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8 ways to prepare your business for artificial intelligence

Image: Artificial intelligence

Have you been told to implement artificial intelligence (AI) in your business and not sure where to start? You're not alone.

Many business leaders are desperate to implement this new shiny development in order to increase innovation, productivity and growth.

However, to make AI truly valuable for your business, you need to be prepared! Here we share the results of a survey Accenture undertook to measure AI's potential economic impact on 16 industries. Based on these findings we highlight eight key strategies all business leaders should adopt before implementing AI.

1. Articulate AI's benefits to the C-suite

To make AI work you need to get the C-suite on board. In most organizations digital enthusiasts are the ones driving digital adoption. To realize the full value of AI, top executives need to be involved first hand. They can do this by spending time with AI machines, interacting with them, testing them and questioning users. Once this is done AI can begin to be transformed effectively into business plans, key decision points can be defined, and appropriate investment decisions can be made.

2. Reinvent HR into "HAIR"

To fully achieve the potential of AI, Human Resource departments (HR) will need to become Human AI Resources (HAIR). HR departments will need to understand the setup of this form of virtual labour and raise questions, such as how should we remodel performance metrics? And how should we optimize workforce requirements between human and AI labour?

3. Learn with machines

AI will not only transform what people learn but how they learn. MasterCard, for instance, is experimenting with AI software that draws on the knowledge of experienced staff to help all workers become better sellers. This not only helps in bridging the gap with experience but will also reduce the need for larger training groups which are traditionally used.

4. Appoint a chief data supply chain officer

AI's effectiveness will directly depend on the quality and amount of data that is available. Many data supply chain officers tend to focus mostly on data security, regulations and governance rather than on activities related to exploiting data to create new offerings or businesses, which is just as important.

5. Create an open AI culture

It is important to create a culture where human's and machine's work joins up with each other. Only then will there be scope for collaborating and learning from one another. Although humans may be tempted to blame machines for poor performance they should focus their efforts more on identifying weaknesses, whether human or machine, and working to fix them.

6. Go beyond automation

Research by Accenture indicates that the potential benefits of AI may be considerably greater than the past impact of automation. Companies need to recognize that by embracing AI they can achieve a powerful competitive advantage. Bosch, for example, has adopted a ‘thinking factory' approach in one of its German automotive plants. The aim is to enable AI-powered machines to self-diagnose technical failures, order replacement parts autonomously and anticipate maintenance needs. Overall, Bosch predicts more than $2 billion of additional revenues and savings from the widespread use of intelligent systems and machines by 2020.

7. Combine AI's capabilities with the crowd in the cloud

Over the last decade, as businesses have moved to open innovation models, they have increasingly tapped the power of the crowd. The next step in innovation will be to combine crowd-sourced data in the cloud with AI capabilities to create new and disruptive business opportunities. Cloud-based machine learning platforms, such as Google Cloud Platform and Amazon Web Services, for example, are already in use.

8. Measuring the 'return on AI'

It is important to understand that the 'return on AI' will not be instant. Unlike traditional measures for tracking capital investments, AI gains value as time passes. Although some of its applications have clear results, the learning nature of AI means that many of its benefits will stem from yet-to-be determined sources.

Want to find out more about how AI will impact your business? Read the research paper 'Game changing value from Artificial Intelligence: eight strategies' published in Strategy & Leadership.

Read the research ▶

Meet the researchers

Image: Eduardo Plastino.Eduardo Plastino
Research Fellow , Accenture Research

Eduardo Plastino is a researcher who focuses on technology, innovation, globalization and their impact on business, the economy and society. His work helps clients make sense of changing trends in a complex world and translates them into actionable business insight.

Image: Mark Purdy.Mark Purdy
Managing Director and Chief Economist, Accenture

Mark J. Purdy is a managing director and chief economist at Accenture Research. His research examines issues at the intersection of macroeconomics and business, such as globalization, international competitiveness, economic growth and jobs.

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