If you look up the definition of the word laggard you get this: Laggards are the last persons or organizations to adopt new ideas, technologies, products, or specific innovations. Another way to describe laggards is by using the word traditionalists; the last to adopt an innovation. They are fixated on the past, on maintaining the status quo.
I believe most people, and organizations, are laggards by nature.
I first heard about ‘laggards’ from the technology adoption curve, which shows how various groups of people adopt technology:
Today, there are many technologies that make the news but none bigger than artificial intelligence. The topic of adoption is at the forefront of the conversation, specifically “Will it replace people.” The topic of AI replacing people is directly related to the topic of people and organizations adopting the technology.
As stated in a recent McKinsey report, the rise of generative AI technologies has been fast and furious, but mostly the adoption has come in very specific groups of people and organizations. Before last year’s launch of ChatGPT, the technology was mostly available to big corporations with big budgets and was mostly experimental.
What’s different today is the technology is now widely available to anyone with an internet connection, curiosity, and a bias for action. And because of this, we’re in the iPhone moment of this technology. The question of whether or not it will replace humans is the wrong one. The question is: What will this technology enable humans to do and how fast will it happen?
Artificial intelligence will not replace humans, a human using AI will. The same applies for organizations. Therefore, leaders need to embrace the technology, learn to harness its potential, and develop use cases for their businesses.
Here are three steps you can follow to help you adopt generative artificial intelligence:
1. Understand Generative AI
- Definition: Generative AI refers to algorithms that can generate new data based on patterns it has previously observed. This is commonly seen in applications like content generation, image creation, and more.
- Value Proposition: Before diving in, business leaders should understand the value generative AI brings. Does it improve efficiency? Does it offer novel solutions? Or perhaps, does it create new avenues for revenue?
2. Identify Opportunities
- Audit Current Processes: Examine existing business operations to find repetitive tasks, areas where human error is frequent, or processes that require significant manual labor.
- Spot Creative Avenues: Generative AI is not limited to administrative tasks; it can help in areas like marketing, design, or product innovation by generating content, designs, or product ideas.
3. Start Small
- Pilot Programs: Begin by implementing generative AI solutions in one area of the business. Monitor and measure its success before scaling up.
- Feedback Loop: Maintain an ongoing feedback loop with employees and stakeholders to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the AI model in action.
With that said, here are some questions to help you identify workflows and processes for AI automation.
- What are the processes you repeat most often?
- What are some activities that you have to do every day that involve computers?
- Write down every single task that you complete on your computer.
- What are the most time-consuming and repetitive tasks in your operation?
- Are there any processes that rely heavily on manual data entry or analysis?
- Are there any bottlenecks or areas where delays commonly occur?
- Are there tasks that require real-time responses or interactions with customers?
As always, there will be individuals and organizations that will be late to adopt. To be fair, being an innovator, and early adopter doesn’t mean you’ll win. But being last for sure won’t either. Remember, disrupt, or be outpaced by it.
Bottom line: Generative AI is good enough that it enables people to do useful stuff with it. Individuals and organizations shouldn’t just dip their toes in the technology, but embrace it as is. Adapt or die, or be outpaced by those who do.