Every once in a while, throughout history, something happens that will completely disrupt our way of living. I am talking about things such as the gunpowder that transformed warfare, or the compass that transformed navigation, printing technology for documentation and spreading the word, the radio for mass communication, antibiotics, the Industrial Revolution, the internet, mobile phones... you get my meaning. The arrival of new technologies have shown to be major disruptive forces that completely change our way of doing things. During those disruptive periods, one would have to adapt, or simply be left behind.
Imagine if you were the head of state of a European country in the 13th /14th century. Everyone would be talking about the “black powder” that was making its way along the Silk Road through the Middle East. You would be faced with two scenarios: 1) Get that gunpowder and update your armed forces immediately, or 2) focus on the day to day running of your state and completely dismissing this new force. Obviously, being among the first to adopt gunpowder could give you a major advantage in your constant clashes with your aggressive neighbours, but, at the same time, being the last to get gunpowder would leave you vulnerable and could have disastrous consequences for your state and your people.
Likewise, you’re a factory owner in the late 18th century, manufacturing consumer goods for selling in the UK and other European countries. You’ve got tons of competitors, but your workers are skilled and fast which makes your products both superior in quality and price. Suddenly, all your competitors are adopting machinery that will replace their manual labour and allow them to produce much faster than before. Their products will retain the quality, but the cost per item will drop dramatically. What would you have done? If you refused to adopt machines, you’d quickly be out of business as your competitors would have been able to manufacture faster and cheaper than you. If you’d have been one of the early adopters, you could have outpaced your competitors with a head start and leaving them bankrupt, and further grow your business beyond what you previously thought possible.
In the 1970s the CEOs of the largest and most profitable companies were not using computers, internet or smartphones as part of their daily business. But they were successful at the time. You can imagine what would have happened if they would have continued to run their businesses without adopting the new technology. If the 90s wouldn’t have crushed them, then surely the 2000s would have brought the final nail in their coffin. Obviously, they had to adapt. And those who didn’t are long gone.
You see where the conversation is going. Right now we are living the AI revolution which will disrupt everything you know and will change our personal and professional lives forever. The disruptive force of artificial intelligence will have far bigger implications than the Industrial Revolution itself. Whatever your organization is about, and whatever you and your colleagues do everyday, is bound to change. In some cases our jobs will not exist anymore, just like the manual labour in the late 18th early 19th century had to face.
As with all disruptive technologies of the past, you now have a choice to make: 1) You can adopt artificial intelligence into your business and immediately start the process of change, or 2) you can completely dismiss AI and ignore the change it’s bringing. Here’s what’s going to happen:
If you take the step and gradually start adopting AI into various aspects of your business, you will start outmaneuvering your competitors in ways you never thought possible. AI is constantly evolving and you’ll never really finish it. You have to approach it as a gradual but constant change. Let me take a small example of how any business can start. You could start by adopting Predictive Analytics with the aim of very accurately forecasting your future demand, i.e. demand forecasting. Algorithms will analyze all historical data in your business, detect patterns and forecast your future sales. This is a revolutionary way of preparing your business for the future; a week from now, 2 months, 1 year. No human is capable of forecasting as accurately as artificial intelligence can. This is literally the closest you can ever get to seeing into the future, and will allow you better plan your business in terms of procurement, production, inventory, sales, budgeting, financing etc. Research shows that those who have adopted this type of analytics are significantly lowering their cost and, consequently, increasing profit. A quick article on this subject specifically can be found here: 8 Reasons Why Advanced Demand Forecasting Is Critical To Your Company’s Success. This is just a small example, but you’ll have to start somewhere. Small but gradual changes to your business arsenal will better prepare your organization for the battles of tomorrow. Your current competitors are aggressive and new competitors are entering the arena all the time, but you’re prepared.
You completely dismiss AI as a disruptive force and refuse to adapt to the change it’s bringing. You’re busy with putting out fires every day in your business and you don’t hear how everyone else is passing you. One day, all your competitors will have adopted AI in one way or another. You’ll be like the state in 13th /14th century Europe that was last to get their hands on gunpowder. Your business will simply be outflanked and have no chance of competing against your AI-driven competitors. You won't last.
This is the cold reality of the AI revolution. You either adapt or you accept the fact that you’re not going to survive it. It’s not too late yet, but one day it’s going to be. Start small and embrace constant change as a way of running a successful business.