Are you AI-powered or human-led? Become AI AND human to drive value

21 June 2024 • 7 min read


AI is a topic that’s on the minds of every business leader right now, but as with any emergent technology it’s easy to get caught up in the hype cycle and dive headfirst into implementing new AI tools or solutions without necessarily having a clear business case for doing so. After all, a fear of missing out can quickly lead us to implementing new technologies just for the sake of keeping up with our competitors. While AI has already proven its value as an accelerator in many fields, there continue to be vital areas where we’re learning that a human touch is very much required.

Our research into the trends surrounding AI adoption has revealed a clear contrast between leaders who are enthusiastic about the benefits of AI and are keen to adopt it in their organisations and those who remain unconvinced – perhaps viewing it as a flash in the pan and preferring to stick to tried and trusted methods with a greater degree of human input. To illustrate how stark that divide is, 43% of business leaders believe that AI could one day replace the job of the CEO, compared to 33% of business leaders who have banned the use of AI tools such as ChatGPT within their organisations

This raises the question - what’s the best way forward? Embracing AI totally and striving to adopt tools and models in every area of your business? Or, stepping right back and continuing to rely on human-driven processes and problem solving techniques that may have worked effectively for you in the past. As with many things, the answer is rarely that simple. Read on to learn more about shifting to an AND not or mindset, and taking a different approach that is both AI AND human to accelerate value.


The shift to an AND not OR mindset


How to accelerate an AI-powered approach, if you’re currently human-led


Tried and tested ways of working, and established, well designed processes deliver a lot of value for companies of all shapes and sizes. However, even the best designed operating model can result in unintended inefficiencies if not revisited and refined – particularly if it’s one that is dependent on a high degree of manual inputs. Just as AI can be a powerful ally in streamlining operations and improving efficiencies, there are also wide ranging implications for augmenting and expanding upon human ingenuity and creativity if leveraged correctly. With that in mind, here are our top tips to accelerate your use of AI, without sacrificing the human touch:


  1. Ask yourself “What is your risk appetite when it comes to AI?” It’s also prudent to ensure that any AI risks are built into your Risk Register?

  2. Reflect on whether you've explored the potential benefits of AI including augmenting human tasks and enabling better, consistent, faster human decisions. In doing so make sure you’ve considered how you might prevent bias and ensure you don’t cause unintended harm to your people or stakeholders.

  3. Analyse which of your products or services are most likely to become re-conceptualised or irrelevant because of AI. What percentage of your portfolio will be impacted and to what degree? On the flip side, what new products or service opportunities are likely to emerge?

  4. Consider how AI might change consumer or client buying behaviour in your industry or marketplace?

  5. Think through how you can foster a culture that values and prioritises human expertise, creativity, emotional intelligence, and customer relationships, while also embracing the potential of AI.

  6. Determine the strategies you can implement to reskill and upskill your people and teams to thrive in an AI-augmented work environment, in a way that leverages their unique human strengths.

  7. If you’re working with technology and/or delivery partners there’s also pertinent questions you should be asking of them, some great examples include:
  • What’s your approach to assessing our current infrastructure and data readiness for AI implementation?
  • What level of customisation and integration support do you provide to tailor AI solutions to our specific business needs?
  • How do you measure the ROI and business impact of AI implementation, and what metrics do you use to track success?
  • Can you deliver AI solutions that evolve and improve over time?
  • Can you demonstrate where AI has been successful in other businesses like ours?


How to bring the best of a human-led approach, if you’re currently AI-powered


An AI-powered approach is increasingly attractive for all sorts of businesses. Across different industries and markets, companies are finding that there are productivity gains to be made – freeing people up to focus on higher value activities that cannot be automated, or that AI is helping them to deliver and scale new content and customer experiences that are driving significant value. However, in the rush to implement AI it’s all too easy to overlook the importance of human decision-making. It’s well documented that Generative AI can be prone to hallucinations, and there are clear limits to the capabilities of machine learning models. With that in mind, here are our top tips to retain the best of human intelligence in an increasingly AI-powered world:


  1. Make sure that your business is open and engaged with key stakeholders around the ethical implications of AI. How is ethics around technology included in your governance? Are you satisfied that you have the necessary diversity and inclusion - from AI experts with different perspectives - when developing technology, which enables you to spot problems or biases in training data and decision-making?

  2. Is ethics considered when reviewing or signing off new AI projects or use cases? Establish ethical guidelines for AI development and deployment, and ensure that your ethical principles are machine-readable so they can be read by the code that needs to abide by them.

  3. Will you want to report on AI in your annual report? If yes, consider your timeline and whether external advisory assistance is needed.

  4. Ensure you know what level of explainability is available for AI-led decisions.

  5. Where there is automated decision-making, make sure that the necessary controls have been reviewed to ensure there is a human in the loop where required.

  6. Evaluate what roles are most at risk of being eliminated or significantly reduced in your organisation in the next five to 10 years because of AI. What will your organisation's driving philosophy be around those roles? Will you emphasise re-skilling? Or are there significant right-sizing initiatives to be considered?

  7. Think about how you can leverage AI to enhance customer experiences and personalisation while still maintaining a human touch to build trust with your customers.

  8. Consider what strategies you can implement to reskill and upskill your people to thrive in an AI-augmented work environment.

  9. For any technology and/or delivery partners you’re working with, be sure to ask them questions including:
  • If AI solutions are externally sourced, are there ethical requirements ingrained in the procurement processes?
  • How do you address potential biases and ethical concerns in the development and deployment of AI technologies?
  • What training and support do you offer to our internal teams to ensure a smooth adoption and utilisation of AI technologies?
  • Can you help us develop an AI enablement framework to ensure we’re using AI safely, responsibly, and consistently?
  • How will you prioritise human-centred design to deliver solutions that support human-AI collaboration?    
  • How can your AI solutions be designed and implemented to augment and enhance human capabilities rather than replace them entirely?


Ready to accelerate value now? Embrace the juxtaposition of AI AND human


CEOs - and by extension people across your organisation - need a profound shift in mindset, to look for the AND rather than the OR when it comes to embracing new technology. To unlock true value quickly from your technology investments you have to embrace the inherently juxtaposed concepts of AI AND human. This can sound daunting but here are some proven approaches to set you up for success:


4 acceleration approaches to balance AI AND human in technology:


  1. Define the problem you want to solve - AI is not a panacea, but it is highly effective when it’s used to solve a real business problem. Evaluate your current operations and see - for example - if you have highly manual processes that could be automated to free up people’s time. Once you’ve established the right use case(s), you can accelerate value creation.

  2. Make sure your data is in order - AI is only as effective as the data that it’s trained on. If you jump into AI implementation without your data in order, you’re not going to see the value you expect from it. Make sure that you’re operating with a data-driven culture where your data is accurate, timely, available and secure.

  3. Set the framework for success - it’s important to have robust but flexible guidance that empowers individuals to explore AI use cases within the parameters of your agreed goals and objectives, with clear approaches to managing risks. This will allow people to innovate safely, in a way that will accelerate value creation.

  4. Prototype at pace - develop your proposed AI solution as a proof of concept using an accelerated development cycle. This will allow you to validate your solution quickly with real world data, giving you the inputs needed to iterate, develop, or pivot as needed. It can also be helpful in making a business case for sustained AI investments, as stakeholders can see AI in action.


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