May 23, 2024

Charting the Course: Embracing AI for Business Transformation, with Brian Jacobs

It’s no secret that AI has changed the world seemingly overnight. This can be exciting for those who now have a new resource for writing documents, generating images, and potentially being more productive overall. However, such rapid changes may not be viewed as fully beneficial with senior levels of management who have the responsibility of seeing their organization prosper over the long term, wanting to take their time to build the technology into their culture and infrastructure.

With this in mind, I had the honor and pleasure to chat with Brian Jacobs, an industry pioneer, Director, Strategic Pursuits and Enterprise Intelligence at Google Cloud. Brian and I have known each other for many years, and I was truly excited to have him share his wisdom on my podcast.

Brian points out that the meteoric rise of sign-ups to ChatGPT – 100 million sign-ups within a mere three months of launch – reflects a profound shift in the public’s readiness for AI technology, breaking down barriers and paving the way for widespread adoption. This is very different from the reaction people gave to the personal computer itself, back in the 1990s.

Where will this lead us? Brian highlights a few key areas ripe for disruption.

The first is automated customer service, to streamline customer service operations. Then there is task automation. In most industries and professions, people are discovering new ways to automate repetitive tasks. It’s amazing how once you know there’s a solution at hand, the “need” for that solution suddenly grows. Not only can AI transcribe a meeting, but it can also summarize its key points for all the attendees and even those who couldn’t make it. This is a relatively simple example, but just knowing that this technology exists cannot help but change meeting dynamics.

Supply chain resilience represents another domain where AI is proving invaluable. With geopolitical uncertainty and global disruptions in the world, there has never been a greater need for resilient supply chains.  Brian highlights a perfect example, citing the Francis Scott Key Bridge disaster in Baltimore, where intelligent computing facilitated the swift rerouting of ships, trucks, and trains, allowing for minimal disruption of vital deliveries. AI has become a powerful safety net for a world economy that is based so much on immediacy.

Embracing the AI Advantage: Strategies for Organizational Success

I asked Brian for some guidance on how organizations can effectively leverage AI advancements. He emphasizes three key principles: “Education and simplification” refers to the need for organizations to demystify AI for employees, by breaking down its complex concepts into easily understandable terms. This encourages a culture of learning and exploration, creating a safe space where businesses can help employees at all levels embrace AI with confidence and enthusiasm.

Adopting a “centric approach” means that rather than chasing the latest AI trends, organizations should prioritize specific business challenges. Everywhere that there is a problem, a slowdown, or cause to say, “there must be a better way,” AI technology provides solutions.

Organizations must establish trustworthy partnerships for collaboration, recognizing the value of shared expertise in navigating the complexities of rapidly evolving technology landscapes. This has become an essential management skill.

Mitigating Risks and Maximizing Benefits is a Balancing Act

Amid all the promise and fascination that AI brings, Brian is careful to point out that they come with risks. AI technologies are known for hallucinations and errors, and employees at all levels often do not know how to use the tools correctly. There are inevitable biases built into artificial intelligence that can cause great damage to a company’s culture, and of course, there’s the criminal element, already successful at leveraging the technology to commit fraud and to fool people into helping them.

Charting a Course for the Future

Not since the development of the personal computer or the internet has there been such a quantum leap forward. This could leave many leaders feeling unprepared to handle the changes. It’s one thing to not know something; it’s quite another to be completely unaware – to not know what you don’t know, and no leader wants to be in that position.

Brian is optimistic about the future. He sees the potential for a great many developments ahead, many of which can’t even be conceived of at this moment. However, these advancements aren’t distant dreams but may materialize in months or even weeks or days.

Check out the Podcast

To listen to the full interview with Brian Jacobs, and to enjoy his engaging and insightful conversation,  go to our podcast section, and you’ll find Episode 21 at the top of our playlist. Alternately, search for The Roz Usheroff Podcast on your preferred player app.

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