Data & Analytics

How “Data-Driven” Leaders Think About the Use of AI Systems at Mid-Sized Companies

Max Heppel

Managers with a modern “data mindset” are aware that nowadays, the added value which can be achieved by using artificial intelligence is available to every company within a short time frame. They know how to integrate AI algorithms into their ERP systems within just a few hours, so that their company - completely independent of its size - can start benefiting from forecasts, optimizations, and other intelligent tools today.

Employees and technologies complement each other

To be prepared for this time of data-driven businesses, managers who have an affinity to AI should start thinking about responsibilities early on.  There should be employees who take on responsibility for driving forward with data analytics and especially AI - both in terms of strategy and operations. What’s more, it’s essential to make sure that all colleagues have a certain “data mindset”. It’s by far not enough to merely train employees about the correct use of the system. Their positive attitude towards the use of data analytics is part of an optimal “data philosophy” which is crucial for fully utilizing the potential of AI.

The employees should be made aware that combining their own work with AI technology is a factor that is absolutely critical to success. Employees should understand that they’re not in a competition with the AI technologies but that they and the AI tools will be perfect partners in the future.

However, this kind of thinking will not establish itself overnight among all employees. Through easy access to this technology and many so-called “quick wins”, managers with an affinity to AI can ensure that the employees’ acceptance of and trust in AI is not just a result of indoctrination by top managers and executives. Thus, it’s important to start with small-scale use cases that quickly and easily provide added value to the employees in their daily work. Employees cannot be convinced of the merits of artificial intelligence simply by persuasion or by enforcing things, but rather by solving small or slightly bigger problems in daily work for the first time.  That way, the feeling of dislike or fear that may have been triggered - sometimes even by just hearing the words “artificial intelligence” - can be quickly overcome.

Standardized AI products as a first step

With this approach, managers who have an affinity to data often rely on “AI as a service” products. These are standardized, intelligent assistants that, for example, are an addition to the existing ERP system. The advantage for the company is that AI technology can be implemented at the push of a button, with little risk and without any project work being required. Given the seamless integration with the ERP system, users sometimes don’t even realize that they are benefiting from AI. As soon as the majority of the employees are convinced by these smaller services, it’ll be easy for “data-driven” leaders to carry out larger-scale AI projects within the company with the support of all people involved.

Once the first positive results are achieved, there’s often automatically a growing awareness among employees when it comes to the importance of proper and clean data maintenance. The awareness of the importance of high data quality continuously grows with every problem that the company now manages to solve thanks to AI. This aspect is also an important part of the “data mindset” across the whole company - and executives must take on responsibility in this regard.

In conclusion, managers at future-oriented companies have long stopped simply asking themselves whether AI technologies should be used. The question that modern business leaders now ask themselves every day is how fast and, at the same time, how professionally they can prepare their company and in particular their employees for the future use of AI in order to ensure long-term competitiveness.


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Max Heppel
Data Analytics Expert