During my consulting work I often see business leaders struggling with how to best apply artificial intelligence (A.I.) in their businesses.
And it’s totally understandable.
With the constant bombardment of biased media coverage and the overwhelming speed at which new A.I. tools are rolled out, it’s no wonder folks are having a hard time choosing a path.
But developing an A.I. strategy and implementing it is not as difficult as it might appear.
A Software Economy
As our world becomes more and more digitized, we become an economy of (new) ideas. And to build in a world of ideas, we must ask new questions.
A fresh perspective.
Just like any important decision, the first step is putting it into context for your business.
And I like to spark that process for my clients by asking them a simple question:
“Do you want to be Batman or Ironman?”
A disarming question that — in my opinion — does an excellent job of framing the A.I. adoption issue.
Obviously, this warrants a little further explanation…
Your New Superpowers
To keep things as down-to-earth as possible, I equate A.I.-powered tools to superpowers. Because — in a manner of speaking — that’s precisely what they are.
No, A.I. can’t make you fly or turn invisible. But it can give you some really amazing powers, like: seeing into the mind of your customer, working at fantastic speeds and viewing the future.
So let’s go ahead and clarify what I mean by Batman and Ironman…
The utility belt.
Batman is a regular ol’ guy with a utility belt full of gadgets. And it’s from all those wonderful gadgets that he gains his superpowers. The gadgets are discrete tools that he picks and chooses from as they apply to his current situation.
In business terms, ‘Batman’ is people enhanced by technology. A business that is centered on face-to-face interaction. Customers see the people, not the tech — and in this context, A.I. should be focused on enhancing the people. Example businesses include: Starbucks, Target, Home Depot, etc.
The super suit.
Whereas Ironman is also a regular ol’ guy, but he is completely enveloped in a suit. The suit is a single system that the guy inside operates. And it is from that suit that he gains his superpowers.
In business terms, ‘Ironman’ is a technology platform driven by people. A business that is centered on purely digital interaction. Customers see the tech, not the people — and in this context, A.I. should be focused on enhancing the tech. Example businesses include: Uber, Google, Amazon, etc.
In my experience, the Batman/Ironman question seems to do a good job of keeping things in perspective and streamlining the adoption process — making decisions a bit easier and more strategic.
But the real power of this analogy comes from applying it at the employee or group levels versus the business level.
- Your sales staff may be Batman, while your marketing department may be more effective in Ironman mode. Or
- Does your H.R. Manager need an A.I.-powered personality analysis tool in her utility belt? Or
- Will a predictive lead scoring tool help boost online conversions?
With me so far? Then let’s go ahead and dive into this new era of superpowers.
A World Full of APIs
Fortunately, the landscape is already awash with powerful APIs that are easy to use and can provide a quick and substantial ROI.
IBM alone has done a great job of breaking down their Watson APIs into easily-digestible chunks.
So it’s time to start stocking up your utility belt or building your super suit.
Because it’s not about finding that one silver bullet tool, it’s about deploying a range of A.I.-powered tools. Tools that enhance human knowledge and experience. And amplify the people that use them — making them exponentially more productive. Dare I say it — making them superhuman.
- Create products with the power of natural speech using Amazon Alexa
- Peer into the mind of your customers using IBM Watson
- Analyze the emotional reactions of your shoppers using Google Cloud
- Fatten up your sales pipeline using Salesforce Einstein
And finally, let’s dive into some next steps.
The new battlefield.
If you’re just getting started and are looking for the best on ramp, current A.I. tools are ideally-suited for improving customer experience.
Which is perfect, considering Gartner predicts customer experience to be the primary brand differentiator moving forward.
What an amazing world we are moving into.
On a Journey
Since the dawn of time, human beings have been using technology to enhance our lives. And A.I. is just another chapter in that story.
But A.I. isn’t a single technology that’s waiting to be discovered and unleashed into the world — it’s an evolving revolution.
So let’s jump on board.