4-Phase AI Framework for Business Transformation

Feb 16, 2024

Embracing AI within your business strategically can transform your organization, helping you multiply your mission and achieve what was impossible without adding additional human labor.

Yet, in today’s AI-saturated landscape, figuring out what AI projects are strategic and worth investment versus “the buzz” is harder than ever.

Deploying AI solutions at random won’t work – in fact, it’s dilutive. A thoughtful, strategic approach to integrating AI into your organization is essential; otherwise, you’re throwing valuable time and investment away.

That’s why we created an AI framework to guide you through strategically aligning AI to your efforts, considering which AI opportunities are most strategic, and building a plan to make it happen.

This AI framework empowers organizations to navigate their AI adoption process methodically, ensuring every step is aligned with their mission and vision for strategic transformation.

Why do beginners need to use an AI framework?

Adopting an AI framework is a crucial best practice, whether your goal is implementing simple, cost-efficient AI tools for team productivity or creating innovative AI solutions to transform your organization. An AI framework guarantees that you integrate your AI systems seamlessly with your core business objectives.

Two important notes before you get started:

  • This is designed for executive teams: This framework is designed to be used with your executive team. It can be used with individuals as well, but this framework is really designed to be used to align your entire organization from an executive level.
  • Bring an AI expert or developer to the conversation. Additionally, it’s really easy to get lost in the language of AI data science, large language models, frameworks, and development terms can get overwhelming. If you can, having a developer or AI expert with your executive team is helpful as you build your AI framework. It gives your executive team the versatility to talk about strategic transformation without getting lost in technical terms or dreaming up ideas that aren’t yet possible.

Need help using this AI framework and building your AI roadmap? We’re here to help!

AI has changed everything – and there is no strategy without a clear approach for how AI will transform your organization. Not sure where to start? We can build your AI transformation strategy and governance in 30 days.

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AI Framework Phase 1: Align AI with Your Mission, Vision, and Purpose

Before building your AI strategy, it must align with core elements of your strategic plan such as your core purpose, organization-wide mission and your big, bold vision.

Why is this necessary for your AI activities?

Artificial intelligence has the potential to bring a complete transformation to your organization and serve as a mission multiplier when done within a widespread adoption framework.

However, it only benefits you if it works with your organization-wide strategy. You want to ensure this transformation is purposeful and supports achieving your organization’s vision.

Pro Tip: Begin with a clear vision for your AI transformation and its desired outcomes. Ensure your vision and goals are harmonious with your overall strategy and reinforce your future vision. This is a crucial first step in your AI framework.

This phase will be more accessible if you have already established your organization-wide vision and purpose. If you have not established these for your organization, follow our other guides to help your team create your mission statement and core purpose.

Aligning AI to Your Vision & Purpose

We recommend first outlining your core purpose and mission at the beginning of your workshop. Why? We all know that your vision and purpose are the building blocks to any great strategic plan, AI or not! Ensure that your entire team knows your mission. For example, OnStrategy’s mission is: “We create a strategy that matters and drive the culture to execute it.”

From there, consider what ‘multiplying’ your mission means as an organization by asking these questions:

  • What is our mission and value proposition?
  • What are the top needs we meet for our customers? How do we create value?
  • What will multiplying our mission mean for us as an organization?
  • What is the most significant impact we can have as a team?
  • What is our ‘why’ for leveraging AI?
  • If we could free up 5 hours a week/person, what could we do to significantly impact our team, customers, and community?

Answering these questions will help form the foundation of your AI strategy while keeping your organization’s value proposition at the forefront of your workshop.

As we used this AI framework with our team, we identified multiplying OnStrategy’s mission in two key areas:

  • Deliver outcomes to our clients more efficiently.
  • Connect deeper with our clients to help with their most strategic challenges.

