AI Leadership Strategies

Artificial Intelligence: 15 takeaways from AGENDA19 to help you succeed with AI

Reflecting on my past day and a half attending AGENDA19, I am happy to share that I feel immersed with intelligence. AGENDA is an annual business leadership conference focused on driving organizations forward in changing times.

The overarching theme for our AI/ML sessions was “Where Companies are Winning with Digital” and it was covered in two segments:

  • Segment 1 – An overview of the AI/ML Market trends and provided recommendations on how end-users can be “AI Determined” to succeed with AI in the digital era. Naveen Singla, Vice President, Data Science, Bayer Crop Science shared his experience and views on the promise of AI for agriculture.
  • Segment 2 – A roundtable discussion chaired by Maryfran Johnson, Executive Director, CIO Programs, IDG, Naveen Singla and me, where we interacted with peers/practitioners, shared experiences and posed questions. The session had broad industry representation ( e.g. executives from ABB, Mayo Clinic, ADP, Barclays, American Airlines, Kohls, PayPal, Thomas Jeffeerson University Hospital etc. were in attendance) of folks who are in various stages of their AI journey, from piloting something new to facing challenges during or after deployment or have had successful or problematic projects.

Key Takeaways from Segment 1, an overview of the AI/ML Market:

  • AI is at the heart of digital disruption; By end of 2019, 40% of DX initiatives will use AI services and AI will be the technology that will propel DX. By 2021, 75% of commercial applications will use AI; By 2022, 75% of IT Ops will be enabled by AI; by 2024, By 2024, AI-enabled interfaces will replace 30% of today’s screen-based applications; By 2024, 7% rise in AI-based automation will drive new wave of business processes.
  • AI adoption is low. Top use cases serving enterprises today range from “Automated Customer Service Agents” to “IT Automation” to “Fraud Analysis and Investigation”. AI Systems Spending will reach $79B by 2022. Banking and Retail will be responsible for 1/3rd of global spend
  • AI will help improve businesses today and tomorrow: increase competitiveness, improve customer engagements, accelerate innovation, improve margins and employee productivity.
  • Integrate AI with your corporate strategy.
  • Data is and will be the basis for sustainable competitive advantage.
  • Multiple key elements need to come together for AI success: Data, Talent Mix, Domain Knowledge, Key decisions, External Partnerships and Scalable Infrastructure.

Key takeaways from Segment 2, a discussion around AI initiatives and their benefits:

  • AI is hard. Persistence and perseverance will win.
  • Most of the folks are focused on ML and linear or logistic regression is the common data science method in use.
  • Always start with a business goal; explore and fine tune your AI initiative to meet that goal.
  • Strive for a top-down endorsement of your AI strategy.
  • Don’t be caught waiting for perfection or analysis/paralysis:
    •  e.g. don’t get stuck on perfect data quality prior to experimenting. Learn from the experiments and strive for ongoing improvements.
    • Similarly, don’t be stuck waiting on “Information Architecture” or all the governance to be in place prior to starting to experiment or achieving success with a use case or two.
  • Focus on low hanging fruit as a start – areas where you never had a solution in place. For e.g. look for exploiting the power of AI for extracting insights from unstructured content (text captured in your CRM systems), link it with ERP system and enable Accounts Receivable to resolve stuck payments.
  • Treasure your data; explore ways to compound the value of your data by pairing it with external sources of data.
  • Build a center of excellence to ensure data scientists, data engineers, data architects and all the relevant stewards of data in the value chain are aligned with the same business goal and metrics. Some organizations may have a central data science team while some may have AI talent dispersed through the LOB teams with a few core specialists.
  • Ensure ongoing enterprise data governance practices performed jointly by IT as well those in business and compliance functions.

So, how do you become AI Determined?

For more information  on IDC’S AI Strategies Research, see (AI Strategies) or visit

Ritu Jyoti is Program Vice President, Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategies with IDC’s software market research and advisory practice. Ms. Jyoti is a trusted advisor to some of world’s largest technology firms and end-users.

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