The advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) presents a significant turning point in the global employment landscape, with profound implications for both businesses and their employees. If not embraced wholeheartedly, many risk displacement, their roles usurped by more efficient, AI-driven processes. This isn't an attempt to stoke fear-mongering, but rather a call to awareness of the unprecedented pace of AI development we are witnessing. It's unlike anything we've seen before.
The acceleration of digital transformation over the past few decades has presented myriad lessons, particularly the inadequacy of top-down, consultancy-led initiatives. These approaches have consistently proven inefficient, habitually late, and rarely meet their intended targets. Now, as we enter the age of Artificial Intelligence (AI), we must embark on a new era of digital transformation – Digital Transformation 2.0.
Unlike its predecessor, Digital Transformation 2.0 is not merely about updating systems and processes. Instead, it's about empowering people with AI, educating them on its capabilities, and demonstrating how it can amplify their skills. To achieve this, organisations must let go of the antiquated mindset of blocking AI services like ChatGPT and embrace a different route - the path of AI evangelists.
Digital Transformation 1.0, despite its potential, was somewhat of a flawed model. It was predicated on the idea that to modernise an organisation, one merely needed to update systems and processes. This technological-focused approach didn't adequately address the human element - the people using these technologies. As we move forward, we should learn from these mistakes and ensure that our digital transformations are people-focused.
With the advent of AI, we have an unprecedented opportunity to revolutionise how we approach digital transformation. AI has the potential to greatly enhance the abilities of individuals, teams, and organisations. But to fully harness this potential, people need to understand what AI can do and how to utilise it effectively. This is where the role of AI Evangelists (AIEs) becomes critical.
Forward-thinking enterprises worldwide are already beginning to invest in AI education, running courses and programs on topics like prompt engineering and modelling. However, this approach misses the mark. Rather than focusing on the technical aspects of AI, enterprises should concentrate on cultivating AI Evangelists (AIE’s) - individuals who combine technical expertise with the knack for human knowledge transfer. The role of an AIE goes beyond traditional technical training. It involves showing individuals how to use AI to improve their day-to-day tasks, thus humanising this otherwise complex technology.
Take, for example, Carl in Marketing, who's struggling to source an image for a landing page. In traditional settings, Carl would either have to depend on the design team, hire a freelancer, or grab something from the internet. All these routes can be time-consuming and expensive. Instead, an AIE could show Carl how to use AI to solve his problem. This hands-on, problem-solving approach to AI education not only empowers Carl but also adds to the organisational knowledge base.
AIEs can build a scalable approach to AI education, gone are the days when learning was limited to multiple-choice questions or lengthy, monotonous videos on specific topics like "Procurement Process for Information Exchange in a Sustainable Method." With AI, learning is transforming into an immersive experience. Training courses will guide learners through technology or tooling, enabling them to progress at their own pace and, crucially, in their language/best way of consumption and processing. The objective is not just to instruct, but to empower and inspire, cultivating a workforce ready to meet the challenges of the future with confidence. Over time, this approach fosters a culture of self-reliance and continuous learning, where employees are not just passive consumers of technology but active participants in leveraging it to improve their work.
The introduction of AI in the workplace does not come without its challenges. One common stumbling block is the fear or resistance to change. AI and machine learning are often seen as complex technologies, which can be intimidating to non-technical individuals. This fear, if not addressed, could hinder the successful adoption of AI within an organisation. Hence, AI Evangelists are integral in allaying these concerns, promoting the benefits of AI, and simplifying its usage for all employees, regardless of their technical proficiency. Demonstrating what AI can do rather than lecturing on its capabilities is the number one way.
As we stand on the cusp of Digital Transformation 2.0, we must reflect on our past missteps and chart a new course. This course should prioritise enabling people with AI, demonstrating its capabilities, and illustrating how it can augment their abilities. It involves embracing the concept of AI Evangelists, who can bridge the gap between technology and its users, fostering a culture of knowledge sharing and continuous learning. It's time we shift our focus from technology-driven transformation to people-centred transformation, and in doing so, truly unlock the potential of AI.