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Among the many tough questions that this latest — and potentially greatest — recession is throwing at businesses, is what their AI strategy should look like, both in order to navigate the downturn and to bounce back when it’s all over.
Needless to say, there is no simple answer, but here are five principles for getting the most from AI as we grapple with an uncertain future:
Reimagine Your Future and Use AI to Shape It: Don’t be tempted to panic and buy a lot of off-the-shelf digital solutions and hope for the best. The first and most important step is to refine your purpose and strategy. Get your team together and figure out where you could be in the next few years, especially post-recession. It might be very different from the future you imagined pre-COVID-19, but a new and different world also offers new and different opportunities. Then, work back from your refined strategy to decide forensically what technology you need to invest in to make your new future happen.
Unleash AI on the Assets You Already Have:Another panicky reaction that businesses can indulge in is to imagine they need a whole new response to a whole new crisis. This is not true. I guarantee you your organization already has a lot of the data and skills you need to help reshape the business and release its hidden potential — it’s just currently trapped in a plethora of systems that are not talking to each other, managed by people who are not talking to each other. AI can help connect the dots and uncover incredible new insights. Moreover, now is the time to urgently establish a team led from the top to audit what you have, learn about its potential, draw up a strategy to release it, and give your people the freedom to work across boundaries and out of silos. Old rivalries and ingrained bad habits have no place in an organization battling with a recession-hit world. It takes all hands on deck and strong collaboration over the right AI to drive productivity as no other factor can.
Automate Where You Can and Create Better Human Roles:Again, don’t panic and re-invent the wheel. Following on from the refining of your strategy and re-envisioning of your future, get your tech people working hard to scour the market for the amazing off-the-peg and licensed solutions already out there. Some judicious research from your tech-savvy people will result in cost-effective and flexible solutions to automate and digitize, where it makes sense to do so. At the same time, don’t neglect the very important (and what should be constant) refining of your human roles. Most businesses are operating with job descriptions that are years out of date. They don’t understand that keeping roles under constant review helps reveal where skills are redundant and where upskilling workers is required because smarter systems need smarter humans.
Tackle Fraud Head-On with AI: Recessions bring out the fraudsters. Recessions, coupled with AI, bring out the very smart fraudsters. The dark side of AI is that cybercriminals can use it too, and it means that businesses are increasingly grappling with the most sophisticated criminals the world has ever seen. Rely on traditional or outdated systems, and you could find yourself in big trouble. Along with identifying the most appropriate AI tools for your business, it is also important that you seek out the best anti-fraud AI solutions. The measure of how well businesses demonstrate to their customers that they are hot on fraud and cybercrime prevention, in a world where those customers have entrusted a business with their data, will increasingly create blue water between the corporate successes and failures.
Use AI to Boost Remote Worker Productivity: Today’s workforce is increasingly remote, and business leaders are having a tough time accurately measuring employee productivity to boost profit margins in the midst of a global recession. Gartner, a leading research firm, suggests using AI software to not only improve productivity but lift worker morale and engagement in a post-pandemic world.
In fact, Gartner issued its Gartner’s Cool Vendors in Human Capital Management: Modernizing the Workplace with AI and Video report in May 2020. The report stated:
“Artificial intelligence, self-curated video, and digital collaboration tools are modernizing the workplace. Application leaders transforming human capital management must promote the adoption of these tools in order to improve productivity and organizational performance.”
2020 is a good time to try AI productivity tools while most of the workforce is remote and seeking more ways to be valuable to their organizations.
Watch Your Competitors: This one is simple. If you are not doing all of the above, and your competitors are, then you are leaving yourself in a vulnerable position when it comes to future-proofing your business. Organizations that stop to revaluate where they’re going and that deploy AI to make the most of their existing assets and the opportunities ahead will be the survivors of this recessionary world and the winners in the next one, whatever shape it takes.