5 ways AI demands new leadership from CIOs

5 ways AI demands new leadership from CIOs

As AI continues to evolve, CIOs face new leadership mandates. Are you ready for the talent, ethics, and data privacy challenges?

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January 23, 2019

The old model for a productive IT organization was the well-oiled machine. The new one is looking more and more like a crystal ball – an organization that can use artificial intelligence to predict the success of a new product, figure out when customers are about to churn, and in general, help people at every level of the enterprise make better decisions, work more efficiently, and improve the bottom line.

Here are five IT trends related to AI and predictive analytics that CIOs can expect to see in 2019 - and the related leadership challenges:

1. From AI development to deployment

AI is evolving from an experimental technology with single-use cases in controlled environments to much broader deployments where it can solve real-world business problems. In a recent survey conducted by my company, Infosys, we found that 86 percent of the responding organizations had middle- or late-stage AI deployments. However, such projects were twice as likely to be found in the IT department as anywhere else. This is going to change in 2019. As CIOs move to expand AI, one of their biggest challenges will be system integration, particularly in companies that are heavily dependent on legacy systems and that have siloed infrastructures.

2. Enterprise-wide empowerment

AI was once the province of isolated “wizards” whose work was not well understood.

AI was once the province of isolated “wizards” whose work was not well understood and often confined to low-visibility tasks such as the management of data centers and cellular networks. In 2019, front-line workers in large numbers, from maintenance teams to sales reps, will begin putting AI insights to work. 

One of the main challenges CIOs will face as they deploy AI more broadly is encouraging and supporting its use. Significant training will be required if employees at all levels are to become more productive with the help of AI, and this could strain budgets.

3. The growing importance of soft skills

While skills in coding, statistics, and the like will obviously continue to be critical, companies will put increasing emphasis on hiring employees with soft skills in 2019. These skills play a significant role in AI’s success within an organization.

Google, for example, has found that characteristics like generosity, curiosity toward the ideas of teammates, empathy, emotional intelligence, and communication skills are more important in generating productive ideas than the STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) so highly touted these days. 

Business skills, particularly the ability to ask the right questions, will also become increasingly important in leveraging the power of AI to solve problems and deliver ROI. The role of CIOs will continue to evolve to include more leadership responsibility for promoting IT-based innovation. CIOs will serve as translators between IT and business to make sure IT knows what the business units need, and that business managers understand what AI can do for them.

[ Read our related story: AI skills: 5 ways to build talent internally. ]

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John Gikopoulos is partner and global head of AI & Automation at Infosys Consulting. In this role, he consults global clients on using AI to address business challenges. He specializes in leveraging machine learning and AI solutions to equip Fortune-500 companies in their digital transformation journey. John had a lengthy career at McKinsey before he moved to Infosys. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree from The University of Manchester.

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