 


AI Framework Phase 2: Creating Your AI Governance & Ethics

Creating an AI governance blueprint is the next essential phase for completing an AI framework. The purpose of setting up an AI governance blueprint is to provide guiding principles regarding how your organization will use artificial intelligence in a responsible manner to mitigate risk.

Why does responsible AI usage matter? How do you create a secure AI framework?

It’s too easy to treat this new market as the wild, wild west where anything goes. Using AI responsibly to align your organization’s core values and guiding principles is the difference between total organizational alignment and irresponsible use with unmitigated risk.

While this may not be the most exciting part of the AI framework, having a formal process and documentation where your team outlines principles to help you regulate your behavior regarding artificial intelligence implementation is necessary.

Based on OnStrategy’s approach to AI governance, we recommend a 4-step process for creating an ethics blueprint.

Step 1: Define purpose and scope.

This includes outlining your purpose and objectives for creating an ethics policy. Defining your scope includes:

  • What AI systems are currently in place and the functions they serve?
  • Which regulations do your organization need to comply with and which relevant stakeholders need to be brought into the room so everyone can be involved in the conversation?
  • Finally, conduct a risk assessment (yes, even if you’re using something as seemingly harmless as ChatGPT). Understanding the risks and rewards of each tool you seek to implement is essential.

Step 2: Set AI guiding principles.

Now is the time to consider what guardrails you must use to guide your decision-making. How will your organization approach AI responsibly?

Some considerations you would need for your governance blueprint:

  • What is off-limits for AI usage in your organization?
  • How will you mitigate cybersecurity risks?
  • How will you create an AI risk management framework?
  • How will you train your team to use AI tools responsibly?
  • How will you overcome bias and prejudice within machine learning?
  • How will you ensure you’re protecting your client’s data?

Step 3: Establish AI governance structure to protect cybersecurity.

This could mean creating committees that will specifically oversee the implementation, communication, and ever-evolving regulations. This also means setting up a communication approach and a review process to integrate into your quarterly review cadence. However you choose to establish your structure, just make sure it gets implemented! This is about mitigating security risks and protecting your organization.

Step 4: AI roll out and training.

Now that you’ve set up the how of your governance, you must set up the who. Your strategy is nothing without the people on your team who will have to work with it and be impacted by it. Ensure you are setting them up for success by hosting seminars, workshops, and trainings.

Create a channel for your entire team or organization where they can share learnings and ask questions regarding tools.

Here are some considerations to have in the AI rollout stage:

  • Evaluation of AI Products & Third-Party Tools:Research, learn, and share the tools that comply with your AI principles.
  • Build Tools & Systems:Determine areas of internal tool development and the impact of AI. Then, begin integrating your tools and systems.
  • Employee Training:Train all employees on ethical AI principles and success criteria.
  • Innovation & Collaboration:Create a structured place for learning and sharing.

 


AI Framework Phase 3: Identifying Your AI Opportunities

After you’ve aligned your AI vision to your organization’s direction and created a governance and ethics policy, you can move into the meat of building your organization’s AI transformation strategy – identifying the sea of opportunities to vet, prioritize, and pursue.

This is the framework area where your team can dream big and think about the possibilities AI might unlock for your organization from a day-to-day operational perspective AND how your organization creates value for your customers.

AI Opportunities: Productivity vs. Total Transformation

As your team begins to think about the areas of opportunity for AI to influence your organization, it’s helpful to think about AI in two fundamental buckets – AI for productivity and full transformation.

It’s the wild wild west of AI, and transformation is happening at lightning speed at every level of every organization. So, it’s helpful to think about chasing opportunities in two different ways:

Productivity Transformation

Product/Service Transformation

Focuses on using AI to make your team, operations, and processes more efficient.

Focuses on how AI might change how you create and deliver value, add capability, or reinvent your business model.

It is best examined from individual and team perspectives.

Best examined at a business and executive-team level.

Goal: Identify how AI can complete repetitive tasks, save your team time, or make their work higher quality with less input.

