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Preparing for the Future of AI AI is in its infancy but already early adapters are earning better profits than competitors who lag.

By Angela Ruth

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Photographer is my life | Getty Images

Artificial intelligence is taking the world by storm, and many experts posit that the technology has brought us to the cusp of a fourth industrial revolution that will fundamentally alter the business landscape. AI and machine learning are responsible for a constant stream of innovation and disruption in the way organizations operate. To avoid being left behind, business leaders need to prepare for this future now.

While the earliest iterations of AI emerged in the 1950s, hardware limitations prevented the technology from reaching its true potential. Of course, the amount of processing power in our pockets today would have astounded scientists in that era, and advanced algorithms are allowing us to put it to work, combing through reams of data in seconds at the mere touch of a button.

AI isn't exactly real intelligence, but it is capable of spotting patterns buried deep within data sets that human eyes may or may not notice, and in a fraction of the time. Additionally, due to deep learning techniques, it's capable of learning and improving over time, meaning it becomes more and more effective at its job. Thanks to this functional facet, AI is powering an exciting array of applications from investment strategies to autonomous vehicles.

AI is sweeping through one industry after another, and while the technolgy is still in its infancy, it's important to get started implementing now, so you don't fall behind in the future. Rome wasn't built in a day, so its safe to assume that implementation of AI technology won't happen overnight either. To position your company in the sweet spot to grasp this incredible opportunity now, here are three steps to follow.

Related: This Is How to Get Started With AI When the Only Thing You Know Is the Acronym

1. Cultivate an open culture.

According to McKinsey, a profit gap is already emerging between early AI adopters and those who have yet to implement the technology. Unfortunately for the firms that are being left behind, catching up is more than the matter of purchasing new software.

While the tempo of technological change is difficult enough to keep up with, the pace of cultural change is glacial. To take advantage of AI requires a team effort, which necessitates organizations build that culture of trust and openness to encourage collaboration. Encourage this kind of open culture now -- for example, promote cross-team collaboration, invite process experimentation and redefine key performance initiatives -- to foster positive attitudes toward technological change and AI adoption.

Related: Ready or Not, It's Time to Embrace AI

2. Partner with the pioneers.

AI is on the bleeding edge of technological innovation, and the pioneers pushing it to the next innovative level are startups. These small companies aren't going it alone, however. From financial institutions to automotive companies, large organizations are funding incubators and accelerators to nurture the next generation of startups whose technology will change industries.

Working with startups has a couple advantages for bigger companies. According to Hossein Rahnama, founder and CEO of Flybits, "Joining up with a young company gives each entity a partner to lean on and grow with over the years." He adds, "Through these partnerships, you're not just procuring technology; you're gaining access to talent, consulting services, new ideas, and more." Working with small, agile startups provides an excellent launchpad for technology strategy and adoption.

Related: These 3 Businesses Are Already (and Creatively) Using AI to Automate Key Operational Tasks

3. Capitalize on creativity.

AI can crunch numbers better than anyone you could ever hope to hire, but it can't do everything. It certainly can't exercise creative problem-solving capabilities, and it's still up to your employees to turn the insights AI unlocks into high-level strategies that drive business value.

The issue is that many companies see AI as the remover of jobs, when really it is a job creator and efficiency upper. Instead of requiring a creative team to constantly multitask between crunching the numbers and strategy, use AI to perform some of the grunt work, and free up your creative teams to do what they do best. The initial implementation might make operations less efficient, but over time, your marketing and other creative teams will become much better at wielding the technology. With a bit of experience, they'll aim it at the right data to determine your company's next step in reaching its goals.

As AI becomes more widespread, it will morph from a competitive advantage to the price of admission. To keep pace with the rest of the pack, start creating an implementation strategy today.

Angela Ruth

Entrepreneur and Consultant

Angela Ruth is a freelance writer, journalist and consultant in Silicon Valley. She is a member of the YEC and a startup aficionado. You can follow her online on Twitter and Facebook.

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