The Ultimate Executive Guide for Embracing Artificial Intelligence

Updated: Apr 15

What Is Artificial Intelligence?


You may search and find multiple definitions of artificial intelligence, but in this guide, I’ll define artificial intelligence as the intelligence provided by machines or computers. Artificial intelligence is different from our gifted human intelligence. However, for artificial intelligence is created by us, humans, we use our human intelligence as models for artificial intelligence and build it to support human intelligence. As a result, we can do further things that we could not do easily with our limited human capacity but that we can empower a machine, a computer, and a robot to do.


Inside our human intelligence, we have many capabilities or many types of intelligence. For example, our multiple intelligences relate to speaking ability, calculating ability, sensorial ability, analytics capability, emotional capabilities… etc. In artificial intelligence, just like in human intelligence, there are many types of intelligence as well, and we refer to them in different terms such as Natural Language Processing, Robotics, Machine learning, deep learning, neural networks, and cognitive computing, beyond others.


Artificial intelligence does not exist by itself for we, humans fabricate it, and therefore, it uses the intelligence that relates to our natural human abilities. However, though artificial intelligence refers to our human intelligence, it cannot replace our human intelligence. Not now at least, and this is backed by all the researches carried at the pioneer and world-renowned MIT laboratories over the last 50+ years, and also the countless business implementations of artificial intelligence happening world-wide.


Artificial intelligence can support human intelligence in numerous ways; it can perform tasks that would have been impossible for our human intelligence to do in record time. Artificial intelligence challenges our human intelligence to think higher and delegate the routine and the menial tasks to machines.


Real Artificial Intelligence VS. Science-Fiction Artificial intelligence


Real Artificial intelligence today is different from science-fiction artificial intelligence that we see in the movies. In movies, we see characters with full human and artificial intelligence capabilities that can do anything. Real artificial intelligence, as it exists today, does not have the full capabilities of human intelligence. There are tasks that human intelligence performs best at and other tasks that machines or artificial intelligence perform best. As our natural intelligence is made of multiple types of intelligence, computers as well have their different types of intelligence. This is why there are numerous artificial intelligence technologies, each with their various capabilities.


Artificial intelligence outperforms our human intelligence for many tasks, while for other tasks that are basics for our human intelligence and abilities, artificial intelligence completely sucks at them. Therefore, real artificial intelligence cannot replace human intelligence today as we see in movies, but they support human intelligence to achieve a more significant outcome.


Artificial Intelligence For Business


In business, we use human intelligence and empower our capacities with computers and machines. Artificial intelligence will allow us to continue doing so, except that our computers, our machines, and tools get to be smarter now, therefore overtaking many tasks that humans used to do. This is partly what digital transformation is doing. Digital transformation is transforming the business landscape. Therefore, there is a need to re-organize, re-balance the business or the organization’s intelligence.


Is AI Worth Investing In Now?


Every organization, every business should invest in AI, and, the earlier, the better. AI is helping enterprises lead and repositioning them in powerful, efficient, and productive businesses. The pioneers are genuinely thriving, and their investments are paying more and more over time as they build cohesion, skills, data systems, and reinvent their business intelligence.


Investment in AI is a long term investment in the basis and structure of today and tomorrow’s business. AI investment does not involve AI technologies only. It includes investment in data, data science skills, business strategy, innovation strategy, and people transformation. The return on investment will increases significantly as the organization’s intelligence increases in maturity, integration, and homogeneity.


How Businesses Are Winning With AI


Many leading companies, small and large, from all types of industry have invested in artificial intelligence and are winning big with it.


Amazon is running his warehouses with robots day and night, and having a perfect combination of human and machine operational setting and providing the best customer experience to stay number one.


Chatbots and automated telephone operators are standard in most businesses around the world. Now there are robots helping restaurants making pizza and preparing food while others are delivering room service in hotels. Alexa is answering many of our demands at home. Siri and other voice assistants have been assisting us for a while on our iPhones, smartphones, and computers. Identification and access control systems at home and in organizations are replacing our keys. Domotics or home automation is helping us having smarter homes and a more pleasant at home experience. Smart city systems are helping in anticipating and managing public crises, while predictive and prescriptive health devices are helping physicians and health professionals to care for their patients. Artificial intelligence is a reality today, and many businesses are gaining leverage with it. You should leverage it for your business if you want to stay in business for the next 5 to 10 years. Artificial intelligence is empowering every type of business, no exception.


