The Future of Work Is AI-Driven. Are Your Systems Ready for the Ride?

by

Rashaad Bajwa and Leadership Development in ITThe AI-enabled future of business is already here. AI chatbots interact with our customers. Employees use generative AI to write code, automate tasks, and handle everything from creating memos to creating presentations. Decision makers line up to use AI-generated business intelligence to monitor their KPIs. This isn’t just happening at large organizations with deep pockets, either. With the integration of AI into platforms like Microsoft 365, even smaller companies can enjoy the promise of this technology. 

 

It’s all terribly exciting. In fact, a recent article by Forbes said that AI will be a $407 billion market in 2027—up from 86.7 billion in 2022. The gains in productivity will increase the gross domestic product in the US by 21% by 2030, they predict. 

 

So, with all this buzz and opportunity, what’s a business to do? While the jury is still out on what AI tools will make the cut over time, there’s a lot you can do to prepare your organization and your systems for this major technology shift. Let’s talk about it. 

The Future of Work Is Already Here

 

All this breathless business reporting can be deceiving. The possibilities are so new and complex AI may seem like something reserved only for the biggest and most well-resourced companies. But the fact is, AI is not only accessible, but affordable, and often free. Your employees are probably already using it, whether you realize it or not.  

 

Companies are getting on board fast. Take, for instance, this recent survey by FORBES Advisor showing what businesses already use in the AI realm. 

AI for business

 

Artificial intelligence is already integrated into common business applications like your cyber security monitoring tools and many of your SaaS subscriptions. Chances are, you’re interacting with AI all the time.  

 

The difference is that AI is getting better and far more prominent than it ever has been before. With search engines switching to generative AI and Microsoft heavily investing in AI tools for its 365 platform, AI will soon be front and center in nearly everything your company does. The trick is figuring out what you want to do with it and the implications these tools will have for your systems. 

 

As you begin this journey, there are several things I would encourage you to think about. 

 

What’s Your Enterprise AI Ambition?

 

 

Like any other investment you make for your company, you must ask yourself —what isresult are weoping for? You should probably think again if the answer is to try something new. 

 

Artificial intelligence is only as good as the tool you buy and the preparation you make. When you pull the trigger on an AI technology, ensure it improves your processes both in quality and efficiency. As our COO, Glenn Mathis, said recently, what will you do with the time AI gives you? Redirecting staff to more strategic tasks and letting AI handle the grunt work is a great start. FORBES’ recent survey of business leaders shows that about half expect to make significant business gains with AI. 

AI f

Gartner has developed an ingenious way of modeling innovation development called the “hype cycle,” which accurately tracks how new technology goes from innovation to early buzz, to mainstream hype, to disillusionment, and finally to a plateau of productivity. If you look at the chart below, you’ll see how the innovation cycle is progressing. 

AI

 

 

 Cloud AI and The Innovations You Can Make Now

 

 

As you can see, some AI Products are set to become mainstream and mature very quickly—like generative AI search, decision intelligence, and Cloud AI services through significant providers like Microsoft. Some more advanced technologies, like fully autonomous systems, AI engineering, and neuro-symbolic AI, could take another ten years to mature fully.  

 

Fortunately, the technologies likely to have the most impact on your average employee’s productivity are also the ones best developed and easiest to implement. Case in point—Microsoft Copilot.  

Copilot

 

Copilot offers a whole ecosystem of AI-assisted services that will integrate with the Microsoft 365 platform. In addition to what comes standard, there are thousands of apps and extensions you can plug in to customize your cloud platform. In fact, many of the SaaS tools you’re already using can now be integrated directly into Microsoft 365 and Copilot.  

 

Copilot has already been launched, and we are taking clients’ names interested in trying the technology. Stay tuned for more information. 

 

 

How Your Organization Can Safely Onramp to the AI Highway 

 

 

It’s easy to be inspired by all the innovations coming our way. Yet, the road ahead is fraught with risks, as well. 

 

Specifically, you can run into information hallucinations, copyright infringement issues, lack of data safety, and incompatibility with your systems, just as a start. As always, we recommend caution before you start layering new programs and processes onto your networks. Here are some of the things you need to consider before pulling the trigger on your latest AI investment. 

1. Do a Thorough Cybersecurity Review of Your AI Tools

 

Are there AI/BI tools your staffers are begging you to implement across your system? Don’t give the green light just because a reputable source offers it. There’s a lot you must consider. How is data being handled by that AI tool? Will company information be stored outside your company’s protected systems? How will the operations of this tool impact the other tools that you have? If the tool has search capabilities, can you count on it to pull the correct information? Are copyrights being violated by generative image creation or copy-creation tools? 

