The Importance of Executive Sponsorship
I recently had the opportunity to present a talk at the Machine Learning Week conference about overcoming roadblocks to adopt AI. My key takeaway was that while technical factors like data and algorithms are relevant for AI/ML projects, managing organizational challenges is what ultimately determines success or failure. According to Gartner, up to 85% of AI projects fall short of objectives. There are many reasons for this, and several have nothing to do with data, tools, or technology.
Executive sponsorship is a key success factor. Project leaders need to build a broad base of support. Relying too heavily on a single executive sponsor means progress can stall if they leave. Instead, multiple stakeholders across the organization help to ensure ongoing support and alignment to business goals. This ensures momentum continues even with leadership transitions.
Maintaining Focus as Organizational Priorities Shift
I also shared a cautionary story that illustrated how AI/ML initiatives can lose momentum, even after significant progress has been made. After a year of work with an external consultant, the project stalled and entered limbo as internal priorities shifted within the organization.
To successfully adopt AI, organizations need processes to maintain focus on the anticipated benefits and integration with operations, even as leaders juggle strategic priorities. Internal stakeholders can come from just about any department including supply chain, HR, sales, marketing, and customer service.
Overcoming the Barriers to Adoption and Capturing AI’s Potential With Internal Expertise
To ensure AI/ML initiatives remain aligned to evolving business needs, organizations should invest in developing internal AI skills and expertise. By cultivating effective AI competencies, teams can more nimbly adapt solutions to new priorities. Expert data scientists and ML engineers who understand both the technical components and business goals are essential. They can communicate the ongoing value of AI/ML projects to leadership in terms relevant to shifting objectives. With both executive sponsorship and skilled AI experts effectively applying know-how, organizations can drive priorities and progress in concert, rather than allowing misalignment to derail promising efforts.
Plotting Your AI Strategy Roadmap
Here are some ways organizations can maintain focus on AI solutions and drive AI/ML projects forward amid shifting priorities: