There is no denying artificial intelligence is the conversation of the decade. Since a few highly specialized industries starting using it years ago, it has gone mAInstream. Its applications and solutions – machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing and robotics – are becoming more accessible.
Besides discussing it with colleagues around the water cooler or inviting it into our home in the form of Alexa-like assistants, when does it actually make sense for a business to adopt AI? And more importantly, where to begin?
Telephony, health and science, law enforcement, transportation are industries well acquAInted with artificial intelligence. It’s also inched its way into small to medium businesses for customer service (chatbots), emAIl automation and reporting. What was once accomplished in xx hours with an abacus and an excel spreadsheet is today digested and presented on a clean dashboard in minutes. Undoubtedly this can provide businesses with a serious competitive edge, not to mention considerable cost savings.
But is AI beneficial to all types of businesses? Maybe not. Is it to your business? That is for you to find out.
Here are our recommendations to assess how AI would impact your business Survey Your Collaborators’ Needs
If you think AI will have a positive impact for your organization, make sure this will be true for more than one person or department. Interview your teams and assess how the change would affect their lives, both professionally and personally.
Gauge the Resistance Level
Change can be scary. We are surrounded by stories illustrating how technology will be taking our jobs away, and soon. When we feel territorial about our work, the notion of delegating part of it to someone or something can seem unacceptable. Here you would encourage your team members to consider a new perspective, and demonstrate that it is not about “taking away your responsibilities” but freeing up one’s time to pursue more interesting and creative tasks that cannot be replicated by machine.
Survey Your Business’s Needs
Are you convinced AI will help your organization reach its growth goals? Will it help you crush the competition? Will it make your workforce feel empowered and fulfilled? Will it show a sizeable difference on your profit and loss statement? Just because artificial intelligence is shaping a new business landscape in many sectors doesn’t mean it’s true for yours. You should never consider it just a nice thing to have. If it’s a must, you can easily make your case.
Build an Adoption Roadmap
Do not rush into it, but do not procrastinate! Map out where AI tools are needed and prioritize integration. Is it marketing? Sales? Product research and development? Market penetration? Customer service? Competitive intelligence?
Once you have sorted the needs, do your due diligence. Would you buy a house sight unseen? A car without a test drive? There’s a new trend in e-shopping: try before you buy. Software providers have long known this is the key to success. Most, if not all, offer a free trial. It varies in length and may not always be a freemium (full access to all features), but it is typically enough to judge if it’s the right fit for you. If it isn’t, chances are that AI is not your solution.
Once you and your teams (or project management committee) have tested and voted, carefully plan the deployment. This step is critical for you to ensure a smooth transition, remove any lingering friction and provide a complete education to your employees on the importance of your collective decision to utilize AI. Schedule training time, walk throughs and troubleshooting sessions into your workday. Make sure you keep communication lines open. Everyone involved should be able to express concerns, share feedback and learn from others. You can and should involve your vendor in this internal onboarding process. Since there is no perfect solution, users have the power and duty to suggest improvements.
Artificial Intelligence is not a bubble that will burst. The fact that annual VC investment into US startups developing AI systems has stextupled since 2000 is proof enough that many believe the potential benefits (and profits) will outweigh the challenges, be they moral, legal, or technical. We believe it. But most of all, we believe no business is meant to be the puppet of a trend.
About the Author
Giovanni Letellier is the Founder and CEO of SiO Digital, a California-based B2B marketing agency that augments human creativity and expertise with artificial intelligence tools. The company focuses on lead generation strategies for the SaaS and tech industries.