Before You Implement AI, Consider This

Written By: Chris King, Partner & Vice President

As we begin to embrace AI in our organizations, I believe it's important to consider its potential impact and how we can be proactive and thoughtful in our approach. Over the past three months, I’ve had the pleasure of participating in discussions with leadership teams at multiple organizations on how AI will affect their businesses. Rightfully so, these leaders are concerned about how the use of AI in their businesses will impact staff, customers and workflows—either in a negative or positive way. 

A few themes have resulted from these discussions that I want to share with you.

Before making AI available, you must have an AI policy 

Although well meaning, your staff may unintentionally be placing corporate or private information into the public domain by using AI tools such as ChatGPT. Asking for it to summarize a corporate document or assist with a spreadsheet comes with a whole host of privacy and security concerns—such as exposing information publicly that your organization wants to keep internal. Having a clear and well understood AI policy ensures users understand what they can and cannot use AI for in the workplace to keep your data safe.

Consider your corporate data structure and security

When using AI tools such as Microsoft Copilot, your corporate data will be queried to return results based on prompting. Are you certain that your corporate data is structured and secured in a way that ensures staff can only see information that is aligned to their job roles? Let me elaborate.

One organization ran an interesting experiment by prompting their Microsoft SharePoint environment with the following: “Show me any files with the word ‘payroll’ in it.” The query returned a list of payroll spreadsheets that were viewable by anyone who asked. To avoid this, make sure your data is secured and organized in a way that protects confidential information.

Support your staff to properly use AI by providing training

While extremely powerful, AI requires training and experience to leverage to its full potential. When prompting AI tools such as ChatGPT or Microsoft Copilot, the quality of your output relies on the quality of your input or prompt. When reviewing metrics on early adopter AI use in organizations, we see an initial strong uptick in adoption and then a dramatic fall. Users become frustrated with the output they’re receiving and resort back to “what they know” in creating content, editing documents, and creating presentations. 

Choose a corporate priority that AI will help enable

Senior leadership meetings I’ve attended have been full of excitement and passion about how AI will help transform their business. From AI assisted customer service, to chatbots, and human resources efficiencies—the ideas are endless. When going through the exercise of looking for ways to improve business productivity with AI, begin by choosing one organizational priority and hold yourself accountable by frequently reviewing progress. This will lead to a much greater chance that your AI initiative is successful. To get started, Harvard Business Review offers this free whitepaper that provides an excellent framework on how to capitalize on AI in your organization.

AI is here to stay, and I believe that we need to embrace it in business. As with any tool, making sure you have policies, security, and training to manage it is critical. And always start with an organizational goal when it comes to AI by asking yourself where AI could make the biggest impact in your business. If you choose not to invest in AI, how might your competitors? And how might that affect your business?

Starting this conversation internally and resolving to revisit it frequently will put you on the path to leveraging this powerful new toolset that’s readily at your disposal. As always, our team is here to help facilitate these complex and strategic technology discussions alongside leaders like yourself. Send us a note if you’d like to get the ball rolling. 

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