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Three ways to kick-start your business’ AI journey

By Lianne Stewart

Published February 29, 2024 • 5 Min Read

Many businesses are starting to explore how to add robust AI capabilities to their workflows but a mix of factors like time-constraints, privacy concerns or an influx of information might delay you from further investigating these tools.

Artificial intelligence currently dominates many industry discussions thanks in part to accessible AI tools like OpenAI’s Chat GPT. Many businesses are starting to explore how to add robust AI capabilities to their workflows but a mix of factors like time-constraints, privacy concerns or an influx of information might delay you from further investigating these tools. To help fast-track your AI discovery, we’ve enlisted insights from two Canadian AI experts, Jahan Ali, Founder and CEO of tech consulting company MobileLIVE, and Kishawna Peck, Founder and CEO of Womxn in Data Science. They generously share information and support to inspire more businesses to delve into the potential benefits of AI.

From trend to transition

Shifting mindsets from AI as a trend to a transformative transition is crucial for businesses. While navigating the multitude of AI tools can be overwhelming, Peck advises business owners to first identify how AI can be aligned with specific business goals or challenges to prevent decision fatigue and promote efficiency.

“Understanding your business needs can guide you to learn about relevant AI tools and experimenting with them will ensure you don’t fall into a rabbit hole,” she recommends. “Exploring specific applications in your industry can lead to efficiencies.”

Ali believes the growing relevance of AI tools in the business landscape, particularly with the rise of generative AI, known as Gen AI, marks a transformative shift that goes beyond more trendy uses of AI. For example, the latest AI evolution leverages patterns and examples it learns over time to generate original content, which he says will enhance accessibility and relevance for businesses.

To stay even further ahead, Ali recommends businesses educate their teams on how AI can support and enhance complex, thought-based work. “There is a push to integrate AI into everyday business processes and into the foundational values of a company, promoting a culture where ongoing learning and adaptability are essential,” he adds.

Alternatively, businesses can create an AI operations role (AIOps) to establish critical infrastructure that ensures seamless integration and adaptability. AIOps, Ali emphasizes, plays a crucial role in keeping up with the rapid pace of AI advancements, facilitating a culture of ongoing learning and adaptability within the company.

AI and human collaboration

Artificial intelligence is occasionally negatively depicted as an unstoppable force that will change the way everyone works. While some people are fine using AI for more simple tasks, adopting its tools to make key business decisions invites common misconceptions that artificial intelligence will replace human decision-makers. However, AI’s current integration across diverse industries – ranging from healthcare to manufacturing – demonstrates that machine learning works best when it’s in collaboration with human brain power.

“Rather than eliminating jobs, AI is shifting the paradigm, creating new avenues for human skill and oversight to ensure that AI is used responsibly and effectively,” Ali says.

Ali underscores that businesses can free up their teams to work on more strategic problem solving by first exploring AI tools that manage mundane tasks, such as identifing new patterns or reducing complexity when sorting or categorizing large swaths of data. As comfort grows internally, businesses can introduce AI tools that more handle intricate responsibilities such as forecasting by using regression models.

Peck agrees with this direction, stressing that AI can offer surprising insights and predictions, but a person must intervene to filter its outputs so they’re appropriate for their business case. “[AI] does not have all the context you do, and business success is an art and a science,” she says.

Protecting your business when using AI

Ethical use of AI is also a real concern, and businesses can build trust by transparently implementing responsible practices. Ali recommends aligning with evolving standards, establishing clear communication about AI usage, and implementing a robust data governance policy. Regular audits, impact assessments, and ongoing employee training are key contributions to responsible AI implementation, he adds.

It’s also important to guard against bias in AI. Peck suggests enrolling diverse groups of people to provide input and guidance throughout the process to subvert bias in machine learning. A multifaceted team can provide a range of perspectives to identify and mitigate bias before it affects or impacts customers.

Peck and Ali also recommend consulting with experts such as an AI Ethics Consultant, Data Privacy Specialist, or an AI Governance Advisor. This ensures solid guidance, thorough research on data privacy practices, and collaboration to establish clear AI ethics policies within your organization.

Next steps to empower your AI journey

With these foundational insights, it’s time to seize the opportunity to grow your knowledge of AI and determine if it’s the right fit to grow your business. Fortunately, there are a lot of avenues to enhance your knowledge of this growing technology. The AI field is a mosaic of innovation, where each tile is a snippet of knowledge,” Ali says. “Webinars, online courses, and specialized workshops are the grout holding these pieces together.”

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

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