Artificial intelligence, with its multiple technologies, has allowed businesses and organizations around the world to :


Ø Automate processes and deliver solutions faster and at a reduced cost

Ø Create new rewarding business models

Ø Anticipate business growth

Ø Predict outcomes

Ø Generate revenue streams that were not possible before

Ø Innovate and provide innovative products and services globally

Ø Create much-desired value that did not exist before

Ø Empower organizations to be more efficient and productive at once

Ø Improve customer experience

Ø Create more robust systems and organizations

Ø Empower individuals to develop their natural intelligence and grow

Ø Improve executive decision making

Ø Decrease business risks

Businesses Should Have Clear Goals For Their AI Investments.


For businesses to take advantage of AI, they must have an AI strategy and goals for implementing AI. I would even go further; they should have a digital transformation strategy that includes AI as a part of their transformation strategy. AI does not stand alone. Artificial intelligence will call for the full digital transformation formula as I promote in my books “The Digital Transformation Success Formula” and in Leveraging Digital Transformation. I mean that it will require individuals in the organization, the business, and the technology to be transformed, all while keeping in check the fear factor for unleashing innovation.


AI Implementation Requires Top Executive’s Involvement For Success


Experimenting a small scale and isolated AI implementation project can be beneficial for a business, but it is not sustainable. In many cases, the small scale AI implementation may fail due to a lack of cohesion or alignment with other parts of the business. Therefore it is essential to have an AI strategy that englobes the company.


AI, like other digital transformation enterprises, must be supported by top management because it will imply changes at multiple levels that require authority for critical decision-making. Therefore, AI is not to be implemented solely by the middle management because it would be an occasion for conflicts and misalignments between business units, which may lead to failure. Many businesses have encountered that kind of failure in their digital transformation journey over the years. Top executives’ involvement is essential for this transformation to succeed.


The Human vs. Machine AI Challenge for Business


Implementing and using AI in any enterprise requires preparing the humans in the organization to a new way of collaborating and working with the machine. There is a mindset shift that must happen, and we should address many unspoken fears. Unfortunately, many organizations overestimated the resistance power of humans and even their sabotaging capability when fearful. Implement digital solutions without shifting their organization’s mindset is a capital mistake made by most organizations that are experiencing failure or delay with transformation. It costs the organization in implementation speed, success, and the adoption of the new business intelligence.


The new business intelligence is not a machine, not a human. Today’s successful digital intelligence is an efficient mix of human and machine intelligence. Humans must be both educated and prepared emotionally to collaborate with the machine, reducing fears to unleash innovation and creating outstanding value from the new business intelligence.


Where to Implement AI in the Business


Real AI opportunities require looking at the business both from a helicopter view and with a microscopic view to identify opportunities for success with AI.


In transforming businesses, AI taps into the power of human intelligence but as well in the power of data or data science. AI systems are made powerful with excellent data strategy. In some businesses, before investing in AI technologies, they must first invest in their processes and Data approach to take advantage of AI.


One reason why an AI implementation requires a tailor-made and insightful strategy is that artificial intelligence is not perfect as it is. In the multiple types of intelligence that Artificial intelligence includes, some areas are thriving and others that underperform, but if their limitations are understood and correctly strategized for, businesses can win with them. Transforming with AI also will benefit not only from business strategy but also with innovation skills.


It comes down to well-crafted recipes in terms of strategies and the choice of the right technologies for the business and the business context. It pays to team up with expert advisors for that, and I would be happy to support you and your business.


AI And Job Loss – Don’t Fire Everyone Yet


If AI suppresses the need for many tasks and therefore jobs, AI also brings excellent job opportunities for hiring new specialists as well as re-invents people’s careers. It is an opportunity for employees who may have been made redundant in the organization, and it may be time that they review their career goals. So, don’t just fire all redundant employees yet. You’ll most likely need their business expertise, and you can train them (or many of them) for serving the enterprise at another level, at the condition that they can handle change. This is especially true if you will be implementing any machine learning AI implementation.


Change Management Is A Must Have Skill for Every Organization


Changes in the professions, digital transformation, and in particular, the use of artificial intelligence are the reasons why every organization should first invest in their employee as it comes to change management. Every organization gets something to win in helping its people embrace change, learn, and develop new skills that will help the organization thrive in and innovate in the digital economy.


Unfortunately, many organizations complain that their people are flexible but have not invested in them or support them in adopting change. This is a crucial thing because the digital age is about change and transformation, and any business with people who cannot embrace change, therefore, cannot innovate and will likely disappear. Managing change is the essential skill that every organization should offer to its people at every level of the organization.


The people with the business expertise and trained at embracing change as a person are one of the greatest assets for the business. With additional professional skills, they will drive the AI innovation and transformation in the organization.


Let’s take machine learning; for example, it is a discipline of AI that requires the business or professional knowledge to help the machine to deliver a more excellent outcome. In organizations where the people with expert knowledge are laid off, it is more challenging to implement an effective machine learning project. The same goes for the data strategy; we need professional and business expertise to implement the best data strategy that will amplify the artificial intelligence benefits and achievements.


