Pause: Consider How Best to Leverage AI
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been touted as the transformational pivot point for nearly every industry in the past few years. Pundits claim it will revolutionize the way we do our taxes, hire new recruits and even drive our cars (they’ll be driverless, of course). We are already surrounded by it (bought anything on Amazon lately?). But what is AI really? And how can you leverage it practically to your advantage, as well as to the advantage of clients, partners and staff?
AI sounds very “out there,” and has unfortunately become a catchall for anything that sniffs of advanced analytics or lots of data. It’s clear to us that we need to translate the conversation about AI into real terms to put its power in the hands of leaders who can connect it to real actions.
Usually, AI is a marketing term for deep learning neural networks, which are a type of machine learning algorithm. Like any machine learning algorithm, AI essentially learns from data to produce useful output such as forecasts, predictions and likely responses, with two basic functions:
Make accurate predictions of what will happen in the future
Complete rote tasks efficiently
That’s what AI produces, but it’s still up to leaders to decide how those two things can drive impact.
And monetizing the value of any effort — and perhaps especially analytics — isn’t really about new technology or software. It’s about gaining traction with partners, and leaders in particular. That requires senior leadership permission, investment and commitment, but also a skunkworks approach to the actual analytics. Getting action to be taken means starting with those who need or want the help most (“coalition of the willing”) and a willingness to experiment and redirect tactics “on the ground.”
There are numerous business challenges firms could tackle using AI (See Figure 1):
After the initial brush with excitement at the possibilities, most efforts stall for lack of knowing how to get started. The work is complicated and requires skill and experience with both advanced analytics and leading professional services firms. Yet, there are steps anyone can take toward getting a high-impact project off the ground.
Despite the intrigue and excitement about the analytic approach itself, the question becomes whether or not the latest technology or machine learning algorithms can indeed drive real impact. Doing so requires laser focus on driving the strategic agenda in a thoughtful way that demonstrates impact and builds support in the organization. Big Data and advanced analytics can make the answers more complete and higher impact. True impact will require developing a business case for the necessary change, developing coalitions of those willing to experiment and demonstrating value through results.
This is the responsibility of leadership. The reward is moving your marketing and business development initiatives from reactive to truly data-driven and strategic.
Originally published in the November/December 2017 issue of Strategies magazine. It was featured in the issue's AI supplement, "Artificial Intelligence: Solutions for Legal Marketing."
About the Authors:
Mark Masson collaborated with other industry leaders on LMA’s 2017 Next Big Thing Regional Program Initiative and was one of the 2017 Artificial Intelligence Regional Instructors. He is Partner with Axiom Consulting Group.
Sean Williams is Principal with Axiom Consulting Group.