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10 Min Read

Finding your AI sweet spot: Four factors to pinpoint the best opportunities

juin 13, 2024 / Christina Mongan

Short on time? Read the key takeaways 

  • Consider four key factors when identifying the most promising AI opportunities: impact, commitment, experience and prioritization. 
  • Prioritize AI initiatives that align with strategic objectives, deliver business value and target areas of friction. 
  • Seek out enthusiastic teams and employees to drive AI adoption and refine your approach. 
  • Evaluate opportunities based on goal alignment, data availability, complexity, ROI and scalability. 

The AI revolution is here. With countless potential applications, some organizations are eager to dive in while others are more cautious. But both wonder: How do you identify opportunities for AI? 

Organizations that have made significant headway on their digital transformation and cloud journeys have solid digital foundations in place, positioning them to realize the benefits of AI. While these AI pioneers are excited to explore additional possibilities, others are treading lightly into AI territory.

Ultimately, operational change management is a critical factor, with strategies for AI adoption helping you to boost employee use of the technology. Before then, you must determine how best to integrate AI into your operations. To find the best AI opportunities for your organization, consider the following four factors and ask yourself these questions.

#1 – Impact: What will deliver the biggest business value?

AI can help you become unstuck from how you’ve been doing things. It introduces new ways of working at both the employee and organization level. And if you’re going to change things up, it should be in ways that propel your organization forward. Instead of asking, "What can AI do?” ask, “How can AI help us achieve our business objectives?"

Seek out untapped areas ready for innovation and look for process improvements that could speed decision-making. And consider the outcomes and benefits that will be of the greatest value to your customers, employees and other stakeholders if achieved. Your strategic objectives should guide your introduction of AI into your organization.

This approach will help you earn buy-in and funding for your initiatives. A value assessment can speed this process. This exercise involves analyzing your entire value chain, across primary and support activities, and discovering where AI can contribute the most value. 

More importantly, focusing on AI initiatives that drive business outcomes can substantially propel the business forward. AI can usher in the next phase in business evolution, even revealing new product categories and business models in finance, healthcare, food and beverage, and other industries.

When asking yourself this question, consider AI uses that: 

  • Propel innovation and the launch of new products and services 
  • Enhance operations 
  • Elevate customer experiences 
  • Secure a competitive edge in the market 
  • Boost operational efficiency and revenue 

Innovative organizations are going beyond posing this question. They are actively engaging with AI to elevate and reimagine areas like software testing, application maintenance, child welfare management, business process improvement and workplace diversity, equity and inclusion

#2 – Commitment: Which teams are eager for AI?

AI champions can be a major boon to adoption. Look for teams and employees who are eager to innovate and open to new ways of working. Commitment and vision from senior executives set the tone for the entire organization. And look beyond just technical roles as people across the organization, including those in marketing, legal and sales, can benefit from AI. This will unify business and technology teams with a shared vision. 

Embrace the “think big, start small’ philosophy. Many organizations introduce AI to a small pilot group composed of innovators. These eager early adopters are the most likely to help you hone your AI approach and refine your AI strategy. AI champions can spark interest and curiosity among other employees by sharing their experiences and learnings. Even better if they contribute ideas and can articulate their own vision for AI. 

Early adopters can also provide you with valuable insights and feedback on what works and what doesn’t, helping to identify additional opportunities and facilitating wider adoption. From there, it’s also easier to involve more employees and roll out your AI initiatives more broadly across the organization. This will go a long way toward fostering an AI-forward organization, though training is essential to encourage this mindset. 

#3 – Experience: What are areas of friction?

Your top challenges, time-consuming bottlenecks and biggest pain points should be at the forefront when weighing AI opportunities. When imagining which business operations and processes could be improved with AI, think about where customers and employees experience the most friction. For example, expense reporting has been widely regarded as a frustrating and time-consuming manual process. It’s been so tedious for so many that reading this reminder may cause some to cringe in memory.

Reimagining business processes and operations is at the heart of identifying AI opportunities. Think beyond incremental improvements to envision entirely new ways of operating made possible by AI.

A prime example of this approach is how American Express rethought expense reporting with AI. The company used AI to automate data collection from receipts and invoices, transaction matching and expense categorization. This automation made expense reporting a much smoother process for employees, decreasing costs, reducing errors and boosting employee satisfaction.

Some of your processes likely evoke frustration and detract from employee experience in a similar way as expense reporting. Those processes are prime candidates when choosing opportunities to introduce AI into your organization. Tackling such workflows will help with AI adoption as well. 

By assessing where AI can be integrated into your operations, you can rethink processes and workflows, enhancing not only efficiency and delivery of services but also identifying new opportunities for growth and competitive differentiation. 

#4 – Prioritization: How do you develop a strategic roadmap? 

With a clear understanding of where AI can add value, the next step is to develop a strategic roadmap for AI. This holistic view enables organizations to prioritize an AI portfolio that aligns with their strategic objectives. Your focus becomes value creation and competitive advantage.

This step helps in prioritizing initiatives that can deliver the most significant strategic value. Early AI projects and applications serve as AI success stories to build momentum and a catalyst to drive AI adoption and transformation across the organization.

Key considerations when prioritizing future uses of AI (and potential candidates) include:

  • Alignment with your strategic goals and business objectives 
  • Availability and quality of the data that supports each possibility 
  • Technical complexity and maturity
  • Expected return on investment and time to value 
  • Potential risks and challenges 
  • Scalability and the ability to extend a use to others 

Prioritize an AI-first mindset 

While AI technologies hold enormous potential, deciding how to use them can seem daunting. Ease this challenge by seeking high-value opportunities, teams and employees who are excited to embrace it and processes rife with friction. Then, you can use a strategic roadmap to decide which to take on first.

The transformation toward becoming an AI-forward organization requires the harmonization of technology, people and processes. Empower your team to adopt an AI-first mindset, fostering innovation and continuous learning to stay at the forefront of AI advancements. This journey is continuous and iterative – and much easier with a trusted partner. Unisys can help your company navigate the complexities and accelerate your AI journey and transformation. 

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