By Inge Magne Bruvik, Microsoft MVP and Solution Architect at Cepheo

 

As I am writing this article, I have just returned home from the largest Microsoft Dynamics partner event in Europe, where Artificial Intelligence (AI) was a hot topic in a lot of sessions. We are just hours away from the public launch of Microsoft Copilot, and I am sure that people all over the world are excited to experience what this new productivity tool can do for them. I am also sure that some people are also afraid of missing out, because they do not quite understand the benefits and opportunities the new generative AI technology can offer them, their business or their workplace. Nor do they understand the challenges that AI may also bring with it.

 

AI is definitely a megatrend that will shape the future of many businesses, areas of expertise and even our daily lives.

 

Some AI services have seen user growth that far exceeds any other new technology trends that we have seen over the last 50 years. The adoption of personal computers, cellular phones and even the adoption of the Internet cannot compare to the user growth we are now seeing for AI services.

 

Does this mean that you should be afraid that the train is leaving the station without you being aboard? I think that we can answer both yes and no to that question.

 

Build understanding and an AI-ready foundation

 

As users, we need to understand what AI is good at, what AI is not so good at, and how we should interpret the result we get from different AI services. Here, it is important to understand that the AI technology that is available today responds to patterns and correlations, not to causation and meaning.

 

We also need to understand and keep in mind that for many AI services, we do not know who trained the model and which data they used to train it on.

 

There are also a lot of data that are fed into some of the models that there is not a global consensus around.  If the data that is used to train an AI engine is incorrect then some of the responses we get from the AI engine will also be incorrect.

 

So users who understand how to correctly interpret and evaluate the AI results they get might get an advantage compared to those who don’t.

 

As businesses, we need to choose platforms that we know will be able to handle the wave of AI innovation that lies ahead of us.There will, most likely, be system vendors that do not have the financial muscle or the innovative power to upgrade their systems fast enough to meet the future demand for generative AI services.

 

If you are in the process of choosing a business platform today, these are elements you need to take into consideration.

 

What about the risk of implementing and using AI?

 

As we see with many new technologies, some of the early adopters tend to start using solutions without making a proper risk assessment.

 

If your employees feed an AI service with sensitive business data, there is a risk that the business data will be used to train the model and you could see your data being distributed in a way that you do not want. We already see examples of software companies where employes have fed source code into AI services to improve the code and the source code that was supposed to be a business secret is now being used as template code for solving issues that should have been kept a company secret.

 

Even if you are using AI services that search within your company’s own data, there is a risk that personal data about your employees, strategic documents and other business secrets can end up among the data that the AI engine builds its responses on.

 

But at the same time, it is important that data that could be valuable to the AI engine you are using are actually made available to the engine. So if you, for example, plan to use Microsoft Copilot in your organization, you should make sure that you store your data on SharePoint, in Teams and on OneDrive. Files stored locally on file servers or on user’s computer drives might contain valuable information for Copilot and should be accessible.

 

AI will help us automate a lot of tasks and give us more time for more valuable and creative work, but as long as you have chosen a platform that you know will evolve over time and that is built by vendors with the power to innovate, you should not fear missing out at this point in time.

 

I think that the most important thing you can do in your business is to think about what you can automate and how you can empower individuals within your organizations to automate. And those who master the automation tools need to focus on sharing their knowledge and helping those colleagues that have not yet come so far.

 

Working better and smarter

 

At the end of the day, it is all about working smarter and using the tools we have at our disposal in the best possible way. You will still have your hands on the steering wheel, but you will get to your destination faster and more effectively.

 

Personally, I am looking forward to the day that I can chat with our business solutions – regardless of if it is an ERP system, CRM system or reporting solution. I feel confident that day is not too far ahead.

 

New employees will be able to ask for assistance on how to perform tasks in the system. This will dramatically reduce the time it takes to get new employees up to speed.

AI will be able to present and analyze data for us based on natural language questions. This will be a time-saver for all levels in the organization.

 

AI and automation are definitely tools that can help members of your organization shine. Make sure that both your systems and employees are empowered to use these tools to work smarter.

 

Microsoft has already launched CoPilot in more than 150 technological areas, and in the coming months, I am confident we will see new launch waves coming at a pace that will be hard to keep up with.

 

As the AI evolution happens at such a high pace, your ability to navigate the opportunities and possibilities that AI offers will define whether your investment in AI will pay off or fail.

Making the most of AI technology and new tools will require AI literacy and AI readiness in your organization. And as important as it is to know how to handle AI results, it might be even more important to find partners that can help your organization become AI-ready.

 

In summary, these are my 3 key takeaways:

 

  1. AI is a megatrend that will shape the future of many businesses and areas of expertise

  2. Users and businesses need to learn to understand the benefits, opportunities and challenges of AI, and how to interpret and use the results

  3. AI and automation can help empower individuals and organizations to work smarter and more creatively.

 

About the author:

 

Inge Magne Bruvik is a Norwegian Solution Architect with close to 30 years of experience in the Microsoft space. He is an MVP in Microsoft’s Most Valuable Professionals (MVP) program, which recognizes exceptional community leaders for their technical expertise, leadership, speaking experience, online influence and commitment to solving real-world problems. At Cepheo, Inge Magne specializes in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central.

 

Originally published as a LinkedIn-article in the fall of 2023.

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