How to Leverage Artificial Intelligence in Your Business

By now, most of us have heard about Artificial Intelligence (AI). Once the exclusive domain of science fiction and futuristic movies, it is now becoming prolific in many aspects of our society!

But do you understand what it is? Are you and your business prepared for AI and how are you leveraging it in your business today?

AI has been around and evolving since about 1956 and it is now advancing at a speed that is almost incomprehensible!

According to Ray Kurzweil, the speed of advancement of society today is accelerating exponentially. Furthermore, he asserts that the entire progress of the 20th century would have been achieved in only 20 years at the rate of advancement we saw in the year 2000. So, the rate of advancement in the year 2000 was 5 times as fast as the average in the entire previous century!

He believes that another 20th century’s worth of advancement happened between 2000 and 2014 and another will happen between 2014 and 2021! In a few decades after this, a 20th century’s worth of progress will take place multiple times in the same year and a decade later it will happen multiple times in the same month!

Basically, it boils down to the “Law of Accelerating Returns.” Kurzweil believes that the 21st century will see 1000 times the progress as the 20th century!

A big part of the changes and advancement that we will see will be both in Artificial Intelligence and made possible by Artificial Intelligence.

Current State

The diagram below comes from a webcast from Dr. Kai-Fu Lee and Peter Diamandis. They classify AI into “waves” and show the high-profile companies that are leveraging AI into the core of their business.

  • 1 – Internet AI
  • 2 – Business AI
  • 3 – Perception AI
  • 4 – Autonomous AI

The Second Machine Age

Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies

This week’s book review is The Second Machine Age by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson.

The authors take us through a great history of social development and chart the relentless and accelerating progress of technology. They do a great job of explaining how technology has impacted society, is impacting society, and will impact society moving forward. Besides the technology itself, they cover the impact that the second machine age will have on politics, economics, social upheaval, income inequity, and more.

My takeaway from this book is that our future will be very different that our current world and that the rate of change is accelerating. The best way for us and our businesses to stay ahead of this change is to:

Profit First

Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine

The book review for this week is Profit First by Mike Michalowicz.

Michalowicz introduces a new and unique way of managing the financial side of your business. Rather than running your business using traditional GAAP based reporting, he introduces an approach that keeps the business owners focused on profits not on Revenue, SG&A or COGs.

His point is that profit is not an event . . . Profit must be baked into your business every day, every event, every transaction. The best way to do this is to build a system that puts profit first and not GAAP accounting (although the accounting still must happen). Michalowicz lays out a simple but powerful system that does this.

How to Be Relentlessly Committed to Self-Disruption

Disruption is highly uncomfortable! Purposefully causing disruption inside your business seems like a stupid thing to do! For what reason would you want to disrupt something that is running smoothly?

Well, for starters, building a business that never changes is a flawed business strategy. A business that is too rigid to change will be obliterated by the fast-changing marketplace! As Clayton Christensen pointed out in the Innovator’s Dilemma, the fact that you are successful makes it hard to keep the edge you need to win in the future!

We do not have to look too hard before we find prime examples of businesses that were once at the top of their game and now have failed or are basically on their death bed! It is clear that they were not relentlessly committed to self disruption.

The easy examples that always get the spotlight are businesses like Blockbuster, Sears, and Toys R Us. But, there are countless others including Radio Shack, Vitamin World, Gymboree, Swissair, Woolworth’s, Sharper Image, Polaroid, and the list goes on!

So, what can a business leader do to productively disrupt their business?

How to Be Urgent with the Tactic and Patient with the Strategy

I attended a “Jamie Clarke” keynote earlier this year and was struck by a number of things he said and how they apply to business.

Clarke is a fellow Calgarian who has summited Mt. Everest twice, climbed the Seven Summits, written a few books, and is the CEO of Live Out There Ltd. He was a very engaging speaker with a ton of life experience and wisdom.

Of the topics he covered in his keynote, there was one statement he made that every business leader needs to practice:

“Be urgent with the tactic and patient with the strategy”

It is really easy to get stuck on one side of this equation and forget about the other. Some people gravitate towards tactics and are always busy but never really “move the ball forward.” Other people are so focused on creating a legendary strategy that they don’t get anything practical done!

About 10 years ago, my son and I decided to build a remote-controlled submarine. We talked through some ideas, drew up a few conceptual plans but never really had a solid strategy in place before we went a bought a bunch of parts from Lowes. Once we had the parts, we went into full-on build mode.

We had a ton of fun while we created an amazing submarine prototype that ended up having so much buoyancy it probably could have floated a full-sized car! We were too focused on tactics and should have stepped back and built a solid design strategy!

In the end, after a lot of discussion and some quick Google searches, we discovered it was way cheaper to just buy a remote-controlled submarine online. However, we still have yards of white PVC pipe glued together somewhere in the shed as a reminder of our glaring failure!

We often hear that execution eats strategy for breakfast or that action without strategy pointless . . . So what is the answer?