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The Human Factor in Digital Transformation

  • In this feature Catherine Moore, Principal Business Analyst at Codec, looks at the benefits of implementing AI technology and how to ensure its successful adoption.

    Artificial intelligence, or AI, has gained much attention both within the technology world and the world’s media. It’s swiftly becoming part of the everyday lexicon and through technologies such as Alexa and Siri, AI is becoming a household assistant. AI is not a new concept but new and better ways of leveraging it are constantly being developed and demonstrated across multiple industries.

    Transformative technology

    The potential impact of AI is remarkable.  We are not just on the cusp of something truly transformative, we are witnessing it in real time. It might sound dramatic, but AI will be life changing for every industry and in more positive ways than not.

    Take the healthcare sector for instance, the EU requirement of having two radiologists to check breast screenings can lead to extensive wait times for women.. However, AI assisted imagery can now be used in this process, to screen the images, detect cancerous cells and ultimately prioritise patients and reduce wait times. In fact, AI technology has been proven to detect up to 15% more cancers in screenings than the human eye and so without a doubt, it can have a life-changing effect.

    The ‘Sea Change’ is happening and with that, more and more public and private organisations are deciding to get on board.

    There are so many AI tools and solutions on offer that it can be difficult to wade through the options and find one that is relevant to the business need. Organisations can often make the mistake of jumping on the innovation bandwagon by looking to implement AI and machine learning, without having identified their business objectives for using the technology. 

    Having the foundations in place for what the business wants to achieve is key to a successful implementation, rather than a reverse-engineered requirement to justify its utilisation. Taking a systematic approach to examining your business processes and how AI can be used to make each one more effective is key to the successful implementation of AI technology in any organisation.

    Barriers to adoption

    For the most part, employees are curious and excited about working with AI, so thankfully the barriers to adoption are not entirely new and are similar to that of any technology roll-out or digital transformation project. Employees can be nervous of change and especially one that has had so much media attention, so it’s important to put people at the forefront of the change and transformation. A key component for success is to have open communication with staff. It’s vital that teams don’t feel intimidated by AI and that they feel empowered to utilise it within their role.

    Data quality and data availability are also incredibly important when it comes to integrating AI technologies. This really needs to be the first step in preparation for any AI project; high quality data is essential for systems to learn and make accurate predictions and insights. Similarly, governance of data, its security and its consistency are vital building blocks for a successful AI implementation. Without these foundations in place, AI will struggle to deliver its potential value and may impact perceived project success.

    Another key recommendation is investing in a reliable technology partner. With the number of AI solutions out there, it is important to tap into specialist experience. AI experts are best placed to provide the most up-to-date knowledge, best practices and, perhaps most importantly, will have experience of failed projects that act as a learning curve. A key consideration for success is not to have a lengthy roadmap to AI or its integration. It can be beneficial to have a phased approach to implementation with more frequent milestones. Breaking it down into smaller chunks helps the organisation communicate effectively, see value early and often, and the teams using the technology feel positive about their progress.

    The role of culture

    Culture within an organisation cannot be underestimated. Culture impacts everything within a business and if a business fosters an innovative mindset and encourages risk-taking, it’s more likely to be fostering an environment where employees are open to exploring and adopting new AI technologies.

    Nervousness around adoption comes from the unknown. Investing in communication and training is vital, encouraging continuous development. This can encourage workers to try the new technology, help them understand the benefits and exactly how it can enhance their role.

    Ultimately, AI is about human amplification rather than human replacement. Reframing how people think of AI; steering away from dialogues about it replacing roles that people historically occupied and instead talking about it as assisting or co-piloting can change the whole conversation and mentality. It’s about elevating human expertise and optimising resources, rather than replacing it.

    Ongoing evolution of AI

    There are many statistics around AI use. Gartner’s recent statistic suggested that by 2025,  AI will play a role in 70% of text or data-heavy tasks. Even if there is a 10% margin of error either way with these statistics, it’s still pointing towards huge numbers of businesses, and potential competitors, moving in that direction.

    AI is helping to streamline more processes, freeing up workers’ time to focus on their core roles rather than peripheral administrative tasks. For organisations that choose to ignore innovation, they are at real risk of being overtaken by competitors who are adopting these new technologies.

    Ultimately, to realise the full potential of innovative technologies, businesses need to ensure that the technology proposed aligns with their business objectives, rather than taking a purely technology-led approach. By highlighting that the implementation of AI is an investment in your people rather than ‘technology for technology’s sake’ can help ease the change process and increase adoption and ultimately improve the business adoption of the AI solution.

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