So don’t just fire most of the workforce and depend entirely on machines, no matter what an AI salesperson told you. For most AI systems, you need both human professional skills and intelligence, along with artificial intelligence for the greatest success, and people who know your business and the organization already can be a great asset if you invest in their individual and professional transformation. Now, you may not need all the people you had before rebalancing the organization’s intelligence, but you’ll need some for each unit.


AI Implementation Should Consider The Context And Surroundings.


While the self-driving car is ready and available, putting it in an unknown environment with many unpredictability and chaos, such as today’s cities’ heavy traffic with pedestrians and different types of mobility machines, it will fail. The failure will be because the environment is not adapted and not mapped for the self-driving cars. Putting the self-driving car in an environment that is prepared for it, such as airports, campuses, and other controlled private sites, it works perfectly. The same goes for introducing robots and any other AI technologies in business. The business context and the environment should be considered for a safe and harmonious collaboration.


Facilitate AI Project Success


With different AI technologies for business processes, business units, and cross-operation, businesses and organizations will implement AI through multiple projects for the AI enterprise implementation. It is imperative to keep these projects aligned for the whole organization, no matter how the business chooses to structure the implementations. Without the master roadmap for all AI initiatives, the organization may soon become confusing as of what they are trying to achieve.


AI integrations between systems must be well thought out and planned across several business units, organizations, or teams. The business strategy and executive involvement are of utmost importance. A manager may not be able to see the impact of changes on every other unit. However, every business unit must be aligned, and in the adverse situation, a leader in the top management can decide which direction to go based on all information made available.


Choosing AI Technologies


More and more AI technologies are made available on the market today. Some are very straightforward and ready to configure and use right away, while others are to be programmed and genuinely customized for the business. Machine learning solutions, for example, are and will be more available for enterprises, and these enterprises will have to teach the machine what to do. It can go from simple to more complex algorithms.


It is essentials that every organization considers its objectives, goals, and qualifies the technology before making a choice. If no specialist is available in house, they should enlist the help of professional AI consultants who can help them select the rights products that align with their AI strategies and goals.


Do You Know Your Business Processes?


Before choosing business technologies, the processes must be analyzed and considered for optimization before choosing AI technologies. For some operations, several AI technologies will need to work together to deliver the outcome. Further analysis should be carried out to evaluate the existing processes and maybe upgrade them or create new ones. There is an alignment to do, and it must go into business details to avoid bad surprises later.


As a senior consultant with experiences in several sectors, I have seen many hidden sub-processes or exceptions to handle in every business. Sometimes even the business experts are not conscious of that, or they forget to mention them in their documentation or routine procedures explanations. It takes a great strategic consultant to ask the right questions, goes in detail, challenges processes, and team together with the process owner or professional person to address some features that may have significant business impacts.


AI allows us to automate many processes but any flaw we give to it, it may amplify it.

Ethical and Legal Issues with AI


As with every powerful technology, there are both ethical and legal concerns to be addressed in adopting AI for business. They are points that relate to our conscious choices and others that relate to legal aspects. Laws and tolerability are different in different countries and regions. The AI strategies must address the legal aspects of the countries of business (now internationally or globally) and particularly at it comes to individual and business privacy. For cross-countries implementation, strategies must be taken into account the boundaries and authorization of the different territories involved. As AI develops further, the legal aspects of diverse practices must be monitored as well to remain in the legalities and avoid any negative repercussions for the business.


Many AI aspects are not yet legalized or not so in many countries. However, this is changing as we achieve more innovation with AI. So it would be best to have someone who keeps the eyes open on AI legalities in one or more jurisdictions.


The New Business Intelligence


Every business should implement AI in their organization, and they should not focus on AI only but on creating new business intelligence, which is a combination of human intelligence and artificial intelligence. They should balance it so that the different types of intelligence support each other in delivering more powerful business outcomes and competitive innovation. So implementing AI just as a technology implementation is not the right approach for successful AI implementation and adoption. Think in terms of new business intelligence.


How To Get Started In AI Now And Be Supported


To start or improve your AI strategy and implementation, get help creating your AI roadmap, or even have second advice, I would be pleased to assist you in different ways.


1. You may hire me as an advisor. I am an MIT Sloan & MIT CSAIL Certified AI Strategist, and also MIT Sloan School of Management certified in Executive Strategy and Innovation. You can count on my senior IT and Business Management consultant experience of over 20 years, internationally transforming organizations. You may book a complimentary executive alignment meeting with me here in my agenda here: https://calendly.com/nvincent-2/30min


2. You may join my exclusive executive coaching and workshop program.


More info here: https://www.digitaltransformationleaders.com/learning


M. Nadia Vincent