Insights Thought Leadership

A Two-fold Approach for AI Success

Ensuring Cultural and Operational Alignment in AI Strategies

Most researchers agree that AI technology will be able to outperform humans in a variety of tasks within the next 10 years. This forecast puts increasing pressure on CIOs to identify how and where it makes sense to deploy AI in their organizations, and then implement it effectively to reap the full benefits.

In this situation, it’s no wonder that nearly 50% of IT leaders surveyed in the State of the CIO Survey 20241 expect to play more of a strategic role in addressing organizational needs, with the same number calling out machine learning and AI as the technology initiatives that will be most strategically important this upcoming year. At the same time, 36% still anticipate a heavy emphasis on transformational responsibilities overall.2

Yet even as CIOs expand AI capabilities or gear up initial efforts, they can be sidelined by low technology adoption or resistance to these new initiatives. Those challenges are on top of concerns including changing business conditions and the need to demonstrate ROI, which were cited by 43% and 41% of CIOs, respectively.3

So, although nearly 70% of CIOs are optimistic about AI’s long-term impacton humanity,4 there’s a more immediate issue at hand: achieving a successful, adaptable AI deployment that promotes better organizational results now.

Aligning the Cultural—or Human—Component of AI Initiatives

The success of any technology initiative is only as great as the number of people who willingly embrace it. That being said, uncertainty about AI’s potential impact on individual roles increases the likelihood of poor uptake and disruption.

CIOs will benefit by applying strategies that embed the human elements crucial to employee motivation. For example:

  • Emphasize human drivers: Despite AI’s appeal, it’s essential to consider basic human needs for effective communication and interaction, including understanding and recognizing what’s helping and hindering performance within workplace culture.
  • Develop and position AI as a collaborative tool: As with all key initiatives, it’s important to capture critical input about candidates for AI-based processes and workflows. This includes  any off-script workarounds that impact collaboration in the workplace. Taking this stepSSI positions AI to complement specific employee functions, increases buy-in, and reduces apprehension when introducing AI technology into organizational systems.
  • Use AI to boost human skills: Applied as a tool that complements human capabilities, AI delivers added value while enhancing the employee experience. In this way, AI technology can be used to enrich human creativity and problem-solving abilities—so it’s not viewed as a threat or a competitor to someone’s job.

Through these actions, CIOs can blend AI innovation with motivating factors to bring greater understanding and a human touch to change management—encouraging a more positive response and better potential results from new technology.

Aligning the Operational Aspects of AI Initiatives

Compared to last year’s commitments, IT leaders are more highly focused on aligning IT initiatives with business goals, with 63% of CIOs planning to work with line of business executives more often when determining business needs over the next year.5

Acknowledging this need for alignment no doubt reflects the growing pressure for IT to help drive results and prove ROI. But a more positive view recognizes the central role IT plays in enabling alignment in support of organizational goals and objectives. As CIOs develop and lead AI strategies, they’re rolling out initiatives that touch people, processes, and technology across all operations in the organization. And without clear understanding, alignment around, and reinforcement of how AI will move the organization forward, results will fall short of plan.

To prevent this from happening, CIOs can employ a framework like the Culture Equation®  combined with the Results Pyramid® model to build an effective foundation for managing change. Together, they enable organizations to:

  • Achieve adaptive alignment among purpose, strategy, and culture to amplify business results
  • Provide continued clarity around the organization’s purpose and goals
  • Align and shift employee behaviors as needed, so that people are better equipped to deliver on desired results

With specific measures in place to assess change initiatives, such as AI deployments, CIOs can monitor progress and see where adjustments are required to make further progress. They can also adapt the existing framework as needed to address changing business strategies and conditions in the outside world.

Achieving a Positive Impact Through AI

Any technology change can cause trepidation, but the potential far-reaching effects of AI call for extra care when strategizing over the best way to expand or introduce its use in an organization. CIOs who employ an approach that closely aligns both human and operational elements will foster higher adoption of AI technology. They’ll also minimize disruptions that stem from avoidance of and disengagement from AI-related processes. In the end, understanding and embedding cultural needs into AI strategies will promote better and more sustainable results.   

Culture Partners works with CIOs and technology leaders across industries worldwide to help their organizations build more impactful cultures.

Contact us for a free consultation with a culture expert.

1,2,3,4,5 State of the CIO Survey 2024, Foundry (an IDG company).

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