In a recent #eWEEKchat discussion hosted by James Maguire (@JamesMaguire on X) of eWeek News, the world of enterprise artificial intelligence (AI) came under the spotlight. Questions ranged from the legitimacy of the AI hype to the challenges and recommendations for companies looking to embrace this transformative technology. Let’s delve into some key takeaways from this insightful conversation.
Question 1: Is the Hype Justified?
There is no doubt that the hype around AI is excessive, but at the same time the impact of AI on enterprises is undeniably massive. AI is not an overnight sensation, but a long-anticipated evolution that is already disrupting markets and changing businesses. It’s clear that AI is here to stay and will continue to shape the business landscape.
Question 2: Enterprise Adoption of AI
Most enterprises are still in the early stages of experimenting with AI, but the harsh reality is that many are not ready to capitalize on AI’s potential, even though they are eager to explore its possibilities. Experimentation and trial-and-error are essential in finding the best use cases. AI in the enterprise is rapidly evolving, but few enterprises today are ready to go into prod with their experiments.
Question 3: The Role of Cloud and Data Strategy
It is very clear from Sageable research that AI’s success is closely tied to foundational technologies like cloud infrastructure, cybersecurity, data management, or APIs. While AI is making strides, organizations are more successful with transformative innovation when they have a strong foundation on which to build it. Without a solid technological foundation, achieving meaningful business results through AI experiments will be challenging.
Question 4: Executive Understanding of AI
Whether executives even fully understand AI technology at this stage is questionable. Sageable research into Digital Transformation and the many technologies it embodies (including ML and AI) has found that executives typically exhibit excess optimism without a deep understanding of the technology, while ‘coal-face’ workers with more intimate knowledge of technology often suffer excess pessimism. Indeed, executives tend to overestimate the success and progress of digital transformation technologies, including AI, up to 30% more than line-of-business or technology staff. It is far from clear that execs really grok AI at this time.
Question 5: Building a Competitive AI Strategy
When it comes to building a competitive AI strategy, it is important to work through a directed innovation plan. While many think successful innovation is a lightbulb moment, it is more typically hard work on a structured plan. To drive successful AI adoption, start with clear business goals, create a strategic plan, deploy foundational digital transformation technologies, invest in education and training, embrace experimentation (even with the possibility of failure), and continuously measure and adapt to achieve desired outcomes.
Question 6: The Biggest Challenge for Enterprise AI
While many areas of AI face significant challenges – such as staffing, skills, performance, innovation – governance stands out as likely the biggest single challenge for AI in the enterprise. Governance encompasses aspects such as cybersecurity, compliance, cost management, staff training, algorithm management, process controls, and ethical considerations. Addressing these challenges is crucial to ensure the responsible and effective use of AI in organizations.
Question 7: Addressing Difficult AI Challenges
Addressing these complex challenges associated with AI is not easy, but conceptually simple – build, share, follow, and measure with a comprehensive plan. Tiger teams & CoEs are important vehicles for experimentation, but are not scalable, and not ‘enterprise grade’. While directing technical experts to such essential hands-on experimentation and innovation, leaders should be developing in parallel a well-defined AI strategy (including governance policy and process), aligned with business goals.
Question 8: The Future of Enterprise AI
The future of enterprise AI appears to be more unpredictable than earlier emerging technologies. It is reasonably clear that AI has already started to have a substantial and rapid impact. Within one year, AI will augment many jobs, and replace some; within two years, AI will be ubiquitous augmentation for knowledge workers; within three years, AI will have created entirely new roles, industries, markets – and destroyed some too.
Question 9: Final Thoughts on Enterprise AI
In closing, we discussed the importance of leadership at the CTO, CDO, and CIO levels in building comprehensive, adaptable, and realistic AI innovation plans as part of digital transformation. While experiments are essential, they should be complemented by strong foundations, ongoing training, clear policies, well-defined goals, and robust metrics.
Wrap-up: Next Steps for Your AI Strategy
In the whirlwind #eWEEKchat discussion, it was at least clear that AI is not just a buzzword. It is transformative force with the potential to fundamentally reshape industries and businesses. The key is to approach it strategically, with a clear vision, and a willingness to adapt as AI continues to evolve.
But despite the incredible experience on hand, this 60 minute tweetchat cannot replace an expert-led strategic planning session specific to your business, your challenges, your goals, and your teams.
If you are a CTO, CDO, or CIO seeking guidance on navigating the complex landscape of enterprise AI, you might want to consider reaching out to Sageable, and leveraging the incredible expertise of Sageable CTO analysts to help build a comprehensive and actionable AI strategy that works for you.