Let’s Talk AI Strategy
If you want to be an AI-driven company, don’t solely talk AI.
Talk how, when, why, why now. Talk about the things you need to make sure your company thrives in an AI environment. Talk AI strategy.
That’s what I tell our clients during our first meeting.
Many of them believe that AI will miraculously and seamlessly integrate into their structure. But AI isn’t a genie in a bottle — you can’t expect instantaneous magical results. And it definitely isn’t as easy as rubbing it and getting three wishes. Having a solid AI strategy, however, is vital to getting there.
A successful AI strategy relies on three things: a clear and relevant purpose, a competitive advantage, and a strong company culture. In this article, I mainly discuss the second point — creating a competitive advantage.
If you want to learn the right way to integrate AI into your company and the best tips and tricks in the industry, be sure to keep up with this blog.
Blast past your competition
AI has reached the c-suites. We all agree that to stay competitive as a company, one needs to leverage AI and keep up. In fact, AI can actually be your future competitive advantage in itself. That’s where AI strategy comes in — a strong and successful AI strategy will give your company the competitive edge it needs to thrive.
You can achieve your competitive advantage in three ways: by acquiring the right technology, hiring the right talent, and using your own data.
Tech is simple (no, really)
Having unique technology to boost your competitive advantage can be daunting. From machine learning to data science and computer languages, it can all be a bit overwhelming. But I tell all our clients that in reality, it isn’t so scary — in fact, the technology you choose doesn’t even have to be unique to your company. What’s more, most of the tech out there is easily accessible and, in and many cases, also free. That’s the beauty of AI and data science in general: the technology is easily accessible. You just have to be able to identify the right one (e.g., algorithm, model, pipeline) that will be able to address your most pressing business needs, and, perhaps more importantly, someone who knows how to use it.
That’s where the tech nerds come in.
The perfect fit
Much like any other tool, in unqualified hands, AI is largely useless if not dangerous (more about that in my coming post on Culture). So, once you have the tools, you have to learn how to use them. When it comes to building your team of data science talents, you have a choice to make: do you hire them immediately, or do you wait more than ten months to hire them?
Why 10 months? I’ve realized when talking to our clients that this is the average time it takes for a company to successfully onboard a data scientist with no outside help. If you’re looking for true and rare talents, you’ll need substantially more time.
But as we all know, time is of the essence, so getting help from an external provider can prove quite valuable. AI consultants do all the dirty work for you: they find or have people who know the problems you face and how to solve them reliably, whether that be predictive maintenance, forecasting, generative modeling, etc.
If you prefer a DIY approach, know that you need to plan ahead. This is feasible for exploitative projects and tasks, such as maintaining ML pipelines. But innovation is inherently difficult to plan, so if exploratory projects are more your style, I’d recommend you find an external provider to guide you through the process. Remember, finding the right talent by yourself could postpone your goal of becoming an AI-driven company by 1–2 years.
Get the most out of your data
My last secret to giving your company a competitive edge is using the data you already have. Your data is just that, yours, and it’s unique to you. It’s the easiest and fastest way to create that competitive advantage.
When deciding how to best leverage your data, you need to consider that depending on the use case, using the off-the-shelf solutions we all love can thwart your advantage. These solutions are trained on an aggregate set of data, often from a large variety of companies and industries.
Also, keep your core value drivers in mind — there you have data that can be leveraged as your competitive advantage. It all comes down to your AI Strategy, which can make you incredibly competitive in itself.
Competitive advantage is just the first step
Now that you’ve read up on how to acquire a sustainable competitive advantage, you’re one step closer to outlining the perfect AI strategy to make your company AI-driven. But you can’t stop there: keep reading to learn about AI strategy and how to implement one that works for your company.