There’s a lot of talk around Artificial Intelligence (AI) these days, and sentiments range from curiosity to outright fear. The complexity and implications of this technology is already plenty to wrestle with on a personal level. For business leaders, the uncertainty is amplified.
Consider the recent stir about the Zoom terms of service that appeared to indicate the company’s unfettered right to put user content toward training AI. Had we unwittingly handed our intellectual property over to this company? Are we going to have to treat this as a data breach and inform our stakeholders? What alternative can we quickly implement and train our employees and clients on? And what other software applications might be feeding our data to AI?
While Zoom’s CEO has released a statement to calm the waters, the amount of articles and LinkedIn posts and general hubbub is indicative of stress levels surrounding AI in the corporate space.
To help take some of the anxiety out of the equation, we’ll help isolate what’s important for executives to focus on and what you can safely delegate when it comes to AI.
LAYING OUT A VISION IN THE AGE OF AI
Artificial intelligence is relevant to the average executive only in terms of how it could cost or earn you money.
This may sound reductive, especially to those familiar with our usual nuanced, human-centric take on technology. But when it comes to these tectonic concepts the more concentrated our focus the more actionable we can become.
In terms of bottom line you’ll want to consider how AI could impact the security of your data, the quality of your service or product, and additional lines of revenue. We’ll break this down a bit further below.
We dig into the cybersecurity implications of AI pretty deeply in this article. The short story is that while we don’t expect that audio or video deepfakes to hit the corporate threat landscape in the near future, we do expect to see AI bump the quality and quantity of existing scam tactics up several notches. Is your team prepared for this?
On the other hand, threat detection and remediation software has used AI to malicious activity for a few years now—a defense found to have a significant impact on post-breach cost containment. Our solution of choice is SentinelOne, but CrowdStrike and Cylance are viable options as well. This advanced endpoint protection is now a base-level must-have for organizations across all industries (and it isn’t expensive, either).
Service & Revenue
In what ways could artificial intelligence make the service you offer your clients or members more efficient, more comprehensive, more valuable, or more engaging? Which of those enhancements could you put a price tag on?
Take chatbots, a popular means of service delivery, for example:
- Standard functionality – Your chatbot functions as an online menu of sorts, offering up pre-programmed choices that will lead to pre-defined outcomes. It’s instant and automated, but it’s limited and needs humans to pick up where its capabilities end. Users might get convenient access to helpful resources, or they might get annoyed.
- AI functionality – Your chatbot asks your client or member to describe their need. AI interprets the content (even if key words are misspelled), tone, and presentation of that input to deliver the most appropriate, curated output in a conversational manner—just as quickly, and without any manual human intervention needed.
Would that application of AI benefit your clients or members? Would they pay for it? Would the impact on retention and referral business negate the need to charge?
Could other processes (eDiscovery, member management) be elevated in a similar fashion?
Could AI—the industry or the technology—open the door to an entirely new practice area for your business?
HOW TO GET STARTED
The above may sound great in theory, but practically speaking how are you supposed to be able to identify what could be possible with a technology so complex?
- Take stock of what services you deliver and how.
- Play with ChatGPT.
First, make sure you have a comprehensive picture of your offerings and the primary processes that go into delivering them. Make a list or diagram to capture this baseline.
Then play. Seriously – have your leadership team and any power users in your organization spend time experimenting with ChatGPT to get a feel for what this technology is and is not capable of doing. Use that program to write some business correspondence, plan a vacation, or do some research. Make it write a business plan for a new line of revenue. Ask it to tell you how to best market your existing services. Watch some videos on YouTube or TikTok on “Prompt Engineering for ChatGPT” and see what you learn and can do with it.
The point of the exercise isn’t to necessarily use any of this information, but to get your creative juices flowing on what is possible.
After the group has had time to investigate and digest, hold and internal brainstorming session that brings your service diagram and your experimentation together. In that session, ask:
- What new services could we provide?
- What existing services could we provide differently?
And see what comes of it. We would wager more than a few good ideas will bubble up.
HOW TO SUSTAIN MOMENTUM
In addition to recruiting your team in the construction of your AI-informed company vision, surround yourself with vendors and partners who are forward-looking.
When it comes down to it, much of this AI “war” is going to be won based on having the right toolsets. That goes for security, and it also goes for having vendors who are proactively building AI into their systems.
If you’re with an association, is there a particular AMS vendor that is applying AI to its reporting functionality? If you’re with a consulting or law firm, is there a time and billing vendor that has taken manualtime-tracking off the table altogether with AI? (If you’re with any of those three industries… is there an IT partner who is writing this very article for you as part of their commitment to premium, proactive service?)
Take stock of your current partnerships and note the inflection points (i.e. contract expirations) where you should consider making a change.
With those milestones plotted, layer in your team’s best ideas from the focused, collaborative brainstorm session over the course of 2024 and 2025. And then it’s resource allocation and execution as usual.
Cheeky parentheticals aside, we at Optimal are genuinely passionate about helping our clients prepare for and navigate technological change. If you aren’t confident your IT strategy has properly accounted for the current landscape, we’d love to perform an objective assessment to validate or refine your approach.
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