Carly Hodges is one of the senior leaders at Fourth. She spent the last 13 years at Fourth rising through the ranks to her current role as Vice President, Business Operations (Technology). Since 2015 she has been responsible for establishing and delivering Fourth’s global Lean-Agile strategy, driving Fourth on the journey of Agile Transformation whilst also overseeing General Operations and Change Management in Technology. Today, Carly’s focus is on driving Fourth’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) Enablement Program and she’s going to shed some light on this initiative and how “AI Fridays” are set to excite the organization about how we can harness the power of AI.
The monthly “AI Fridays” at Fourth started in September 2023 and encourage Fourth’s employees to come together to explore, demonstrate, and learn about the cutting-edge AI tools and technologies that we’re experimenting with. “AI Fridays” are driven by Fourth employees across the company who showcase AI tools and projects they’ve been working on. Recent demos included ChatGPT, Bing AI, GitHub Copilot with much more on the horizon.
The concept of AI has been around since the 1950s, but it is now really beginning to impact our daily lives with new capabilities becoming available to anyone by the hour. We are a software company at the forefront of our industry, tech is what we do! So, it’s natural that we would be early adopters looking at ways to innovatively apply AI in our organization.
It will eliminate a huge chunk of our manual tasks, no matter what our job is, and we’re committed to investing in our employees, providing an environment for them to grow and develop in their fields, so enabling every employee with AI is a no brainer. In the fast-paced world of a SAAS business, staying competitive requires continuous innovation. Many companies are embracing AI to gain an edge in their industries and at Fourth we’ve certainly led the way in offering our customers AI Capabilities in our solutions. We now need to look at how AI can transform our business from an operational standpoint, so we gain advantages such as increased efficiencies and cost savings to enhance customer satisfaction and competitive positioning.
We thought deeply about how it would be best to approach such a big task that involves lots of unknowns and a steep learning curve for the organization. We formed an AI Program team with functional leads representing every business area. We knew that education had to play a big part, we needed to inform our team members and the wider business about the possibilities AI will bring them and how it can positively impact their jobs. We also knew we had to allow for experimentation where we could fail fast, learn and pivot as we uncovered where AI can add value.
The program has been sectioned into four stages: Educate > Experiment > Strategize > Actualize.
Currently we’re in the early Experiment Stage. Each function has formed up Hypotheses using the ‘Answers First*’ approach, we had around 60 use cases to review with our executive team. We have selected the top priorities; some are game changing and have been expedited through the experiment and strategize phases and for the others we are looking closely at ROI as we approach the experimentation cycle. We hope to have fully embedded AI in our business functions by 2024 and for it to have become our ‘new normal’ way of operating by 2025. I’m proud of how engaged and enthusiastic our team members have been in driving AI Enablement in their functions.
We want to help every employee to activate their potential by providing a work environment that enables them to work smarter not harder. I think that every one of us wishes to escape boring or repetitive tasks and focus on the creative, intellectually challenging or strategic side of our jobs.
Moreover, adapting to new AI tools and learning new things could breathe life into a job which is becoming routine. AI is here and it’s going to change the working landscape significantly, those quick to adapt might see new doors open for them, opportunities which were non-existent just weeks or months ago.
One of the biggest challenges with AI is that you have to have your data pipelines efficient and operational. You need good data hygiene to really capitalize. Then you need to select the right technologies and tools. It’s a bit of a gamble. You can’t put all your eggs in one basket, at the same time you need to choose wisely among a huge number of possibilities. Early adoption could also be a risk. Not to mention the resistance to change which is expected when we are met with something new. But we like doing hard things so we’re not fazed by these challenges, we’ll figure them out as we go.
I think if we deploy it correctly it will result in a happier, more fulfilled workforce. Our operations will be streamlined and lots of waste eliminated, our customers will be more delighted as we use AI to improve the end-to-end customer experience and our business will be overall healthier as we can innovate and focus our time on the important things.
Like everyone, I’ve become very dependent on ChatGPT 4.0. It is probably the most widely known AI tool, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Recently I’ve been super excited to get my hands on Microsoft’s 365 Copilot. It will revolutionize the way we work and free up my time to spend on strategy and innovation. My experience with it has been truly mind-blowing. Using it will mean less time following up on meetings, communicating at a higher standard and quicker data analysis.
It is truly impressive what is achieved with AI in other industries. There are many amazing ways that AI can be harnessed to make the world a better place so picking a favorite is tough, but I think how it can advance healthcare, potentially making it more affordable and accessible to everyone. It will literally help save lives. Early studies show that AI programs are better at detecting early-stage cancer in scans than consultants and radiographers. But I do also think the way it will transform the workforce and general work experience for millions of people across the world will be significant over the coming decade, I’m personally incredibly excited to embark on this journey.
* “Answers First” is a communication approach that is characterized by forming the main thesis at the very beginning, then stating several main arguments that support it, each of them giving specific details.
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