Suffering from AI FOMO? What to do next.

AI FOMO - Fear of Missing Out

What is FOMO? FOMO is an acronym for ‘Fear of Missing Out’. FOMO is more than jealously viewing other people’s social media postings with envy, however. In the academic literature, one FOMO definition is that FOMO is ‘as a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent’ (Przybylskia, Murayamab, DeHaanc and Gladwell, 2013).

Organisations and their leaders are suffering from FOMO as they struggle with the promise of AI. Like Alice in Wonderland running on the spot, many business leaders are watching the industry and their competition filled with a sensation that they are not competing in the Red Queen’s Race in artificial intelligence. In the meantime, organisations are living in the reality of daily business. From the business perspective, it can be challenging to get the mix right progressing towards revenue generators and the support to work with data. How can businesses run the race better, and break out of the FOMO race?

Where does FOMO originate? 

FOMO originates from unhappiness with the current situation. In the world of data, the cause may be due to the organisation’s current state of data quality, data governance, or due to the inability of the business to get the data that they need. 

Leaders need to play the role of ‘setting the example’ in the business. They need to show they can take charge of wrestling value from data while moving towards wringing profit from Artificial Intelligence. This issue leaves leaders with a conundrum: how is it possible to provide ‘business as usual’ to a high standard, while fulfilling shareholder or Board expectations about incorporating Artificial Intelligence into the business roadmap?


Look inward as well as outward

One characteristic of FOMO is that sufferers tend to look outward and perform comparisons. It is normal to perform competitive intelligence and compare your organisation against the success of other people. Another possibility is that departments are comparing themselves against each other. 

One crucial way forward is to focus efforts so that they contribute directly to the internal business vision and purpose. It is not enough to look outward without measuring success inwards, too. The overall team performance should contribute to the AI effort, but it must fit into the overall business vision, also. People can have different interpretations of Artificial Intelligence. Leaders need to manage expectations about Artificial Intelligence with team members. 


FOMO is misdirected attention

In one study, FOMO was partly responsible for distracted driving as well as preoccupied social media use. In a business environment, it is possible to misdirect efforts towards distractions that do not contribute to the overall vision. In this scenario, the organisation may produce ad-hoc Artificial Intelligence projects rather than a strategic implementation of AI projects.

Leaders cannot yield to the temptation of delivering ad-hoc vanity projects that do not contribute much business value. There will be challenges vertically across the organisation. Team members can come together across silos to solve a practical business issue with AI in mind. Attention on strategic benefits pays dividends since efforts are productive. Also, leaders motivate teams by focusing on task-oriented and goal-directed results, so it is essential to have clear goals with purpose.


Tackling the root of FOMO

Many companies have not taken the time to provide their teams with the knowledge and tooling to prepare for cloud operations, artificial intelligence or data projects. As a result, teams overanalyse their next move in a loop of analysis paralysis, or they do not know where to start. Organisations can often skip the business analysis piece. Business-oriented support facilitates business needs and processes into testable hypotheses and user stories to help to define the project. 


Cost versus Value

Leaders need to consider value as well as cost. Conversations can turn towards diving down into the detail of prices rather than finding the business value that the project contributes to the overall business vision. This issue is an awkward conversation for any organisation, but it always comes back to the same point: customer success.


Overcoming FOMO for Good

For Artificial Intelligence to succeed, leaders should prioritise customer success at the forefront of any project. These issues can be turned around by focusing on the voice of the customer, which can get lost in the gleam of the technology. AI FOMO can distract organisations from looking inward for their customer success, as well as jealously looking outward.

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