AI: Friend or fiend, building AI trust

By Jasmeet Sraw, Sr. Growth Partner, Course5 Intelligence

It takes quite a while to put our trust and faith into things we are either unfamiliar with or not too accustomed to in our daily lives. A similar story unfolds with AI in enterprises, as executives tread the difficult line between augmenting decision-making processes with these emerging technologies. At the same time, ensuring employees do not misunderstand it as a replacement but, more importantly, TRUST it as a friend.

One way to introduce AI in the enterprise is to position it as a decision-action simulator where users can determine quantifiable implications for their decision-making processes. A prime example comes from the world of augmented analytics, where such an application provides not just causal factors for the current health of the business (KPIs) but cites recommendations to either avoid or mitigate any risks to revenue, profitability, and/or customer experience.

Taking a business first, a user-centric approach to leveraging AI may be one way to begin positioning it as a friend who is happy to help and not make it larger than life, leading to trust issues. 

We see many examples where executives are buying into AI technologies without building a bridge to actual use cases that deliver true business impact, making it a technology-debt paying exercise or a ‘follow the herd’ mindset. Such exercises result in a lack of trust across business users, failed capital investments with little or no ROI, and redundant ecosystems within enterprises.

Many times, I am asked the question of whether a plug and play machine learning software or piece of AI hardware is available to address challenges within certain business processes or across the enterprise; the answer most times is whether there’s a clear problem statement identified or designed which this ML software or AI hardware can address for its users versus putting together a black-box tool/ technology which no user really wants or understands as a solution.

Taking a business first, a user-centric approach to leveraging AI may be one way to begin positioning it as a friend who is happy to help and not make it larger than life, leading to trust issues. I strongly recommend CIO organizations, who largely lead the charter for enabling AI for enterprises to build multidisciplinary teams or choose partners who can also become a conduit between business and technology teams rather than just build or sell systems that do not speak to the actual user or business need.

This also necessitates that other business leaders such as CFO, CMO, or any other CXO reciprocate with identifying the correct problem statements from their teams and processes, ultimately leading to choosing the right technology, building the right solution, and enabling the right user/business process.

All this can then be tied to revenue growth, profitability improvement, and better customer experience for the organization’s business than each team limiting it to their own metrics and success versus being a successful enterprise for its customers/ consumers.

In all its glory, AI can help us become more effective in our decision-making, make everyday processes efficient and make lives a little more convenient. Change management should be the first step for every AI initiative, accounting for users’ behavior and baking it into people’s workflows than altering someone’s behavior to do so. Enterprises and executives may find a federated approach more useful and easier than the atypical centers of excellence approach to making AI strategies work for their businesses. Employees need to be made aware of the possibilities that AI can have, not just for them, but for the business itself, which catapults their roles and functions too.

Most executive surveys about AI adoption cite cultural and trust barriers as the biggest obstacles; therefore, adopting a bottom-up approach that is centered around demand driven ideation may be best suited to build AI Trust and harness the true potential of these emerging technology.

In essence, as someone who has been a practitioner, consultant, and now a trusted partner to enable these digital and AI technologies for customers, I truly believe that there is no perfect AI solution to every business problem but a well-thought, carefully curated solution powered by AI technologies can alleviate many challenges for enterprises across industries. It becomes the responsibility of everyone involved; the Company, the Solution partner, the IT teams, and Business groups to ensure that trust and ethics remain intact as AI is positioned to lead businesses to promised lands.