Artificial Intelligence (AI): 3 imperatives to support business agility

Want to tap the power of artificial intelligence to drive your business transformation? Consider this expert AI advice to shape your strategy
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As businesses look for ways to transform their organizations in an era of uncertainty and emerging competitive threats, many are turning to artificial intelligence technology. Hundreds, if not thousands, of software companies are already designing their products with a foundation of AI.

AI can provide significant tools to help businesses take advantage of their data and knowledge. But as with any complex business transformation, there are no quick solutions – solving complicated problems requires careful planning and a well-constructed roadmap.

What is the best way to embark on an AI strategy that can help support your business goals? Three key imperatives can help your organization make good use of this powerful capability.

1. Know the business problems you're targeting with AI

Much of the focus of AI has been on software development tools that can create sophisticated models. While it is important that developers understand how to build systems and applications, identifying the starting point and the business problem you’re trying to solve is critical.

[ Check out our primer on 10 key artificial intelligence terms for IT and business leaders: Cheat sheet: AI glossary. ]

Why is your organization focused on leveraging AI? There will be both short-term and long-term goals. In the short term, you may want to automate a process where you already have a solid understanding of the business problem and the associated data. Long term, you may want to leverage complex data and knowledge to support strategic business strategy.

2. Create hybrid teams of business and technical professionals

A common mistake that many businesses make is to begin the AI journey by hiring a team of data scientists. However, to gain the greatest benefit from AI, you also need business experts who understand business processes and the important knowledge that differentiates your company from competitors. These professionals should understand both business strategy and the underlying knowledge that drives differentiation.

In addition, your AI team should include data professionals who understand the data within your company. This data is stored in databases, in customer-facing and partner-facing applications.

Creating a team composed of data scientists, knowledge experts, and data experts will help you prepare to leverage the sophistication of AI to gain a competitive advantage. You also need a team leader who has a level of understanding of all these roles.

[ Want best practices for AI workloads? Get the eBook: Top considerations for building a production-ready AI/ML environment. ]

3. Focus on augmented intelligence

Focusing on business outcomes rather than software development requires human and machine collaboration – this is called Augmented Intelligence. These hybrid teams create the opportunity for revolutionary transformation.

Consider the example of a hospital network that needs to make it easier and less risky to diagnose serious illnesses. They might use AI to read a patient’s x-ray or MRI to determine if there is an indication of a potentially serious problem. An experienced physician can then read the results presented by the AI system and come up with an effective treatment.

The AI-based system could also ingest huge volumes of data, run that data through a model, and suggest a treatment approach. However, countless details and nuances must also be considered in such a scenario, and human experts with experience and knowledge are best able to understand data in context. It is simply impossible to incorporate all of this experiential knowledge into a system. Therefore, the real magic comes in combining the sophistication of AI-based systems to analyze massive amounts of data with human expertise.

The power of hybrid teams

Hybrid teams that understand the business strategy, the data, and foundational AI technology will prepare your company to compete in the future. The benefit of AI depends not only on the sophistication of the tools but on culture and process changes. Augmented Intelligence is the linchpin to creating business agility.

[ Culture change is the hardest part of digital transformation. Get the digital transformation eBook: Teaching an elephant to dance. ]

Judith Hurwitz
Judith Hurwitz is the president and founder of Hurwitz and Associates, is known in the tech field as a thought leader, and is the author of ten books on leadership, technology, and analytics, including her most recent book,

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