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Embracing AI: A Beginners Guide to Transforming Your Business

John Price

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At 7Rivers, a leading data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) consulting firm and Snowflake Partner, we often help businesses through their initial forays into AI.

A common scenario unfolds like this: the CEO calls up the CIO and asks if their company should be using AI, and the answer is usually an emphatic “yes.” 

But what follows is often a maze of questions and uncertainties. This article is designed to help navigate that maze, combining insights and practical strategies to enable you to harness the power of AI in your business.

Identify Your Business Drivers

The initial step in your AI journey isn’t just a technical one, but also a strategic alignment. Before delving into the data infrastructure, it’s crucial to identify your business drivers behind adopting an AI strategy. Ask yourself the following questions: 

Is it to enhance your customer experience?
Do you want to streamline operations? 
Is it about driving product innovation?
Are you trying to optimize your partner network? 
Are you trying to make your employee experience more efficient?

Whatever your motivations behind adopting AI may be, establishing a clear understanding and vision behind why you want to do this is critical. This clear understanding will set the stage for an AI strategy that is not just technologically sound but also aligned with your business goals. The 7Rivers “Strategic Framework for Business Modernization​” helps assess your company’s key business objectives, and provides the foundation to ensure your investment in AI supports your most critical business outcomes. 

Figure 1: Building a Foundation for AI with Business Goals in Mind

Adopting AI is not solely a technological upgrade but a strategic business decision. The 7Rivers approach involves assisting businesses in developing a data and AI strategy that not only focuses on harmonizing disparate data sources and ensuring data quality but also aligns with the identified business drivers. This alignment ensures that every step in the AI journey contributes towards achieving specific business objectives.

Understand the Current Landscape and Starting Point

Once you have a clear understanding of the business drivers behind your AI strategy, the biggest hurdle can be just knowing where to start. You will need to assess your company’s data landscape, and understand that data in the context of key business drivers. In many cases, companies have already created hypotheses of the potential value of this data, but lack the tools or know-how to demonstrate the potential value. 

A simple Exploratory Data Analysis (EDA) engagement is a great way to get things moving. Leveraging the 7Rivers EDA has the benefit of minimal upfront investment, can enable quick win, and provide a line of sight of the potential gold mine that lies beneath your mountain of data. 

In other scenarios, organizations may already have bought into the idea of an AI strategy, and don’t need any further convincing of the business value. In that case, the journey can begin with an assessment of your existing data infrastructure. You will need to delve into your company’s data landscape, which often includes a wealth of transactional and operational data trapped in silos. Understanding the type, quality, and accessibility of this data is crucial. This phase is about laying the groundwork for AI integration by identifying challenges due to data siloing and uncovering potential opportunities.

Build a Sound Foundation for your AI Strategy

AI integration is more than just adopting new technology; it’s about fostering a data-centric culture within your organization. 7Rivers can assist in developing a robust data strategy that focuses on consolidating disparate data sources, ensuring data quality, and establishing strong governance. This foundation is vital for any successful AI outcome.

Our Data Vault 2.0 practice can help you design and implement a modern data architecture that is dynamic and resilient, capable of handling the most demanding data environments, yet provides the flexibility required for any modern day enterprise. A sound and resilient data foundation is critical to ensuring you can maintain existing infrastructure, yet also future-proof your organization as data and sources grow, which is inevitable in today’s growth-by-acquisition mind-set. Data Vault’s incremental and Agile nature also allows companies to realize the value of these acquisitions faster.

However, this doesn’t mean you need to boil the ocean. Our approach emphasizes identifying areas where AI can quickly demonstrate value. We analyze your business processes to pinpoint where AI can bring immediate improvements and significant long-term transformations. These quick wins not only provide immediate ROI but also help build confidence and momentum for broader AI initiatives.

Develop an AI Implementation Plan and a Scalable AI Roadmap

With some initial wins under your belt, you will need to focus on crafting a comprehensive, scalable AI strategy. This involves setting realistic goals, timelines, and assembling a specialized team to manage AI projects. Selecting the right AI models and algorithms that align with your specific needs is a critical aspect of this stage.

Integrating AI also comes with its set of challenges, including data privacy, security concerns, and ethical AI practices. 7Rivers can devise comprehensive strategies for your business to effectively address these issues, ensuring a smooth transition.Our methodology involves focusing on measurable outcomes and demonstrating tangible benefits, with a clear ROI.

The Final Step

The final step in your AI journey is responding “Yes” to AI – and that is just the beginning of a transformative data-centric journey. If you’re ready to explore the potential of AI in your business, 7Rivers is here to guide and support you every step of the way. Let’s embark on this path together; starting small, gaining quick wins, and scaling with confidence. Together, we can unlock the full potential of AI for your business.  

Contact us today and let’s discuss how you can leverage AI in your business.

John Price is a Managing Partner at 7Rivers. Connect with John on LinkedIn.  

Partnering with 7Rivers for Real World Industry Experience

7Rivers has experience from the field, with a deep consulting heritage drawn from many verticals, including financial services, insurance, manufacturing, and healthcare. This enables us to draw from a rich pool of case studies highlighting success stories of businesses that have successfully integrated AI. These examples provide practical insights and highlight the transformative power of AI across various industry sectors.  What’s more, they show that working with 7Rivers can make AI real for your business, and not just a lofty ideal.

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