Uncertainty to opportunity: Embrace AI with our 3-step approach
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July 8, 2024

Uncertainty to opportunity: Embrace AI with our 3-step approach

A 3-step approach to help you navigate AI implementation in your business

Navigating the intricacies of artificial intelligence (AI) can feel like embarking on an uncharted journey. Over the last year, like most companies, we have been working hard to figure out what this will look like for us, but also engaging with our clients to see how they have been getting on. These conversations with our clients and internal subject matter experts have revealed a common sentiment: Where do we begin? It's a challenge many enterprises face: do we prioritise our existing business strategy and allow AI to complement it, or do we pivot towards AI and shape our strategy around its capabilities? The uncertainty can be paralysing. But it is by no means the time to sit still, and the answer, we think, is a combination of both in the long term.   
  
We know that embracing the transformative potential of AI is no longer an option; it's a necessity. According to a new report, 66% of executives are ambivalent or outright dissatisfied with their organisation's progress on AI and GenAI so far, citing three primary reasons for their dissatisfaction: a lack of talent and skills (62%), an unclear AI and GenAI roadmap and investment priorities (47%), and absence of strategy regarding responsible AI and GenAI (42%) [1]. Despite appreciating that investing in AI is now necessary, many organisations need to be faster to embrace the change AI brings.  
  
Our approach offers a comprehensive framework designed to guide companies through the AI lifecycle, which we have broken down into three critical phases: Embrace the change, manage the change, and champion the change. Our conversations show businesses have different maturity levels when adopting AI. That's why we've distilled actionable insights into this tangible approach for AI adoption to help you no matter what stage you're at in your AI journey. AI is here to stay and will continue shaping how we conduct our businesses.  

Adoption starts with embracing the change of AI, which entails discovering new approaches to leverage the technology and understanding its nuances. This initial phase centres around knowledge and education. With AI developing rapidly, keeping up can take a lot of work. We see the most effective AI adoption for organisations that have started, starting with informed leaders. Educating organisational leaders ensures that those with significant influence and decision-making power have the necessary knowledge and understanding of AI's implications, opportunities, and risks. Leadership must be comfortable with the concepts and new approaches before their employees can execute them. It is, however, critical to involve and engage the broader workforce early in any AI adoption. Early engagement with the workforce increases the likelihood of identifying the most impactful opportunities, successful implementation, and, ultimately, higher adoption. The education of leadership will no doubt trickle down into the broader company. This helps explore the 'art of the possible', which can lead to the development of tailored AI use cases. Breaking down day-to-day pain points that employees face feeds AI use case generation and supports examining business-wide AI readiness. This educational phase will support leadership in deciding what approach to adopt and what AI solution is possible, given the resources and structure of your organisation.  
  
Managing an AI implementation requires meticulous planning, coordination, and communication. Managing the change, as we call it, will support both leadership and employees in assembling the necessary tools and skills for implementation. Implementing AI can be difficult and daunting without clear objectives, technical expertise, stakeholder engagement, and programme delivery experience. With the proper guidance in structuring and delivering an AI implementation project, your organisation can set itself up for sustained success. From forming an appropriate programme team, defining success criteria, rolling out proof of concepts, building a comprehensive system integration plan, and executing UAT scenarios, there are many facets to consider (and to get right!).   
  
Championing the change shifts attention to post-implementation activities aimed at empowering and supporting your organisation in fully leveraging the AI solution, or solutions, to reap the predicted benefits. It is worth mentioning that change management activities will have started in the embrace the change phase and will have gained momentum throughout implementation. This work then becomes the core of the last phase. You have done the hard work in implementing the various initiatives. Now, it is about ensuring you can realise the full potential of the benefits of whatever change has been made and continue improving for employees or customers. Employees may resist change due to fear of the unknown, perceived threats to job security, or reluctance to adopt unfamiliar technologies. If the AI solution affects customer-facing products or services, it's vital to ensure the customer is aware of the changes and new benefits. If your organisation does not direct customers to a new AI chatbot feature, for example, then all the hard work in implementing the solution is for nothing.

This phase is all about ensuring that the chosen solution delivers value. The responsibility lies with change management specialists. We all know the temptation to revert to our old ways of working is strong because it is more familiar and comfortable than the significant change in mindset required to adjust how you work to get the most out of technologies like GenAI. It is even more critical to continue to encourage and enable your employees. Effective communication, training, feedback and engagement initiatives are essential to foster a culture of openness, collaboration, and empowerment. Championing the change is about high visibility and participation - equipping the end users with the knowledge and skills needed to utilise the AI solution effectively. A trick to this step involves the end users early in the AI adoption process, ensuring the solution is designed and implemented with their preferences and requirements at the core.  

Let's explore a little deeper!

