Planning how to use AI in your organisation

An extract from the book 'Harnessing AI' by Rob May

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Many people buy my book because of seeing one of my Harnessing AI talks or participating in one of my Leadership Team masterclasses, in those I often refer to the nine planning steps of AI implementation.

This is a robust and comprehensive approach to integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) into a business environment. It encompasses critical steps that ensure a thoughtful and effective adoption of AI technology. The nine steps are as follows:

1. Identify Business Goals and Needs Assessment: Begin by clearly defining your business goals and conducting a thorough needs assessment to understand how AI can address specific challenges or opportunities within your organisation. This ensures that the AI solution aligns with specific business objectives, making the investment more targeted and effective.


2. Research AI Types for Specific Needs: Investigate various types of AI technologies to determine which aligns best with your business needs, focusing on their capabilities and potential applications. This step is crucial for understanding the landscape of AI technologies and selecting the right tool for your specific business needs, avoiding costly mismatches.


3. Benchmarking with Industry Peers: Investigate how other organisations in your sector are leveraging AI. This can provide insights into successful strategies and common pitfalls to avoid. Learning from the experiences of others in your sector can provide valuable insights into best practices and help you anticipate potential challenges.


4. Feasibility Study: Assess the feasibility of implementing AI in your business by evaluating the data you have available, the costs involved, and the technical infrastructure required. This step assesses the practicality of implementing AI in your organisation, considering your current data infrastructure and budget constraints, which is essential for a successful deployment.


5. Strategic Partner Selection: Identify and choose strategic partners or vendors who have the expertise and experience to help you implement AI solutions effectively. Choosing the right partners or vendors can significantly influence the success of your AI projects, given the complexity and specialised nature of AI technologies.


6. Pilot Test and ROI Analysis: Conduct a pilot test of the chosen AI solution to evaluate its impact and understand the return on investment (ROI) it offers, ensuring it aligns with your business objectives. Testing the AI solution on a smaller scale initially helps identify any issues before a full rollout and provides a clearer picture of the potential return on investment.


7. Implementation, Monitoring, and Tweaking: After the pilot, move forward with full implementation. Continuously monitor the AI system's performance and make necessary adjustments to optimise its effectiveness. Continuous monitoring and the ability to make adjustments post-implementation are key to ensuring that the AI system evolves and remains aligned with business goals.


8. Training and Stakeholder Consideration: Ensure that employees at all levels are properly trained to work with the new AI system. Also, consider the impact of AI implementation on all stakeholders, including customers and employees. Proper training is essential for user adoption and effective use of AI technology. Considering the impact on all stakeholders ensures a smooth transition and broad support.


9. Continuous Improvement and Retraining: AI systems require ongoing maintenance and updates to stay effective. Continually improve and update the AI application as needed and retrain the system with new data to maintain its relevance and accuracy. AI is not a 'set and forget' solution. It requires ongoing attention and updates to stay effective, especially as business needs and the external environment change.