It’s hardly a revolutionary thought to believe what drives technology adoption and change is finding an application for it that is useful. That something is interesting, even ground-breaking, does not of itself make it practical or useful.
There are organizations firmly in the “early adopters” bracket who have been spinning AI around like a problematic Tetris block for a decade or more, trying to find the right fit. Yet it remains a challenge to find a mainstream business role where AI provides a useful purpose and crucially, can be easily maintained within the rest of the application landscape. To date, AI has been something that you’ve had to really want to make work in your business in order to find a budget year after year to manage and maintain. In short, you need an annual “make something cool” budget where you don’t have to justify the outcomes.
Where does interesting become useful?
In a second non-revolutionary statement, it is fair to say that AI becomes useful when it can help with something that is mandatory for an organization to excel at. For example, you might operate in a specific, tightly regulated industry with specific tasks relating to that work, for example, healthcare. However, you’ve still got to operate payroll, market your services and manage your employees like everyone else (horizontal tasks).
The good thing is that this creates a large collection of use cases and even better, there’s generally someone in charge of performing them well. Someone who has the budget to ensure that continues to happen. However, it’s more than likely that a person and their team are not necessarily looking for AI to be the next helpful thing in their lives. And let’s be honest here, AI doesn’t come with a blemish-free record when it comes to real-world applications, does it?
How does useful become vital?
Within any organization, there are three broad streams of information; inbound (heading in), outbound (heading out), and roundabout (swirling around). These nodes or streams are moments of action, decision points, and in many cases, help determine the value of the transaction being processed. Something ‘useful’ helps those moments of action run better. Something ‘vital’ enables those moments of action to work in a way that wasn’t previously possible. In either case – whether useful or vital, your entry bar for AI is set as reliable, flexible, and straightforward to manage.
Yet, in reality, most if not all of these use cases are already operated by existing systems of record (or potentially, systems of engagement) that are heavily embedded and long established within your organization. Therefore, the entry bar is likely to be also set at “plays well with our existing investments”, if that can become “improve the outcomes from our existing investments,” then that’s wonderful.
This is not to say that the technical underpinnings of AI technology are uninteresting; far from it. There will always be organizations that have the technical agility, desire, and budgets to work with the raw materials and toolsets of AI that allow them to develop their early adopter approaches. The problem is that there are not very many of these organizations around. and they tend to be everybody’s biggest customers at a certain early point in development.
To broaden the suitable range of organizations that can and in the future should adopt AI-enabled business applications, there are some basic questions that any sponsor will need to have clear, demonstrable responses to:
- Is it useful?
- How does it benefit me?
- Why should I take the risk?
- What’s my both my upside and downside of doing this?
Value that should be front and center, not the underlying technology, however interesting. The successful business application of AI is ultimately just as revolutionary, if not more so, than the code, algorithms, models, and processors used.
If you are a buyer or user of Business Applications and wondering how to navigate these difficult times, we have a free – yup, free – confidential advisory service for you. A service that means all you have to do is find a time on our calendar.
If you are a seller of Business Applications; then, like many others. In that case, you may be reassessing your current business, pricing, or go-to-market strategies to adapt to these turbulent times. Again feel free to reach out and chat with us as we may be able to help by providing some critical but constructive advice and support.