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HBR IdeaCast: Leading a Workforce Empowered by New AI Tools

businesswoman and ai robot working together

Our mission at Start Up With Feras is to empower you as an early-stage consulting and service entrepreneur so you can empower and delight your own clients.

This HBR podcast episode provides several inspirations for client empowerment, specifically in regards to emerging AI tools.

In the podcast, Thomas Davenport, coauthor of the HBR article We’re All Programmers Now and the book All-in On AI: How Smart Companies Win Big with Artificial Intelligence, offers a range of down-to-earth, research-based observations and recommendations about the democratized development that AI tools have begun to foster in the enterprise:

  • 80,000 BMW employees are being trained in AI tools
  • a single analyst at Home Depot used AI to forecast consumer demand, which saved weeks of work and generated an additional 9 figures in revenue
  • PwC has a adopted a central hub for encouraging and reviewing projects that “citizen developers” throughout the organization have used AI to build

As low-code/no-code development tools are increasingly enable, non-technical individuals and teams to build their own programs for a wider range of workflow and analysis tasks, some basic vulnerabilities emerge:

  • Undetected flaws in program design could produce unintended or erroneous outputs.
  • A citizen developer could leave the organization without documenting the tools that they have developed and that others have adopted.
  • Multiple individuals or teams could be developing different programs to solve the same problem.

Your first clients may not be in the ranks of BMW and Home Depot, but companies of all sizes and across many verticals will need support in leveraging and governing AI-based development solutions.

Some ideas about adding AI tools to your service offering:

  • IT/development and ops/process management consultants
    • Provide your clients with a framework on governance for AI-based development tools.
    • Help technical teams work effectively with non-technical teams on development processes.
    • For larger clients, guide the creation of a centralized review hub (like PwC) that you could also participate in longer-term.
  • Education consultants
    • Offer your clients customized training options to align individuals and teams on AI-based development.
  • Vertical-specific consultants
    • If you’re providing consulting and services within verticals such as law, financial planning, supply chain, or any other area where AI tools are emerging, think about not only how you could use these tools in your own service delivery, but also how you could enable your clients to effectively and responsibility use these tools themselves.
    • Assess the landscape for blog posts, white papers, videos, webinars on AI development with your vertical to determine if there may be an opening for you to produce your own standout content.

Consider how you can ride the leading edge of the wave, empower your clients, and establish your position as a trusted advisor. This applies to AI and to any other industry trend and emerging opportunity.

Key Takeaways and Actions

  • Low-code/no code AI-based tools are democratizing programming and development tasks beyond technical teams.
  • This expansion provides great opportunities for breaking through logjams but also necessitates governance.
  • For the vertical and service type that you offer, learn more about AI tools so you not only use these tools for your clients but also enable your clients to themselves use the tools optimally.
  • Assess content marketing possibilities for AI tools in your field.
  • Explore partnership and partner marketing opportunities with AI tool providers.
Feras Alhlou

Feras Alhlou

Feras has founded, grown, and sold businesses in Silicon Valley and abroad, scaling them from zero revenue to 7 and 8 figures. In 2019, he sold e-Nor, a digital marketing consulting company, to dentsu (a top-5 global media company). Feras has served as an advisor to 150+ other new startup businesses, and in his current venture, Start Up With Feras, he's on a mission to help entrepreneurs in the consulting and services space start and grow their businesses smarter and stronger.

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