Read our previous article, the first in our series on talent and artificial intelligence, here.
Artificial Intelligence and Business Strategy
One of the more significant ways that AI empowers and augments business strategies is through automation. By automating repetitive tasks, an AI can augment what teams of people can do, increasing productivity and refocusing resources into more impactful and creative activities.
But, according to Philipp Gerbert of the MITSloan Management review, this is only one aspect of how AI can impact strategy. For Gerbert, the growth of machine learning has led to the creation of more novel solutions to problems that were not being proposed by humans.
He uses the research put into AI and chess as an example. When the IBM AI Deep Blue defeated Garry Kasparov, it showed how AI evolves to enhance its own performance. That is, it learned from human chess strategies to augment them and make them better.
It was in the field of freestyle chess, however, where the strengths of AI came into focus. In freestyle chess, players can consult in whichever way they want to collaborate on their next moves. Two amateur players took this to mean that they could also consult with AI and brought three machines with AI to help them.
Their approach was to optimize the process in tandem with the AI. That is, instead of trying to build AI that could replace human action, they worked with AI in an optimized space to create an unbeatable chess player. This led to a new machine that worked with optimized play styles that were far superior to simple brute-force AI problem-solving.
The lesson here is that AI does not just plug into existing processes to make those processes stronger, more resilient, or more efficient. AI can also serve as a collaborative counterpoint to business leaders by providing insights and learning new ways of strategic thinking. Likewise, as machine learning models evolve, these AI can build digital twin versions of processes, products, and locations to simulate an entire business model in conjunction with a specific strategy.
Incorporating People-Focused Insights into Strategic Thinking
Business strategy must have a solid team of people and operations underneath it to be successful. No strategy can exist in a vacuum. But, as many businesses are learning, AI can support an effective relationship between strategic execution and the people executing it.
Currently, AI is making headlines in HR by augmenting the hiring process. In our earlier article on diversity and AI, we showed the ways in which AI is addressing problems of bias and training for organizations.
But, as the H. James Wilson and Paul R. Daugherty of the Harvard Business Review show, the real potential of AI in the workforce is not just how it augments humans, but how humans augment it collaboratively.
For Wilson and Daugherty, there is a relationship between humans and AI. AI can augment human labor through intelligence and automation. Humans augment AI by building machine learning models that mirror real-life strategic objectives, processes, and customers. But the relationship between people, strategy, and AI is made stronger by talented employees that can work with AI, communicate the work of that AI to non-technical audiences, and translate business needs back into machine learning models.
For example, if you are a business leader ready to implement an artificial intelligence strategy, you may or may not be an AI expert. Even then, you are most likely not a programmer or machine learning model developer. Most importantly, you cannot wear all those hats while also focusing on the kinds of strategies that are going to take your business to the next level.
Having a team that can collaborate with you, each other, and the AI will mitigate that problem. With a team that can provide strategic intelligence with and about Ai makes that AI more accessible to you and your strategies. It avoids the “black box” problem and makes execution a collaborative and transparent solution.
Strategy is a Human Problem. AI Plays a Supporting Role
Strategic thinking with AI is not going to stay an AI problem. It is, and will be, an intrinsically human problem. If you or your organization are thinking about using AI in a more strategic way, you must consider how the continuum of technology and people will best support your strategic vision.
Because of this, AI and strategy execution will continue to be a human problem, with some of the same challenges and obstacles that you would see in any team. As we will see, having a clear and effective strategic intelligence apparatus in place will allow you to utilize your people and AI that much more effectively.