Goal: Consider how AI can reinvent your business and value or open new play fields.

With that overview, we’ll jump into how you might identify opportunities in these two themes.

Pro Tip: We always like to start with Productivity instead of Product/Service transformation because it’s easier to start here AND will help your team begin prompting the thinking for considering how AI could transform your business model. Start with easier thinking and ease into the more strategic work.

Area 1: Productivity Opportunities

Starting with productivity opportunities is often the easiest place because your team can see how it might enhance day-to-day operations and work productivity. So, start here!

These opportunities could have a varied impact, saving your team anywhere from less than an hour per week to several hours a week.

Pro Tip: As you work to identify opportunities in this area of our AI framework, make a note of the estimated time savings, impact on your team, and ideas about what you might do with the time savings you gain.

These initiatives help us ‘improve the current’ and optimize current processes from the bottom up.

Questions to Ask:

  • What low-value, manual processes we complete today have the potential for AI automation?
  • How could AI accelerate our current strategic goals?
  • What “off the shelf” tools are available in our space, and how might they save our team time?
  • What processes or systems are currently in place that could be improved or made more efficient using AI?

Accelerating our current goals.

How might AI accelerate achieving our current strategic goals?

The first place to start is considering how AI might accelerate your strategic goals. Every organizational strategy and goal are different, so this will be very organization-dependent.

However, here are a few criteria we use to help identify which strategic goals have the opportunity for acceleration. These include:

  • Goals or activities that are highly manual, repeatable processes.
  • Repeatable patterns or processes with clear instructions.
  • The high volume of activity – e.g., processing lots of requests, support tickets, chats, etc.
  • You have a full-time position request to hire this role or add additional staff to your team.

If any of your current goals meet the criteria above, it can be vetted as an AI opportunity.

Task and business process automation.

What activities are essential to our organization but are time-consuming and could be automated?

This one is straightforward – work through common activities essential to your organization but manual and labor-intensive. Here are a few examples:

  • Customer Service: AI-powered chatbots can handle routine customer inquiries, such as order status, FAQs, and troubleshooting, freeing human agents to address more complex questions.
  • Data Entry: AI can automate data entry tasks by extracting relevant information from documents, emails, or forms and entering it into databases or other systems.
  • Content Generation: AI can generate content for websites, social media, marketing materials, and other channels based on predefined criteria and templates.
  • HR Processes: AI can automate various HR tasks such as resume screening, scheduling interviews, employee onboarding, and streamlining the hiring process.

Real-World Example: Voice of the Customer at Hyperspeed.

One of our strategic partners, Just Mad, created an AI agent to process their customer feedback from five different sources to create the synthesized voice of the customer insights to be used in marketing, product development, and sales for a B2B SaaS company. It could process 100,000 pieces of customer feedback into usable customer insights in seconds.

Individual and team productivity.

What “off-the-shelf” tools could be used to improve the productivity of your current team?

The goal here is simple – what currently available tools could make your team more productive? How much time would it save each person?

Buying off-the-shelf tools isn’t inherently strategic – but it is a piece of making your team more productive. This activity will be team and individual-specific, but here are a few examples of available tools for standard organizational functions:

  • Marketing: Generative AI tools such as ChatGPT and Jasper are used for content creation, Surfer and Scalenut are used for SEO optimizations, Photoshop AI is used for creatives, and Descript is used for video editing and transcription.
  • Sales: HubSpot AI is for sales follow-up, ChatGPT is for contract creation and synthesis, and Chorus.ai is for transcribing and synthesizing calls.
  • Operations: Clickup AI for project management, Grammarly for grammar and editing, and Co-pilot for creating and managing a database of files.
  • Executives: Superhuman for email follow-up, Beautiful.ai for deck production, Motion for calendar management and scheduling, and OnStrategy for AI transformation strategy.

