A study conducted by IDC revealed this year that only 25% of companies worldwide have an enterprise-wide AI strategy. The study, which surveyed over 2,000 businesses, noted that half of the respondents ranked AI as a top priority, and the same amount had active AI projects at the business unit level.
In other words, AI adoption is outpacing AI planning.
At Verint Next IT, we see this quite a bit. These days, POC’s and pilots are used religiously in an effort to mitigate some of the risks of a larger investment in AI. These small pilots are often sanctioned at the departmental level, and the scope is often kept quite narrow to mitigate risk. In theory, you get the best of both worlds. You get to dip your toes in the AI pool, but you don’t carry any of the risks of a major “AI transformation.”
However, what’s missing from these pilot projects is an overarching strategy that directs even the most modest AI efforts towards a broader organizational imperative. All of these projects are part of the first phase of an AI transformation, whether you choose to think of it as a transformation or not.
The only question is: Are you going to chart a course for that transformation, or hope that one suddenly appears if you run enough pilots?
Business is still business
There are few remaining corners of the enterprise where this emergent, guess and check approach to top priority would be tolerated. And for good reason — we know it doesn’t work, and we’ve known that for a long time.
In 1973, Peter Drucker offered the following definition of strategic planning in his book Management :Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices:
“Strategic planning is the continuous process of making present entrepreneurial (risk-taking) decisions systematically and with the greatest knowledge of their futurity; organizing systematically the efforts needed to carry out these decisions; and measuring the results of these decisions against the expectations through organized, systematic feedback.”
Drucker developed an entire approach to strategic planning that was inspired by Sun Tzu’s Art of War, which dates to the 5th century BC.
As we head towards 2020, it’s a good time to rethink the strategy, or lack thereof, behind AI investments, and recommit to some fundamental business rigor in the year ahead. With that in mind, here are Next IT’s 6 tenets of AI planning done right.
AI Planning Done Right
- Document your organization’s business goals and user needs. All AI investments are beholden to these goals and must align and be measured to know you are doing good things for both the business and your users.
- Identify your data assets and weaknesses. AI runs on high-quality data. Early investments should be targeted towards areas of your business where your data maturity levels can support your investments.
- Map your market’s AI strengths and weaknesses. Are you playing catchup? Or are there areas where you can gain a real advantage?
- Develop and document your overarching AI strategy. Then identify the AI projects that promise the most business impact and orient all of them around their corresponding business goal(s).
- Set specific, measurable goals for the success of each AI project. These goals might include metrics and KPIs that sit downstream from your top-level business goals, but they should have a direct and clear connection. Commit to a timeline for measurement and reporting on all projects.
- Develop a plan for governance and human oversight. AI should never be a “black box” solution. Human oversight is critical, not just to mitigate risk, but to ensure ongoing alignment with the broader business goals and mission. Do not start any projects without a documented process for human oversight.
No AI technology on the market poses as much risk to your business as not having an AI plan.
In fact, planning, as Drucker would argue, is all about choosing the right risks. With a solid AI strategy, you not only control your risk exposure, but you orient your efforts around higher-ROI opportunities.
When your 2020 planning cycle begins, don’t settle for reaffirmations of AI as a “top priority.” Verint Next IT's AI Blueprint can help you chart your map to success with AI projects and take your priorities to plans, ultimately leading to successful actions and sustainable implementations.
Want to learn more about how to plan AI projects intelligently? Download the AI Blueprint eBook to get the scoop on 5 ways AI Blueprint helps complex enterprises succeed with sustainable AI.