Is my business ready for AI?
A quick guide to determine whether you should take the plunge or not!
Prof. Alexiei Dingli
A quick stroll through the most prominent technological portals seems to share a common theme. Behold, the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is near! By now, everyone heard about AI, everyone uses it in some form or another, but very few understand it.
Luckily for us, one does not need to become an AI scientist before benefitting from it. Of course, with this information in hand, business owners are none the wiser since they still have no idea from where to start. Most of them might have read different articles on AI’s incredible benefits but are still doubtful whether they can use it in their organisation.
An excellent place to start is by performing an AI readiness audit. Before investing money and resources in an AI solution, decision-makers need to understand whether their organisation is ready to embark on a fruitful transformation process.
Thus, an audit is conducted to assess the fundamental, operational and transformative readiness of the organisation. Through the audit, organisations will better understand their company and its potential within an AI-enhanced ecosystem, thus indicating the shortfalls they have and saving them vast amounts of money in the future.
One should not be shy of conducting such an audit since it can be done for free, and the process involved is relatively simple. Essentially, it assesses 4 critical components; transformational, technical, organisational and environmental readiness. But don’t let these terms daunt you; let us explain them one by one.
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Transformational readiness examines whether your organisation is open to innovative changes. This part is important because research shows a positive relationship between the relative advantage of new technology and the acceptance of an innovation.
Through it, we ascertain whether AI can improve the company’s operations by maybe reducing costs, opening up to new opportunities, increasing efficiencies or even increasing income.
It will also delve into whether AI will give you a competitive advantage by helping your employees in their mundane tasks. Finally, it will check whether AI is aligned with the organisation’s strategic direction, thus giving it acceptance by top management.
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Technical readiness examines whether the organisation has the technical components in place to ensure a successful AI project. First of all, a specific need has to exist. AI is not a magic powder you sprinkle on top of existent processes. If AI doesn’t give the organisational processes any advantage, then just don’t use it.
Because of this, any transformative process has to be well planned to ensure that the organisation really benefits from it. The best way to ascertain this is to look at existing AI applications elsewhere and see whether they can be applied to your operations. If this is the case, then the most important thing is to look at the data available.
Data is today considered as the new oil, which fuels most of our AI algorithms. The organisation needs to assess the information it possesses, check whether it can be modified and used not just from a technical perspective but also from a legal one.
Organisational readiness looks at the openness of the organisation, vis-a-vis the adoption of new technology. It is interesting to note that we can predict whether the transformation will be successful by analysing the company size, management style, and other variables. A vital element is the outlook of Top management over such initiatives.
Is the management team committed to change, backed by a clear vision and with appropriate funding? The organisation also has to ascertain whether it has the right resources, both in terms of hardware and human expertise.
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Environmental readiness examins the external factors such as regulations and competition, which are critical factors when adopting new innovations. When one looks around and examins what similar organisations are doing, if they’ve already jumped on the AI bandwagon, then it’s a good indication that the solutions available on the market are relatively mature.
This should also serve as an alarm bell since competitors can quickly gain a competitive advantage over less innovative firms. So once the organisation decides to take the plunge, it needs to set up an AI strategy that focuses on influencing its external stakeholders.
This might be achieved by offering them an improved customer experience or speeding up the AI’s decision-making process. The possibilities are endless. Of course, those companies that decide to take the plunge need to do some homework as well.
They need to examine existing government regulations, policies, and incentives to get the most benefits out of this transformation. They also need to look at the AI services available through third-party vendors, which would allow them to deploy new solutions in no time.
Of course, its easier said than done, and if you’re still at a loss, why not take the free AI Self Assessment test. This test is intended to ask the pertinent questions, and at the end, it will also send an email highlighting the areas which require more work and suggest a way forward.
So don’t be afraid to take the plunge. AI is here to stay, and it will change the world we live in forever; you can’t afford to ignore it but can easily benefit from it.
Prof. Alexiei Dingli
Prof Alexiei Dingli is a Professor of AI at the University of Malta. He has been conducting research and working in the field of AI for more than two decades, assisting different companies to implement AI solutions. His work has been rated World Class by international experts and he won several local and international awards (such as those by the European Space Agency, the World Intellectual Property Organization and the United Nations to name a few). He has published several peer-reviewed publications and formed part of the Malta.AI task-force which was set up by the Maltese government, aimed at making Malta one of the top AI countries in the world.