Transformation First, Then AI
The phrase Digital Transformation is everywhere today. For some, this means deploying cutting edge technologies and cloud adoption. But Mosaic sees Digital Transformation differently; our view is that while the technology is a critical part of any Digital Transformation, it’s only a part of a greater whole that includes people, process, and culture change that all combine to enable effective use of the technology. In order to recognize the primacy of the transformation before the technology, and to play to our company’s strength in artificial intelligence, or AI, we’ve coined the term ‘Transformation: AI’. By taking a systems view of people, process, culture, and technology, we have helped companies make the most of their transformation investments.
As we engage with companies to facilitate their Transformation: AI journeys, we always begin with the business strategy. Business strategies are forward looking; they anticipate the operating environment of the future and identify actions to be taken to maximize an organization’s competitive advantage. In today’s business environment, many of the tactics supporting the execution of the strategic plan will be facilitated by technology, and some will be further enabled by AI. Developing plans around how the organization will upskill workers, change processes, shape culture, and deploy AI supported technology results in a Transformation: AI plan.
Alignment between the various elements is crucial. The best AI technology combined with updated processes but lacking upskilled people is sure to fail, and the organization’s investment is lost. A systems view of the transformation, beginning with the overall goals and then identifying gaps in the organization’s current capabilities and the associated closure plans provides the highest return probability for the proposed change. By taking this holistic approach, Mosaic Data Science has seen organizations take leaps forward that would not have been possible with a technology-only investment.
AI helps People
Taking each element individually, let’s begin with people. People are the most important part of any business; businesses exist because, and for, people. Futurists have written extensively about the upcoming changes in the workforce that will occur due to AI, and this has left some employees concerned that they might be left behind. Mosaic has experienced success with upskilling people through training, mentoring, simulations, and building an AI-centric culture (more on that later). Within a Transformation: AI program, we consider the following elements:
- What are the current capabilities that people bring?
- Which learning opportunities will be required to support the transformation?
- How do we capture the organization’s knowledge around AI and curate it over time?
- How do we want people to solve problems in the future?
- What will motivate our people in the future?
- What resources, such as mentoring, should we deploy and to what extent?
Reengineering Processes with AI
Next, we’ll take on Process considerations. Processes enable people to repeatably deliver value. A right-sized process provides latitude for employees to make appropriate decisions, aided by the process guidance, and increasingly, by technology. Poorly business processes are a source of frustration for the people who use them; we’ve all seen processes that are disconnected, suboptimized, locally optimized, too large, too small, lack clarity, or are too difficult. Poor processes cause customer and employee dissatisfaction, and ultimately cause losses in revenue and increased costs. Within a Transformation: AI process assessment, Mosaic Data Science asks the following questions:
- What is the customer-focused objective for any process?
- Is a given process optimized within itself, and within the business?
- How does the proposed technology change the process to make it easier for people to use?
- What processes could be eliminated due to technology?
- What decisions are part of the process, and how will they be changed?
Building a Data-Driven Culture
Culture can be an elusive term with many facets and definitions. One way to define culture is proposed by Ben Horowitz, when he said, “… your culture is how your company makes decisions when you’re not there. It’s the set of assumptions your employees use to resolve the problems they face every day. It’s how they behave when no one is looking.” If that’s the case, we need to consider the following as we formulate our Transformation: AI plans:
- How do we make decisions today?
- How will the proposed changes to our technology change the way we make decisions in the future?
- How will technology change our communications?
- How will we communicate about the changes we are making?
- What are the behaviors and standards that we will live by, and how will technology enable them or change them?
Finally, we arrive at technology. We address technology last not because it’s the least important element of a transformation, but because we must shape the technology to meet the demands of the other transformation elements. Too often we look at the technology to drive the other elements, but this implies that we’re allowing our strategies to be defined by technology, rather than the other way around. This does NOT imply that technology can’t be a vital element of a strategic plan; rather, it recognizes that for technology to enable business goals, it plays a vital, but balanced, part in the overall value delivery system. More options than ever exist for us to focus on the truly strategic elements of technology and allow expert providers to provide abstracted solutions for the non-strategic elements. Technology-focused questions we must ask include:
- What infrastructure needs exist today and tomorrow?
- How does our existing data provide capability?
- Are there ways we can combine data streams to increase their individual values?
- How do our data visualizations enable us to create value?
- What system interfaces are needed?
- Can our technology enable us to move from searching for needed information to pushing relevant information at the right time?
To summarize, an effective Transformation: AI is like assembling a symphony orchestra. All the pieces must be present, capable, aligned, and BALANCED. Mosaic Data Science’s expertise lies in helping organizations make wise technological investments surrounded by supporting elements that create harmonized solutions. Are you interested in learning more about how we can help you? Would you like to see case studies on our approach? We look forward to working with you to maximize your Transformation: AI investments.