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Future-Forward Means AI-Forward: Steven Kawasumi on Why Companies Must Adapt


What is the future of work? The future of organizational growth and development?

There are numerous changes business leaders can point to, but the digital economy we’re venturing further into requires that companies prioritize innovative ideas and business models to continuously transform and adapt to the evolving business landscape. Part of this future is one where companies seamlessly leverage the power of artificial intelligence to drive ingenuity, make informed decisions, and enhance efficiency.

Business leaders must recognize this reality and adapt their companies accordingly to remain competitive. This isn’t a far-fetched fantasy, either. It’s our current reality, and building AI-forward companies has become a fundamental strategy. This is the conversation Steven Kawasumi, a distinguished artificial intelligence and product management executive, wants to initiate with more business leaders. Below, Steven explores some of the key steps executives must take to usher in artificial intelligence-based organizations and make their companies future-ready.

As companies navigate the ever-evolving business landscape, adapting to the transformative power of AI has become imperative for success. In this article, we will delve into the key steps executives must take to usher in AI-based organizations and make their companies future-ready.

Hiring the Right Chief Technology Officer

Building an AI-forward company can’t happen unless you have the right Chief Technology Officer (CTO) in place. This visionary leader will be the driving force behind your organization’s technological strategy. The right CTO should have extensive experience building a nimble AI-centered organization and be able to oversee the implementation from start to finish.

While it is critical to have technical expertise to be able to navigate the complexities of AI within your specific industry, technical experience alone is not sufficient. You should also pursue someone who can see the bigger picture, someone with a strategic vision for how AI can revolutionize your operations, products, and services.

The AI space is a dynamic field that experiences large shifts in technologies that occur within a matter of months, not years. As such, the “build vs. buy” decision regarding these innovative solutions becomes all the more important. Core technologies, such as LLMs, for example, are particularly difficult to build in-house without heavy investment and the tolerance to match the pace of larger industry players. It’s a CTO’s responsibility to identify areas of AI specialization, custom tuning, and proprietary data IP and focus on building AI capabilities that will complement best-in-class AI platforms and solutions that will give an organization a durable competitive advantage.

Look for a CTO that is familiar with both technology platform adoption and running an R&D organization. They must be able to balance durable platform capabilities and standardized approaches to accelerate the delivery of cutting-edge capabilities. A CTO and the AI organization they build must be able to identify opportunities where technologies developed to solve a different use case or industry need can be adapted to support your particular industry and use case. For example, if you fail to see LLM use cases outside of ChatGPT, you will fall behind the industry in short order. 

Additionally, look for a CTO who can inspire and motivate teams, someone who can lead your organization into the AI-driven future. With the right CTO at the helm, you can set the foundation for a successful AI-forward company that stays ahead of the curve and reaps the rewards of this transformative technology.

Embracing AI for Enhanced Decision-Making and Efficiency

Once the right CTO is in place, executives must create an environment that embraces AI as a catalyst for enhanced decision-making and efficiency. To harness the full potential of AI, it is crucial to develop a comprehensive data strategy. This involves establishing robust data infrastructure and implementing effective data governance practices. By ensuring the availability of high-quality data, you lay the foundation for accurate and reliable AI algorithms. With the right data in place, AI can provide valuable insights that inform decision-making processes, enabling executives to make well-informed choices and drive strategic initiatives.

AI implementation also demands collaboration across teams and departments. By bringing together data scientists, domain experts, and business leaders, you create a dynamic environment where AI insights can be applied to real-world challenges. This collaborative approach allows for a holistic understanding of business processes and customer needs, leading to innovative solutions powered by AI. Starting with AI pilot projects is an effective way to demonstrate the value and potential impact of AI within your organization. Small-scale initiatives can help business leaders iterate, refine, and optimize AI models while also building confidence among stakeholders. Successful pilot projects not only showcase the tangible benefits of AI but also pave the way for broader implementation across the company.

Upskilling the Workforce for an AI-Driven Future

As your organization embraces an AI-forward approach, it is essential to invest in upskilling your workforce to thrive in an AI-driven future. To start, conducting AI awareness programs is vital in educating employees about the potential of AI and its implications for their roles. This includes providing clear explanations of AI concepts, dispelling common misconceptions, and highlighting the ways AI can augment their work rather than replace it. Additionally, fostering a culture of continuous learning is essential. This includes providing access to AI training resources, encouraging employees to stay updated with emerging AI trends, and supporting their professional development in the AI domain.

Identifying employees with the potential to leverage AI is the next step. These individuals may possess analytical thinking, problem-solving skills, and an aptitude for working with data. Offering reskilling opportunities to these employees allows them to acquire the necessary knowledge and expertise to work alongside AI technologies. Through targeted training programs and professional development initiatives, you can equip your workforce with the skills required to collaborate effectively with AI systems, extract insights, and make data-driven decisions.

Adapting an AI-forward mindset is how Steven Kawasumi believes executives will position their companies for long-term success and relevance.

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