Like millions, I recently used a ride-sharing app on my smartphone. I didn’t give much thought to it because it was uneventfulThanks to its ease of use and simplicity, the ride-sharing sector is worth more than $80 billion. In the past, it didn’t even exist. It had cars, riders, and drivers but needed smartphones to work. As they arrived, many conveniences and new experiences emerged – some of which became entire industries.
Artificial intelligence is a similar catalyst; it’s the next wave of genuinely transformative technology we have yet to grasp or appreciate fully. Changing how we live, and work is the defining technology of our time. I have never been more excited and optimistic throughout my tech career. My colleague at Microsoft talks about AI this way: You need to use the “new thing” to improve old things. After that, you use the new thing to do new things. It’s true what he says.
Let’s look at a healthcare example. Paige uses artificial intelligence to improve cancer diagnosis, treatment, and identification. AI can detect abnormalities faster and more accurately by analyzing thousands of digital pathology images, pixel by pixel. Imagine what these tools can do for pathologists, doctors, and patients. It means earlier disease detection, healthier lives, and more family time.
No matter its size or industry, every company should be thinking about AI now. AI is moving from its auto-pilot phase, which was all about narrow, purpose-built tools that make predictions, recommendations, and automate using machine learning models, to its copilot phase, which can revolutionize almost everything. AI leaders will run companies that thrive in an AI world if they embrace it now, experiment with it, and envision how it can solve complex problems.
Get started by experimenting.
The most excellent way to understand AI is to use it. It is rare for new and disruptive technologies to be available right away. This is what it is. Most leaders I talk with have tried popular AI applications like ChatGPT and Bing. There are many more possibilities available than these; investigating them is important.
You can try it on whatever task you are faced with to see what it is good at and isn’t. Create interview questions, write a memo, research and summarize a topic you want to learn more about or get thought starters for a document with this tool. Using Bing and ChatGPT, I came up with ideas for a speech. Microsoft 365 Copilot, the AI integration across Microsoft apps, helps me generate slides, find and summarize documents that share a topic, and summarize email exchanges. Likely, you know better than anyone where opportunities and potential exist if you experiment and use AI in your organization.
Make your organization more productive by deploying.
AI copilots – from Microsoft and others – can be deployed or embedded in applications to assist or simplify specific tasks. In less than two years from its launch, GitHub’s Copilot has already written 46% of the code on its repository and has helped developers code up to 55% faster. That extra time could be put to good use by developers. Most users say it helps them conserve mental energy and focus on more satisfying tasks.
Creating new things and solving new problems is another way to put it.
Consider your business’ workflows and process-driven activities, such as payroll, onboarding, and IT help desk support. Artificial intelligence can streamline all of these repeatable, rules-based processes. A new category of AI software can handle manual tasks and reshape scores of business processes as a result.
Time is another way to think about AI for productivity. You can be your biggest asset or challenge if you’re a fraud detector or security analyst. You’re already more efficient and effective when you can whittle down the time it takes to comb through lots of data-rich, time-sensitive information.
The impact of AI on businesses today can be seen in everything from the predictive text on your phone to the chatbots on websites to the suggested searches you get when opening a browser.
By leveraging the power of generative AI, PwC is expanding and scaling its own AI offerings while helping insurance and healthcare clients reimagine their businesses. Hundreds of thousands of customer reviews are analyzed by CarMax to surface key takeaways for buyers about every make, model, and year of the vehicle in its inventory.
While AI is still in its infancy, it also improves employee experiences. According to a recent Microsoft survey, 89% of employees and business decision-makers feel more fulfilled with access to automation and AI-powered tools. They say it’s because they can spend time on work that matters. In the future, nine out of ten respondents stated they would want to see AI solutions used for even more duties and activities.
Create something new
Using the “new thing,” my colleague suggests that old things can be done better with the “new thing.” But how can the new thing be used to accomplish new things? Do you have any options that would be completely different? What can you do to delight customers and create new lines of business and, with them, new revenue streams?
Now is the time for business leaders to face this challenge, which takes work. Integrating AI into your organization is the first step, and then iterating from there. While AI will enable people and organizations to achieve more, we’re just beginning to define what “more” means. To move forward, we must create conditions that help us discover what’s next.
Using AI to be more efficient – whether using generative AI to generate ideas or conduct research – allows you to think more deeply about a concept or problem you’re trying to solve. Taking advantage of the snowball effect of this concentrated effort will allow companies to develop genuinely new and innovative solutions faster.
Prioritize security and AI that is responsible.
Despite all AI’s promises, one thing is sure. With safeguards, AI will reach its full potential. Technology has always facilitated and accelerated human progress. As with anything else, AI has potential risks that must be managed.
There will be different AI roadmaps for every organization, and they will differ depending on whether you’re a tech company or not. Likely, tech companies have already incorporated intelligent agents into their software experiences. Everyone has massive potential; now is the right time to start.
A new industry that relies on artificial intelligence will get off the ground soon, like ride-sharing needed smartphones. For the majority of us, AI will transform the game. It’s not just about the tech landscape but about humanity, and that’s what’s genuinely profound about it.
The AI market is moving quickly, and the cycles in and around AI are faster than ever. Business leaders currently have a tremendous opportunity to embrace AI and adapt to the profound changes that are taking place. Businesses using AI to lead and drive change will have exponentially more excellent opportunities.