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OpEd: IT-led strategy is pivotal for the rise of AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) has seen incredible growth in the last year, with new discoveries and applications for the technology.

Each day, AI-powered innovations are taking place, and organisations are internally discussing the opportunity to capitalise on AI and its benefits for all departments. 

Widespread adoption of AI can completely optimise a business when correctly handled, so IT leaders need to be at the forefront of its strategic application. Witnessed during the pandemic, IT leaders have become more involved in business decision-making, and it is now more important than ever that they play a pivotal role in providing expertise for adopting AI into their company.

The ever-growing AI fascination

The opportunity AI presents has completely captivated business leaders, as they seek to harness its potential for innovation and optimisation across a range of areas. In turn, the understanding of AI from organisations has developed beyond looking at hypothetical examples of future implementation, to practical examples of business transformation. 

CSIRO’s Australia’s AI ecosystem momentum report found 60 per cent of respondents indicated that they are accelerating and expanding their AI-related solution offerings to meet market demand. 

Over the next 12 months, we can expect to see organisations utilise AI to distinguish themselves within their markets to gain a competitive edge. AI will help organisations become more agile in responding to emerging opportunities and challenges, placing businesses in a position for growth. 

The variety of use cases for AI means that organisations will ultimately be examining each department they have to evaluate how it can be optimised, and although this presents an exciting opportunity for businesses, AI adoption needs to be thoroughly planned and strategically implemented. 

When the pandemic first hit, many organisations rushed to implement different technologies and applications to stay afloat. And while this presented a short-term stability, their dispersed technology suite led to tech bloat, and in turn wasted expenditure. 

Given the current economic uncertainty, business leaders need to be smart when considering AI tools to ensure investments in solutions are valuable both now and in the long term for the entire organisation. Otherwise, the same mistakes risk being repeated. 

Undertaking a care-first approach when adopting AI

With AI on most organisations’ radars now, conversations within companies have matured from a narrow focus on chatbots and cost saving to a wider business objective of productivity and success. AI offers the potential to enhance a range of areas within an organisation including business automation, document analysis, IT operations, cybersecurity, decision-making and insights, product innovation, sales, and customer and employee experience. 

Whilst the potential benefits can be wide-ranging, it also means businesses need to selectively invest in AI implementation based on their objectives and priorities, especially in the current economic climate. 

It therefore becomes imperative that all organisations further educate themselves and harness expertise. Given AI is ever-evolving, businesses need to ensure their understanding can keep up with its pace of evolution. Business leaders should continually discuss the state of their AI journey, and how it can be integrated both in the short term and long term to drive business success and transformation.  

Thankfully, IT leaders and teams are already well-equipped with the knowledge needed to guide business decisions when investing in AI. IT leaders can also provide strong guidance on best practices to safely interact with AI. Businesses need to continually engage with these leaders to define how they can regulate the use of AI to mitigate the risk of exposing sensitive information to outside platforms, especially as it continues to evolve. 

Harnessing IT expertise will be critical to future-proofing organisations. 

Leaning into IT leaders for optimal AI utilisation

Organisations have already witnessed IT’s function becoming more involved in business decision-making.  GoTo’s 2023 IT Priorities Report found that when it comes to deciding on new digital tools, 39 per cent of Australian business leaders took their IT team’s recommendation.

Understanding the complexities and intricacies of active technologies within an organisation, combined with their knowledge of different technological advancements, IT teams and leaders are well-equipped to make informed decisions and share reputable perspectives for businesses to consider when investing in AI. 

CIOs, CTOs, and IT leaders should look to identify the most valuable opportunities and issues where AI can benefit their company and avoid those where it can’t.

Research from McKinsey indicates generative AI can lift productivity for certain marketing use cases by roughly 10 per cent and customer support by up to 40 per cent. IT leaders can be particularly helpful to organisations in developing a perspective on how best to cluster use cases either by domain (such as customer journey or business process) or use case type (such as creative content creation or virtual agents) so that AI adoption will have the most optimal ROI. 

For example, solutions utilising ChatGPT integrations to understand, access, and analyse a range of customer data can benefit multiple departments. Similarly, AI solutions that automate mundane tasks present value to a range of departments to streamline operations and allow teams to focus on priority tasks that move the business forward.

AI advancements will continue to impact how organisations operate, and the ongoing experience will only uncover more circumstances in which it can be adopted. 

Given initial limitations of talent, budgets, and capabilities, IT leaders’ expertise will provide a strong perspective for feasibility and resource estimates to help businesses prioritise departments’ AI adoption. This will in turn ensure organisations are optimising their operations both in the short term and for future transformation and growth.

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Andrew Kernebone

Andrew Kernebone

Andrew Kernebone is the APAC Head of Presales at GoTo

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