How to start with AI for companies
Spoiler alert: new processes, train your people to innovate, and get your leadership on board
How do we start with AI and maximize value? For individuals, there are more than enough guides and how-to's by self-proclaimed AI gurus. It's never been easier to learn how to prompt, how to maximize value, and how to fool around.
For businesses and companies, it's a whole different story. As senior management, you know you have to do something with AI. Yet where to start and what to do without looking like a boomer for the GenZ and Millenial workforce?
First things first, have the fundament of your AI strategy together. There are a few things to know and do.
- Realize AI is not a tool
- Start with the leadership on board
- Train yourself
- Train the people you already have
- Good training is learning to innovate
- Exposed jobs and industries, and will the content creator disappear?
The content below is stolen with pride on the great work by Connor Grennan and the research by Rob Seamans, NYU Stern. Sometimes, you stumble upon something that's so good you want to share it, even if it’s a cheeky copy-paste, reworked, and edited by me for your convenience. See all credits in the last paragraph.
1. AI is not a tool
'AI is not a static tool. There’s no plug-and-play. Rather, implementing AI requires creating new processes that match your value proposition.’
AI is an innovation. A different way of working. All of a sudden, we have a wingman and assistant, 24/7 available, never complains, never whines, always there, and doesn't quit.
If you treat it like a tool and boss it around, you will not maximize its potential.
If you treat it like a different way of working accompanied by a new inquisitive learning mindset, you are already halfway there.
2. Start with leadership on board
The fundament and success of every change starts at the board. They have to free up the budget and time to work with AI.
If the board is not on board, it's going to be a tough and bumpy ride.
You need serious time to discover AI's potential, experiment, make mistakes, learn, and share that knowledge. You can't expect your teams to play around with AI in their own time and bring that knowledge to the company for free.
AI is something bigger than just learning a new tool. You need to experiment together with the team and senior to understand how AI can help your organization, what are the downfalls, and how to handle the data and security topics.
This is a journey you’re going on together.
3. Train yourself
It takes one to know one. You can't expect the teams to dive headfirst into AI if you don't do it yourself. You have to know what it is, the pros and cons, the downfalls.
First-hand experience in having a chat with ChatGPT beats reading blogs and social posts.
A nice side effect is that you can participate in the experiments and actively join the AI journey.
4. Train the people you already have
There is no need to get new hires. You might already have the people you need.
“You don't want to constantly have to chase folks that have these skills.
Ideally, you've got a set of employees that are bought into what you're doing; then you're training and retraining them over time to have the skills to take advantage of the technology.”’ (Rob Seamans)
5. Good training is learning to innovate
‘The best training is where employees don’t just learn how the tech works - they learn to innovate with it, so they’re the ones finding new efficiencies and opportunities. Focus on practicing agility because this tech is going to keep evolving.’ (Rob Seamans)
Exposed jobs and industries change continuously and rapidly
It's good to realize there is no given on which jobs and industries will change or disappear. After the first amazement of AI, about six months in now, we know one thing for sure: this is changing rapidly.
That said, don't be afraid. AI can make jobs redundant, but AI can also enrich, substitute, augment, and create brand-new jobs.
Will the content creator disappear?
No, yet this job will be different.
From more operational to more managing and directing AI to work alongside them. Content creators will learn how to use AI as a wingman and not just to do the work for them.
Again, AI is not a tool. It's a different way of working, being more innovative, inquisitive, and explorative. At the same time, you need to stay aware of the downfalls, like fact-checking, data, and security with confidential information.
And realize that AI is generative, based on predictability and probability, with no new real insights or strategies. And on that lack of creativity and human engagement nuances is where the content creator and the team do their job.
Nice read: Long-term and short-term AI strategy
The content below is stolen with pride from ‘How to take advantage of AI’ by Jacob Clemente. I think it's worth reading.
Some extended information on what and how to handle the AI strategy and hiring.
‘How should organizations incorporate investments in complementary assets into the way they think about hiring and upskilling?’
'There's the short term, and then there’s thinking a little bit longer term. What makes the most sense longer-term is having a strategy that’s continuously updated. It's not trying to cycle through different workers that have different skills. It's a company trying to find the workers it's most comfortable with, that share some values that the firm thinks are important. And then over time, it’s making sure the workers have the skills that are needed to take advantage of whatever the new technologies are. You mentioned generative AI, but there might be something different a year from now. Moreover, what matters now in terms of generative AI is almost certainly going to be very different a few years from now.
You don't want to constantly have to chase folks that have these skills. Ideally, you've got a set of employees that are totally bought into what you're doing as a company, and then you're training and retraining them over time to have the skills that are needed to take advantage of the technology and work well for you as a company.'
‘That was the long term. What about a short- and medium-term strategy?’
'I think any company that wants to be successful should be looking to the long term. And so this sort of strategy that I laid out is the one that they should be focused on. But if for some reason a company doesn’t want to do that, then you can spend a bunch of money right now to hire recent grads that at least know how to put together some of these newer technologies and are very comfortable with it. They lack all of the institutional knowledge that might matter in whatever the industry the firm is in, so they're going to be missing out on that.'