AI: What it Can Bring and How to Prepare for the Future

Chris Miller, Chief Technology & Innovation Officer, Avanade
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Chris Miller, Chief Technology & Innovation Officer, Avanade

Every decade a major disruption has occurred that altered the digital landscape: from the PC revolution, to the internet boom, to the mobile-first rise. Each development brought powerful opportunities for businesses that were smart enough to change. So what is next? The artificial intelligence (AI) boom is upon us and technology driving AI is becoming more accessible and affordable for businesses, opening doors for new use cases and workforce augmentation.

By the year 2020, if you aren’t AI-first, it will be too late, much as it was for any business that failed to make the leap to digital in decades past. Organizations have a brief window to experiment and become familiar with the strategies and technologies to get ready for the AI-first world. The emerging AI-first era is already creating new ways for organizations to interact with, serve, and empower customers and employees. For example, by augmenting employees’ capabilities using AI-specifically across intelligent automation, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and physical automation-organizations will enable workers to achieve far more, faster, with intelligent action and better results.

Additionally, as cloud, big data, and mobile continue to converge, AI-driven user interfaces will lead to ever-deeper, more meaningful interactions-a “situational centricity” tailored not only to each individual customer or employee, but also to his or her unique situation.

  ​An augmented workforce powered by AI will help organizations attract and retain new generations of workers  

Currently, there are five actions that companies can take to survive and thrive in the new AI-first era:

1. Embrace AI as the new experience layer: Customers won’t just be on apps or the internet. They will expect AI-powered assistants and invisible user interfaces, as well as differentiated experiences such as voice, mixed reality, and haptics.

2. Augment your workers: The gains we’ve made from innovating workplace productivity have hit a plateau, but AI will help organizations reach new levels of efficiency and effectiveness. An augmented workforce powered by AI will also help organizations attract and retain new generations of workers.

3. Plug in to the Platform Economy: Organizations must be ready to create and join the AI-driven borderless platforms in their industry-and others-in order to reach customers where they want to be.

4. Take a DesignOps approach, everywhere: Combining design thinking and modern engineering principles will be necessary to the digital enterprise’s transformation as a completely user-centric entity. Organizations should start now to build up a culture, mindset, and business model ready for a DesignOps revolution-where everyone is focused on the user and value.

5. Act with responsibility and plan for secondary consequences: The rise of AI is fundamentally changing everything about the way we live, work, and understand our world. Organizations must develop a digital ethics framework that addresses issues like data security, trust and privacy, and provides guidelines about how data should be obtained and used.

As companies move down the path to digital transformation, there is a growing need for organizations to act with responsibility and adopt digital ethics as every digital action can have an equal and potentially unintended consequence. The rise of AI is fundamentally changing the way we live, work, and understand our world, and this “digitization of everything” requires a new level of corporate accountability. Just because something can be done with digital innovation doesn’t mean that it should. Each organization must be prepared to continuously assess how smart machines and humans can best work together to drive productivity and innovation. To maintain the trust of employees, partners and customers, investment and focus is required now to address the ethical issues arising from smart machines in the workplace.

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