Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Saturday, August 13, 2022

Enterprise-Wide AI Collaboration: On-boarding AI the Right Way 

 The impact of AI becomes evident in an organization as existing processes get re-written and automation capabilities are deployed. But without clarity about how AI will support business goals, a lot of money and goodwill could be wasted. Stakeholder involvement is essential, as is overall team organizational support. How can companies best work to integrate AI both top-down and bottom-up? How can using approaches like Lean help keep humans in the automation process?

As with any other major initiative, IT leaders should keep in mind that the introduction of AI capabilities requires the involvement of all stakeholder teams. AI is not an “IT project,” and both the opportunities and the challenges cover a wide range of teams and organizational capabilities.

AI can quickly produce tangible benefits to some low-hanging IT fruit, but even these need to be described, assessed and prioritized based on business requirements. This advice might sound self-evident, yet it’s surprising how often it is ignored, leading to wasted time and money, and damaging the corporate IT team’s reputation.

To avoid this mistake, executives need to figure out how to present AI as a cost-savings to their stakeholders and evaluate how an AI initiative will impact the organization as a whole.

Calming Fears: Getting Employee Buy-In

Implementing AI can affect an organization from both the top down and the bottom up. Employees may question the security of their job role when they hear AI will be implemented. The plentitude of doomsday headlines – let alone movie plots – about computers taking away huge numbers of jobs don’t help.

Though ultimately unrealistic, these concerns can’t be ignored. Employees are human beings, and human beings need to feel secure in their ability to provide for themselves and their families. Executives need to ensure employees that AI can aid with automation and help reduce and streamline human workloads rather than eliminate the human element. AI is being implemented to help, not to overtake.

Upgrading Processes

Organizations need to evaluate the time employees spend on manual efforts. This will enable them to determine where costs can be saved by automation and where AI would help both the employee and the organization. Here again, this is planning that speaks to the business value of and business need for AI that will gain the support of all stakeholders.

Before a process can be automated, organizations need to know how it works now, what the potential effect of failure is and how to mitigate that impact. Automating a sequence of steps is not the difficult part – it’s much trickier to identify potential risks and demonstrably improve the system’s resilience to minimize the effects of potential disruptions.

Once the AI solution has been implemented, employees need to be clear about their new job roles. Oftentimes organizations implement an AI solution and just “set it and forget it.” But this is a recipe for potential disaster, as no one operates optimally in the midst of uncertainty. Employees need to be properly trained on how to interact and work with the solution to get the best possible use.

Much of Agile, DevOps and modern ITSM relies on a Lean concept called Jidoka, or autonomation, defined as “automation with human intelligence” or “automation with a human touch.” It takes advantage of automation capabilities in technology but does not seek to remove humans from the system.

Not all steps in a process need to be fully automated, organizations shouldn’t underestimate the value of humans but instead focus on increased value.

Teamwork Pays Off

Incorporating AI into the enterprise is truly a group effort. From the bottom up and from the top down, everyone who will be affected by the introduction of an AI solution needs to be on board. Because only certain steps of a process need to be automated, enterprises should focus on how to best incorporate the technology into the hands of trusted employees. Just like expensive technology, our employees are a company investment and should be treated as such, receiving all the information and training they need to feel valued and secure in their roles.

Akhil Sahai, Ph.D., is chief product officer, Symphony SummitAI.

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