14 Apr Is your organisation AI-ready?
If you run a business, there’s a good chance you’ve explored how artificial intelligence (AI) can give you the edge over your competitors.
Half a million businesses in the UK are already harnessing the power of AI. With hundreds of thousands more planning on doing so.
From robotic process automation speeding up digital tasks to predictive analytics anticipating supply chain pressures, AI is providing countless benefits to organisations across the economy.
AI brings unprecedented gains in efficiency, adaptability and scalability. It’s no surprise that so many more businesses want in on the action.
But adopting AI in your business is not a quick fix, not something you can dive into without preparation. Becoming AI-ready is a complex process, influenced by the unique variables of your business.
Nevertheless, there are some aspects of AI-readiness that all decision-makers must consider, with one crucial element that determines all the others. But we’ll get to that at the end.
To put it simply, you need to know why you need AI. You must identify the problems affecting your business, and understand how AI can solve them.
Adopting AI usually involves significant investment and brings change to your business, and you need to understand the impact it’ll have. How much of your budget can you set aside for AI? Do you understand the costs involved? Will it integrate with your existing systems, or replace them?
You must also consider the future. How will your market change over the next five or ten years? What new challenges will you face? How can AI help you remain competitive?
The first step in becoming AI-ready involves answering these kinds of questions.
Any AI is only as good as the data used to train it.
Let’s say you plan on using AI to predict future trends in customer spending. You need to ensure you have enough data on previous customer behaviour to provide reliable results. A few hundred customer transactions aren’t enough. Any patterns observed would not lead to accurate predictions.
The most accurate results arise from multiple sources of data. Your business may track its customers in several ways, including past purchases, ad click rates, activity on a webpage, and interactions with forms.
However, the more data sources you have, the harder it is to keep it all clean and organised. You need to think about how you’ll ensure this, because messy data makes it less likely that AI will generate accurate, helpful results.
Without reliable data, there’s simply no point in using AI.
AI, with its vast quantities of data and hefty processing requirements, needs a hell of a lot of computing resources.
If you’re one of the majority of UK businesses already using Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. You should simply be able to purchase more of the cloud storage and processing power you’ll need to handle your AI requirements. And a huge benefit of cloud solutions is you only pay for what you need.
However, if your business still relies on physical, on-premise servers for your computing and data needs, you’ll likely need at least some of your infrastructure on the cloud before implementing AI. Increasing the capacity of your physical servers is expensive, time-consuming and labour-intensive, and doesn’t offer the flexibility and scalability needed to make the most of AI.
Security and governance
New technologies bring new threats and vulnerabilities. If you’re using AI you’ll be responsible for vast amounts of data. Much of which could be sensitive, such as patient records or financial details.
Security measures are always evolving with the tech. You must ensure you’re up to date with robust ways to keep your data secure, such as encryption, access control and threat detection.
Similarly, regulations are constantly evolving in response to advancing technology. You’ll need to ensure your policies and processes are in line with the latest compliance standards.
Quite a tricky one, this. It can be difficult to manage and is often overlooked. Implementing any new technology often involves change. New systems, new methods, new applications.
And people can be resistant to change. They may be unwilling to learn new ways of working or work with different people. This friction can affect any new things you introduce.
Of course, your business may already have a culture that’s amenable to new technologies. If team members are open to change, have a spirit of collaboration and want to develop themselves, then they’ll be much more likely to buy into the idea of AI and all the changes it can bring.
But if not, you’ll need to work harder to get them on board.
The missing link…
There’s one aspect of AI-readiness we haven’t mentioned yet. One that has a greater impact than all the others. In fact, all the other factors we’ve mentioned rely on this one. That’s why it’s the biggest thing that holds businesses back from adopting AI.
What is this crucial factor?
Talented digitally-skilled workers.
2022’s IBM Global AI Adoption Index study found that 38% of UK businesses said a lack of digital skills was their biggest inhibitor to adopting AI, compared with 28% across Europe. The UK’s digital skills gap means businesses are finding it harder to fill key tech roles.
But tech talent is crucial at every stage in the process of becoming AI-ready.
You need business analysts to identify which parts of your operations would benefit from AI and ensure the technology supports your long-term goals. You need data scientists to manage and organise your data. You need software engineers with the necessary skills to develop and maintain the applications and the infrastructure your AI will run on.
Unless you’re a large-scale enterprise or specialise in tech, it’s likely you don’t have all this expertise within your organisation.
So you’ll need to consider whether you’ve got access to the necessary expertise to implement AI, and if not, how you can get it. Employing tech talent directly is difficult and expensive since demand is outstripping supply. And outsourcing your project completely can be unreliable and mean you relinquish control.
We provide an alternative solution…
Let us help you become AI-ready
B13 offers a flexible approach to helping your organisation become AI-ready, whatever stage you’re at. We’ve embraced the beat of change and have harnessed AI for many of our internal processes, and are helping other businesses do the same.
We can provide technical consulting and supply you with a roadmap to AI-readiness, considering your business’s resources, challenges, goals and tech capabilities.
And when it comes to the biggest factor in AI-readiness, talented workers, our Staff Augmentation service allows you to assemble a bespoke team for your AI projects at unbeatable value. Our pool of tech talent contains highly-qualified, pre-vetted candidates in a range of tech roles. You only pay for the resource you need and you can hand-pick your own team, who essentially become part of your staff for the project’s duration.
And if you want us to go a step further and deliver the project while you remain in control, that’s possible too. Our experienced business analysts and technical experts can assess your needs and plan your project alongside you. We can then build and maintain the software, ensuring it evolves with your business needs.
For an honest and open chat about your AI-readiness or other tech requirements, feel free to get in touch.