Any conversation about emerging and disruptive tech ultimately includes artificial intelligence (AI). But so often AI is viewed as an aspiration, a phase in modernization initiatives, or as a capability not yet ready for primetime.
We need to shift our understanding: AI is here today, full of promise, and can serve immediately as a core business accelerator.
More often than not, what prevents faster AI adoption is simply a lack of true understanding of the technology itself. As leaders, we need to ensure that the mystique surrounding AI does not prevent us from applying something that can have immediate, positive impact on our business.
As we wrestle to make sense of it all, a narrative has formed that is at the root of our collective foundational beliefs and fears:
- AI will automate most jobs and replace us
- Bad actors will use AI for evil
- AI will learn so quickly, it will replace humans and ultimately…
- Terminate us all…
Science fiction has embedded a notion that AI will “control-alt-delete” humanity and render our pioneering and creative spirit obsolete. But a more pragmatic look at the state of AI reveals a different view.
Artificial intelligence is simply an extension of the digital renaissance. It is a tool — and an incredibly powerful one — that can help all of us (especially in business) make sense of the information abyss. It’s not some mythical place in the clouds; systematic roadmaps and real use cases pop up every day evidencing the ease with which we can immediately stand up AI capability.
Think about our personal lives for a moment, and you will quickly see how wide-reaching AI is already:
- Smart phones and devices such as Alexa, remote controls and our iphone. Voice commands deciphered and translated into action: “call home,” “play music” or “place an order.”
- Where would we be without our intelligent address finder technology? Google Maps/Waze using the aggregate of our wireless phone data to track numerous commuting paths, process real-time data continuously and then instantly recommend the quickest routes, via any transportation method.
- Facebook users encounter AI when uploading pictures to recognize friends for tagging. This use case leverages facial recognition while analyzing our personal network, instantly.
Credit services, mobile check deposits, online shopping… the list goes on and on.
Thematically, AI technology provides convenience and, in many ways, improves our lives. But at play here is something far more powerful.
AI creates unique experiences and personalizes to our individual needs. It seems to remember me, and synthesizes the past, the present and predicts what’s next.
We are moving with light speed beyond software and technology that exists to merely inform or complete work. The present and the future is all about personalization of experience — for users, clients, employees, stakeholders, etc. Seemingly overnight, we have come to not only expect this level of experience but, instead, demand it.
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The experiences — particularly the level of personalization, customization and automation — that we realize in our personal lives, we expect from all companies with which we interact. As such, we no longer compete with just those in our industries. Today, we compete with anyone winning the experience game.
AI is embedded in so many parts of our lives already that we need to ensure we have debunked any myths in the way of our adoption of AI so we can start applying it meaningfully. As a baseline or foundational knowledge, we must identify how and where AI can be of greatest service. This is not about technology implementation. Instead, it’s about aligning AI to top initiatives and roadmap imperatives — strengthen customer experience, expand market share, drive employee engagement, combat customer churn, and so on.
Remember, AI is not some mythical place or destination. Rather, it is an extension and biproduct of the digital transformation revolution that is already underway. It is the culmination of many things, but mostly realized as a result of the continuously connected and data-driven world in which we live. And it can start driving our businesses forward at a velocity not previously realized today.
In the coming weeks, I am going to dive into how you can specifically start leveraging AI, particularly in ways you may not even be considering. Remember, AI is no longer just for the technologists; it is remarkably having an impact on every single business function.
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