Artificial Intelligence (AI) is sweeping the world of business. Most business owners and senior executives have entered the race to implement AI initiatives, but many are still stuck in the starting blocks, wondering where to start.
Do I need AI in my business?
I consider myself an AI enthusiast. You may even say I am an AI evangelist. Do you need AI in your business? It may come as a surprise if I answer “no.” Perhaps the better answer is “maybe not now.”
AI technology is much misunderstood, and many business leaders feel pressured not to lose out. If rumour has it that your competitors are on an AI journey, you may be tempted to think that they will have an indisputable advantage over your business.
There is no doubt that the world of business is experiencing a tsunami of digitisation, robotics, automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence. This technological revolution will make a lasting impact on every type of business. It will transform the way we interact with and serve our customers, and it will change the way we manage our operations.
While it is clear that every business needs to implement the new wave of technology to stay relevant, I would caution against just “jumping on the AI bandwagon.” It is difficult to filter out all the noise, press, conferences and vendor messaging on this technology. Think carefully about your approach to the first AI initiative in your business.
No sane builder start building a house before there is a good foundation in place. You should have the same approach by introducing new technology in your business. You need to ensure that your business is ready for AI. Never underestimate the massive change that this technology will introduce.
From a technology perspective, you need to make sure that your data is mature and ready for AI and that you have employed the right technically skilled people. You need to be very clear on your business objectives and how AI will support those. And most importantly, the people in your business need to be lead on to this new journey.
People naturally fear this kind of technology, but they need to see that the introduction of AI will happen systematically, that they will play an essential part in the journey, and that it will make their jobs and lives easier. You need to sell this to your people. If your people are not on this journey with you, no amount of technical readiness will suffice on its own steam.
Business functions ready for AI: Your customers
Perhaps the most suitable business functions to consider for your first AI initiative are those focusing on your customers. Your sales function can benefit from predictive customer demand and behaviour. We may call this a data-driven understanding of your customers.
Your sales forecasting will be exponentially more accurate with the correct data feeding machine learning models, which will impact your demand and supply functions. This will result in better supply management in the form of procurement or recruitment and the ability to respond faster to market changes.
Business functions ready for AI: Your people
Harvesting suitable data from your employees, coupled with the right analysis models, will enable you to provide them with a more satisfying employee experience which will impact recruitment and attrition. Your Human Capital Management team can utilise models that will better match candidates to opportunities, improve the candidate hiring and onboarding experience, and significantly increase the success of your end-to-end employee lifecycle. Training personalisation based on employee data, behaviour and talent mapping will allow you to build a suitably skilled and involved workforce.