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12th Jun 2023

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Adapting Your Business Strategy for the Evolving World of Artificial Intelligence

Insights from Senior Leaders Breakfast Briefing

At the third in the series of IMI Senior Leaders Breakfast Briefings, we hosted a panel discussion on AI acceleration, featuring industry experts Gary McCarthy, Fiona O’Carroll, Tommy Kearns, and Shane Holland. The panel shed light on the current state of AI deployment and its impact on various sectors, and explored the evolution of business strategies in the age of AI, emphasising the need for organisations to embrace AI and leverage its capabilities to gain a competitive edge.

The Current Landscape of AI Deployment

To dispel misconceptions, the panel highlighted that AI currently interacts with the lives of 84% of people – as opposed to the 34% who believe that they interact with AI. The proliferation of voice assistants is evidence of AI’s prevalence, with an estimated 8 billion voice assistants projected to be in use by the end of 2023. However, instead of focusing solely on the future possibilities of AI, the panel emphasised the importance of understanding the current applications and how organisations are deploying AI today.

Practical Applications of AI

In the realm of marketing, AI is already being used for tasks such as generating subject lines and conducting A/B testing. While AI can handle certain aspects, human oversight remains crucial. Large language models, for instance, enhance existing content and enable tasks like fraud detection in the banking and sports betting industries. Moreover, AI is transforming customer relationship management (CRM) by empowering executives to utilise machine learning to improve productivity and efficiency. By inputting prompts, executives can work alongside AI to accomplish various tasks, such as generating blog outlines or editing content.

The panel acknowledged that the impact of AI is not limited to specific sectors but in fact has an impact on the digital transformation of all industries. The speed at which AI has evolved is remarkable – while platforms like Netflix and Instagram took years to gain one million users, ChatGPT did it in just a few days. AI is supercharging the digital era, and businesses must adapt to this paradigm shift to remain competitive. The panel stressed that organisations need to view AI as a means to accelerate their growth and productivity, as Google did when it transformed into an “AI-first” company in 2016.

Milestones in AI Development

Shane Holland emphasised that AI’s journey spans several decades, with significant milestones occurring in the past ten years. While AI theories have existed since the 1950s, recent advancements in data storage capabilities have allowed for substantial progress. In 2013, Google developed an AI that achieved an elite level of performance in the game of Breakout after playing hundreds of games. Subsequently, AI systems were developed that could surpass the world’s best players in complex games, and in a totally different sector, even generate 3D models of proteins. The panel underscored the importance of transitioning from science fiction to practical applications and how AI is reshaping daily work routines.

Understanding Data and Overcoming Resource Gaps

Fiona O’Carroll highlighted that one of the significant challenges lies in comprehending the depth and complexity of data. Business leaders, especially those educated in the industrial era, must understand data to formulate effective strategies. Breaking down silos and flattening hierarchies is crucial for successful data utilization. Organizations should invest in a data strategy and foster an AI mindset throughout their structure. Mindset and strategic alignment are the differentiators that enable organizations to leverage AI effectively.

AI as a Tool in Marketing

The panel demystified AI in marketing, emphasizing that its role is to enhance business operations rather than replace human creativity. AI tools, such as Google’s Performance Max, streamline marketing campaigns by automating decision-making processes. AI determines which platforms, channels, and creative elements yield the best return on investment (ROI) in real-time. The panel stressed that AI empowers marketers to focus on understanding and analysing data, while AI algorithms handle the campaign execution.

The panel concluded by highlighting the importance of breaking down silos within organisations and ensuring that the CEO takes ownership of AI initiatives. By identifying business problems and harnessing available data sets, organisations can explore how AI can be structured to address their specific needs. Collaboration with AI experts and adopting off-the-shelf solutions are recommended approaches, allowing for iterative testing and learning. The panel emphasised that building one’s own AI system is unnecessary, as the focus should be on strategic implementation and adaptation.

As AI continues to reshape the business landscape, organizations must embrace AI acceleration and explore its vast potential. The insights shared during the Breakfast Briefing shed light on the present applications of AI, milestones in its development, and the imperative for organisations to understand data and foster an AI mindset. By embracing AI as a transformative tool, businesses can enhance productivity, drive innovation, and gain a competitive edge in today’s AI-driven world.

For a deeper insight into the impacts of AI on your business, discover our Senior Executive Experience or Professional Diploma in Digital Leadership.

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