Bernard Marr is a world-renowned futurist, influencer and thought leader in the fields of business and technology, with a passion for using technology for the good of humanity. He is a best-selling author of 20 books, writes a regular column for Forbes and advises and coaches many of the world’s best-known organisations. He has over 2 million social media followers, 1 million newsletter subscribers and was ranked by LinkedIn as one of the top 5 business influencers in the world and the No 1 influencer in the UK.
Bernard’s latest book is ‘Business Trends in Practice: The 25+ Trends That Are Redefining Organisations’
How To Define Your AI (Artificial Intelligence) Use Cases – With Handy Template
2 July 2021
An AI strategy is essential for making sure your business uses AI in a strategic way – a way that’s directly linked to your company’s goals. Developing an AI strategy means identifying how your business can best use AI. These are also known as yourAIpriorities or use cases.
When I work withorganisationstocreatetheirAIstrategy, we usually identify between three and fiveAIuse cases–sticking to a small number like this ensures your AI strategy remains focused and achievable.
Because your AIuse cases will bedriven by your business strategy, every companywill have its own unique set of use cases.An AIpriority for one company may not be relevant to another. However, some common examples ofAIuse casesinclude:
Developing smarter products
Developing smarter services
Making business processes more intelligent
Automating repetitiveormundane tasks
Automating manufacturing processes
Whateveryour AI use cases, this article–and theaccompanyingAIUseCaseTemplate–is designed tohelp youflesh outyouruse cases, define yourAI priorities in more detail,andwork towards a comprehensive, thoughtful AI strategy.You might want to have the AI Use Case Templateopenas you read this article.
Within the template, you’ll see there are 10 sections to complete. Fill in a separate template for each of your use cases.
Link to strategic goal
It’s vital AI is used in a strategic way, so this first section gets you to link your AI priority to a strategic business goal.AI can mean big changes for a business, and these changes cansometimesbe disruptive, expensive and time consuming. It’s therefore helpful to pinpoint exactlywhyyou’re doing what you’re doing, and how AI will help the business achieve its objectives, grow and prosper.
In this section, define your AI-related goal in more detail.For example, perhaps there are key business questions that AI can help you answer, or business-critical problems that AI can help you solve. What are you ultimately hoping to achieve with AI?
Measures of success (KPIs)
Here, you ask yourself the question ‘what does success look like for this AI project, and how will we measure success?’ Be specific, and identify whichbusiness metrics/KPIsyou’ll use to track progress.
Use case owner
Who in the businessis responsible for this AI use case? In my experience, if you don’t make someone accountable, it may never get done! Naturally, the use case owner will have toenlist others to help deliver the project, and that’s fine. The important thing is that one single person has overall responsibility and ownership of the project.
AI approach and required data
AI encompasses a number of subdivisions, most notablymachine learning and deep learning. So which AI approach will you use to achieve your AI goal, and what sort of data do you need? Refer back to your data strategy at this point,as it may be impacted by your AI needs.
Ethical and legal issues
Ethics is a huge issue in AIright nowas, by its very nature, the idea of AI and intelligent machines tends to make people nervous. So, as well as considering the legal implications of your AI use case (don’t forget consent and data privacy here, especiallyGDPR), think carefully about the ethical implications of what you’re doing. How can you ensure your AI usecasemakes a positive contribution to the business, its employees and its customers?
Technology and infrastructure
It’s very likely your AI use case will require certain technology and infrastructure changes. Therefore, in this section you set out the technology-related implications, challenges and requirements. In other words, what systems, software and hardware do you need to invest in?
Skills and capacity
AI brings with it very particular challenges around skills, capabilities, capacity and resourcing,especiallyfor smaller and mid-sized companies who don’t have an army of data scientists in house. Consider any skills gaps that might prevent you from achieving your AI goal, and how you’ll close those gaps. For example, can you train staff, hire new talent, or partner with an external AI provider?
Here you set out the potential implementation challenges and roadblocks that you’ll need to overcome if your AI goal is to become reality.
Change management is often included in with implementation(above), but because AI can represent big changes in how the company operates, it’s really important to manage that change carefully. In particular, if you’re automating or streamlining processes, this may have an impact on the work that employees do. How will you manage this change, while promoting a positive culture of AI in the business?
Where to go from here
Repeat this process andcomplete the sametemplate for eachof the AIuse casesthat you’ve identified.Thiswillhelp you evaluate and prioritise your use casesin order of strategic importance.
Having done that, you canthen start to identify the common themes, issues and requirements across your AI use cases andplan yourstrategy.I have a template to help youwith that, too– check outmy relatedarticle ‘An AI Strategy Template that Any Company Can Use’.
Small and medium-sized businesses all over the world are benefiting from artificial intelligence and machine learning – and integrating AI into core business functions and processes is getting more accessible and more affordable every day. [...]