AI is the X-factor for your business, and it can lead to exponential growth. Dawn Herndon, Vice President of EMEA Build & ISV Partnerships at IBM, shares the areas where AI can accelerate your business and the different factors you need to consider as you build products and solutions to sell.

People may not often think of IBM as a tech company that develops AI technology, but they’ve been doing it since 1956. Today, they focus on two areas:

  1. Helping organizations accelerate how they go to market with AI by providing the best-of-breed technology and innovation. 
  2. Open-source. They develop AI to fit the purpose of your company, domain, or expertise. 

How do you leverage AI today to drive the outcomes you need? Every company on the planet needs to figure out how to make money and attract new clients. So, let’s figure out how to do precisely that.

Key Productivity Goals

When thinking about how organizations leverage AI technology, you can break it down into three different silos.

  1. How to increase employee productivity
  2. How to interact with customers more efficiently 
  3. How to enhance products and solutions with AI 

You can use AI to make each of these silos more efficient to deliver better outcomes for your company.

Increase Employee Productivity

Every company is looking at how to increase employee productivity by leveraging and embedding AI into how employees work, collaborate with each other, and how internal business processes and systems work.

Interacting with Customers

How do you appear to your customer base? What ways do you market your company? How do you interact with customers more efficiently and effectively? Let’s use a call center for example. If customers are calling into your support organization and you want to accelerate how quickly they answer questions, you can use AI to achieve that.

Enhancing Products and Solutions

How do you use AI in the products and solutions you sell to your customers? How do you leverage this technology to attract new customers? AI can help you enhance new products and take that enhancement to drive new sources of revenue by attracting and getting new customers.

If you take these three areas and look at the different productivity challenges here, you can see where you need to invest from an AI perspective to accelerate your business.

AI in Development and IT Operations

We’re seeing a lot of organizations testing and experimenting with AI to decide where to start, particularly in development and IT operations. Suppose you take advantage of LLMs and GenAI features. How do you leverage those in the development cycles to get to market faster and reduce the time your developers are working on adding product enhancements?

Pay attention to the product development lifecycle. You can take tremendous advantage of AI and drive significant outcomes for your business in how quickly you get to customers and gain new ones.

AI Adoption Barriers

There are several unsurprising barriers large organizations are dealing with.

  1. Integration and scaling challenges
  2. Governance
  3. Limited expertise
  4. Cost
  5. Complexity

We used to talk about how important it was to get the data model correct and leverage the correct LLM. Today, we’re moving toward building models that are tuned and trained on a specific domain, industry, and business need. We’re overcoming many of these barriers as we continue evolving the AI technology roadmap.

Governance Is The Most Significant Consideration

One of the biggest considerations companies of all sizes need to make is how to govern your data. How do you govern the integration and embedding of this technology into your solutions?

You could be exposed if you’re working with vendors providing AI technology and they’re not focused on governance, security, and compliance in how you deploy or embed the AI technology. You can’t control data if you don’t know where it’s coming from.

So, a critical piece of how you drive business value and exponentially grow is to think about how well the data is governed and how well you know where it’s coming from.

The Future of Work Is With An AI Assistant

Organizations are leveraging AI, this X-factor, by moving toward the AI assistant, the copilot, and the virtual agent. IBM calls it an AI assistant because they believe that across all domains and functions within your company, there will be a place for AI and a way to enhance the experience or productivity of the person interacting with it.

If your virtual agent, copilot, or ultimate end user has the ability to automate and integrate back-end enterprise systems, you can greatly increase the productivity of your employees.

The AI Conversationalist

With automation, we talk about the ability of the AI assistant to have conversations via a chatbot-like experience. This is common. But instead of having a conversation where the LLM and data models behind the scenes are driving the answers you see in that conversational AI interface, it’s evolving into how to take action or execute a command inside that AI assistant.

The AI assistant will eventually become like a person. Let’s look at HR as an example. The ability for an employee to go to an AI assistant trained in HR terminology and understands comments or commands like, “Transfer this employee to the new manager” or “Give this employee a salary increase” is huge!

Let’s look at it from the perspective of the products you develop and sell to your customers. How do you enhance those with AI? We’ll use fintech as an example.

Say you’re working in the banking industry and creating a new loan. You want the loan processing agent to be able to talk to the underwriter and provide information directly to them through a conversational AI system. That’s reality now.

You can embed AI technology into your product, such as loan processing software, and drive that outcome with AI.

Key Takeaways

There are a lot of vendors out there creating LLMs and doing them in an open-source way. Other proprietary vendors also exist, and all are ensuring their models are trained and tuned to the domain specific to your company or functional area.

Some questions you might ask yourself as you figure out where AI can accelerate your business best are:

  • How do you leverage and govern your data? 
  • How do you leverage AI to fill the skills gap every company is dealing with? 
  • How do you create client-ready use cases? 
  • How do you go to market and drive new clients with AI? 

AI is the X-factor. Your business will grow exponentially when you identify the use cases that drive significant impact.

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