Brainstorm AI provides lessons in the successful adoption of artificial intelligence

November 9, 2021, 11:37 AM UTC

Good morning.

Brainstorm AI got underway in Boston yesterday, in partnership with Accenture and attended by a diverse group of executives from a cross section of companies, including Intel, Gap, Levi’s, FedEx, Dell, Google, PepsiCo, Sony, MasterCard, DoorDash, Zipcar and more. Much of the conversation focused on how to incubate and then accelerate A.I. projects at legacy companies. The conversation was wide-ranging, but my takeaways for how to succeed in adopting A.I. were:

  • It’s best to smart small, but with a big goal in mind. And focus on the business need, not on the technology.  
  • The two pain points are data and talent. The first is dirty, the second is scarce.
  • At the end of the day, conquering A.I. is not about technology. It’s about people and culture.  

Some selected excerpts:

“It feels like we’re in an exponential period, which means that a year ago we couldn’t imagine what we’re doing today, and two years from now we’ll laugh at what we’re doing today.”
—Noubar Afeyan, CEO, Flagship Pioneering

“A.I. is not primarily about the technology, it is about change, and how you are going to change the world.  The people who can do that change are not necessarily the ones who spent seven years at MIT getting a PhD.”
—Andrew Moore, vice president cloud and industry solutions, Google Cloud AI

“This whole thing is about change.”
—Sheila Jordan, chief digital technology officer, Honeywell

This wonderful technology is actually a means to an end, and the end is: What is this company’s strategy?”
—Katia Walsh, global chief strategy and A.I. officer, Levi Strauss

Think big; start small.”
—Seemantini Godbole, CIO, Lowe’s

Everyone launches proof of concept initiatives, and either they don’t kill those, or you end up with way too many people working on these problems…If they don’t make their KPIs, we kill them.”
—Athina Kanioura, chief strategy and transformation officer, PepsiCo

Attackers are using automation on a much greater scale than most companies.”
—Corey Thomas, CEO, Rapid7 

It’s a mismatch. The bad guys have all the time in the world, and they just need to just find one gap. You have to respond to every attack.”
—John Roese, global chief technology officer, Dell

The reality is we have more jobs than we can ever fill in the foreseeable future.”
—Jim Loree, CEO, Stanley, Black & Decker 

A few data points from our new poll of employees, conducted in partnership with (a.k.a. SurveyMonkey):

  • 47% of workers say they use A.I. supported programs at work
  • 72% of workers say A.I. will destroy more jobs than it creates
  • Asked which poses the bigger threat to mankind, 35% said A.I., and 63% said humans.

More news below.

Alan Murray


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Tesla shares

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Ethical leadership

Mark Zuckerberg lacks two of the six qualities that are needed for ethical leadership, according to Jeffrey Younger, associate professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business. Click through to see which two, but here's a clue: neither is the other four, namely agility, an innovative mindset, continuous learning or action-orientation. Fortune

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

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