AI readiness is not really about technology
We need to build on everything we have learned about digital transformation, taking the best forward for a new era of continual change powered by AI.
The democratization of artificial intelligence (AI) with tools such as ChatGPT and Microsoft Copilot creates unprecedented opportunities for organizations to innovate and transform through continual change. The accessibility of new forms of AI ultimately gives end users more power, requiring a shift in mindset from digital technology as the source of transformation.
Change is only going to keep accelerating as AI becomes more pervasive. And we will continue to deal with issues never faced before. Avanade research of 3000+ business and IT professionals found that 95% of employees are enthusiastic about the potential of AI. However, while employees are generally optimistic about AI and confident in their organization's technical capabilities, less than half say their organization has adequate human capital, workforce planning, and responsible AI policies in place. That means huge upskilling and a renewed focus on digital literacy will be needed. How can we guard against another wave of digital exclusion?
Our global research indicates that leaders have a lot of work to do to help their organizations ready their people, processes and platforms for AI through continual change. A new transformation approach is needed.
AI Readiness: The need is now
Avanade’s research shows that 92% of organizations will need to shift to an AI-first operating model by the end of 2024 to keep pace with competitors. Beyond efficiency gains, a quarter of the 3000+ business and IT professionals we spoke to expect that the primary impact of AI on their jobs will be to inspire creative ideas and innovation. This underscores the opportunity for organizations to not only transform their operating models, but also their purpose and value propositions. Additionally, more employee innovation creates the potential to unlock more value from existing cloud, data, and security investments.
While there will always be a temptation to rush to production, the path to value from AI is not just about technology. Organizations also need to proactively ready their people and processes to realize outcomes from AI-powered transformation through continual change. This requires both a clear AI strategy and a robust responsible AI framework informed by an organization’s vision and values.
There is an urgency to adopt AI
Organizations feel pressured to adopt AI to stay competitive and boost creativity and innovation. However, only a third of CEOs are fully confident in the readiness of their leaders to embrace AI.
Leadership has excitement about the potential of AI but they don't necessarily have the understanding of what it means to be AI ready.
AI changes the game for responsible business
Nearly 80% of employees anticipate AI to impact up to 20 hours of their work week by 2024. Similarly, 85% believe customers are ready for AI-driven interactions. But do organizations have responsible AI safeguards in place?
A durable and scalable framework for responsible AI helps organizations assess and deal with new AI risks – whether caused by technology platforms, processes or people. Establishing a responsible AI framework also creates an opportunity to bring corporate values to life in new ways and to enshrine principles and behaviors that tangibly reflect those values in AI governance processes. However, only 48% of organizations have implemented a complete set of guidelines and policies for responsible AI.
There is no end point to AI readiness
AI readiness is an ongoing journey. Our research highlights mixed levels of confidence in the current readiness of leaders to embrace AI. For example, while 58% of CFOs are highly confident in their leadership’s understanding of generative AI and its governance needs, only 36% of CEOs have the same level of confidence.
This should not be a surprise. We’re at the very beginning of an era where AI will unlock the potential for every individual to do more and be their best. Microsoft is leading the way with AI technologies that open new possibilities for industries and experiences to be reimagined. However, the democratization of AI will continue to bring unprecedented challenges for organizations to navigate.
Leaders need to be comfortable with not knowing everything about AI and its implications – on socio-political conditions, regulations, ethics, ways of working, etc. – yet it is possible to predictably realize business outcomes through a process of experimentation, readiness and scaling. Insights from our research and experience working with hundreds of clients globally emphasize some key principles to help organizations drive more value from their Microsoft investments now, and to ready their people, processes and platforms for transformation with AI through continual change.
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AI Readiness: Making it real
A federated approach that applies agile and innovation factory model methods to promote cross-functional experimentation with AI and accelerate clarification of business cases. For example, one of the world’s leading prestige automotive makers turned to Avanade to help it embrace people-first principles and experiment with AI to prioritize use cases that will unlock the full potential of the knowledge of its employees.
Frequent assessment of the readiness of employees, customers, and ecosystem partners for AI to prioritize people-first actions that enable them to adapt and evolve. One of Avanade’s clients wanted to use AI to improve its employee and client experiences, while also realizing operational efficiencies and cost savings. We helped the global tax and advisory firm to assess the readiness of its people, processes and platforms for AI and to produce a roadmap of practical actions to catalyze transformation.
A durable governance and responsible AI framework to embed ethics, inclusion and security supports the sustainable scaling and realization of value from AI through continual change. We have worked with a large financial services organization to scale generative AI across its legal processes and customer-facing teams within a responsible AI framework, significantly reducing response times and increasing sales conversions that are expected to ultimately yield millions of dollars of value each year.
We still need coaching for users and adopters in a way where they're helping empower and enable it themselves, to make better decisions, as opposed to looking at it as a potential adversary.
To drive value from AI, you need to know your why
A clear “north star” and robust responsible AI framework are necessary to guide innovation of new products and services with AI, but also to unlock more value from existing investments in cloud, data and security.
To prioritize actions to ready people, processes and platforms for AI, leaders should consider factors including:
- Has your organization’s business strategy been updated to account for predicted generative AI growth and impact?
- Are you confident that the people-focused processes and roles that will be impacted by generative AI are clearly understood in your organization?
- How confident are you that leaders in your organization understand and are inspired by generative AI and its governance needs?
- How much support do you think will be required to onboard/train workers to make the most of and innovate with generative AI tools, like Microsoft 365 Copilot?, etc.
- What kind of new divisions might generative AI create between enabled and unenabled employees?
Let us help you ready your organization and people for AI faster
Avanade Advisory will partner with you through the ongoing journey of experimentation, readiness and scaling required to continually realize value from AI, while our privileged access to Microsoft will ensure you are always positioned to seize opportunities faster than competitors.