People don’t like change, and they don’t like to be changed. That’s what makes Digital Transformation so challenging.
Digital Transformation is one of the key topics at Future Decoded, where I’m working as an analyst this week. The Day 1 event is aimed to help visitors learn about the cutting-edge technologies that are shaping the modern workplace across industries. The event is intended to promote and provoke ideas for business opportunity and sustainability in the era of AI. This becomes increasingly important as UK companies risk falling behind foreign rivals unless they use more AI.
Interestingly, the Financial sector leading the way in using AI. For example, NatWest is using AI to understand how financial markets behave. For people who are interested in applying AI to their organization, it is worth taking a look at the latest Microsoft’s AI report – Accelerating Competitive Advantage with AI
Planet, Profit and People – and AI
Organizations are taking environmental impact very seriously and, at Future Decoded, Microsoft cracks down on plastics at Future Decoded. At Future Decoded, the keynotes have had a clear emphasis on ethics being at the centre of working with technology, people and process. This emphasis also chimes with the new focus on Diversity and Inclusion at Future Decoded.
One key theme was the need for diversity and inclusion as a key part of the philosophy of a non-biased way of managing AI. Diverse teams, whether inadvertently or mindfully, do challenge each other, which means that people can also challenge themselves. In challenging themselves in an empathetic environment, the bar for success can be raised. In teams where everyone is similar, people don’t always question themselves or each other since there does not seem to be a need in these environments; the ‘like me’ impact means that the implication is that everyone is right, because they are ‘like me’ so they must be right, so therefore…. I am right. That’s not the way forward, however. If you want to raise the bar of success for your teams and your product, you need to include diversity and inclusion as part of the DNA of your organization in order to challenge ourselves and each other. It is these friendly challenges which raise the bar to success. You can’t just slap an AI label on a weak business proposition, and expect it to be successful.
In the field of AI in business, there are plenty of so-called ‘experts’ but it is important to understand how the Dunning–Kruger effect is involved in planning out projects, such as those projects that include AI. In case you haven’t heard of it, the Dunning-Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which people mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it actually is. That’s why we need people around us, to challenge us, to encourage us, and to help us to see the ‘data’ to guide us towards making better decisions and having a sustainable impact on our business. Recognizing our cognitive biases, and working to overcome them, can help us to do better. Listening to the Future Decoded keynotes today was an interesting experience, because it was thoughtful about the impact of technology on people and planet. It was clear about how this practical ethics translates into authenticity in the behaviour of an organization, which, in turn, can help an organization to scale up by increasing profits by focusing on using less impactful resources.
Aside from that issue, what else can you do in order to have a scale up attitude to AI?
- Create a roadmap for 12 to 18 months, based on what the business values and perceives as key criteria for success.
- Follow the value chain of your business. Think of the operations that are required to make AI succeed in the long term, and think about automation.
- Think about sustainability for your organization as well as the environment. What is going to have a lasting impact for good for your business?
Digital Transformation is everywhere, but it is an ongoing process rather than a box to be ticked. Every company has to be a software company, whether they like it or not. Eventually, is every company is going to be a cloud and AI company? An analytics company?
Digital Transformation is about showing what is possible, and giving people a vision that they feel that they can be a part of, and a vision of the organization that they feel they belong to. This is an additional important theme, and it was good to hear that the stakeholders in the business are part of the Digital Transformation and AI stories.
The Future Decoded keynote ended on a note of recasting Big Data with a view to using it for quantum computing. The end user gets information and insights that they were never able to have before, which brings better choices and outcomes. The keynote is exciting because it allows for longer-term future results using Microsoft as a platform. It’s not science fiction, and quantum is helping us to solve problems that were never solvable before with classic computing.
Transformation will mean that every company is a software company, focused on what your organization does best. Trust is the currency of the new economy; it is a foundation for what makes a good partner.
For this reason, data is so important in earning trust. Data is a vague term, a catch-all which is skimmed over by organizations and people. Bad decisions are based on bad data; good decisions are down to expertise. Perhaps we all have a Dunning-Kruger impact? Data is the moments of our lives; our books, what we read, our photographs. Companies have taken the trust for granted and we suffer a techlash. With great power, comes great responsibility and the decisions need to be an ethical one, from the data right up to impact on the environment. In line with the thinking about ethics, the keynote ended with this thought; it is your data, and we must respect it. In doing so, it shows a respect for the people behind the data, and that should be a core pillar of any organization.