Success with AI requires open-mindedness and networking: it’s the turn of CIOs

by Agnes Hartl

#ConfareBlog mit Armin Ribis, Artificialy:
Success with AI requires open-mindedness and networking: it’s the turn of CIOs

Almost 200 IT leaders from top companies have already registered for Confare #CIOSUMMIT Zurich. Current trends, important developments and examples of success are discussed intensively at the most important IT management meeting place in Switzerland, where the IT manager of the year is chosen. Of course, the hype surrounding ChatGPT and Generative AI will play an important role in this.

This is also where you can meet the AI ​​experts from Artificialy. Armin Ribis is AI Consultant and Commercial Director of the young company. In the run-up to the conference, we spoke to him about what it takes for AI to be really successful in companies.

As an IT decision-maker, you can register here for the Confare #CIOSUMMIT Zurich free of charge.

ChatGPT and Generative AI have pushed the topic to the top of business leaders’ agendas. What does this mean for your company? 

Simply put, Artificial Intelligence is a technology that companies can apply to improve their business performances, by saving time and reducing costs while increasing revenue, productivity, and efficiency. While AI itself is not a novel concept, recent breakthroughs have made it increasingly applicable and useful. The availability of vast computing power and a plethora of AI tools has democratized AI adoption, empowering businesses of all sizes to leverage its potential.

As Generative AI continues to evolve, top business leaders are recognizing its significance as a catalyst for innovation and a driver of competitive advantage, shaping strategic decisions and investments in the process. In this context, companies like Artificialy, dedicated to the development of AI software, are playing a pivotal role in assisting them to optimize their results. However, keep in mind that the true value of AI isn’t just in its application and one of our biggest strengths is that we can help identifying the right use cases for each client, evaluating the highest ROI potential and technical feasibility of each proposed solution.

Artificialy sets itself apart from numerous other AI software firms through a distinctive combination of two core elements: our team’s top talents trained in the world’s best institutions (ETH, EPFL, IDSIA, Polytechnic of Milano, INSEAD, to name a few) and well-versed in a diverse range of AI applications; and our fusion of state-of-the-art innovation with a strong business mindset. This exceptional approach guarantees the development of cutting-edge AI solutions that are not only technologically advanced but also thoughtfully aligned with each client’s specific needs and objectives.

By understanding the intricacies of our clients’ businesses and industry landscape, we ensure that our AI offerings deliver tangible and strategic value, solidifying our position as a trusted partner in their journey towards enhanced efficiency and competitiveness.

How far along are companies adapting in AI?

The pace of AI adoption can vary greatly depending on the sector, company size, location, and the specific AI applications being implemented.

In certain industries, such as technology, finance, and e-commerce, AI adoption is already well-established, and many companies have integrated AI into their core business processes. For example, AI is commonly used for tasks like customer support, fraud detection, personalized marketing, and supply chain optimization.

In other sectors, such as healthcare, manufacturing, and transportation, AI adoption is increasing steadily, but at different stages of implementation. Companies in these industries are exploring AI applications for medical diagnosis, predictive maintenance, smart factory, autonomous vehicles, and more.

Typically, larger companies with a leading market position have more AI experience and established inhouse teams for AI. Even so, I believe there is still a huge potential for further AI applications that specialized firms can develop and customize for implementation in these larger, more complex scenarios.

Smaller businesses might face more challenges in adopting AI due to resource constraints and the need for specialized skills. However, the availability of pre-built AI models and tools have been making it easier by providing solutions that can be implemented very fast and with a good ROI.

What should CIOs do now to use the topic of AI for corporate IT and the digital transformation of the company? 

CIOs need to take proactive steps and adopt a strategic approach as soon as possible. They should embrace open-mindedness and networking: actively seeking to expand their knowledge and network by connecting with AI-experienced companies and specialists. Collaborating with experts in the field allows CIOs to gain valuable insights, understand best practices, and stay updated on the latest trends and innovations.

As leaders of the IT departments, they have an overview of the business’ challenges and opportunities and can understand how AI initiatives might address them. Then, they can engage in meaningful discussions with business stakeholders about the benefits of their implementations, and position themselves as Innovation Drivers.

However, they should also be aware that not every AI use-case and idea will be valuable for the company. CIOs must be discerning in their evaluation of internal AI ideas, considering factors such as data availability, feasibility, and alignment with business objectives. Investing in the right AI projects ensures resources are utilized effectively and yields the best outcomes for the company.

Lastly, rather than attempting grandiose AI implementations from the start, CIOs should aim to achieve small but valuable successes with initial AI projects. This approach mitigates the risks associated with large-scale implementations and provides opportunities for learning and improvement. By demonstrating the value of AI through these successes, CIOs can build confidence among stakeholders and pave the way for broader AI adoption across the organization.

What are the most important areas of application?

The possibilities are endless! AI can be valuable along the whole value chain of a company. The key is for companies to identify their specific pain points, objectives, and opportunities, and then strategize how AI can be effectively integrated into their business processes to achieve meaningful and sustainable outcomes.

