July 25, 2018 | By

Building a Successful AI Strategy

Over the past few years I’ve had the privilege to meet with CX leaders at organizations large and small.   While CX Maturity can vary widely from company to company, AI is becoming more and more intriguing for businesses looking to transform their customer experience.  Unfortunately, the concept of AI can feel overwhelming and many are still grappling with how to get started.

In my last post, I discussed the importance of reframing the way we view AI as a first step. Now, let’s talk about creating an AI strategy.  After all, it’s one thing to decide to implement AI technology to transform your business, but it’s another to actually DO IT.

  1. Determine how you want to leverage AI and align your priorities accordingly.

When starting on an AI journey, you first need to determine what tools/ technology providers you will partner with to get you to where you want to go. There are many routes you can take — each with varying degrees of resources needed (development, staffing, financial, etc.), difficulty, and time-to-value. These options range from Platform Providers (think: Google, AWS, etc.) to niche AI technology providers. Platform Providers are providing AI services for mass consumption and offer AI components such as image recognition, voice recognition, translation, and language analysis. On the other end of the spectrum, we’re seeing a rise of purpose-built technology providers that are focused on delivering AI technology in a specific vertical or use-case. It is important to pick a technology provider whose offering and strategy align with your desired AI application.

  1. Identify the pain points that you want AI to solve.

This might seem like Product Management 101 but all too often we meet with companies that haven’t fully identified what they’re actually trying to solve for. They know they want AI but haven’t clearly determined what they want it to do. Try to frame your thinking as “If I had no cap on human resources, what would I want these employees to do? How could I best utilize them to drive my business forward?”. These ideas will become your primary candidates for AI-driven optimizations. Look for opportunities that could streamline your existing workflows or better yet- eliminate them altogether.

  1. Be clear and steadfast to the level of autonomy you want your AI solution to have.

Every AI deployment has a target autonomy level. It seems that popular thinking is the more autonomy you give to AI, the more value you derive. However, this isn’t always the case. It’s a balancing act of value versus risk management. Keep in mind that if/ when your AI fails, it will undoubtedly cause friction in your workflow. And the more autonomy we give to AI, the more friction created when it makes a mistake. If you’re jumping into AI for the first time, start small and scale it up as it becomes successful and gains popularity among users. This will also give you an opportunity to iterate and improve so that it becomes smarter and more reliable as it matures.

  1. Identify the data you have (and the data you will need) for your AI to be successful.

In business and product design we all know that data is king. But in AI, data becomes a critical and strategic component to the outcome we desire.  Like humans, AI needs to learn to become knowledgeable and provide value. For example, to teach an AI solution to discern cats and dogs you need to train your AI by showing it a lot of pictures labeled ‘cat’ and ‘dog’.  To put it simply, the amount and quality of data you have will determine the value of your AI, so based on the AI initiatives you’ve identified for your business you need to validate that you have the data (the examples) you can teach the AI to learn how to accomplish these tasks.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What data I we have access to (that can drive my AI initiatives)?
  • Can I collect this data effectively (in quality and quantity)?
  • What makes this data interesting (can I leverage it to provide value to your business) ?

There is no doubt that AI will transform organizations in countless ways. While there are many pitfalls, if you approach AI with the right perspective and strategy, you are in a much better position to execute on your AI vision.   Challenge yourself to go beyond what seems doable- to reinvent what’s possible- you may be surprised by what you can achieve.

For more tips on how to get started, download our AI Best Practices whitepaper.

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