Artificial Intelligence has become the motor for leveraging the immense volume of data that our teams and businesses generate. However, the power it begins to unleash is simultaneously creating a general state of alert. The path to solving this issue is one that involves asking ourselves what role people will play in all of this. 

“The time to stop and create a new social contract has arrived. It’s time to determine the basic rights and obligations of people and machines in this new world,” stated José María Álvarez-Pallete, president of Spanish company Telefónica. “We must not let artificial intelligence roam freely (because) everything that technology is capable of is not necessarily good or socially acceptable,” warned the chief executive officer.

This warning reminds us that humans are living a key moment in history. Despite the grim or utopic scenarios that Artificial Intelligence might anticipate, we can all agree that AI will transform our lives on a personal, professional, and organizational level. There’s no escaping this without risking “extinction.” We can either choose to transform, and hence adjust our businesses and companies, or give ourselves away until we eventually disappear.

At Olivia, we view transformation as a consequence of crises or vision. And because we always opt for vision, I wish to share the conditions that we need to generate in order to leverage (and not suffer from) the consequences of Artificial Intelligence.

Tool or transformation

Firstly, we need to reflect on our understanding of AI. Do we see it as a tool that will improve our organization’s dynamic, or do we consider it part of the process of digital transformation that we’re forced to succumb to in order to remain competitive in the future? In other words, we either aim to use AI to accelerate specific processes, or we understand that we can use it to leverage our business model’s transformation.

We need to be choosing the second option. Yet this is where we tend to make our first mistake when it comes to Artificial Intelligence: disregarding its human aspect. Any implementation of AI is destined to fail if we do not firstly define where we stand, as people, in a data-filled world; our understanding of the data’s worth, and how we incorporate (or fail to incorporate) it in our day-to-day tasks.

In order to do so, I suggest analyzing three main principles that every organization should consider before initiating their path towards AI. First: how acceptant our vision is regarding data usage. Second: the level of (cultural) change required by our company in order to incorporate data usage in our daily routine and make it the foundation of everything we do. Third: how to achieve employee adoption of data and the intelligence it offers them for simplifying their tasks. 

Principle 1: Our vision of the world of data

Currently, our businesses and companies are constantly generating and measuring data. As stated previously, a large portion of companies use this information to impact processes. However, leveraging data in order to transform as an organization requires broadening our vision and creating a strategy that will allow us to take advantage of data in a more holistic, systemic way. Besides streamlining the work or the tasks of certain areas of business, this vision uses data to drive the characteristics that make  our business different from the rest. Data becomes part of the purpose of our business. It is used to boost our unique characteristics, the motive behind our company, its human group, and the people who make it up. 

Principle 2: Our culture’s level of preparation for intelligence applied to data

The holistic vision that we create will require us to work on the core of our organization: its culture, because data proves useless when it is unaligned with the culture, principles, and routines that define our organization’s work dynamic. In other words, our efforts towards making large investments; hiring renowned financial advisors; and creating the most sophisticated strategy possible for leveraging data will prove to be futile if our business culture fails to incorporate and “experience” data as its main tool. We should be asking ourselves how prepared our business culture is for the people who make it up to be aware of and open to incorporating data as the foundation of everything they do. This requires redimensioning aspects of processes, the capabilities needed to incorporate into our daily routine, as well as our communication and the leadership that results from these shifts. However, above all else, it requires knowing how to work and instill willingness among our collaborators to make data the exclusive source of measurement, dimensioning, and planning of their daily tasks, thus creating a culture of data-driven decision-making based on facts, not opinions.

Principle 3: Organizational adoption of the cultural elements of intelligence applied to data 

Shifts in culture will not have an impact if we fail to ask ourselves how to make it tangible so that people can incorporate it into their organization, and how to guide them along the way. In other words, how we help collaborators to incorporate the value of data. Since the beginning of the 21st century, organizations have learned to leverage the data generated by our teams through technology such as Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, and machine learning. 

Today, we’re aiming towards working on our own with the data we generate as humans in our daily interactions with our value chain. This is where Artificial Intelligence gives us the opportunity to make a difference—as long as we’ve previously achieved the adoption of data culture. 

Our vision, cultural shift, and its adoption are the foundation for getting on board with the future; the world of data that it brings; and, ultimately, Artificial Intelligence. In my next article, I’ll be explaining how Transformation Analytics lets us do this proactively in order to develop our organization’s most valuable asset for evolving and reinventing itself: talent.

By Alejandro Goldstein  Partner at Olivia

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