Real-World Example: OnStrategy’s Marketing Team

OnStrategy’s adoption of tools like Scalenut and SEMRush for SEO optimization and analytics, along with ChatGPT for various tasks, exemplifies how “The Shelf” tools can elevate the quality of work and streamline operations, driving efficiency and innovation.

Area 2: AI Transformation Opportunities

After you’ve worked through the productivity opportunities, your team can focus on the big swings and how AI could transform your organization.

This is about thinking holistically about using artificial intelligence to transform how you create value for customers, deliver your products or services, and even run your entire organization.

Don’t worry! This doesn’t need to be totally overwhelming! Think of it as an opportunity to give your organization AI superpowers to achieve what was previously impossible with your current team or capabilities.

Pro Tip: This framework is designed to be used with executive teams, especially when considering how to transform the fundamentals of an organization.

Questions to Ask:

  • For each customer group, how might AI help us protect, expand, and transform how we create value for our customers?
  • How can artificial intelligence give us new play fields in current or new markets? 
  • How can it transform your business model or delivery?

Protect

For each customer group, how might it help us protect how we create value for our customers?

From an organizational perspective, are there any capabilities artificial intelligence provides to protect your current customers (also known as retaining your existing customers)? Think about how it can help with customer retention and value retention.

Here are two common ideas to consider:

  • Cost Savings: How can it help you deliver value to your customers more efficiently so you can pass on the cost savings?
  • Further Differentiated Offerings: How can it help you further differentiate your offering to help protect your current customer base?

Expand

How might AI help us expand how we create value for our customers?

From an organizational perspective, are there any capabilities AI provides to expand how you create value for your customers?

AI’s capabilities vary widely, but here are two common scenarios to prompt your thinking:

  • Product Enhancements/Services for Current Customers: How can AI enhance your current products or services to provide additional value?
  • New Offerings for Current Customers: With AI, how can you provide new services to current customers? What is possible now that wasn’t before?

Transform

How can AI transform your business model or delivery?

This is where you can let your biggest thinking run wild. It has opened a world of possibilities. If you could dream big, how could it completely transform your business? Your model? How could you create a new field of play in a new customer group?

It’s big thinking, but here are two helpful prompts:

  • New Services for New Customers: How can you provide new services to current customers? What is possible now that wasn’t before?
  • Reinventing Your Entire Business Model or Delivery: How could you reinvent your business model to a totally new world enabled by artificial intelligence? What would that future look like?

You have a sea of opportunities so what’s next?

As you work through the two sections in step 3 of this framework, you’ve probably identified various opportunities to consider. Some are winners, and you can probably save some of them for later.

But how do you know which ones to chase?

There are many activities to help you rank priorities [like this one] but here are quick criteria tests you should use to help you choose which opportunities to pursue as strategic opportunities.

4 Criteria for true AI strategic opportunities.

  1. It can actually be solved with AI. This means [generally] it can automate a highly manual task, patterns or instructions are clear, and you could build it or buy it.
  2. Strategically, hugely important. This means that it’s essential for your organization to solve or create more time for your teams.
  3. A totally different way to achieve something. It completely reinvents a solution or problem you couldn’t previously solve.
  4. Has a high impact on your team’s time or capability.

Pro Tip: It’s best to have an AI expert in the room as you identify and prioritize these opportunities. An expert can tell you what is possible with today’s technology, size the projects or opportunities you identify, and help guide your strategic conversations.

Need to facilitate this with an AI expert? Contact us.

 


AI Framework Phase 4: Creating Your AI Roadmap

Now that you’ve determined what you want to accomplish and identified what areas of opportunity your initiatives fall into through phase 3, it’s time to determine how you’ll accomplish them, which is creating your AI roadmap.

Why is it necessary to create a roadmap?

A roadmap for your AI transformation gives you a prioritized list of opportunities to pursue and a means to make each opportunity a reality. It’s where you take your opportunities and give them a plan to become reality. Before you start developing ANY AI software development projects, prioritize your opportunities into this roadmap.