Below are only a few examples of applications that I find can have a particularly transformative impact:

Marketing & Sales: AI can analyze customer data to identify potential leads, improve targeting, predict customer preferences to deliver personalized campaigns, recommendations, or experiences, optimize pricing strategies, and more. These automation tools can improve lead nurturing, increase engagement, enhance customer support, and help in preventing churn.

Data Analytics and Insights: AI-driven data analytics processes vast information quickly, providing valuable insights, predicting trends, and informing strategic decisions.

Process Automation and Efficiency: AI automates repetitive tasks and workflows, reducing manual efforts, errors, and improving overall operational efficiency. It can also predict equipment failures in advance, reducing downtime and allowing proactive or automated maintenance.

Supply Chain Optimization: AI optimizes supply chain operations by forecasting demand, managing inventory, predicting supplier performance, and identifying disruptions in real-time.

 Some solutions can cross multiple industries depending on the technology used. The most promising are Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Computer Vision applications: from sentiment analysis, language translation, voice recognition, and content summarization, for improved communication and content management, to automated image and video analysis, object detection, and facial recognition, benefiting industries like manufacturing, retail, and more.

What are the main obstacles to implementation? And how to deal with it properly? 

Developing an AI tool is one thing but making sure it is correctly adopted and used in daily business operations requires effective change management and a company culture that embraces innovation. Employees may resist adopting AI due to fear of job displacement or uncertainty. Companies often face ethical or privacy concerns regarding data usage or regulations. And collecting data in general can be a struggle for many.

My advice is: start small and scale gradually – begin with pilot projects and collaborate with AI-specialized partners to access expert skills, evaluate challenges, and leverage their know-how on the best use-cases. They can also provide support in establishing clear guidelines to address ethical concerns and success metrics, to evaluate the impact of the AI projects you will deploy together. Promote a culture of innovation to encourage the adoption of AI tools by your teams.

How can one properly deal with the lack of experts and specialists?

Investing in upskilling programs for employees can require non-indifferent amounts of time and money – it is a long-term strategy. Hiring a data scientist is also a lengthy process: it’s hard to find the right profile, and they will need time to understand the business and its strengths, pain points, workflows…

The best and fastest way to proceed, especially at the beginning, is to leverage external AI consultancies and services like ours, to fill in the expertise gap. A specialized firm can assist in identifying the best AI use cases, building custom solutions, and providing valuable guidance throughout the implementation process. AI is so dynamic and ever evolving, what was new yesterday is quickly substituted and that’s part of the reason why companies face a constant fall back to the lack of know-how. For this reason, I would suggest CIOs don’t rely on a 100% in-house strategy.

There are also ways to “softly” bring on change for the internal team, like encouraging knowledge sharing within the organization (i.e. through internal workshops), supporting AI experimentation and implementation, and engaging with AI communities and events to connect with experts in the field and stay up-to-date with the latest developments. This internal cultural change can benefit the entire company by creating an environment conducive to leveraging AI’s full potential.


What role does ARTIFICIALY play in the CIO’s AI ecosystem?

Artificialy is a little different from most AI companies: we are both consultants and developers, have strong ties to academic research and yet are exclusively focused on real business applications. We can play a crucial role in any CIO’s AI ecosystem thanks to our flexible team structure and ability to provide help in various stages of implementation, from assessment to industrialization.

Artificialy can provide valuable expertise, resources, and support throughout the AI adoption journey, by fulfilling some of these key roles:

Subject Matter Expertise: Thanks to our specialized knowledge in various AI technologies, frameworks, and best practices, we can guide the CIO and the organization on the most suitable AI solutions for their specific business needs. Through thorough analysis of existing processes and data, we can help the CIO uncover areas where AI can drive efficiency, cost savings, and innovation.

AI Strategy and Roadmap Development: We can collaborate with the CIO to develop a comprehensive AI strategy and roadmap tailored to the organization’s objectives. This includes defining the scope of AI projects, setting priorities, and establishing a timeline for implementation.

AI Project Implementation: Of course, we take on the responsibility of designing, developing, and deploying AI solutions within the organization. This also includes the data preparation phase, model training and testing to ensure their accuracy and effectiveness in various scenarios. We have the technical expertise to ensure that our AI models are robust, scalable, and integrated seamlessly with existing systems.

Training and Knowledge Transfer: As AI projects are implemented, we can provide training to the organization’s employees, empowering them with AI knowledge and skills to support ongoing AI initiatives. Since we are dedicated to staying up to date with the latest AI advancements and trends, we can also advise the CIO on emerging technologies and potential areas for future AI expansion.

Continuous Support and Maintenance: Post-implementation, we provide our clients with continuous support and maintenance to ensure the smooth functioning of our AI systems and address any issues that may arise.

Risk Mitigation and Compliance: We consider it our responsibility to be well-versed in handling ethical concerns and mitigating AI-related risks. We can advise the CIO on best practices for responsible AI deployment and ensure compliance with data privacy and regulatory requirements.

Overall, Artificialy can help CIOs bridge the expertise gap, accelerate AI adoption, and ensure successful implementation of AI initiatives within the organization. Our contributions can help in driving significant digital transformation and fostering a culture of innovation within the companies and teams we work with.

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