What you should know before your first AI project

A guideline of the most important aspects executives need to think about before implementing AI
Thu 25 Apr 2019

In the last months, we have shown you that Artificial Intelligence is playing a bigger and bigger role in our lives. You can now find devices that respond to voice commands, computer making phone calls for us, a 24/7 customer service thanks to chatbots, and radiologists using AI to give advice on skin issues.

We now know that companies will inevitably need to integrate AI technologies into their business strategy if they want to maintain or gain new advantages before their competitors. But there is a major gap between business executives knowing they have to implement AI and the actual implementation rate among businesses. According to a study from EY, 71% of business executives consider AI an important topic, but only 4% are actively using AI. Also, 57% of companies expect AI to have a high impact or a very high impact on business areas that are "entirely unknown to the company today".

So, what explains this gap and slow implementation rate of AI among businesses? We believe that one reason is that even if everyone has heard about AI, it is still unknown. Business executives are looking to understand the added value of AI within their company and thus are looking for the right field to start an AI project. For this reason, we explain in this article what companies should know before and while working on their first AI project. These 5 tips can help your company begin with your first AI project.

  • First you will have to determine the actual role of AI within your company: what are the benefits, which business issues could be solved, what do you need for an efficient AI implementation, etc. Without an all-round understanding of the technology, it is difficult to figure out what business objectives to pursue! It is important to know that Artificial Intelligence is good at automating tasks, rather than jobs. Thus, executives need to identify, for example, the tasks that are repetitive and could be automated by a machine, so that employees can focus on more creative work, or areas where AI can augment employees so they can benefit from new insights.

  • After understanding the technology and the applications that have shown their value on the market, it is time to invest. We recommend starting with a small project, go for a quick and easy win to convince the other executives within your company that AI can create value for the company. Thus, prioritize projects with a mature technology development such as chatbots and predictive analysis, because in these cases, it is becoming "business as usual" in some areas so the risk of failing is very low.

  • Generally, AI creates value in 3 ways: decreasing costs, increasing revenues or increasing productivity. Focus on clear and measurable objectives that can evaluate the impact of the AI application (such as cost reduction or productivity). This makes it easier to compare the savings before and after AI was implemented. For example, you can introduce AI to prevent customer churn and understand the drivers that make your clients leave your company.

  • Artificial Intelligence is a tool that supports many other useful solutions. AI can also be effective when the right processes are built around it. Hence the business executives should be open to making some changes for a smooth AI integration. It is thus important to reach across departments to find out the business needs and which data points have been gathered for a certain process. For example, do not make customer churn prediction your first AI project if you have not gathered any information about your customers and their purchase history, for example. Choose a business objective on which you have enough data available, and where it is hard for humans to get insights out of - this is where AI shines.

  • The last advice we want to give you is to accelerate your project by aligning with companies that are focused around AI. Learning all the aspects of AI from scratch will take a lot of time, which you might not have. There are so many AI players from which you can learn how to successfully implement AI and how to avoid the mistakes they encountered. They can also teach you how business and tech people have to work together in order to make the AI application that generates the most useful insights for the company as a whole.

These 5 pieces of advice will make it easier for you as a business executive to know what you are getting into before investing in AI. The general consensus among companies is that machines will never completely replace the human element, but managers who use AI will replace those who don't. The willingness to implement AI is there among executives (71%), now it is only a matter of finding the right first project that will convince you of the added value of AI. Artificial Intelligence will become as important as the internet, so be sure not to miss the boat.

If this article makes you wonder which business objective AI could solve for you, but you are not really sure, contact us and we will help you make the first step into the wonderful world that is Artificial Intelligence.

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