Confident Leader

How AI can help you make better business decisions

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There is an adage that any businesses is only three poor decisions away from a failure. That’s why decision-making is the main job of any business owner or leader – and that’s why missed opportunities and ‘if only’ moments keep us up at night.

Decision-making certainly isn’t easy. But when we agonise about decisions we become stressed … and as a result our decision making becomes impaired.  Then we make riskier decisions.

Why AI is the solution

To make an effective decision on an issue, a leader must gather as much information as they can in order to gain a clear picture of how and why a challenge has presented itself and what options are available to take advantage of an opportunity or mitigate the damage of a crisis. The sources of this information can be problematic.

Is the person delivering the information skilled enough to access and present the best information accurately? Do they do this consistently? And are the intentions of the deliverer beneficial to the leader or self-serving?

However, AI ticks all those boxes. It can do a deep-query of your business operations and structure, identify success factors and failure risks, then deliver a road map to advance your brand.

Not all AIs are equal

Some AI tools look only at big data – in other words, they find masses of information on a given business problem, seek all the possible decisions and variables that had been made on the problem, see which decisions led to a positive outcome and then use probability to select the general correct decision to make.  This is flawed in many ways.  The sheer volume of information is unwieldy, the tech is hugely expensive and leaders found this type of data difficult to understand and therefore as Dr Thomas Erwin from KPMG outlined, they found it less trustworthy then their own gut instinct.

However, those problems vanish with a type of AI called Active Learning.  Rather than using big data, Active Learning uses a philosophy of exploration to gather small pieces of data as rapidly as possible and, like a master detective, put all the pieces of the puzzle together to come up with an astonishingly accurate picture of reality.

Nasa used Active Learning in its Mars Rover –  the vehicle ‘knew’ it was on a planetary surface but that was practically all it knew.  It had to explore to find out where to drill, where it was dangerous to go, and the most efficient directions to travel in to get its job done.  And with Active Learning, it did this with perfection.

Active Learning in business decision-making

There had been little attention paid to Active Learning in the business world, prior to Epifini developing our tool. It is similar to that used by NASA, but instead of exploring Mars, it explores a business.  It does this by interviewing the leaders and other members of the team online.

You’re not sitting in front of a robot to do this (yet).  Rather, it’s an online experience where you are asked questions based on your answers to previous questions …so it feels like a conversation with a very intelligent, perceptive and challenging interviewer.

Epifini has a ‘brain’ that functions as expert knowledge in everything from Growth to Culture, and from Process Management to Leadership Effectiveness.  Essentially a conversation with Epifini’s AI is like having multiple experts communicating simultaneously with each other and with the interviewee to get as much information as possible, with as few questions as possible.

Exploring connections, getting results in 90 minutes

The ‘brain’ does not treat each part of the business separately; the AI is configured to see everything as interconnected so when it sees a problem in leadership it explores everything in the business that might affect it and vice-versa.  And it does this faster and more efficiently than any human being or group of human beings could do.

In short, it completes a process that traditionally took weeks or months and was undertaken by multiple management consultants. And it does it in around 90 minutes.

Making the complex simple

It’s not just speed that is important, although the sheer number of decisions a leader has to make means they can’t vacillate.  There is now more data to sift through than ever before.  CEOs are, in fact, drowning in data. This complexity of information can make it hard to see through to solutions.

PWC’s 22nd Annual CEO Survey noted:

While businesses are now overwhelmed by data, the survey found that there remains an inability to corral it into useable and actionable intelligence. Fewer than one in three chief executives consider the information they receive on ‘critical’ or ‘important’ matters as sufficiently comprehensive.

AI has the ability to identify, select and corral the best and most comprehensive information, to distil it down to the most useful and actionable, and to present it in a simplified and useable way.

Trust in AI

The beauty of AI, and specifically Active Learning, is its ability to take complex information and produce elegant and simple outcomes.  It extracts information that is relevant and important in a way that can be used effectively by a leader. And it does so repeatedly time after time.  So AI demonstrates, capability, consistency and intention. If trust is one of the most important factors that leaders require, to enable them to make the right choices, then AI is the best mechanism for leaders to find sources and use it with confidence to gain insight and make the right choices.

About Anthony Aarons

anthonya@thebusinesswomanmedia.com'

Anthony Aarons is CEO and co-founder Epifini, an AI technology innovator that provides a platform for business analysis, performance and strategy.

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