CIOs: The Captain to Direct and Steer the “AI Ship” for the Future

CIOs: The Captain to Direct and Steer the “AI Ship” for the Future

Authored By Dmitri Chen, Chief Operating Officer and VP Specialty Sales, APJ, Dell EMC

Today, businesses are increasingly embracing Artificial Intelligence (AI), making it one of the fastest growing technological innovations across the globe. As per IDC, the spending on the adoption of AI is growing by many folds and it is forecasted that the Asia Pacific spending on Cognitive and AI systems will reach $4.6 billion in 2021. Moreover, the adoption of AI technologies is predicted to grow by 46.9 percent between 2016- 2022, with the growth surfacing from AI project deployments in countries, especially in Asia, such as India, China, Japan, etc. AI is now being embedded as a core component in many business functions such as design, marketing and operations. Even India's AI taskforce has realised the importance of AI and released a plan to deploy AI in up to 10 sectors for the next 5 years.

However, in this vast segment of intelligent technology, the questions regarding proper implementation of AI to broadly fit into an organization's overall plans along with the need for an apt business function overseeing these AI activities, needs to be addressed. According to a report by Forrester, Chief Information Officers (CIOs) are optimally positioned to build an organization's overall AI capabilities because the data, applications, servers, accelerators, fabric and storage infrastructures that they manage are critical for driving business value with AI. With companies globally planning to implement AI technologies in order to improve customer experiences and business operations, following are ways in which CIOs can navigate the uncharted terrain of AI for organizational success:

Building an AI centre of excellence

CIOs owing to their technical knowledge and ability to oversee AI projects must seize the opportunity in order to be the catalyst for the change in their organization, driving strategic AI plans for transformation.

A basic understanding of the organization's current or proposed AI ecosystem, and the support it can provide to the overall organizational goals can be obtained by engaging with all lines of business by kick-starting and ensuring constant conversations and pre-empting discussions with all leaders on their AI needs and wants.

The Forrester report also revealed that approximately one-fifth of organizations bypass their IT teams when rolling out AI-dependent projects that require business domain knowledge from IT professionals. On the other hand, around 75 percent of those same organizations believe that excluding IT from AI initiatives would necessitate a greater degree of work to support further solutions in the future. A CIO is best-positioned to scale and develop an AI centre of excellence across the organization and in order to do so they should be up to date with the company's technology operations to oversee activity around IT transformation to ensure that resources are deployed as per the requirement.

The journey from CIO to Connector-in-Chief

The expertise of IT teams need to be utilised in order to avoid hazards such as data leaks, security risks, inflated operational spend and missed business goals while trying to run AI projects. The report showed that around 60 percent of organizations reported a lack of stakeholder alignment for organizational AI strategies.  Therefore, making it important for CIOs to ensure that input from IT is provided throughout each AI project's lifecycle. This involvement will ensure reputational along with data protection for everyone, as well as provide the necessary expertise to all who need it, across the organization.

Over the years, it is also observed that companies are three times likely to adopt machine learning platforms and twice as likely to adopt deep learning platforms in order to optimise operations and activities. Therefore, business are likely to adopt AI initiatives which makes it crucial for CIOs to see this as an opportunity to bridge gaps between their IT teams to ensure the efficacy of strategies and projects.

Make the call to modernize

To ensure the organization has the necessary infrastructure and support to run AI initiatives, the CIO must make conversations around modernization and investments. Being a C-suite leader with technical knowledge along with the expertise around creating an AI plan framework for the entire organization, they are best-placed to solicit and consolidate feedback from all lines of business.

Around 70 percent of companies reported a lack of server automation as the most challenging issue for AI strategies, and 80 percent indicate a need for new and specialized servers for high-performance computing. The CIO therefore, has a key role in coordinating the necessary investment in infrastructure and platforms in order to modernize and upgrade systems wherever necessary.

Therefore, Artificial intelligence has become crucial in the wake of data explosion and in order to strengthen security posture, lower redundancy and ensure greater and faster returns, the CIO needs to prepare and modernise the organisational processes before-hand. By identifying the positive impacts of AI and paving the way for AI-driven business acceleration, CIOs can quickly gain support for further investment and buy-in for AI projects in the long-run. Companies that invest in modern IT infrastructure to support AI witness an improved customer experience and heightened IT operational efficiency.

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