Experimentation in business is thrilling. Evolving experimentation into actual business strategy is thrilling too—but also orders of magnitude more complicated. In an article for Harvard Business Review, Alessandro Di Fiore, Simon Schneider, and Elisa Farri discuss five things an AI unit should do if it wants to develop a clear direction for supporting the business:
- Scout AI technology, applications, and partners
- Experiment with AI technology and applications
- Support business units in applying AI technology
- Get the entire organization to understand AI
- Attract and retain talent
The first tip is just about “putting feelers out” to keep a pulse on how AI is progressing around you. Establish dedicated AI centers in appropriate geographic regions and make them hubs for AI developments. Next, the second tip is about the aforementioned experimentation. Experiments come in different forms, but the idea is to conduct small AI pilots to develop cognitive technologies that pertain to relevant business areas. From there, the ultimate goal is for a network of AI experts to be able to support the business with integrating and applying AI solutions.
The authors are quick to reiterate that AI is ultimately just a tool, and it is up to people to derive value from it. Deriving value requires more understanding of what AI really is, and so the AI unit should educate the business about its use:
Embedding AI in the company’s culture and core skills set can be done at two levels. First, internal communication initiatives can help raising awareness and acceptance of AI technologies, in particular those with a high transformative potential, while creating a common AI language and culture. Second, targeted education efforts allow building basic, standard capabilities of people, who are not AI experts in the organization. AirBnB is a prime example of this. By setting up an internal Data University, AirBnB is teaching employees data science with the goal of making the transition to a more AI-aware organization easier and faster.
For deeper elaboration on how this AI unit framework works, you can view the original article here: https://hbr.org/2018/01/the-5-things-your-ai-unit-needs-to-do