It’s hard to avoid the buzz about Artificial Intelligence (AI) these days. One thing is certain, technology is constantly improving at a faster and faster pace – and at a pace that is hard to predict. As leaders and employees, it’s critical that we stop avoiding AI like it’s going away – it’s going to impact all of our jobs and soon! In a recent HBR podcast I heard two AI authors say to HBR that it’s the early adopters, those who choose to work with AI now, who will flourish.
So, where to begin? There are two basic types of AI you should understand:
Narrow AI –This intelligence is task based. Examples include….
- When Amazon prompts you to buy new products based on your purchase patterns.
- When Siri listens to a question you pose and sends you back search results.
General AI – This is a more human-like intelligence based on reasoning. This is the kind of intelligence that represents a scary unknown for many people – it’s what a lot of the science fiction movies about robots taking over the planet are based on.
Artificial Intelligence, by design, is a machine that mimics, and ideally perfects, cognitive functions that we associate with human intelligence – like learning and problem solving. The understandable worry is what will happen when humans become replaced by machines. Elon Musk recently tweeted that AI posses a bigger threat to humanity than do international nuclear weapons conflicts – a profound statement.
I’m not sure that I believe that AI is going to lead to a robot take-over or an apocalypse. But I do believe as a society we’re doing one thing wrong – we’re treating AI as if it’s something that is so far in the distant future that we don’t need to plan for it.
As leaders, we need to train our brains to start thinking about two things on a regular basis:
- How is AI going to impact my company and my job?
- How is AI going to impact my clients and prospects?
Thinking Ahead About How AI Will Impact You
According to a recent Forbes article, experts are estimating that 800 Million jobs will be replaced by AI by the year 2030 – only 12 years from now. Unless you’re heading into retirement in the next few years, that means it’s critical for you to take a hard look at how AI is going to enter your industry and your company. By integrating AI into your everyday processes early, you’ll likely prevent AI from replacing parts of your role – work with AI, don’t compete with it.
Like it or not machines are claiming territory in the business world. Here are some tips for proactive leaders who want to stay ahead:
- Think about how AI can improve simple processes at your company. According to IBM, “over the next decade, AI enterprise software revenue will grow from $644 million to nearly $39 billion”. Basically, you need to get on the train…it’s leaving the station. Automation can help you company better understand metrics, pull data faster, and even improve customer experience through bots and other similar technology.
- Use your team as a sounding board. You know what we often don’t do enough as leaders? Create space and time for our teams to come together to discuss, brainstorm, and innovate. Grab a whiteboard and have people come up and draw out their ideas – a great technique that you can learn more about via Napkin Academy. Seriously, check it out. But back to your team – our research here at Bates proves that innovation happens when leaders foster it. You can’t have all the ideas, or it’ll stifle creativity and commitment. Bring everyone together about topics like this a few times a year at least.
- Stalk your competitors. What are other people in your industry doing with AI? It’s a good place to start exploring the possibilities.