AI and the impact on the organisation

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the hottest topics in business right now. Yet despite this high-profile image, it can still be challenging for individuals to precisely say what AI is, and even harder to understand how you can thrive from it. To realise the benefits of AI, businesses must think about how the introduction of this technology will impact every corner of its operations, and crucially their customers experiences too.

AI itself in an umbrella term, coined at the Dartmouth Conference in 1956, that encompasses various applications of computational intelligence. It ranges from simple process automations, to more intelligent decision making.

AI is an incredible opportunity to fundamentally change every corner of our world, for the better! The four jewels of the AI crown are:

  • Enhanced labour productivity – achieving more from your workforce.
  • Enhanced tailoring – creating goods and services that are more bespoke to individual customers, that better align to their wants and needs.
  • Improved quality – ensuring what leaves the factory or office is up to ever higher standards.
  • Expedited processes – delivering services faster and reducing waste.

These are dreamy ambitions that any leader wants to make a reality. But like landing a human on the Moon (or Mars now), no great achievement is ever easily grasped.

Let’s consider just some of the challenges of implementing AI in your organisation.

It’s not easy > The simple fact is this: getting AI right is hard! Eliciting that slither of an insight is very difficult in amongst a vast and ever-growing amount of data. In fact, the IDC predicts that worldwide data creation will grow to 175 zettabytes by 2025.

Eureka…oh, too late > Organisations are full of smart people and tools that can derive fascinating and profitable insights. However, businesses often suffer from ineffective decision making due to superfluous processes or individual fear of reprisals. This can prevent key insights from ever becoming a reality or making it to market in time.

I vs. We can change > Let us say you introduce new ways of working to enable your AI driven insights, have you taken your workforce on that journey? Does your newly augmented human-AI workforce have the skills and knowledge necessary to make that insight a reality? Did you know that 47% of Gen Y and Gen Z employees consider their skill set is redundant or will be redundant in the next four to five years? Education and engagement are key to quell your workforce fears of change as best you can and encourage them to embrace the opportunities of this technology.

Too much, too fast > Though it’s tempting to launch a sizeable transformation programme from the word go, sometimes it’s better to act small – hit big! Transformation of this kind needs sustainable, controlled, and adaptive introduction over-time, thereby enabling your organisation to adjust and properly weave the technology into its DNA.

The truth is, there is no silver bullet on how to do AI organisational transformation. Every need is different, and every organisation is unique. Whilst I can’t tell you here precisely what you need to succeed, I can give you some recommendations.

Ask yourself, is your organisation built to realise the insights and wisdom that AI can bring you?

Here are some Top Tips to help you realise your AI potential.

Organisation


  • Set up your organisation in a manner that enables you to rapidly react to the emergence of an insight….don’t let it escape!
  • Establish lots of small teams that rapidly work on their own respective area. Then bring it all back together through a course of iterative refinements.
  • Decision makers and AI must sit side-by-side at the top, but flatten the rest of your organisation. Don’t let tiers of politics and agendas spoil a good insight.

Governance


  • Minimise the tiers of bureaucracy. Superfluous tiers of approval will prevent your innovate insight making it to realisation.
  • Empower the flattened teams. Trust them to get their area of work right, under the eyes of one product owner. Bring out the benevolent leaders!
  • Be diligent, but fast! Committees have less of a place in an insight-driven world.

Ways of Working


  • Rapid iteration in a no blame environment is key! Accept that your teams will get it wrong, but through supportive iteration along with a ‘test and learn’ philosophy they will crack it (ideally using more AI driven insight)
  • Make data science a part of your everyday work and decision making by weaving it into the very DNA of your organisation. Make it the daily norm, not the occasional exception.
  • Feedback all the time! Don’t leave it until every quarter or year. All teams should get pro-active and provide and receive regular feedback to refine their iterations.

Performance Measures


  • In Data science, do you ask yourself ‘how many ‘good quality’ insights are we deriving’? The definition of good quality is unique to each business, but I’d argue ‘unique and comprehensive enough to necessitate launching a discovery exercise’ would be a good starting point.
  • In Delivery teams, do you ask yourself ‘how many of the ‘good quality’ insights did you successfully turnaround in a pre-defined time’? Not every insight will make you millions, but if you can’t track your intelligence conversion then you’re walking the path blind.
  • In Management teams, do you ask yourself ‘what has been the impact to our business/customers as a result of this impact? Again, this is something very bespoke to each organisation, but you could make this is as simple as ‘increased profits’ or ‘made no profit but learned valuable information’.

Managing the Change


  • Ruthlessly but lovingly eliminate inertia. Often users will want a new solution to essentially recreate the existing one. Guide your people to the root cause requirement, not how things are done.
  • Education and engagement are key. Take people on the journey with you through an initiative that’s tailored to your business and the people who make it great.
  • Construct an environment in which knowledge and intelligence rules – not egos.
  • Remember the augmentation principle. Humans need technology for insights, technology needs humans for perspective and context. They are only as good as each other.

 

Please feel free to contact me or the UK Invent, People and Organisation team if you’d like to discuss what digital tools could help you overcome your challenges.

 

Author


Benjamin Britton

Benjamin Britton has been a Consultant in the Organisation Dexterity team of People and Organisation since 2018.  He has a BA (Hons) in Business Management with Finance from Pearson College London. He is fascinated by the profound short to long term impacts that AI will bring and is keen to explore how organisations and indeed the United Kingdom must evolve at every level to thrive from its emergence.

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