Here we will dissect the importance and composition of a Generative AI Pilot Team. An AI Pilot Team is essentially a dedicated group of individuals tasked with exploring the multi-faceted applications of generative AI, ranging from the drafting of emails, to content creation, to coding and beyond. However, it’s worth noting that many of these initiatives today are carried out without official approval, oversight, or auditing measures in place. This lack of regulation can lead to significant issues, including the leakage of vital data.
At its core, generative AI is a revolutionary technology with the potential to reshape the world as we know it. It’s impact on par with that of electricity or the Internet. Like these earlier technologies this transformative power can be harnessed for immense benefit, or, conversely, result in considerable harm if not properly managed. A strict, prohibitive stance towards the adoption of generative AI will only serve to stifle your organization’s growth and progress. Meanwhile, competitors who embrace the risks and rewards of generative AI will forge ahead, leveraging its capabilities to be more efficient, cost-effective, and superior in their offerings. That’s a competitive edge you don’t want to miss out on.
That said, an indiscriminate, laissez-faire approach to generative AI is not the solution either. Such a strategy can lead to the misuse of the technology, particularly for tasks that are either unsuitable for AI or that entail substantial risks, such as processing protected data within non-secure environments. To illustrate, uploading personal information into a system like ChatGPT is tantamount to sharing confidential data with an unauthorized external entity, which is certainly not advisable.
The middle ground, therefore, is the most prudent course of action. But how does one achieve this balanced approach? This is where the AI Pilot Team comes into play. An AI Pilot Team is a carefully selected group of individuals tasked with the responsibility of identifying potential use cases for generative AI, conducting small-scale pilot projects to validate those cases, and ultimately establishing standardized operating procedures that safeguard both innovation and security.
In order to succeed in this endeavor, an AI Pilot Team must possess a unique combination of skills and roles that are crucial for facilitating the seamless integration of AI into your organization. The right mix of individuals, each with their specific expertise, will not only help to debunk myths and misconceptions, but also pave the way for the practical implementation of generative AI across the various facets of your organization.
So let’s take a closer look at the five essential roles that should be represented within your AI Pilot Team:
- Data Expert
- Business Expert
- Subject Matter Expert
- Technical Expert
- Supervisory (Scientific) Expert
With these 5 key roles now identified, let’s delve into the specific responsibilities and contributions of each member within an AI Pilot Team.
The pivotal role of the data expert lies in their adept knowledge and thorough understanding of the organization’s data landscape. They are tasked with pinpointing the location of data, identifying individuals with access to it, ensuring its security, and determining the feasibility of leveraging it in conjunction with generative AI.
Within the AI Pilot Team, the data expert stands as a cornerstone figure, meticulously identifying the permissible data to be used in developing use cases for generative AI. Importantly, this individual need not necessarily possess a formal qualification in database management or data engineering. Rather, their value is derived from their intimate knowledge of the data’s whereabouts and the legal boundaries that dictate its use.
The onus lies on the business expert to consistently question the intrinsic value of each use case. In essence, the business expert evaluates the practical implications of a use case, determining its alignment with overarching business objectives, departmental goals, and organizational milestones.
In today’s fast-paced environment, where generative AI represents the cutting-edge, it is imperative to discern its optimal applications from its limitations. The business expert plays an instrumental role in this discernment, ensuring that the pilot projects are not only innovative but also strategically aligned with the organization’s mission.
Subject Matter Expert
The distinction between the subject matter expert and the business expert is an important one, given that the pathways to revenue generation differ from the actual operational processes that define the organization. For instance, the CFO or COO’s expertise lies in financial management and operations, respectively, which are distinct from the specific know-how of a lead food scientist. The subject matter expert, then, serves as the custodian of the organization’s core competencies and operational methodologies, effectively bridging the gap between existing processes and the capabilities afforded by generative AI.
Consider, for example, a restaurant. In this scenario, the subject matter expert would be the head chef, whose insights into the restaurant’s recipe development process are invaluable. This knowledge forms the bedrock upon which generative AI can be employed to potentially devise new recipes. Subsequently, the subject matter expert evaluates the AI-generated outputs, and discerns the viability of each recipe by providing feedback.
The role of the technical expert within an AI Pilot Team is of paramount importance. They serve as the guiding force in managing the intricacies of generative AI’s implementation and utilization. Their responsibility encompasses elucidating the capabilities and limitations of AI, meticulously aligning AI functionalities with existing organizational processes, and overseeing the deployment of generative AI within each pilot project.
Ideally, the technical expert should be the individual with the most comprehensive and practical experience in the realm of generative AI, as opposed to a general technical specialist or IT professional. This person may surprisingly be the most junior member of your team, or even someone entirely unexpected. Regardless of their official title or position, their invaluable experience with generative AI qualifies them as an integral part of the pilot team, adeptly transforming theoretical use cases into practical, real-world applications.
Supervisory (Scientific) Expert
While experimentation with generative AI can indeed be an exhilarating venture, this approach becomes untenable when transitioning from a casual exploration to a more structured AI practice. This dilemma mirrors the tumultuous introduction of smartphones into the corporate world, where organizations either futilely attempted to prohibit their use, or turned a blind eye to their existence, only to find employees incorporating them into their daily work routines regardless.
To circumvent this potential pitfall, it is imperative to enlist the expertise of a scientific expert, adeptly equipped to establish rigorous testing and measurement protocols for pilot use cases. This individual possesses the acumen to demonstrate tangible, statistically significant enhancements and has the foresight to consistently pose the critical question that is often overlooked in the AI domain:
What could go wrong?
The scientifically inclined expert is not only proficient in posing this pivotal question but is also strategically prepared to preemptively address possible complications, meticulously planning for a myriad of scenarios that may deviate from the expected course. Their insight is invaluable in the meticulous design of experiments and test cases, ensuring a comprehensive and proactive approach to potential challenges.
Putting Your Team(s) Together
Right now you might be saying to yourself, “Our organization doesn’t possess the manpower to assemble a team of five solely dedicated to pioneering AI.” Or, you might be part of an expansive organization with needs far beyond what a mere quintet would be able to accomplish. This is why I refer to these as “roles”, rather than “jobs”. In more compact organizations, it’s entirely feasible for a single individual to serve multiple roles, while in more expansive organizations, multiple individuals might collaboratively fulfill a single role.
For example, here at Mind Vault, I wear the hats of both the data expert and the technical expert, occasionally stepping into the shoes of the subject matter expert. While my partners fill the roles of the scientific expert and the business expert. The biggest takeaway for us is ensuring that each of these five roles are adequately represented to safeguard us against any potential blind spots that might impede our progress.
Envisioning a scenario within a large conglomerate I can see each of these roles being integral components of a department-specific pilot team. Human Resources, for instance, might have its own dedicated pilot team, with individuals filling each of the five roles. Similarly, Finance and Sales would have their respective pilot teams, ensuring comprehensive coverage of each of these essential roles.
When properly composed and executed your AI Pilot Team will act as the vanguard of your organization, skillfully navigating the complexities of the AI landscape to identify potential roadblocks and opportunities, all while creating a roadmap for the rest of the organization to follow.
I encourage you to envision your ideal AI Pilot Team today, and the diverse roles that each member will play in this exciting new structure.