How to Navigate the Hidden Risks of AI and Digitization Discover how businesses can harness the potential of AI-powered digitization while mitigating risks related to data governance, ethics, workforce adaptability and cybersecurity to drive optimization and achieve unprecedented growth.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
In the continuously-evolving digital landscape of today, efficiency is everything, and businesses must strive to optimize wherever possible to remain competitive. It stands to reason that enterprises worldwide strive to engage in data-driven decision-making wherever possible. In a world where 90% of all data is unstructured, however, this can be more challenging than it sounds.
To gain maximal value from the information they already possess, a growing contingent of enterprises is attempting to leverage AI-powered digitization to streamline operations and drive growth and development. However, this brings with it a range of potential risks and challenges.
As a CMO, I'm well attuned to the potential pitfalls of AI adoption, and my experiences have taught me the importance of having the right strategy in place to deal with digitization issues as they occur. I will outline the benefits that digitization can bring to a business and offer strategies to help enterprises maximize the potential of AI-powered digitization while minimizing potential risks.
The benefits of digitization
In this day and age, the case for digitization is an easy one to make.
First and foremost, the digitization of resources enables a greater degree of flexibility within an organization. When information has been successfully digitized, it can be viewed from anywhere, at any time, on any supported device. At a time when remote working arrangements are on the uptick, making resources accessible in this way can be a huge boon from a productivity standpoint. Moreover, since digital resources are easily searchable, employees can find what they need more quickly than ever before, thus boosting efficiency.
A digitized database also allows for better decision-making. By enabling more effective data gathering and analysis, digitization can empower management to gain deeper insights into company performance. From there, they can focus on specific processes to optimize and allocate resources more accurately to fit the priorities of the enterprise and achieve its goals more effectively. Finally, digitization also helps to dissolve organizational silos. Enterprises can ensure that teams can share information easily by converting informational resources into a centralized digital database. The result is better organization alignment, improved collaboration between teams and a better, more coherent customer experience.
Overcoming the challenges of AI-powered digitization
AI-driven digitization is a worthwhile endeavor for enterprises that can pull it off successfully. However, doing so is no easy task, and many businesses encounter certain dangers along the way. Let's outline those dangers and how enterprises can overcome them to gain maximal benefit from AI.
1. Data governance
To use AI-powered digitization to drive success, an enterprise must have a strong data governance foundation in place, as those lacking a strong data governance framework can quickly run into issues.
Poor data quality and inefficient data integration, for instance, can result in inaccurate or incomplete data, which can compromise the utility and effectiveness of AI-based systems within an organization. Additionally, AI models may seek access to sensitive data, which can bring about privacy concerns.
To prevent such issues, enterprises must establish clear policies and processes for managing data quality, privacy and security before embarking on their digitization journeys. By doing so, they can establish a clearly-defined framework that enables them to gain refined, actionable insights from their data assets.
Similarly, it is imperative to establish mechanisms and procedures for monitoring and auditing data governance practices. Those that do this can ensure that their data governance remains congruent with the evolving needs of the enterprise, thereby preserving the effectiveness of AI systems/
When attempting to leverage AI for the digitization of data assets, there are several ethical considerations that enterprises must contend with.
Aside from concerns about privacy and consent when collecting data, there is also the question of data biases to consider. AI can unintentionally bring about unfair or discriminatory outcomes when specific elements of a dataset are weighted disproportionately. Suffice it to say this is counterproductive, so it is essential to set up a framework for identifying and mitigating biases in data. Enterprises can ensure that their AI systems draw accurate, unbiased conclusions through bias assessment and regular auditing.
Additionally, it is important to remember that AI tools are just that — tools — and humans should take accountability for their use. By clearly outlining where accountability lies, enterprises can ensure that AI-power tools supplement human capabilities and judgment rather than supplant them. Furthermore, by creating a comprehensive human review framework, it's possible to minimize human errors and prevent AI from arriving at unethical decisions.
3. Workforce adaptability
When implementing AI-power digitization, workforce adaptability should be a serious concern. After all, for an organization to get maximal benefit from AI applications, each of its members needs to understand its role and use fully.
In preparation for digitization, enterprises should seek to invest in AI training for employees. This will allow them to gain insights into the technology's purpose and develop the competencies necessary to leverage it in the workplace.
By conducting a thorough performance analysis, management should be able to identify relevant skill gaps in employees and provide them with the tools and resources they need for proper onboarding. Additionally, it's advisable to set up clear communication channels for employees to air any issues. This will not only enable smoother onboarding with AI technologies but also ensure that there is a framework in place should the organization need to investigate potential issues down the line.
Introducing AI-driven digitization to an enterprise also brings several security concerns to the fore. Chiefly, the increased dependency on AI-powered systems may make an enterprise a more likely target for a data breach. Additionally, AI models may have inherent weaknesses that can be exploited for nefarious purposes.
As such, having the right security measures in place is key. Implementing strong encryption, access controls, and multi-factor authentication on company systems can help to mitigate some of the risks associated with AI-powered digitization. In addition, enterprises can train employees to maintain data handling best practices to create a security-conscious culture. Lastly, organizations should confer with cybersecurity experts and perform adversarial testing to identify potential weaknesses.
AI-powered digitization presents modern enterprises with enormous opportunities for optimization and growth. To fully reap the rewards of this digitization, however, these businesses must mitigate the risks of relying on AI-powered data systems. That means establishing strong data governance, addressing ethical considerations, empowering workforce adaptability and implementing comprehensive cybersecurity measures. By taking these steps, enterprises can use AI-driven digitization to unlock their latent potential, enabling them to achieve new levels of success.