe unique adoption challenges for each.