Forbes: 10 Keys To A Winning AI Strategy

David Yunger – CEO, Vaital

The world has forever changed.

Seemingly overnight, for the first time in human history, computers can outperform humans—at the highest measures of human intellectual achievement.

In the 90th percentile of America’s best and brightest attorneys on the Bar Exam.
In the 93rd percentile of high school students on the SAT.
In the 99th percentile on the GRE verbal exam.

Would you hire a candidate with the above resume?

It’s no wonder ChatGPT is the fastest-growing application in the history of the internet, exceeding 100 million active users in its first 60 days. By comparison, Instagram took two-and-a-half years to reach the same milestone.

Nearly two-thirds of CEOs believe AI will have a bigger impact on their business than the Internet.

How big exactly? Up to $4.4 trillion annually, according to McKinsey data. By comparison, the U.K.’s entire GDP is $3.1 trillion. Consequently, it’s no surprise that generative AI is the No. 1 topic on every CEO’s mind. Every leader is asking, “What’s our AI strategy?”And yet, often, there are more questions than answers.

At a recent keynote in London, I posed the following question to 100 business leaders: “How many of you have a clear strategy for AI?”

One hand went up. One hand. Out of 100.


We’re overwhelmed.

It’s a deer-in-the-headlights moment. From the board room to the break room, people are wondering, “Am I safe?” “Is my job safe?” “Is my team safe?”

While the future is unpredictable, there are lessons we can learn from history. Consider the dawn of the 20th century. The world was inundated with another technology wave—a trifecta of unprecedented innovation. By the first decade of the 1900s, three disruptive inventions were unleashed which transformed society: the automobile, the airplane and electricity.

Each of these innovations came with a cost. They took jobs. They took lives. And yet, who could imagine a world without them?

With this perspective in mind, here are 10 keys for leading your teams through the age of AI.

1. This is a once-in-a-generation moment.

Move beyond the “deer in the headlights” phase to action. Theodore Roosevelt, who led the U.S. through the dawn of the aforementioned transformation, offered these words: “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.”

2. Every company is an AI company.

Across 21 industries, McKinsey data projects an average productivity increase of $209 billion. Regardless of what industry you operate in, at this point, it’s not a matter of if you should create an AI strategy but when you should start.

3. Keep it simple.

Speed is your friend. As a part of a strategic design process, we employ a 3×3 matrix, evaluating and scoring every idea through the following three very simple questions.

• How much will it drive profits?

• To what extent will it drive competitive advantage?

• How fast can I test it (under six months)?

4. Let the problem inspire the genius.

As I’ve written in Forbes, I’m continually amazed that the greater the challenge, the more our team amazes by their ability to solve it. Effective leaders frame problems in a way that is irresistibly enticing to brilliant people. Capture hearts and minds as Simon Sinek advocates in “Start With Why,” and you’ll find the level of genius on your team will rise to the challenge and exceed what you imagined possible.

5. AI is a tool—build it as a business asset.

Ensure your software team has the skills to deliver. “Since advanced AI applications can be costly to train, you need to have rock-solid engineering under the hood to avoid wasting money,” says Jamie Shotton, chief scientist at Wayve. Leverage Copilots like GitHub Copilot and ChatGPT. Madrona reports that many software teams are already seeing productivity boosts of 20-30%.

6. The best-kept secret in AI: good data, not big data.

Leaders are continually astonished about how much they can achieve with a tiny, clean data set. If your data isn’t in a great state, look at how synthetic data strategy can help. In an interview with AI expert Andrew Ng, Fortune columnist Jeremy Kahn notes that “With the right data, Ng says companies with just a few dozen examples or few hundred examples can have A.I. systems that work as well as those built by consumer internet giants that have billions of examples.”

7. Build a walled garden. It’s all about the APIs.

You wouldn’t run your business without a firewall. Think about AI in the same way. Don’t use the public version of ChatGPT for anything confidential or proprietary. Understand this: Any prompt you enter into public ChatGPT is used to train the model. And, conversely, any data you get out may not be copyrightable. Companies that don’t establish clear policies and guardrails around the use of generative AI can quickly lose IP and incur significant legal exposure. But the good news is this is avoidable: It is pivotal that organizations run inside an “AI firewall” available via APIs from Azure/OpenAI, Google and others.

8. Win through failure.

Want to push the limits of what’s possible? Build a culture where it’s safe to take risks. Taking risks means you’ll fail. But fail fast. Learn fast. Go fast. It’s about a cultural shift.

9. Build an AI Battle Plan (make it a “two-pizza” meeting).

A hundred percent of CEOs know AI is the key to their growth. Yet fewer than 10% have an AI strategy. Now is the time. Bring a small group of key stakeholders together. Keep asking, “What if?” Include those with expertise who can help with the strategic process and drive clarity on your AI vision.

10. The time is now.

AI will not take your job, but somebody using AI efficiently might. McKinsey has outlined three things every CEO needs to know about AI.

• Exploring generative AI is a must, not a maybe.

• The economics and technical requirements are not prohibitive.

• The downside of inaction means rapidly falling behind your competitors.

The world is changing fast. Seize the day.

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