How to use AI in your business

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How to use AI in your business

Let’s be honest – AI can be overwhelming. The hype is everywhere, promising to revolutionise every aspect of business. Every business we’ve spoken to about including AI in their technology wants to do it but doesn’t know how.

As a business leader, how do you cut through the noise and strategically leverage AI to achieve tangible results?

This blog post aims to be your no-nonsense guide to AI implementation from a strategic perspective. We’ll start by ensuring your AI initiatives directly support your overarching business strategy.  Is it about boosting efficiency? Saving money? Increasing Revenue? Enhancing customer experience? Driving innovation?  Once that alignment is clear, we’ll dive into the technological backbone needed for successful AI projects.

Next, we’ll address the practicalities of AI adoption. We’ll explore how to identify specific areas where AI can provide a competitive edge and ways to build intelligent apps that leverage your data to the fullest.  Crucially, we’ll discuss preparing your organisation for change –  fostering a culture receptive to AI, providing essential training, and tackling ethical considerations.

AI governance is non-negotiable. We’ll cover building accountability and security measures to ensure responsible, secure AI deployment, minimising risks to your company and its reputation.

Depending on the size of your business, you may wish to condense some areas but we recommend you form a team and ensure you address each section, to some extent.

Buckle up – let’s make AI a powerful tool for achieving your business goals!

Business Strategy

Define and prioritise your business goals

Okay, let’s talk about AI as a strategic weapon for your business.  First, you’ve likely got your business goals figured out already (and if you don’t, that’s another conversation!). But for AI to be worth your time, those goals must be crystal clear. Think KPIs too. What are the exact numbers that show you’re winning?

Process Mapping

Next, how are you getting stuff done now? Map out the processes that help you reach those goals. Where’s the paperwork, what’s already automated, and where are you outsourcing? AI should tackle those sluggish spots or offer deeper insights than what you already have.

Identify AI use cases

Now, the fun part: identifying where AI can help. Start with easy wins that’ll show results fast – it builds confidence within your company.  Don’t rule out those more significant AI projects, though, the ones that could shift your whole game. Just remember, those take more resources and time. Also, consider readily available AI solutions before building from scratch – always check if that makes sense for your business.

List AI Projects

The plan to actually make this happen. Pilot projects are your friend here, a low-risk way to test the AI waters. Do you have the tech talent to pull this off on your team? If not, think of training, outsourcing or hiring. Most importantly, good, clean data is the lifeblood of successful AI. If your data’s a mess, sort that out first.

Technology Strategy

Buy, upgrade, or build from scratch

Alright, time to get down to the tech nitty-gritty. For each of your AI ideas, you’ve got three options: Buy, upgrade, or build from scratch. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer here.  

Sometimes, grabbing a ready-made AI tool is the smartest move; other times, you might need to modernise those old systems you’ve got going. And hey, occasionally, building something totally custom is the way to gain that competitive edge.

Quality Data

Speaking of your systems, can they handle the AI you want? AI needs to feed on your data. Can it get to that data quickly and securely and handle a lot of it?  Data access is crucial here.

Get your security right

Security-wise, we need to get serious.  Forget the “safe inside the castle walls” mentality. Assume someone’s already gotten in, and design your security around that. That’s the Zero Trust approach. It’s a must-have, especially when dealing with sensitive data and AI tools.

Use AI for your AI

And here’s a fun twist: use AI to protect your AI!  Sounds crazy, but AI is seriously good at spotting patterns, even the subtle signs of an attack or unusual activity. Let AI help guard your other AI investments.

AI Strategy and Experience

Start using Chat GPT

First off, get familiar with those generative AI tools everyone’s talking about. See how they could revolutionise specific parts of your business. Don’t jump on the hype train for the sake of it – focus on real-world benefits they can provide.

Develop a systematic process

Next, you need a system for evaluating every potential AI use case. This isn’t about shoehorning AI in where it doesn’t fit. It’s about identifying those sweet spots where AI provides a significant advantage.

Uncover your existing processes

Let’s dig into your company’s processes. Look at how many processes you’ve got running, how long they’ve been around, when you last updated them… This data can reveal where AI could streamline things or point to outdated systems holding you back.

Improve your data with AI

Think of your data as the fuel for intelligent apps. Build those apps in a way that amplifies the insights and value you can extract. This can help identify those hidden opportunities or problem areas AI could address.

Get an immediate AI boost

Lastly, look at tools like Microsoft Copilot or Google Gemini; they’re a fantastic way to fast-track AI adoption across your company.  Getting tangible results right away can change how your teams think – suddenly they’ll start actively seeking out those “AI first” solutions.

Organisation and Culture

How will you use AI?

Okay, let’s get to the people side of this AI equation. First, you need to figure out the rules of the game. Who’s actually going to be using AI at your company? When is it appropriate, and when does it make more sense to rely on good old human judgment?  Don’t leave this up to chance.

Leaders need to embrace AI

Getting your leadership team on board with AI isn’t optional; it’s essential. If they’re not champions of this change, it’ll stall out before it even starts.

Bring along your whole team

Don’t leave the AI brainstorming to just the tech folks. Your whole business has valuable insights – get subject matter experts from different departments involved. This makes sure your AI solutions actually address real-world problems and are more likely to be used.

Change Management

Speaking of getting people onboard, change management is key. AI can change job roles; don’t sugarcoat it. Be transparent, offer help, and manage employees’ expectations.

Think about the skills needed for an AI-powered future. What training programs make sense? Are there new hires you need to bring in? Invest in your people.

Build AI into the core of your business

Finally, don’t treat AI like a one-off project. You want to build AI into the fabric of your company. This means ongoing development, continuous learning, and a mindset always looking for ways to leverage those AI advantages.

AI Governance

Responsible AI

First things first, responsible AI isn’t just about feel-good ethics.  It’s about protecting your company from serious reputational and legal risks.  Find resources and figure out the best way to make responsible AI use a central pillar of what you do.

Security in the fabric of your AI

Next, security has to be baked into everything.  We’re talking about protecting your data from the second it’s created, through every AI application, and even controlling secure access for your people.  This means serious planning on your part.

Controls and Governance

Finally, you need rules, even for the machines. What processes will control how AI is used? Who is accountable if something goes wrong? How will AI impact your privacy and data security policies – time to update those rule books!  Thinking about governance upfront avoids a whole world of headaches later on.

Walk the AI path together

The path to successful AI implementation might seem daunting, but you don’t have to walk it alone. Consider partnering with experts who can guide you through the complexities and help tailor AI solutions to your specific needs.

Remember, this blog post is just a starting point – let’s continue the conversation about how to make AI work for your business.

About the author

Yener is the founder and Managing Director of Intuitive IT. Prior to running his own business Yener worked for a number of corporate organisations where he gained invaluable experience and skills, as well as an understanding of how IT can complement and improve business outcomes.