Take Root: Building Your Digital Transformation Team

Obviously, when beginning any project involving new technology or operations, building a team of experts that can lead the way for the rest of the company is crucial. But because cognitive technology is so new and still growing as a field, many business leaders are unfamiliar with how to fill a team that can handle all of the responsibilities and challenges they will face.

The first matter will be to acquire talent, which in fact is often one of the most difficult parts of any digital transformation. Outside of the Big Four (Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple), many companies don’t have the necessary skillsets in house to build the kind of project that will last long-term. These are the people who will help prevent transformation from wilting before taking root; AI projects have a high failure rate among businesses that are not prepared beforehand to support it well, and this team will be your first step.

The talent brought in to an AI team should have knowledge across spectrums of the field because AI can be approached in so many different ways. The team could be responsible for any number of applications from natural language processing to machine learning to computer vision, all of which could be applied to just one use case. Finding even just one person who has intimate knowledge of all these different manifestations of AI can be very difficult. So we have to make sure we acquire talent that has general knowledge of many techniques but also with varying specialties. In a similar vein, knowing how you want to utilize AI in your specific instance before attempting to build something is important as well.

There then must be a head of AI who reports to the CIO or even the CEO of the company. This will enable AI capabilities not just to help transform one business unit, but the entire business. As breakthroughs are made, the AI head should take them to the heads of the company and demonstrate how they can impact the company more broadly, which is how digital transformation really begins to take hold.

This core team acts as the central nervous system through which all the AI functions of the company are initiated. There can be many different purposes within that capacity; they can be a center for data storage, as well as an on-boarding guide or troubleshooting resource. But they also should take on a role as a brainstorming tool, looking ahead to determine the best ways to utilize the power that is being created.

A team of managers who have knowledge of AI but also are familiar with operations in various functions of the business can also be useful in tracking AI progress in different business units. Their primary function is to liaise between the AI team and adjunct parts of the business in order to identify use cases, create specialized solutions, and monitor their progress. One of the keys of creating AI solutions is encouraging collaboration between your technology team and the business teams they’re building for. We can combine the business knowledge and tech knowledge to manifest our best possible outcomes.

At the end of the day, the AI development process must be tailored to the needs and capabilities of your company. Some may need to simply buy a pre-made AI solution because they aren’t yet able to build their own (We go over the build vs. buy decision in a briefing elsewhere on the site). Many basic technologies are easy to buy and install, giving smaller companies a gateway into the marketplace. But the best solutions for any individual company will always be those that are uniquely created by those who are in touch with the company’s goals and competencies.