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GenAI has entered the Boardroom

Insights from the top

The comfort level of every Board will vary depending on the industry they operate in. This is because different industries have different levels of risk and potential for growth. These questions are crucial for Boards to consider as they make decisions that will affect the future of their organisation. They need to carefully weigh the potential benefits against the risks and make informed decisions that align with their company's goals and values. Ultimately, every Board must assess their comfort level and make strategic choices to ensure the success and sustainability of their business in the long run.

In order to make decisions about how to use the technology, it is clearly necessary for business leaders to learn more about GenAI and be knowledgeable about its impacts, positive and negative. Not only company executives but Board members need to be up to speed. Why? Asking company executives the right questions will assist in unlocking the technology’s value, while managing the risk.

When it comes to risk and governance, GenAI is definitely not “just another technology.” The fundamental challenge is how to capitalise on artificial intelligence’s power without losing control of it. The capability people find most enthralling about GenAI is its ability to simulate human thinking and behaviour so convincingly. Of course, human thinking and behaviour are not always perfect, predictable or socially acceptable – and the same is true for the technology, itself.

A snapshot of how GenAI is challenging leaders

  • Acknowledging this is significant disruption: Firstly, there is a genuine acknowledgment that GenAI will present a similar disruption to when the internet first emerged or when mobile phones arrived on the scene. And it is not just ‘what do we do with this technology?’, it’s about reflecting on what this technology fundamentally means for the strategic choices that need to be made, like ‘How do we win?’, and ‘ How do we compete?’.
  • Considering the potential existential threat to business models: Enough said. This is, and should be, a real concern. If you’re not actively exploring GenAI, your competitors are and you will be left behind.
  • Realising white collar jobs are no longer immune to disruption: There are implications for the future of work and how the workforce needs to be redesigned to enhance productivity and achieve faster, better and healthier outcomes.
  • Recognising the need to balance step-change growth and incremental productivity opportunities: Incremental step changes need to be made; and they are already happening. Take Microsoft Office, which is embedding GenAI into its software suite. The question is, what will you place your bets on to make the right step changes as quickly as possible? This could mean anything from reinventing the contact centre experience to the back office finance function.
  • Must balance the risk that comes with speed, without constraining innovation: How do you balance risks while you are moving fast and avoid constraining innovation? This is a genuine concern.
  • Identifying where to differentiate and the role of data: Finally, differentiation. The role of data has suddenly become more important. Anyone can use GenAI like ChatGPT, so it comes down to how you tune these models with your own proprietary data – or an ecosystem partner’s data – to truly help you differentiate.

In the past, leaders said in response to emerging technology, ‘We need another tech strategy’, or ‘We need an AI strategy’, or a GenAI strategy. These days, we have seen an exciting shift in mindset, with leaders wanting to understand how they can drive their business strategy transformation, fuelled by GenAI. They are asking how they can use GenAI to do things differently – cheaper and faster. And also how to do different things, whether that’s creative innovation, developing new business models or designing new products and services. Simply put, leaders want to know how they can better execute their strategic choices so that they can confidently become the business they want to be. 

‘No regret’ moves you can make

AI won’t replace you, but an organisation that is using it will. On a closing note, here are some ‘no regret’ moves organisations can make to respond to the rapid advent of Gen AI:

  • AI fluency of leadership teams – including Executive and business leaders: Leaders are the make or break of Gen AI failing or succeeding, they need to understand what Gen AI is and isn’t good at, its risks and how to tie it in to strategic value
  • Set up an operating model to experiment and scale in a structured way: We know that Gen AI is always 100% confident, but not always 100% right. This makes experimentation and validation key to successfully scaling this exciting evolution of AI. Experiment, test, deploy, scale, identify the investment needed, partner if necessary. Organisations need to get this right up front
  • Identify and prioritise a set of use cases that align to business strategy: Avoid getting distracted by passion projects and focus on that that link to the value pool
  • Lay out a clear technology strategy that connects to value: Always make sure that the technology serves your business so it runs faster, more efficiently and can deliver what employees and customers value most
  • Proactively engage your ecosystem of partners: Consider the value of doing things yourself, versus working with an ecosystem of partners to deliver the best outcomes.

On that note – where do you sit? Are you ready to be a disruptor with Gen AI, or will you risk being disrupted by it?