Unlock a new wave of exponential value by scaling AI successfully

By: Carmen Whateley, Africa Managing Director for Accenture Applied Intelligence

Companies are still finding it difficult today to make the transition from thinking about AI as a source of innovation to a critical source of business value.

Many are overwhelmed by the volume, velocity and variety of their data, and struggling to realise the full value. Additionally, they are unable to move from theory to execution in implementing data and insights capabilities across their business divisions.

Scaling the exponential power of AI with digital platforms across the enterprise is a journey. Those that take on the lessons of each path will reach a place where business strategies are seamlessly fused with analytics, leverage a reusable data foundation, and scale through platforms. The result: Industrialised growth through unassailable competitive strength in everything from organisational effectiveness to brand perception and trust.

Many companies don’t have an AI roadmap or ‘route to live’—the steps to take their AI project from POC to production, effectively and expediently. The unfamiliar landscape of AI also means businesses can be tempted to fall back on their time-honoured behaviours, reinventing the wheel and building from scratch. Big mistake. There are many proven, low-cost AI options to buy ‘off the shelf’ and start using right away. It is key to leverage what already exists, customise as needed for the organisation and start proving the value of AI as the first step to successful scaling.

AI is different from ‘traditional’ software implementation projects, which companies are typically set up to deliver. Changing the status quo requires agility, openness to trying a new way of working as well as the ability to recognise when an idea works—and when it needs to be scrapped. Consider the following guidelines on how you can unlock a new wave of exponential value by scaling AI successfully.

Focus on value. Your business strategy is your AI strategy

It is important to understand what business value means to you, translating that definition into a business strategy and focusing in on AI solutions that explicitly deliver on the most critical elements of that strategy. If you have already defined value in your own unique context, you can harness AI to multiply that value—not just grow it marginally—charting a course that genuinely aligns with your business’s strategic priorities and delivers unprecedented returns. In our research, AI: Built to Scale, Strategic Scalers understand this imperative, with more than 70 percent linking their AI ambitions explicitly to their overall business strategy.

Rethink work and get your people ready

Challenge your assumptions about ‘work’ and get your people ready. AI’s disruptive nature means your old ways of working will need to change. Those who can successfully integrate AI into their culture and processes will be able to multiply value for businesses, employees and customers alike. Our AI: Built To Scale research confirms the correlation: Strategic Scalers are more likely than those in the Proof of Concept group to embed AI ownership and accountability into teams and ensure employees fully understand AI and how it relates to their roles.

Still having trust issues?

How do we learn to trust AI? Responsible AI builds trust and lays the foundation for successful scaling by taking a ‘human first’ approach— using technology to help people make better decisions, while keeping them firmly accountable through the right governance processes and technical steps. Our AI: Built to Scale research says responsibility is more than a ‘nice to have’—with AI Strategic Scalers significantly more likely to brief their employees clearly on how they tackle responsible AI.

Productionise and get ready to realise value

Scaling value is about understanding how to move from pilot to production; getting your data strategy in place to drive real-time strategic actions; and establishing the right talent mix, operating model and governance framework. Those who succeed will reap the rewards. And those who fail may find their businesses fall by the wayside (75 percent of executives believe they will be out of business in five years if they cannot scale AI effectively).

AI is no longer a ‘nice to have’ or a set of cool tools to impress management. AI and data strategies are becoming the very core of business, and all the while it’s becoming easier and cheaper to get your hands on the technology. The time to act is now.

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