Amid all the uncertainty created by COVID-19, it might seem like a good time to shelve plans to incorporate artificial intelligence into your business model. But that would likely be a mistake. In many ways, now’s the best time to begin understanding the potential of AI in your company and to start investing – even if it’s in relatively modest amounts.
Start Thinking About How AI Fits Into Your Business
Professor Sampsa Samila, an expert on AI, sees these as some of the reasons why you should be doubling down on AI:
COVID-19 has accelerated digitalization
If many companies were lagging in AI adoption in early 2020 because they just weren’t digital enough, that is no longer the case. The sudden switch to remote working and online formats forced many companies to adopt new technologies and learn to use new digital tools – which AI can build on.
Many companies are having a re-think.
Since COVID-19 is prompting many businesses to re-think their strategies and focus, it’s a good time to add AI into that equation.
There’s cumulative advantage.
That means businesses which start collecting data early will build on that strength. More data leads to better predictions leads to more customers, which then leads to more data, better predictions and more customers.
Economies of scale apply to AI as well.
An algorithm once trained can be used in different applications, at relatively little additional cost. Making that first investment doesn’t mean you will have to continue making the same investment every step of the way.
Its uses cut across sectors.
Since AI is a general purpose technology, it has applications and uses in just about every sector. Now, it is being used more widely in areas such as finance and banking, ecommerce and marketing. But it’s only a matter of time before it is used in most industries.
It all starts with managers.
This is where your role is critical. You don’t have to start by hiring an army of data scientists, which could be complex and costly in this difficult climate. Instead, the most important step is to learn about how AI could impact your business. Research shows that many examples of successful AI adoption have been in companies that simply start with managers committed to learning about it. They often begin by working with off-the-shelf tools, or hire a consultant, or begin a pilot project.
4 basic questions to start thinking about AI
To start thinking about whether AI is useful for your business, Professor Javier Zamora suggests starting with four basic questions:
1. How does AI help me deal with the problem I want to solve?
2. Do I have the necessary data to train the AI system?
3. Do I understand the limitations of current AI systems when it comes to incorporating their results into decision-making?
4. What new capabilities does the company need in order to interpret the results of AI?
And of course your AI strategy must be aligned with your overall strategy, like any technological solution.
IESE’s Executive Education programs which cover a wide range of formats and topics, will help you improve your digital mindset to take the Artificial Intelligence challenge. Specially the Artificial Intelligence for Executives program provides participants with a broader understanding of the power of AI, including its impact on business models, sources of competitive advantage and organizational structure.