Prepare Your Organization for AI Readiness

June 3, 2024

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is increasingly recognized as a critical component for business success. Despite this, many leaders are hesitant to fully embrace AI due to the pressure to demonstrate immediate return on investment (ROI). According to recent surveys, 79% of leaders agree that adopting AI is necessary to stay competitive, yet 59% are concerned about measuring its productivity gains. This hesitation creates a significant barrier to AI implementation, with 60% of leaders fearing their organization lacks a clear plan and vision for AI deployment.

Humand and AI Hand

The Challenge of AI Adoption

Without strong leadership and strategic planning, employees often take matters into their own hands. A notable 78% of AI users are bringing their own AI tools to work, a practice even more prevalent in small and medium-sized companies (80%). This phenomenon, known as Bring Your Own AI (BYOAI), spans across all generations, not just Gen Z. However, this decentralized approach can lead to significant risks. For instance, 52% of employees are hesitant to admit using AI for critical tasks, and 53% fear it might make them seem replaceable. This reluctance prevents organizations from fully realizing the benefits of AI at scale and poses considerable data security risks.

Key Questions for AI Readiness

To effectively prepare for AI integration, organizations should begin by asking themselves several critical questions:

1. What are your organization’s goals for using AI?

2. What pain points can AI address?

3. What are your current AI capabilities?

4. Do you have a data strategy in place?

5. Do you have the necessary infrastructure and resources to support AI initiatives?

These questions help clarify the organization’s objectives and capabilities, ensuring a focused and effective AI strategy.

Security Considerations

AI implementation must prioritize data privacy and security. Key considerations include:

  • Data privacy and security: Protecting sensitive information and ensuring compliance with regulations.
  • Human oversight: Maintaining human control over AI processes.
  • Model integrity: Ensuring the accuracy and reliability of AI models.
  • Compliance and regulations: Adhering to relevant legal standards.

Understanding the nature of your data is crucial. Identify what data is sensitive, where it is stored, who has access, how it is used, and the associated risks. This knowledge forms the foundation for effective data governance and risk management.

Implementing Controls

To safeguard data and maximize AI benefits, organizations should implement various controls:

  • Data lifecycle controls: Managing data from creation to disposal.
  • Data protection controls: Ensuring data is securely stored and transmitted.
  • Data access controls: Restricting data access to authorized personnel.
  • Data classification: Categorizing data based on sensitivity and risk.

Balancing Risks and Productivity

After assessing the risks, organizations can categorize them as acceptable, medium, or unacceptable. It is essential to balance these risks with the productivity needs of the business. For instance, identify and prioritize AI scenarios that are achievable, widely used by employees, and collaborative. These scenarios should demonstrate the tangible benefits of AI and gain buy-in from all stakeholders.

Don’t Run from AI, Prepare

Preparing your organization for AI readiness involves a strategic approach that balances innovation with security. By addressing key questions, understanding data risks, and implementing robust controls, organizations can successfully navigate the complexities of AI adoption and unlock its full potential. With careful planning and execution, AI can become a powerful tool for enhancing productivity, competitiveness, and overall business success.

Want to dig a little deeper into preparing for AI? Check out our white paper, Foundational Security Considerations for Adopting AI Without Risk.

Chris Hinch

Chris Hinch

Microsoft Practice Director

Chris has been working in the IT industry for close to 25 years and is an expert Microsoft strategist and a technical leader. Chris is passionate about helping customers achieve their business goals and solve their challenges with innovative solutions. He enjoys working with talented teams and collaborating with partners across the globe.
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