On October 4th 2016 Google CEO Sundar Pinchai posted this post declaring the tech giant's intention to move from a Mobile-first company to an AI-first company and marking the start of a new era of digital transformation driven by the advance in AI technology.
The other tech giants haven't wasted any time in the new race and are investing heavily in filing patents on novel technology, investing in hot startups and getting their hands on the most scarce resource: top AI talent.
Judging from the amount of effort these company are putting on AI one can only conclude the prize must be worth it specially considering that — as all these company will telling you — such transition is very complex and requires profound transformations in the company culture (again).
The truth is that once you've started your journey to leverage the mountains of data being generated every day to make your product or service more personalized or simply to make better/data-informed decisions, you will soon (if haven't yet) reach the realization that tradicional tools and decision making processes are not sufficient to make sense of all this data. The tech giants that have led the move to leverage enormous amounts of data got to this new inflection point sooner than other companies and they are now leading the path towards this new transformation to become AI-first organizations.
A daunting challenge for the rest of us
Now the fact that tech giants are executing a new growth strategy doesn't necessarily mean that every other company on earth needs to follow their steps. But if you are in charge of key strategic decisions for an entire company or even for a specific department or functional area, some of these questions may (and should) occupy your mind these days:
IMPACT: how am I impacted by this new wave of changes?
TIMING: should I jump on the new wave or wait until the hype has gone and will be clearer what really are the benefits and the way to tackle this new set of challenges?
BUILD VS BUY: if this turn out to be a significant market shift and I don't want to be left behind, will I be just an user of solutions and technologies some other company will create or is the impact so close to my core business that I will need to create AI applications inside my company?
WHAT TO BUY: if I decide that I'm not ready to build AI applications on my own, what are the solution out in the market, how will I evaluate them and select those that are right for me and (most importantly) how much of my own data should I share with these companies for their solutions to give me the insight I need?
HOW TO BUILD: if I decide that the only way to leverage my data to embed AI in my decision making process is to build my own AI Applications, what does that mean to my talent acquisition strategy, what does that mean to my organization, what are the new best practices to develop these AI applications?
None of these are simple questions to answer specially if you consider that AI and Machine Learning are bringing a new set of difficult questions to answer and will force profound transformations in the organizations that are going to take this journey.
Read more from The AI Academy on our AI-First Column on Medium