4 Things That Boards Need to Know About AI

By Harvard Business Review
August 1, 2019

Most boards have few members who are comfortable with advanced technology, and this generally has little impact on the company. That’s about to change. More than half of technology executives in the 2019 Gartner CIO Survey say they intend to employ artificial intelligence before the end of 2020, up from 14% today.

Here are four guideposts that board members in any industry can use to orient themselves:

  1. IT’S MATH, NOT MAGIC: Boards shouldn’t be intimidated by AI. Any good use of machine learning or AI is going to be an outgrowth of what the company is already doing. A basic understanding of AI will help boards better decide how to direct its use.
  2. WELL-RUN AI PROJECTS SHOULD BE EASILY UNDERSTOOD: When deciding whether a project is right for their company, boards should feel confident enough to say when something doesn’t make sense. If a vendor or internal team can’t explain how an AI project works, or how employees, customers or management will be affected, it may not be the right fit.
  3. DATA DOESN’T HAVE TO MAKE YOU CREEPY: Too often, companies assume that to make the most out of AI, they need to be like Facebook or Google and pull in every last bit of data. But most companies are already sitting on a ton of banal data full of insights that can be unlocked using machine learning.
  4. AI IS AN OPERATING EXPENSE, NOT A CAPITAL INVESTMENT: If management’s plan for getting on the AI bandwagon revolves around a big one-time investment, chances are the team is going about it wrong. AI has the potential to boost revenue and cut costs, so budget concerns need to be put aside.

Copyright 2019 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.

Topics: Technology

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