Mark was ready to disrupt the insurance industry. He launched InsureTech, a digital-first provider of customized policies. Early traction was promising, but new customer acquisition costs were killing margins.
Mark knew he needed to better predict profitable segments to target. He explored AI, but struggled figuring out how to apply it.
On the edge of shelving AI altogether, Mark received a framework outlining 5 practical steps any business could use to succeed with AI.
He methodically worked through setting goals, auditing data, building an AI team, roadmapping projects, and measuring via a scorecard.
Within a year, InsureTech utilized propensity models to acquire customers at 60% lower CAC. AI transformed them into an industry leader.
Despite all the hype around AI, business adoption seems stuck in pilots and experiments.
And almost every headline screams about AI skills gaps, data requirements, ethical concerns... what a doom and gloom situation, right?
Don't innovate, you'll fail!
The truth about AI that very few "experts" will openly share is this: Every business, not just unicorn tech giants, can realize massive growth from AI, and faster than they imagined.
AI is not just some elitist Silicon Valley pursuit requiring PhD's and engineering armies.
With the right strategic approach, companies of all sizes can leverage AI's immense power.
So whether you lead a 5 person boutique agency or a Fortune 500 enterprise, and know absolutely nothing about modern AI, I have the controversial counterintuitive truths they won’t expose combined with 5 practical steps to fast track your success.
Just like Mark, you can unlock growth from AI by following five simple steps:
Step 1: Set Your AI Goals
Imagine your business growth as taking a road trip.
You have big dreams of seeing new landscapes like 50% revenue growth by 2025 or reducing operational costs by 30% over the next 3 years.
These are your destination points on the map - your growth goals.
But you can’t just input them into a GPS and expect to arrive there automatically.
You need to chart the actual route first.
This is where many leaders go wrong with AI strategy...you settle on vague aspirations of using technologies like machine learning and automation to boost KPIs.
Without specificity, AI delivers no better routing than typing “West” into Google Maps.
You must clearly identify tangible growth objectives tied to target metrics. Then scout high-potential AI use cases to accelerate progress across the journey
Apply predictive analytics to reduce customer churn 5% by Q4
Leverage conversational chatbots to handle 40% of customer support queries
This stage is all about crafting an inspiring BUT laser-focused AI future state centering on your company's unique growth levers and value drivers.
Resist biting off more than you can chew early.
For most organizations, I see 3 categories of opportunity consistently rise above the noise:
- Customer Facing Ops - Conversational interfaces, recommendation engines e-commerce personalization
- Sales and Marketing - Prospect scoring, predictive lead gen, hyper-targeted cross-sell & upsell
- Process Automation - Document processing, reporting, analytics automation
The right AI use case opportunities act as strategic waypoints on your route to growth destination targets.
With step 1, you effectively set your organizational GPS based on growth goals, ensuring AI projects progress you steadily towards defined success markers.
Step 2: Lay the Data Bedrock - Because Garbage In Equals Garbage Out
Data is the new oxygen!
The most advanced AI algorithms churn out only worthless answers without great data.
You must lay an integrated data bedrock ahead of any serious modeling efforts.
This requires a clear-eyed audit of your current analytics architecture and data pipelines against key criteria:
Data Quality & Integrity
- Is data accurate, complete, and trustworthy? Are gaps or defects glaring?
- Are core data well-organized and labelled for AI accessibility? Is important context encoded?
- What ingestion, processing, and warehousing pipes already exist? Where are bottlenecks?
Compliance & Governance
- Does current data handling meet regulatory and ethical compliance needs for AI?
Shaping raw data into prediction-powering assets relies on continuously flowing pipelines.
Dirty, disheveled, or stagnant data severely limits your organization's growth ceiling by relying on artificial intelligence.
Doing the groundwork to establish strong data integrity, fluid pipelines, and compliance today pays exponential dividends training more accurate models faster in the future.
Don't skip this step - or you'll find your efforts churn out worthless answers and results!
Step 3: Assembling an AI Dream Team
AI success requires skill, not superheroes.
Technical expertise alone fails without integration into business contexts.
Meanwhile overloaded analysts and managers struggle upskilling quickly enough.
Thoughtfully nurturing AI fluency across key roles - blending educational foundations, external partnerships, and internal mobility opportunities.
Begin by empowering domain experts to frame business challenges suited for AI approaches - without requiring advanced quantitative skills upfront.
Augment analytical talent through low code platforms, empowering faster prototyping. And pursue creative pathways to grow your technical bench, looking beyond traditional credentials toward hands-on engineering aptitude.
Most importantly, continually facilitate knowledge transfer across areas.
Engage technologists with profit drivers through regular touchpoints with business leadership.
Have analytics translators work closely with coaching professionals on interpreting and applying AI through ongoing workshops.
Step 3 seems basic on paper - grow skills.
But seamless collaboration between groups makes or breaks results.
Assemble your "Avengers" through avoiding silos and democratizing fluency company-wide.
Step 4: Plot Your Course - Building The AI Implementation Roadmap
You’ve set audacious growth goals. Identified high-potential AI use cases.
Constructed the essential data infrastructure and a multidisciplinary task force to actualize your ambitions.
But how exactly do you determine priorities amid competing initiatives, phasing rollout cadences aligned to business impact?
Welcome to Step 4 - Roadmapping.
First, remain obsessively focused on framing every AI candidate project through the lens of value creation and strategic differentiation rather than just technical artistry.
Not everything warranting exploration needs immediate investment.
Next, stack rank your portfolio based on balanced dimensions of expected revenue lift/cost savings, feasibility given current assets, and availability of talent.
Move the needles first where you’re set up for success.
The roadmap itself calls for patience in pacing deployment balanced with urgency in capturing low-hanging fruit.
Set aggressive but realistic timeboxes for phased production milestones across a multi-quarter horizon.
And continually revisit/recalibrate efforts based on emerging results, directing resources to your fastest horses.
Step 5: Measure Success to Maximize Impact
Many companies fall into a major trap when launching AI programs - neglecting to tie implementations directly to observable business growth outcomes from the start.
Without clear processes for tracking AI's impact on goals like customer conversion rates, lead generation, content quality, and beyond, executive buy-in.
Initiatives become rudderless ships rather than drivers of measurable transformation.
Success requires identifying a targeted set of reportable metrics aligned to crucial business objectives upfront:
- What 3-5 KPIs point to customer & revenue expansion targets?
- Which signals demonstrate efficiency improvements in operations?
These form your AI scorecard. Instrumenting releases to gather direct usage data mapping to that scorecard allows regular calibration of what works, what doesn’t, and where to double down.
This means thorough A/B testing models and being unafraid to sunset elements not pulling weight while scaling winners and reducing frictional business processes.
Building a feedback loop fueled by tangible returns realization prevents AI stagnation, unlocks sustainable value compounding, and ultimately cements executive support.
But neglect the scorecard and prepare for fleeting spotty gains.
After taking this self-assessment of your AI readiness foundations across the key elements we covered - talent, infrastructure, use case selection, and measurement rigor - you may feel overwhelmed tackling such a transformative capability build potentially all on your own.
Luckily, by joining the AI Business Accelerator or leveraging personalized advisory support, you gain access to field experts along with proven methodologies, tools, templates, and frameworks honed from successful customer deployments.
I've helped companies both large and small overcome initial AI growth pains to ultimately implement self-sustaining initiatives driving measurable business growth quarter over quarter.
If you're committed putting in the work but want a trusted Sensei guiding you up the mountain, visit AI Business Accelerator today or reach out to schedule a consultation with me to walk you through next best steps based on your specific scenario and needs.