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Why Your Company Should Consider an AI Implementation Working Group

Why Your Company Should Consider an AI Implementation Working Group

Why Your Company Should Consider an AI Implementation Working Group

As part of Solutions Review’s Contributed Content Series—a collection of articles written by industry thought leaders in maturing software categories—Frank Laura, the Chief Technology Officer at EngageSmart, explains why CIOs and CTOs should consider working with an AI implementation team when working with the technology.

I have spent over 17 years working as a CIO or CTO for major companies, and during that time, I have seen multiple novel technologies significantly shift the corporate landscape. With each, companies have rushed to take advantage of the innovation—which, predictably, has led to mixed results. Each organization’s approach to implementation determined whether a given tech shift was beneficial to a company and whether the rollout was smooth or rocky. 

IT leaders across industries are now striving to adapt to the game-changing technology of AI as quickly, powerfully, and safely as possible. In the face of this technological disruption, one of the essential pieces of advice I can offer for leveraging AI at your organization is this: Build the best dedicated cross-department working group you can for the task. 

Team Members To Include in an AI Implementation Working Group 

An interdisciplinary working group can help a CTO or CIO make informed decisions about AI implementation that are more likely to stand the test of time and benefit the entire company—not just its technology. Creating a group representing all necessary considerations means soliciting input from diverse stakeholders: legal, IT, compliance, security, sales, marketing, HR, and others, depending on the specific tool being considered and the company’s industry and goals.  

Human resources is perhaps a less obvious group to draw expertise from, but their involvement is critical. All new tools implemented have implications for the teams using them, whether it’s a simple shift in a protocol or a need for further training and continuing education. In the case of AI, pop culture conversation has raised understandable concerns about how AI tools will affect the jobs of those in specific roles, such as marketing and administrative work. Involving HR in the working group will help create the necessary lines of communication between your organization’s decision-making bodies and your team members.  

Taking a Measured Approach

While some CTOs and CIOs may be unsure where to begin integrating AI functions into their organization’s workflow, my experience has shown me that ignoring their possibilities could spell obsolescence. While the initial buzz of cloud software, which was discussed with similar fervor in recent years, has given way to a steadier pace of implementation as new uses are explored, it’s become clear that companies that failed to consider its services have been left behind. AI’s even more meteoric rise suggests that the consequences of hesitation may be even greater. 

At the same time, moving too quickly without proper understanding can lead to problems of its own. As it stands, individual employees of an organization are likely to experiment with AI-powered tools for daily tasks. For example, maybe they’re using a free version of a tool to compose emails or parse reports. By charging headlong into the promise of new tech, these likely well-meaning team members may inadvertently give away potentially proprietary business information to be integrated into those tools’ data sets and learning models. This is another reason it’s essential to involve different teams within the organization—including legal and HR—in establishing guardrails and guidelines around how AI is used in the workplace. 

Encouraging an Informed Implementation

Everyone who touches AI should understand what it can and cannot do. The ability to deliver on AI’s promise is contingent on knowing what is possible today and what is still hypothetical or a misunderstanding of AI’s functions. Pop culture has led to much hype and misinformation around AI and its capabilities. While a CTO or CIO might take the ability to understand evolving technology for granted, some of the working group’s other members can likely benefit from succinct explanations to help them do their jobs as effectively as possible.

It’s wise to include a team member who can provide accessible information for everyone else involved in the decision-making process. If everyone operates with the same understanding of AI, whether a generative language model or simply process automation, your guideline rollout will be more efficient. Establishing a common language, beginning with the decision-making process, can help.  

The AI Sandbox 

Without encouraging you to skip ahead in your company’s AI journey, some IT leaders have ventured to create secure, contained “sandboxes” for experimenting with AI. These highly controlled spaces with restricted access can help team members to test the limits and benefits of these new tools in a setting with closely monitored fences around it to help protect your company’s data and information.  

If in doubt, your organization should consider relying on a simple rule when approaching AI: do not use any company information or assets while interacting with AI without explicit approval from the cross-department working group. In my opinion, a measured response to new technology is the most responsible one. A knowledgeable AI implementation team with perspectives from different areas of expertise and an overarching goal of moving the company forward will help your organization leverage AI safely. 

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