In late 2023, many organizations were still experimenting with generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) by using it to streamline processes, increase productivity, or kick-start creative projects. But what’s next for GenAI, and how can it serve your business?
Forrester predicts a shift in 2024 toward the use of GenAI as an enabler of larger strategic initiatives. Slalom’s own research shows that 89% of leaders are expecting to use AI “to achieve differentiation through avenues such as accelerated business growth, heightened customer satisfaction and loyalty, expanded market outreach, and driving continuous innovation.”
Even if you’ve embraced GenAI in your organization and are eager to realize its broader potential, you may find that getting there is problematic. If this is the case, you’re not alone. Slalom discovered that 71% of executives “don’t fully comprehend the scope of tasks AI can effectively augment or automate in their organizations.”
Therefore, it’s not surprising that some organizations are having trouble moving beyond the hype, the workshop, or the proof of concept (POC) to a place where GenAI can deliver differentiation and disruption.
Escape the POC Loop
So what does it take to get unstuck? Prioritizing these three actions can help you move your GenAI program forward:
1. Identify meaningful, business-changing opportunities.
You’ve probably already seen demos and are aware of some of the benefits of GenAI. But how can it help you tackle your specific business challenges?
Deciding where to apply GenAI technology in your organization is often one of the most difficult steps in the process. As a leader, you need to make sure there’s a clear alignment between your business’s requirements and your GenAI tools’ capabilities, but it’s just as important to avoid getting bogged down in an overly complex project.
Instead, find meaningful use cases that are ripe for immediate experimentation with GenAI. The use cases that deliver the most impact are usually those that address challenges or opportunities that came to light before GenAI emerged as a solution.
2. Establish an AI office.
With an AI office, you can holistically address the strategy, design, development, and testing of your GenAI program by setting success criteria and validating the real-world results against those benchmarks at every stage of a project.
One of the AI office’s functions will be to provide the foundation for sound governance, thoughtful change management, and guardrails around the technology to keep both users and your sensitive business information safe.
Your AI office will also play an important role well beyond the planning and governance of that first GenAI use case. Keeping users engaged will be key to greatly increasing your chances of growing and evolving your GenAI practice to provide real value. This requires a commitment to inspiring and educating your teams on the benefits they could derive from using GenAI, as well as enabling them with hands-on training on AI tools so they feel comfortable experimenting.
3. Be prepared to continuously innovate.
Many of the concerns we’ve seen for years around implementing new technology, including legal, security, regulatory, and liability considerations, apply to GenAI as well. Where GenAI differs is in its need for continuous tuning and improvement. There is no “set it and forget it” with GenAI.
Organizations need to be prepared for the continuous innovation cycles to maintain healthy GenAI functions, such as retraining models, optimizing data sources, and adapting prompting practices. Neglecting any of these areas could compromise the quality of your outcomes when using the technology, potentially threatening the future of a project and any other GenAI initiatives your organization undertakes.
GenAI is evolving faster than any previous technology. It’s vital that your GenAI tools are architected with this rapid evolution in mind so that when new functionality becomes available, you can swap it in while sunsetting any existing capabilities that no longer serve you.
Combining this technical agility with constant vigilance around emerging GenAI innovations can help keep your GenAI practice healthy and well equipped for the future.
Changing with the Times
All technologies evolve beyond their earliest uses. Computers were created to conduct complex calculations faster and more accurately than humans could. The World Wide Web began as a way for academics to share information.
GenAI will also evolve as more developers and users discover ways to apply the technology to an ever-broader range of scenarios. That’s why it’s vital for leaders to keep moving forward with GenAI and find their own ideal balance between innovation and governance.
Feeling stuck? Don’t worry, Slalom and Google Cloud can help.