There’s a popular Chinese proverb that says: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
This means that if you want success and growth in the future, you have to plant the seeds of innovation today.
Many people think of AI as a thing of the future, but in reality, AI is already well-integrated into our daily lives.
Are you reading this on a smartphone? If so, you’re likely interacting with AI right now. Siri uses AI, as does your camera’s portrait mode. And if you use social media at all, the feeds you see in your timeline and notifications you receive from the apps are curated by AI. Video recommendations from YouTube and music suggestions from Spotify are also AI-generated. Basically every ad that pops up while we use the internet comes from AI. And when we use Google Maps to find our way to a new restaurant? We have AI to thank for that too.
In other words, the average person has no idea how much they already rely on AI—and even enjoy the benefits that AI brings to their lives.
The technology has been coming to market for the last decade and although adoption was initially slow, there is now great momentum behind it. Businesses are now on board too—but there’s still a lot of confusion about how to implement AI tech without blowing your budget. Senior company leaders, in particular, don’t always realize how much AI could help their teams and make the most of their resources. Also, there is a perception that AI will be expensive to implement, which adds to the reluctance.
But if you’re smart about it, AI can be a major boon to your team and your bottom line. Here’s how to do it right:
Choose an implementation date that’s less than three months away.
We recently conducted a survey where we asked companies how long they thought it would take to implement AI. Most people thought it would take years.
But in most cases that’s no longer true. Some AI takes a year or so to implement, but most can be done in under six months. It’s actually much faster than updates to most legacy systems.
That said, AI might not be right for your business, but you won’t know unless you take a hard look at how your company is currently operating
Here’s how to analyze whether AI can help your team:
Look at all the tasks your team members are currently doing, and ask whether any of them could be automated. AI is a great way to save time and money on the more mundane, repetitive tasks that humans prefer not to do. AI can’t go get a coffee, but it can sift through huge amounts of data and deliver meaningful insights in just seconds.
When AI is put to the right jobs, it generates value and ROI for even small to medium enterprise businesses. As a business leader, you can use AI for everything from mining social data, building better slide decks, creating videos, editing photos, driving engagement, optimizing logistics and managing your own personal finances. I’m not talking incremental ROI—I mean massive ROI.
And the sooner you implement it, the faster you can see the results. That’s why I recommend the three-month timeline.
Remember, AI is not something to fear.
The biggest challenge to AI implementations is usually that leaders are afraid of its impact on the company, its employees, or the bottom line. Then again, it might be that they simply don’t understand what AI is and it seems less risky to do nothing. I disagree with this supposition. Let me explain why:
Before you undertake a major implementation, rest assured that AI typically makes more time for you to enjoy things that really matter. In my own life I use AI built by other companies on a daily basis and it’s allowed our company to grow quickly and to be resource-efficient across the entire business.
More importantly, it allows me to have more time with family and friends than I did just two years ago but my work product is now far greater in both volume and quality. This is because I have outsourced things that can be done well by AI.
My company ThisWay sells AI-driven sourcing technology to recruiters, staffing agencies and employers. I’ve never spoken to a business leader who wants to implement AI so they can hire fewer people. Most talk about how they hired recruiters that are great with people and they want them to be back on the phone talking to candidates rather than spending time filtering through resumes, many of which aren’t qualified for the job. Like us, other AI companies identify one or two big problems that are best solved with a high rate of computations that humans can’t perform, then we build an engine to do that one thing very well so our human customers are happier in their work and home life.
Make sure you’re clear with everyone that this isn’t about replacing your team. Rather, AI can help them focus on higher-level work, which might enable them to stop working on nights or weekends. No one really likes doing tedious, repetitive work anyway.
Also, create a safe space where your team can tell you what aspects of their job they don’t like doing without fear of reprisal. Open communication about perceived risks and benefits of AI technologies will help us all regain better work/life balance.
Truth is that AI is less like the Terminator, and more like Wonder Woman!