 

This is just the beginning of what you need to review when considering a new AI or BI tool. If you can, hire an outside cyber security expert, preferably a vCISO, to review the program. They’ll be able to identify problems and process concerns before you download the tool into your system. The extra couple of weeks you spend on this review have the potential to save your business from AI-generated threats that could unravel your cyber security systems. It’s time well spent. 

 

2. Ask the Hard Questions About Process

 

Every time you add a new program to your system, you’ll need to consider how this will alter how things get done and how data moves around your systems. This leads to a cascade of questions, including: 

 

  • Will this overlap with other tools we’re using? Will I need to revise or replace those redundant services? 
  • How will this new tool impact the IT budget? Are there licenses required? If so, for how many people? Can we adequately “wall it off” from the employees who don’t need to use it?  
  • Will it eliminate workflows or people? If the answer is yes, how will we reallocate the time we save through the organization? 
  • How will this new tool affect our written processes and procedures for daily operations, service/repair, and backup/recovery? 

 

What seems like a simple decision will often turn into a multi-department fact-finding mission. But when the installation goes smoothly, you’ll be glad you took the time to promote safe AI usage. 

 

3. Check Your Cyber Risk Insurance

 

In general, it’s essential to understand the parameters of your cyber risk insurance policies. Why? Because any program you run can be corrupted or have dangerous loopholes that allow clever hackers to enter your systems. 

 

Check the requirements of your cyber risk insurance to ensure this new program meets the cyber security guidelines set by your policy. If, for instance, your new tool might circumvent your company’s data handling procedures or enable passwordless logins from outside computers. If so, you may want to rethink your investment. 

4. Mind Your Compliance

 

If you’re in a highly regulated business, like healthcare, law, or advanced manufacturing, you know—compliance requirements are very specific. Just because a capability is new doesn’t mean it’s exempt. Every program touching your system will have to abide by the same rules. Check your regulatory sources often, and make sure the AI tools are up to standard.  

 

It’s Time to Understand the Risks and Rewards of the AI Tech Revolution

 

 

Is AI overhyped? Probably not. The potential to streamline tasks and save organizations money is just too compelling. Yet, as the hype cycle shows us, many of the necessary new tools are at the peak of their buzz factor right now and may soon fall out of favor. Whether or not you invest in these tools and integrate them into your work environment is your choice. 

 

Whether you decide to take an “early adopter” or “wait and see” approach, AI tools will still be an essential part of the cyber landscape. It’s time to start taking those critical steps to prepare for what’s coming. Shore up your cybersecurity defenses with a full complement of Responsible IT Infrastructure. Review your employee cybersecurity training programs so your people can navigate the generative AI world safely. Check your cyber risk coverage to make sure your organization is covered, no matter what. 

 

The risks of AI are great, but so are the rewards. There is no time like the present to consider what AI and good cyber risk insurance can do for your organization. We’d love to help take you there. 

Join Us for Integris Inspire 2024

 

Integris InspireThis year, Integris has leaned hard into the AI revolution. So much so that we’ve made an unprecedented investment in Integris Inspire, a nationwide roadshow that’s bringing the latest tech strategy right to our clients’ doors. We’ll discuss many topics I’ve outlined in this article, including the newest compliance and cyber risk insurance hurdles your customers will face due to AI. Microsoft will also be on hand to talk about one of the most buzzworthy AI opportunities yet—Copilot and the AI tools on Microsoft Marketplace. 

 

At each stop, we’re offering a jam-packed half-day program that brings together top client educators from our vendor partners and Integris’s staff of vCISOs. They’ll provide interactive programs designed to get our clients talking about their strategic objectives. When you leave, you’ll go armed with actionable insights that can help your organization ride the wave of change. Best of all you can do it all while networking with other IT leaders in your area who have many of the same questions, concerns, and challenges that you do. It’s a great opportunity for learning together. 

 

Are you interested in attending? There are still some spots left—visit our registration page to check dates in your area and guarantee your seat. I hope to see you there!  

 

 

Rashaad is the Founder & CEO of Integris. In 1997, he founded Domain, an organization that merged with partners to become Integris in 2021. In his role, Rashaad has driven the vision and growth of Integris into the national IT provider it is today.

Keep reading

When Do We Need a vCISO?

When Do We Need a vCISO?

According to recent reports from CIO magazine, cybersecurity is still the number one concern in keeping IT managers up at night. With historically high labor shortages for cybersecurity talent, you may wonder, does it make sense for my company to contract with a...