In an era being shaped by global economic, political and technological challenges, CEOs must confront many uncertainties as they map the future of their business. One trend is clear however: the growing importance of data in shaping critical business decisions. How CEOs handle, manage and utilise data will, to a great degree, define their own success as they navigate their digital journeys.
In an exclusive with Business Chief Europe, Zhiwei Jiang, CEO, Insights & Data at Capgemini, shares his insight into how CEOs can harness AI in order to drive a company's success.
The turn of the decade has sparked new questions around technological innovation, and more specifically, the pace of change.
Through the likes of blockchain, cloud and artificial intelligence (AI), technology is shaping the world at a speed we haven’t experienced since the dot-com era. While this level of innovation has transformed the entire enterprise, it has also created an increasing challenge for business leaders who are trying to use data as their most powerful asset and gain actionable insights in the process.
With the correct infrastructure in place, the effective management of data and its interpretation through analytics, businesses of all sizes can secure a significant competitive advantage. However, in order to achieve this, an organisation must be prepared to maximise its analysis of technology today, while simultaneously planning for the technology of the future. But where should businesses start when it comes to the latter?
In the realms of actionable insights and data, there are several trends for business leaders to keep in mind to inform their long-term strategy. These include:
The only constant is change
Technology within the enterprise is evolving so quickly that even key decision makers may struggle to keep up with how everything works. This is particularly true for AI - the most-hyped technology of the last decade but also being used as a very broad term for an incredibly colorful spectrum of solutions. Whether you’re implementing AI at scale or just experimenting with initial projects, it can provide highly valuable data and insights for your business - but only if the strategy is sound.
Business leaders need to understand the opportunities AI presents and openly discuss how they can harness this technology for the future. Nearly three-quarters of companies say that AI brings new insights, improves data analysis, and helps them make better decisions. Resisting the implementation of AI is no longer an option as this will have serious ramifications on how businesses progress. Leaders need to see AI as an enabler to help solve business challenges and apply compelling strategic vision to their overarching goal.
Decision makers will need to keep pace with this change if they want to stay ahead of the competition and look at where AI can be activated. That means reskilling people to ensure they can use it to transcend the current capacity of an organisation’s resources.
There will be uneven levels of progress
Last year AI was set to disrupt and improve multiple industries; however, different sectors are now innovating at different paces and we should anticipate an increased gap between the leaders and the laggards. Decision makers need to consider how this gap will affect their business - from their development strategy to their organisational structure - and where this will create more opportunities for them to thrive.
Those organisations that are still hesitant to adopt AI must recognise the higher-than-expected benefits of implementing advanced technologies like this. From stronger reputation and improved customer satisfaction, to a positive impact on revenue and business growth - these should encourage every sector to jump on board.
For those falling behind, there are valuable learnings to gain from those leading the charge. Understanding the limitations of what can and cannot be done with AI is imperative to business’ success, along with learning how certain processes and decisions work within the organisation before automating them. Decision makers who are looking to adopt AI into their business should first look at pitfalls others have already come across and resolved, as doing so will save valuable time and money.
A focus on data-driven AI
There are two key trends for AI in the enterprise at present: Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI) and Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). These only touch the spectrum of what AI could present in the future and for businesses to understand and depict how AI can be beneficial for them.
We know that ANI is already being adopted across multiple industries, representing all the existing capabilities of AI with systems that perform a task autonomously using human-like attributes. With this technology, machines can do nothing more than what they are programmed to do and thus have a very limited or narrow range of competencies. However, with AGI, also known as human-level AI, machines can achieve complex goals in different environments without any computational limitations, just like humans can.
Organisations must not only learn how to utilise the AI technology, but, more importantly, how to use data from this to define their ongoing business strategy.
Leaders should be prepared for the AI landscape to continuously change as this technology advances with researchers already looking at the possibilities of implementing AGI within this decade.
The creation of a data culture
Finally, deploying the right technology is crucial to unlocking success with data. However, that’s only part of it. To build a truly data-driven organisation, business leaders need to create an environment where employees collectively value and encourage the use of data as a key strategic asset when making any business decision.
There has already been an increase in AI-focused roles within the C-suite in the last year for this reason. Organisations which are ahead of the curve are using this role – such as a Head of AI or Chief Data Strategist - to actively push a data culture that helps their business thrive.
As with most organisations, change is shaped by the leadership team, but also depends heavily on employee involvement and implementation from the grassroots.
The catalyst for success is for both leaders and employees to understand the various elements and benefits AI will bring to an organisation. This shouldn’t be seen as an add-on initiative or isolated project; it needs to be infused into the fabric of the business.
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