AI Enablement – Building the AI-powered CEO
We recently wrote about the AI-powered bank. But becoming an AI-powered business requires more than financial investment – it requires visionary leadership from those at the top.
Data is a key skill and value-driver for the C-suite with data literacy increasing in priority for boards around the globe. Yet being data literate is not enough because to build a truly data-driven business, CEOs must look to harness the power of AI.
There is no “one size fits all” approach to the CEO’s AI journey. Every company is different, and every leader is unique. Having said these, we encounter salient themes when helping C-Suite professionals in financial services embrace the power of AI.
Framing the need
To change attitudes and behaviour, people need context. It helps to reframe the somewhat nebulous conversation around AI and visualise the benefits in concrete ways. It’s not about promising the earth; it’s about a sober, pragmatic appraisal of how data can help CEOs to raise their game. This means becoming more enabled themselves in their context as individual business leaders but also for the ability to see both Micro and Micro landscapes to benefit the wider business like never before.
AI-powered leaders have the potential to drive the business faster, win back precious “CEO time” and make quicker, better decisions. It’s not about formulating one killer use case – AI pervades every decision and action, and its value compounds across the CEO’s entire portfolio. If we could improve performance 1% each day for a year, we would increase performance by 37 times. AI isn’t a silver bullet – it’s a tool that supercharges the CEO function over time, building incremental value on a daily basis.
We often hear about the benefits of AI, but there is a lack of details around what AI can help CEO’s to achieve on a practical level. In fact, there are a number of tangible benefits to embracing AI at the C-Suite level. These include:
- Recovering time from bureaucracy –
AI automation and new views of data can change long review sessions into brief priority discussions, and automate some tasks completely.
- Identifying hidden priorities –
Using data to monitor weak signals inside and outside the organisation (sentiment, attrition, social chatter etc) can identify new priorities and unseen issues.
- Maximising the impact of interactions –
AI enriches interactions with teams, organisations, customers and the market with new data-based context and insight to enable greater CEO impact.
- Reducing the burden of strategic decisions –
Data insights cut through perceived complexity on key decisions, ruling out options or identifying the impact of differences between choices.
- Ensuring forward motion –
Data and automation improve the visibility of decisions, discussions, progress and outcomes to ensure progress engagement to engagement.
- Supercharging creativity –
Data tools and environments create the right conditions for creativity for the CEO and top team despite operational pressures.
These benefits are in no particular order and merely hint at a flavour of the transformational potential that AI can unlock for the CEO function. As businesses look to grow, to re-invent themselves, to pivot or to look beyond their core business models and industries for new opportunities data and AI will become increasingly necessary not only to manage the wealth of new information at hand but to be able to plot a pathway to the future.
AI won’t simply help CEOs be better in their roles as they exist today but rather it is poised to be a central component of enabling the reinvention of businesses as we strive towards a different future.
We often talk about the importance of data culture – how adoption comes from wholesale acceptance and buy-in from teams across the business. But this is just one piece of the puzzle. It’s also important for CEOs to show leadership, so that data-centric approaches filter down from the top. It is infinitely more powerful when business leaders live the data transformation of their business than when buy-in appears hard fought and disconnected.
It also benefits the bussiness as a whole as many CEOs have aspirations of using data to drive decision-making, but they get bogged down with old technology and ideas. You can’t create an AI-powered business through spreadsheets and PowerPoints. You need to clear away old attitudes and perceptions and open your mind to new possibilities. When CEOs embrace all that data transformation entails for themselves as well as the business, exciting things can happen.
A journey of discovery
In order to get there, a collaborative discovery phase can help to unlock priorities. The idea here is to provide insights based on ‘less than perfect’ information, enabling the identification of ideas good enough to prototype. The future has yet to be built, there are no golden rules of engagement. To reshape the future bold thinking is required to beat the path for others to follow.
To do this, we combine analysis of existing experiences, conversations and secondary research to generate and playback insights quickly. We ask questions like:
– “Where can we best recover time and reduce waste for the CEO using data and AI?”
– “Where can we best improve CEO impact by adding additional insights and context using data and AI?”
– “What is the current burden of strategic decision-making for the CEO and Senior Leaders?”
– “How might a CEO best use data tomorrow?”
Once the rapid discovery phase is complete, we are able to visualise current leadership cadence, habits and interactions. We have a handle on key behavioural insights in relation to decision-making. And we have an understanding of technical and data access requirements for implementation.
A true data culture
Discovery sessions, agile sprints and innovation labs can unlock value incrementally. And over a relatively short period of time, growth can become exponential.
Focusing effort on enabling the CEO to use data and AI differently will not only drive the business faster and create new value – it will also help to foster a true data culture across the entire organisation.
Data enablement at the top empowers organisations to do more, build more and, quite possibly, change the concept of the entire business. Reinventing the future requires thinking and acting differently than we do today but the prize on offer is worth it for those ready to take the plunge.