So, here’s how you can take your identified opportunities and turn them into a roadmap:

Step 1: Lay out your roadmap and organize your opportunities.

Begin by laying out a table with four rows and three columns labeled like the following:

The three columns are labeled “Now,” “Next,” and “Later.” The rows will be labeled “Everyday AI,” “Custom AI,” “Process/Policy Change (No AI),” and “Totally New Process or Transformation.”

Step 2: Move your opportunities into the correct row label.

(Don’t worry about doing “Now”, “Next”, or “Later” in this step.)

Organize your opportunities by one of these four categories of AI: everyday AI, custom AI, process/policy change, or a completely new process. Here’s how the label categorization works:

  • Everyday AI:These are tools you use in your day-to-day activities, such as ChatGPT, OtterAI, or Microsoft Copilot, that are “off-the-shelf” products you can buy today and require minimal setup.
  • Custom AI:‘Custom AI’ are the tools your team builds for a specific purpose or tools requiring data links and compatibility between your different systems – i.e., a custom developed solution that uses data from your systems like Salesforce, Workday, or your ERP.
  • Process or Policy Change:You’ll likely surface time-savers or policy changes that don’t use AI at all! Put them here!
  • Total Transformation:Opportunities that fall under the ‘completely new process’ or outline a totally new way to do something go here.

Step 3: Answer these questions to prioritize your opportunities.

Then ask your team these five questions to guide yourselves and select the opportunities to work on first:

  • What is the low-hanging fruit or opportunity we can begin working on now?
  • What specific needs must we meet to accomplish this?
  • Who is going to be the champion for this opportunity? What is the AI skill level needed for this role?
  • Why is it imperative to chase this opportunity now?
  • What is the return on investment?

Once you’ve answered these questions, organize each opportunity into the correct columns (“Now”, “Next”, “Later”).

Step 4: Summarize, add a champion, and add tracking or analytics.

Summarize each of your ‘now’ opportunities and add up the investment needed for each opportunity. Your summaries should include the top 2-3 opportunities to work on now, who will be the champion/owner of the initiative, and what the rough investment required to accomplish this initiative will be.

Step 5: Communicate

This final step is the communication process. When presenting your opportunities to your team and board members, organize your initiatives by strategic goals (i.e., customer growth, operational excellence, people expertise, and financial results) and then map them using the prioritization process. Now, your AI strategy is ready for deployment.

 


Wrapping Up Your AI Framework

You CAN adopt AI even though you’re not Google or Microsoft!

In the world of AI chaos – everything from large language models, neural networks, deep learning, and AI risk management – you can tackle this to help your organization see the benefits of AI without getting totally overwhelmed with the semantics and pressure behind it.

This framework is not just about adopting AI; it’s about embedding it into the very fabric of your strategy with the reinforcement that every initiative is purposeful, impactful, and aligned with your broader vision of success. Embrace this framework as your roadmap to navigate the complexities of AI integration, unlocking new opportunities for efficiency, innovation, and growth and to leverage the full potential of AI.

PS – if you need a community of support with AI experts, strategists, and frameworks, get in touch with us.

We can help build your AI strategy with experts, or you can build your AI roadmap with the StrategyHub here.

AI Framework FAQ

What is the purpose of the AI Framework?

OnStrategy’s AI Framework is designed to guide organizations through the strategic integration of AI into their operations, ensuring that AI initiatives align with business goals and drive significant efficiency, innovation, and growth.

How does AI contribute to productivity in organizations?

AI enhances productivity by automating tasks, optimizing processes, and utilizing “The Shelf” tools like Scalenut and SEMRush for SEO and ChatGPT for various tasks, saving time and reducing errors.

What role does AI play in driving organizational growth?

AI drives growth by unlocking new avenues for value creation and delivery, such as by developing AI tools that provide instant customer insights or by enhancing customer engagement with AI-powered chatbots, ultimately leading to innovative business models and value propositions.

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