Deploying an Artificial Intelligence (AI) solution is not the same as deploying other software or applications. AI systems should be viewed as foundational solutions that are capable of transforming your enterprise or organization. Although AI’s adoption is accelerating, it is still a new technology to many, so it’s crucial that every company employ an AI champion who can communicate AI’s value across lines of business. Without an AI champion to influence decision-makers, back office workers and check-signers, companies will invest in AI systems ad hoc, instead of formulating and executing a well thought-out AI strategy – one that will need buy-in across an organization to be successful.
Many companies over the years have deployed and integrated their business applications on an as-needed basis, adding marketing, e-commerce, or other systems based on near-term needs rather than long-term planning. Businesses quickly learn that the more solutions you have feeding data back and forth to one another, the more complex these solutions can be to manage and maintain. For example, today e-commerce impacts email marketing, network monitoring tools support e-commerce availability, and CRM data assists help desk agents responding to customer chat messages. Software empowers other forms of software. AI is no different, and it also has the ability to enhance and streamline the performance of other software systems.
Unfortunately, when businesses consider AI for the first time, they’re likely to view it as an upgrade to an existing technology. They think AI can only automate customer support, or accelerate IT operations, or perform mundane business tasks, and all as discrete projects. In reality, AI can achieve all three of these tasks and much more. More importantly, AI when deployed across an entire enterprise is more powerful than AI deployed to enhance a single siloed business systems. This is a difficult concept for many to grasp, particularly with a limited understanding of AI’s capabilities, which is why an AI champion must be assigned the task of communicating AI’s benefits across a business.
An Expert Communicator
When the time comes to hire your champion, look for someone capable of communicating in all forms – email, chat, in-person, etc. This may sound rudimentary for any high-level executive, however this person’s main responsibility will be persuading everyone from the CEO to customer support agents that AI systems are a must-have in today’s market. The champion’s ability to effectively explain AI’s abilities and potential ROI will be critical to whether an AI project ever gets off the ground.
Technology skills are also important to the role, to a point. Of course, decision-makers will require demand to know how AI works, and if an AI champion can convince a company’s technology experts that the deployment is worthwhile, the experts can explain how it can be built and deployed – thereby convincing others of its value. An AI champion needs to have comprehensive knowledge of the impact AI will have on every aspect of the business, but not necessarily how it will be programmed.
An Expert on the Business
More importantly, a company’s AI champion must have a thorough understanding of every aspect of the business. How people accomplish their tasks, the roadblocks they face, whether they work across departments, whether they share data with other teams – understanding how AI can improve these and other processes must be central to a champion’s mission. As such, someone with a consulting background, a deep knowledge of business operations and/or vertical expertise (relevant to their company’s industry) would make an ideal champion.
Although there are dozens of considerations to make when deploying an AI system, hiring an AI champion should be first on the list. Once you find the right person to spearhead an AI deployment and evangelize its potential impact, a champion will help the rest of your staff understand and ultimately embrace the project. An AI system will require some workers to reimagine how they do their jobs, and change can make employees anxious, but an AI champion will be able to articulate the many reasons why adopting AI will be beneficial for everyone involved.