In today’s day and age, there is plenty of hype surrounding AI and its potential impact on all aspects and avenues of our lives: tech that promises to prevent diseases, solve global warming, and generally change our lives for the better. Particularly in the business world, AI has become an object of increasing desire, where more and more companies have been using AI with real intention to give them an edge over their competitors.
However, especially for younger organizations, it can be difficult to know where to begin. In a landscape that is becoming ever more saturated, discerning genuinely disruptive tech from software that is merely packaged as AI is one of the many factors that startups must consider before embarking on their AI journey.
Even for young companies that have already settled on AI-powered tools that offer legitimate benefits to their business, the implementation process might nevertheless also prove challenging.
With this in mind, how can founders navigate the common obstacles of adopting AI solutions and ensure that they are truly benefitting from game-changing tech?
Evaluate Whether You Even Need AI
It might seem obvious to note, but entrepreneurs should first determine whether or not there is a clear need for AI within the context of their organization. Naturally, most founders will have a raft of priorities to grapple with, and it is important that vital resources, both human and financial, are not misspent on pushing technology before the business actually requires it.
As such, entrepreneurs should always consider investment in AI as a strategic decision, and ensure that new tools provide more than just a novelty factor.
To begin with, founders should look for AI vendors that can demonstrate proof of value for their products before making a decision. I would also encourage them to ask two key questions before committing:
- How will AI support their employees and core business processes above and beyond what can already be improved without recourse to new technologies?
- And even more importantly, what problem are they trying to solve?
Having clear answers to these questions and carefully considering the value-adding potential of AI should be a large factor in the decision to take on new tech — as should the cost of doing so.
Ensure That ‘AI’ Isn’t Just a Marketing Tactic
Startups should also be wary of being left hampered with products that over-promise and under-deliver. After deciding to take the plunge, founders will be faced with the task of distinguishing genuinely innovative products from those that are just a fad.
AI has become a huge commercial opportunity for businesses. And, according to a survey by KPMG, business leaders are becoming wary of this fact. Indeed, 57 percent of respondents in the tech industry stated that they believe AI is more “hype than reality” at the moment. Given the overflow of companies claiming to be the next big thing, many will use the term “AI” as a powerful marketing tool, even when machine learning models and powerful data-driven analytics have little to do with the product itself.
The fact that AI has been hyped does not take away from its capabilities as a real value driver, however. It simply means that businesses must be more careful when evaluating potential solutions.
One thing I would urge founders to do, so that they can avoid falling victim to software that is only “AI” in name and not in nature, is to invest in in-house expertise. By having somebody with the deep technical knowledge necessary, startups should be able to establish comprehensively whether a solution is really fit for purpose.
Beyond this, seeking third-party support can offer some external guidance to help separate fact from fiction.
Implementing the Tech
After deciding on a new product, founders might struggle to know how to seamlessly integrate solutions into their business.
Here is where it would be wise to have a coherent implementation strategy in place so that new solutions are introduced in small, incremental stages, rather than all at once. Doing so will ensure that any teething problems can be ironed out and that adaptations can be made before the solution is rolled out to different areas of the business.
Alternatively, businesses with more room in their budget might consider investing in customized AI solutions that are carefully tailored to their needs from the get-go.
Even when the tech is right, organizations would still do well to keep all members of staff informed and up to date with their training, to make certain that they are comfortable utilizing new technologies. The World Economic Forum estimates that 54 percent of employees globally will need “significant reskilling by 2022” to deal with the skills gap emerging as a result of advances in AI and other technologies.
Thankfully, it appears that many business leaders are realizing the importance of digital skills when it comes to leveraging innovative tech, with 20 percent of global CEOs stating that they had made “significant progress” when it comes to “improving workers’ and leaders’ knowledge of tech,” according to a 2020 PwC survey of 1,581 business leaders.
Ultimately, founders must remember that AI should not only be viable for their organization, but it should also make their and their employees’ lives easier. Getting to grips with AI is not an insurmountable task — and with the help of exceptional tech, founders will be able to truly empower their business.