Step 1: Embrace the Change

Our discussions show that this initial hurdle in embracing AI lies in the fact that many organisations may not fully understand the breadth of possibilities it offers. Comprehending the potential of AI and its readiness within your organisation requires a deep dive into understanding the actual business challenges and defining desired outcomes. Leadership may face challenges in grasping the new risks, technology, and regulations associated with AI. Organisations struggle to embrace AI due to a lack of understanding of what it is and how to apply it to their business challenges, resource and skill constraints, data and technical complexity, and cultural resistance. Embracing the change of AI with our support can help foster a culture of innovation. Through education and awareness programmes, your organisation can understand AI fundamentals, ethical considerations, and business opportunities.   
  
The capabilities of AI are truly abundant, and the capabilities are getting more significant by the day. It can improve many functional areas of your organisation. Some examples include predictive analytics for market trends forecasting, Natural Language Processing (NLP) for IT Ticket Resolution, CV screening and candidate ranking, predictive cash flow analysis for treasury management, content creation for marketing campaigns, lead scoring and prioritisation, demand forecasting and inventory management, chatbots for FAQ handling, advanced NLP search functionality, regulatory compliance monitoring, fraud detection, virtual assistants, and the list goes on.  
  
Most executives report that only 1% to 10% of their workforce has received training on GenAI tools2 [2]. Reviewing your organisation through a detailed AI-readiness assessment, where you take stock of your technical, expertise and cultural readiness, will provide the basis for development areas to get ready for AI adoption and generate specific use case generation. This entails verifying the readiness of both on-premises and cloud-based infrastructure to handle the computational demands of AI algorithms and models while also considering potential challenges related to employee readiness, data quality, governance, security, processes, and environmental impacts.  

Step 2: Manage the Change

The focus in this phase shifts towards the practical and ethical implementation of AI solutions. This requires robust project management and technical expertise to transition seamlessly from traditional processes to AI-driven workflows. Your organisation needs to plan and execute defined strategies methodically, ensuring alignment with organisational goals and objectives. It sounds simple, but it requires a wealth of experience in practice. While 69% of CEO respondents see broad benefits of generative AI across their organisation, just 29% of their executive teams agree they have the in-house expertise to adopt generative AI [3]. We recognise that each organisation is on their unique journey. You have your own organisational culture, goals, and challenges. Ultimately, there is a need for technical prowess and a trusted and experienced implementation partner to guide your organisation through the AI lifecycle. A vital part of this phase lies in addressing the risks associated with AI implementation. By proactively mitigating these risks, organisations can enhance the likelihood of successful AI adoption and integration into existing operations. We understand the details of this phase will be organisation and use-case-specific. It takes collaboration from all stakeholders to deliver a smooth and efficient change to the end users. 

Step 3: Champion the Change

This phase will be at the heart of everything we do in the first two phases. As mentioned above, the change management activities will be embedded early in the AI adoption process. However, during this post-implementation phase, the change management activities ramp up to ensure that the fruits of your AI solution are borne. The benefits of AI change can only be experienced if your organisation conducts the appropriate change management activities, which are aimed at empowering and supporting the organisation in fully leveraging the solution that has been implemented. The focus is centred on addressing any remaining resistance and fostering widespread adoption. Central to this phase is high participation and engagement in tailored training programmes across all levels of the organisation, equipping employees or customers with the knowledge and skills needed to utilise the AI solution effectively. Feedback and satisfaction from end-users regarding the solution's usability indicate success, reflecting the tangible impact on daily workflows. This phase ensures that internal and external change management specialists have the right skills and experience to explain the changes and actions required of the end-users. To effectively Champion the change and foster a culture of continuous improvement around AI adoption, there are several strategies change experts should consider: comprehensive training and education initiatives, transparent communication and open dialogue, explicit demonstrations of value, pilot projects, incentives and feedback forums. As we measure progress against key performance indicators outlined in the strategic roadmap, it's important to remain responsive to evolving needs, implementing new features or updates to the AI solution based on continuous feedback from end-users. This feedback to the leadership will enable them to adapt and make the appropriate changes. 
 
Where do you stand in the journey?
Have you just started contemplating current challenges or new technologies?
Or are you already in the process of developing a POC? You may have finished your pilots but now face the daunting task of moving to deployment.

Regardless of your stage, LanciaConsult offers a wealth of expertise in technology transformation and the nuances involved in AI adoption. We're ready to guide your leadership through the possibilities, benefits, challenges, and risks of AI. Through implementation and change management, we're here to ensure you reap the full benefits of this trend that, whether you like it or not, is here to stay.  

[1] https://www.bcg.com/publications/2024/from-potential-to-profit-with-genai
[2] https://www.bcg.com/publications/2024/from-potential-to-profit-with-genai
[3] https://newsroom.ibm.com/2023-06-27-IBM-Study-CEOs-Embrace-Generative-AI-as-Productivity-Jumps-to-the-Top-of-their-Agendas

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