When it comes to leveraging artificial intelligence in your business, the message from Stratford Group business consultants is clear: get started.
Practice leader Rana Chreyh says AI presents an endless array of opportunities to enhance operations or differentiate products & services. With so much to choose from, the best place to start is at the beginning.
“While the options for artificial intelligence tools can be overwhelming, we still ask the same questions,” said Chreyh. “What problem are you solving? What opportunities are you leveraging? What’s the product or service you’re enhancing?”
Infuse AI into your business strategy
Mike D’Amico, Stratford’s president of people and culture consulting, reminds us that businesses have been adapting to technological advances and upheavals for more than 50 years, and AI is just the next evolution.
“Computers were going to replace everybody,” he said. “But in the end, we needed to learn how to leverage them to do our jobs better. The difference with AI is that the change is happening at a much faster pace urging companies to adopt much faster.”
Companies like Blockbuster and Kodak are proof that your biggest mistake would be failing to start. That’s why Stratford sees AI as the next opportunity to integrate powerful technology into your business.
Chreyh says there are two areas where businesses can take advantage. First, applications designed to improve operational efficiency for any type of business. Second, industry specific applications that differentiate a core product or service.
For example, in healthcare she said, “To enhance operations, AI can be used to improve efficiency by automating inventory management. Industry specific AI applications — for tasks like monitoring patients — can be more impactful and more involved.”
After the sense of overwhelm is dialed down, D’Amico says that you’ll need to support your people throughout the process.
“Business strategy needs to flow into your people strategy,” he said. “Are there opportunities to replace some of what people are doing? Are there other ways to change what people are doing? Does AI create the need for new or different capabilities on your teams?”
Like any other business improvement, the journey can be uncomfortable and mistakes will be made, but it’s worth the effort to stay competitive.
Using change management principles to guide your team through the “valley of despair” is essential for staying competitive and creating new avenues for growth.
Two critical change management priorities include reassuring employees they’re not being replaced, and helping them integrate AI into their everyday tasks. The latter could include training and ensuring the tools are user-friendly.
The most critical message could be the potential for AI to give your team the bandwidth they need to be more creative.
“As tedious tasks are increasingly being done by AI, people are going to have more focus and creativity time,” said Natalie Giroux, president of intellectual property consulting at Stratford. “You’ll be giving your people more exciting things to do and leveraging their capabilities even more.”
Mitigate risks early
Underlying any big change is the potential for things to go wrong.
Rather than shying away from risk, Stratford helps their clients identify and mitigate risk from the start.
Giroux says accuracy and reliability of data as well as protecting your intellectual property rights are crucial — especially when it comes to revealing proprietary information without your knowledge.
“With the personal use of AI tools, individuals and companies may be disclosing trade secrets or other forms of intellectual property without realizing it,” said Giroux. “Understanding how the tools being used leverage your inputs and data is important in protecting your IP.”
ChatGPT is just one example of where this can happen.
Understanding the legislative landscape is also important. Giroux says it will take some time to resolve how countries around the world will regulate ownership of AI generated content.
For example, the Canadian Intellectual Property office awarded in December 2021, copyright for a machine-generated image to the artificial intelligence application, along with the person who wrote the code, going against the current approach that copyrights must be owned by humans.
Giroux would like countries to work together to harmonize their approach. Until then, she wants businesses to properly and proactively protect their IP to avoid any costly mistakes.
We are at the cusp of significant business disruption as AI technologies accelerate and become a must for all businesses. Leaders will need to sift through the hype to identify the priority opportunities for their business and build their strategies and roadmaps.
While tried and true business principles still apply to adopting new technology, Stratford also knows that for many, AI may feel like taking a quantum leap into the unknown.
Stratford is and will be there to help guide those first steps, to help you look before you leap.
It’s the best strategy for businesses to take action and avoid being left behind.