What does it take to be an enterprise of the future?
What does the enterprise of the future resemble? If we asked that question just a year ago, it is unlikely that many of us would have envisioned the current reality: a world where generative artificial intelligence (AI) is fast becoming a part of everyday business as it automates business insight generation and impacts decision intelligence across every industry.
Evolving from the initial pattern recognition programs of the 1950s to the more accessible Large Language Models of today, the presence of AI in the business sphere is not new and spans decades. But while its usage and adoption continue to reinfuse business transformation endeavours, they have also reignited a keen interest in policies and governance to regulate the ethical use of AI. Alteryx research reveals that most Australian business leaders (91%) believe that regulations and standards around AI usage — including generative AI — should be developed within their sectors as it continues transforming the business landscape, and 88% believe that such policies would help businesses implement AI responsibly. These findings echo the sentiment of the Australian Government. As one of the first countries to adopt the Artificial Intelligence Ethics framework for responsible AI in 2019, they also released Safe and Responsible AI in Australia in June 2023 to discuss the steps Australia can take to mitigate any potential risks of AI and support safe and responsible AI practices.
Organisations across Australia have a strong appetite for AI and automation. In fact, the latest research by Alteryx revealed that nearly nine in 10 (86%) say AI is already impacting what their organisations can achieve. Rapidly transcending its hype status, this AI movement has become a rocket ship for significant technology changes — rapid transformations set to shape how future enterprises operate and perform. But for many business leaders, this accelerated widespread adoption has taken even the most prepared by surprise as they continue to navigate tight budgets while trying to prepare for this increasingly complex, data-driven future.
So, what can business leaders and IT decision-makers do to help their enterprises prepare for what lies ahead?
Understanding your data
The world is data rich. In fact, IDC predicts that the collective sum of the world’s data will reach 175 zettabytes by 2025 — equivalent to streaming the entire Netflix catalogue millions of times over. But data is dirty and everywhere. The sheer amount of data would leave some companies struggling to convert it into meaningful decision intelligence. In today’s fast-paced, data-rich business environment, the key difference between organisations that lead the pack or lag behind is the ability to sift through vast amounts of data, identify patterns and extract meaningful insights without the bottleneck of manual processes.
Data in isolation will not provide the insights required for decision intelligence that delivers business value. Leveraging accessible, low-code or no-code advanced data analytics can empower all employees — including non-technical employees who do not know how to code — to unlock new insights and decision-making based on accurate data. Transcending traditional manual processes and harnessing advanced data analytics will set forward-thinking enterprises apart, enabling them to innovate, adapt and lead.
Increasing collaboration between business and IT
Most organisations know what goals they want to achieve, such as attracting new customers, retaining existing customers, improving customer lifetime value and experience, and expanding to different markets. The hard part is figuring out what insights are needed to achieve those goals and whether your data ecosystem will provide the datasets required to uncover the trends and patterns needed for more informed decision-making.
Some questions to help scope out your data ecosystem and whether your analytic goals will deliver on business goals are:
- What data is needed to meet business objectives?
- Does the data even exist?
- Which business leaders need to share KPIs around this data?
- Who needs access to or answers from the data?
- How can I collaborate with my IT teams to obtain some of these answers?
- How do you use the information to meet the business goals?
It is critical that business leaders and IT work together to solve these challenges. The data needed to answer these questions typically exists across the silos of the business, and it will take coordination from the leadership team to resolve. Together with the IT team, business leaders can evaluate the data analytics tools and technologies needed to improve their data ecosystem, such as removing duplicates, handling missing values and standardising data formats. With the insights uncovered, leaders can plan ahead, get the right teams involved and better inform employees with a roadmap to achieving those business goals.
Incorporating a modern and flexible governance framework
With countless data-driven AI technologies and intelligent systems available to accelerate insights, it is crucial to account for data quality, security and governance guardrails required for accurate and intended outcomes. A robust governance framework should be at the heart of these practices and ensure policy compliance to manage risks effectively. It involves tailoring approaches to different processes and their associated risks, ensuring auditability and adhering to security measures compliant with major standards.
This holistic approach to governance will allow for the safe scaling of data and analytics projects, with centralised control and oversight, ensuring end-to-end traceability and robust data security protocols.
Fostering a culture of change and empathy
Preparing for what lies ahead goes far beyond just implementing the right technologies: it is about developing a culture that embraces change with empathy. Cultivating a mindset across the organisation that values innovation, continuous learning and agility ensures that every employee charges forward with confidence.
In times of economic uncertainties and technology advancements, it is crucial that we practise empathy. Naturally, there is some fear that technologies like AI will replace human workers. As such, leaders must help employees understand that technology is here to augment their roles and empower them to spend more time on other valuable tasks. The key to embracing any new technology and providing access at scale is to get everyone in the team onboard. As leaders we need to work with our teams to help them identify the aspects of their role where AI can assist and create capacity; lower value, repetitive tasks and where spending their own time will accelerate outcomes for themselves and the business.
Whether greeted with excitement or anxiety, leaders must champion this culture of change by encouraging employees to seek new ways of working while ensuring they remain engaged and valued.
|Without a doubt, data-driven intelligence will persist as the cornerstone of business decision-making in the future. However, true transformative change can only be achieved by arming the workforce with the essential data and analytic skills. Enterprises poised to thrive in the future are those that have cultivated and equipped their domain experts with critical thinking, domain knowledge, data literacy and analytical prowess, enabling them to navigate the landscape of AI-driven intelligence.
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