Turning AI Into Concrete Value: A 5-step Guide for CEOs

Artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as arguably the most debated, disruptive, and transformative business and technology trend facing today’s enterprise.

Below CEO Today benefits from expert insight into the world of AI from Lanny Cohen, Chief Innovation Officer at Capgemini, who discusses five simple steps to follow in order to make the most of AI technology.

Perhaps unlike any other technology driven business and commerce disruption in our lifetimes, AI can be viewed as a vast source of competitive strength, business dislocation, and, potentially, market dominance. From enhancing the customer experience to boosting operational efficiency, influencing sales, and reducing operational costs due to process improvement, the opportunities to use AI are plentiful.

However, as with all disruptive technology, vast investments are no guarantee of meaningful returns. Without focus, ambition and strategy, AI investments can quickly go wayward, leading to financial loss and even reputational damage.

To help business leaders realize the long-term and sustainable benefits of AI, below are five fundamental steps for turning AI into concrete value:

1. View AI as the potential it represents

AI has the potential to revolutionize the way we work and change how organizations conduct business. As of yet, AI’s potential knows no bounds. The organizations that benefit the most from AI will be those who are disruptive, rather than reactive to disruption. Business leaders should be ambitious and visionary in their ideas for how AI can be utilized in their organization.

This vision can then be backed by a concrete roadmap to turn ideas into reality. The roadmap is essential to provide the overall direction and blueprint for where and how AI will be applied in the enterprise and in what timeframe.

2. Lead with high impact AI business cases before evolving to an enterprise strategy

Recent Capgemini research found that most organizations are focusing their efforts on more complex AI projects and missing out on simpler projects that could drive quicker returns. Organizations, especially those not yet implementing AI at scale, should focus on these low-complexity, high benefit projects to quickly and better leverage the power of AI. As an organization’s AI capabilities mature, it can then look to implement more complex, high benefit use cases, with a greater chance of success.

3. Manage AI investment and spend carefully

Without a keen focus and strategy, enterprises can easily fall into the trap of spending a lot of time and money on AI with minimal return and little business impact. Getting the most out of one’s AI investment must involve a careful strategy, enforced by the right talent.

In line with this, enterprises should choose a leader to spearhead AI initiatives; ideally, a CXO who reports to the CEO with a leadership team that is aligned and committed to the change management of AI implementations. Furthermore, acquiring the talent needed to turn AI into concrete value will likely involve the organization moving outside of its four walls into a world of collaboration, partnerships, and new relationships.

4. Establish an AI trust profile

Without trust, AI introduces a level of reputational and legal risk that will only grow as adoption increases. It is therefore paramount that establishing a strategy for AI trust and ethics is a key part of any enterprise AI initiative.

Furthermore, questions of task displacement, new job assignments, acquiring new skills, working hand-in-hand with machines, and relying more extensively on data analytics and insights, are all internal people disruptors that can slow down, or even undermine, an otherwise well-planned and well-intended AI strategy. By demonstrating to employees how AI will augment their work and by implementing training programs, workers will increase comfort levels with the technology. Leadership is tasked with managing resistance to change by helping their teams identify the processes that can be re-imagined, not eliminated, using AI.

5. Recognize pervasiveness of AI and begin to build your AI estate in the enterprise

AI, perhaps like no other technology-driven disruption yet, affords the opportunity to recreate or introduce entirely new ways of working, products and services, and business models. In this context, legacy enterprises can leapfrog their current market positions, by re-imagining and achieving states that were previously reserved only for digitally native enterprises.

AI cannot just be viewed as a bolt-on technology; it must be woven into the fabric of the organization and treated as a more comprehensive set of enterprise capabilities, processes, and assets. This is essential to laying the foundations for legitimate and durable AI enablement. However, don’t assume everything has to be perfect. AI is not about striving for perfection but instead, continuously evolving your strategy to drive maximum value for the business.

Overall, AI stands to be prominent, pervasive, and perpetual. Pursuing it as another technological shiny object is, simply, an ineffective strategy. By viewing AI as integral to the architecture of the enterprise and creating a strategic plan to weave into the organization’s fabric, business leaders will begin to see real business value in this disruptive technology.

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