It's true that Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been around for a really long time. It's only in the last few years that it's landed onto the eyes and ears of the general public and business leaders alike. So far on the road of AI, there are two things I’m 100% certain about:
AI will transform the landscape of business and life everywhere.
A LOT of people, business leaders included, have a hard time understanding what it is and how it will impact them.
I've already addressed what AI is in our Intro to AI deck which you can download for free here. As for the 'how it will impact them' part, this is where all AI project sponsors need to do a better job of explaining things along each and every step of a project lifecycle from ideation to planning to execution to change management.
Why is this so important? We recently took on an AI Strategy project for a Fortune 500 company. They've been working in the world of AI for a long time so it was a mind blowing experience for a number of great reasons. This company has a robust, mature R&D organization that looks at business problems and swiftly identifies ways for AI (and other emerging tech) to solve those problems. From the standpoint of problem - AI solution, they were good.
Where things got challenging for them was conveying these AI-driven solutions in a relatable way to key stakeholders, specifically leadership and end users. They were getting nowhere trying to explain what needed to be built and why it needed to be built. Since leadership struggled to understand the solutions and outcomes, they struggled to feel confident in approving these projects. Since end users didn't understand the solutions, they struggled to get excited about them, and ultimately, were turned off from serving as advocates for these projects.
What should you do if you find yourself in this situation? We'll tell you what we did for this particular client. Consider these the keys for successfully communicating AI ROI:
Explain the problem clearly and succinctly. It all begins here, whether AI is in-scope or not. Identify the right problem and state it clearly.
Explain the solution, not the AI. Start by explaining the solution to the problem and the anticipated ROI, then mention that the enabler to the solution is AI. Not the other way around. AI is a tool, not a solution.
Deliver the message in plain-speak, not tech-speak. Leave out jargon like 'neural networks', 'deep learning', or 'Bayesian programming'. Hardly anyone on the business side knows what this means so you're only going to distract them away from what's important.
Attach concrete outcomes and numbers to the solution. Saying things like, "targeted savings of 20% by end of Q4" or "increase in product yield by 30% year 1" are just the words people are looking to hear.
Cast the vision for what the solution does for your company. Find your company's vision statement and strategic goals. Ensure the solution aligns with those, then cast the vision of how life for customers, end users, leadership, the company, etc has improved.
You'll notice the suggestions above don't differ much from how we should be communicating the potential outcomes on standard projects. That's because most AI projects don't differ from standard projects in the upfront decisioning stage. Don't let the fact that AI is the tool for the solution distract from what's really important: positive ROI.
Getting AI into your business doesn't need to be hard. You just need to know the right first steps to take. That's where we can help. It starts with a conversation, just like it did for this Fortune 500 client. Get that conversation scheduled here.
PS - We've put together an AI Readiness Assessment that we're getting ready to give away for free. Be one of the first to get it by sending me a DM on LinkedIn.