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'60 Leaders' is an initiative that brings together diverse views from global thought leaders on a series of topics – from innovation and artificial intelligence to social media and democracy. It is created and distributed on principles of open collaboration and knowledge sharing. Created by many, offered to all.


'60 Leaders on Artificial Intelligence' brings together unique insights on the topic of Artificial Intelligence - from the latest technical advances to ethical concerns and risks for humanity. The book is organized into 17 chapters - each addressing one question through multiple answers reflecting a variety of backgrounds and standpoints. Learn how AI is changing how businesses operate, how products are built, and how companies should adapt to the new reality. Understand the risks of AI and what should be done to protect individuals and humanity. View the leaders. 

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'60 Leaders on Innovation' is the book that brings together unique insights and ‘practical wisdom’ on innovation. The book is organized into 22 chapters, each presenting one question and multiple answers from 60 global leaders. Learn how innovative companies operate and how to adopt effective innovation strategies. Understand how innovation and experimentation methods blend with agile product development. Get insights from the experts on the role of the C-Suite for innovation. Discover ways that Innovation can help humanity solve big problems like climate change.

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How could a ‘conventional’ company transform itself into an AI-powered organization?

Richard Benjamins


If you are a conventional company that wants to become a data-driven and AI-powered organization, you will need to embark on a journey: the data & AI journey that forms part of your Digital Transformation. Conventional companies may generate much data as an exhaust of their operation, but are - by design - not ready to collect, store and exploit this data for better decision-making and value creation.

The data & AI journey typically consists of different phases including:

- Exploration. In this phase, you will explore a few quick & dirty (business) opportunities to assess whether you want to embark on the journey. This phase usually takes from several months up to a year and requires little investment. Once you are convinced that there is value, you will move to the next phase.

- Transformation. In this phase, you start to organize yourself to become more data-driven. You will perform an analysis to find the most interesting use cases (applications) to start with, considering value as well as feasibility. You need to break silos (technological, departmental, vendors) and collect data across the enterprise into a coordinated platform. You will need to hire a CDO and set up a data team, closely collaborating with IT and HR. You will need to work on a ‘single version of the truth’ so that the whole enterprise understands data in the same way without ambiguity. This phase will require significant investment and may take between three and five years. Be prepared to have some patience as an organization.

- Data-driven. In this phase, you will start to enjoy the results of your endurance in the first years. You will be able to use data in a consistent way to inform the big decisions you have to make related to your core business. Moreover, new data-driven products and services will see the light. Depending on your sector, you might be able to externally monetize your data and insights to other sectors in a B2B business model.

- AI-empowered. In this phase, you will use Machine Learning and other AI technologies to scale the value of data throughout your organization. Given the massive scale of use, mastering data privacy and AI ethics become essential to create and maintain trust with your stakeholders.

In each of those phases, you will have to make many decisions that will determine how fast or slow you will progress on your journey. Those decisions are different in nature and relate to various aspects of the organization such as business & finance, technology, people, and responsibility.

- On the organisational side, you have to think about where to place the Chief Data Officer, how to measure data maturity and what will the relation be between the data and the IT department.

- On the business and finance side, you need to make decisions about how to select the best use cases, how to measure economic impact, and how to finance the whole data journey, which can take years. There is no single right answer for the question of what business function to start with. In the beginning, it is important to choose a business function that matters for core business but that is also feasible from a practical perspective. Otherwise, it will take too long to provide the first results. Having said this, many organisations start with marketing.

- On the technology side, important decisions include whether you want to work in the cloud or on-premise, whether you need a unified data model, and you need to define a data collection strategy including planning and budgeting.

- On the people side, it is important to create a team with the right skills and expertise. Many organisations choose a mix between hiring expert personnel and training existing personnel. Sometimes they outsource the first initiatives to a third party to kickstart the activity with the objective to later internalise the knowledge. Other decisions related to people include how to democratise all the data initiatives, how to win over skeptics, and how to make people enthusiastic about data through appropriate communication.

- Finally, on the responsibility side, you need to understand the social and ethical challenges of AI and Big Data; to define AI principles and implement them in your organisation; and work out how you can use data as a force for good, to improve society and fight its challenges.

"Mastering data privacy and AI ethics become essential to create and maintain trust with your stakeholders."

Dr. Richard Benjamins is among the 100 most influential people in data-driven business (DataIQ 100, 2018). He advises the European Commission and Parliament as well as companies and start-ups. He has a passion for AI for Good and authored three books on AI.


Richard Benjamins

"Hire a CDO and set up a data team, closely collaborating with IT and HR."

Chief AI & Data Strategist, Telefónica • Co-founder and VP of OdiseIA • Board Member of CDP Europe




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