Knowing where to start with Artificial Intelligence (AI) is difficult. A technology driven approach most often fails because it applies tools without understanding the operational and business processes affected. Likewise, creating business cases and project plans without understanding how AI processes work often fails as well.
Software vendors who provide ERP, CRM and other business applications are coming out with modules or functions in their software that attempt to apply AI. External services popup constantly targeted to providing AI analysis for specific business processes as a subscription.
Making sense of different offerings is not always easy for businesspeople. What works for some companies will, likely, not work for yours. You company’s business processes, databases, enterprise software, and goals are almost always different than anyone else’s.
One of the most common misconceptions we see is that dashboards are some form of AI. The prettiest graph still provides no insight into future operations without human interpretation. AI is the standardization and automation of that insight. AI does more and can do it more accurately and more quickly that having someone look at a dashboard of past happenings and then guess at the future.
On the other end of expectations, AI is not a panacea for business processes.
In one distributor, our assessment and education process took them from unrealistic expectations that had been debated for months in formal and informal meetings to a planned series of AI projects with definable ROI calculations in a few weeks. Success was assured!
We took the time to understand how the company operated through a series of interviews and discussions. We worked with IT people to understand the type of data being stored in different applications, its quality and history.
Initially, there was a lot of confusion in the organization about what AI and machine learning was and how it could apply within the company. Our assessment delivered a two-part plan to achieve some quick improvements to targeted business processes by examining shipping to reduce costs and analyzing customer order history identifying at risk customers to increase re-order rates and customer retention.