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4 Steps to Building an AI-First Company that Stands Out

Artificial intelligence is a differentiator for many businesses. For now.

When used right, AI can help companies make decisions on unique products and services, optimize systems and processes, improve quality, automate time-consuming and repetitive manual tasks, and plenty more.

According to Gartner, businesses are increasingly turning to AI as a strategic differentiator.

But differentiation only works if it sets your company apart from your competition. And AI only differentiates if it makes you, well, different. But what do you do when every company becomes an AI-powered company? How do you differentiate yourself then? Here are four ways your company can continue to stand out as AI adoption continues to evolve. 

1. Understand What AI-First Means

Before you can be an AI-first company that stands out, you must first become an AI-first company. And before you can become an AI-first company, you must first appreciate what this means. 

An AI-first company is a company that makes responsible data learning a priority.

They harness the power, speed, and accuracy of AI and machine learning to compound the value they get from their data over time. They gain insights from their data automatically. They learn exponentially. They gain, and maintain, their competitive advantage by putting data learning—and responsible data use—first.

2. Put Humans Front and Center

In the same way that software-as-a-service is no longer a differentiator (since 70% of company software is now SaaS), so, too, will AI eventually become a commodity. Every company will use AI to one degree or another. What will set the leaders apart from all of the others is how they use AI. 

The best AI solutions are human-centered. They aim to understand and meet the needs, goals and challenges of humans, whether they are users, employees, customers, patients, workers,  constituents or someone else. Human-centered, trustworthy AI puts humans front and center to solve human problems.

3. Use AI to Empower Your People, Not Replace Them

You will differentiate your company when you use AI to empower your people, not replace them. The trend of the future is AI that works with humans. If you want to stand out in your marketplace, deploy AI solutions that help your staff deliver faster service, make unbiased decisions, resolve customer issues more efficiently, make fewer mistakes, and more. Your most valuable asset in the future is still likely to be your people. AI simply helps you make your people even more valuable—to you and to your customers.

4. Pick the Best Use Case for AI

The key to successful AI is identifying and simplifying the task you’re looking to solve. Your priority should not only be deciding where AI is going to make the greatest difference for your business, but also where AI makes sense to use.

After all, AI is only useful if it helps you stand out from the competition in meaningful ways.

AI performs at its best when designed to solve a specific use case. Remember that AI does two things really well. 1. It recognizes patterns in vast amounts of data. 2. It automates decisions.

To use AI to differentiate your company, answer this simple question: “Where can we deploy AI to detect patterns, make wiser decisions sooner, or improve human-led, resource-intensive  tasks?” Companies that can articulate tasks and what successful completion of these tasks looks like will see the greatest success with AI. 

There was a time when companies gained a marketplace advantage by using light bulbs instead of gas lamps, telephones instead of telegrams, and internal combustion engines instead of horses. But, eventually, every company adopted these innovations, and forward-thinking companies were forced to look elsewhere for their unique differentiator.

If your company is smart, you will adopt AI. But if you are even smarter, you will take these four strategic steps to make your company an AI-first company that stands out from your competitors.

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Contributor: Nicole McCaffrey in the Chief People and Marketing Officer at Pandata.