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How to Successfully Integrate AI Into Your Company’s Operating Budget

Summary: As AI continues to take hold as a core business driver for enterprises of all sizes learning how to operationalize it, govern it and pay for it, becomes an enterprise-wide effort.

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According to International Data Corp., spending on generative AI (GenAI) software and related hardware and business services will reach $151.1 billion by 2027. Many of the largest enterprises have been actively deploying various forms of AI, yet the majority of businesses still struggle to sort out exactly where they should begin, how to operationalize and govern it, and most importantly how to pay for it.  

This is a topic I recently wrote about as a Forbes Technology Council member. Getting started with GenAI can be a daunting task. It’s a disruptive technology that requires not only new digital tools, but a shift in company culture, business processes and how humans and machines interact. Before embarking on any AI initiative, some of the best practices I recommended include: 

Define objectives and use cases.

Clearly define the objectives and use cases for incorporating generative AI into your enterprise, such as for content creation, software development, data generation or customer support. 

Select the right tool.

Familiarize yourself with off-the-shelf GenAI solutions, such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT model, Google Gemini, Microsoft Bing or Copilot and others. Understand their capabilities, costs and limitations.  

Ensure security

It’s important to implement security measures to protect the GenAI models and the data used in training. This includes securing access to models, monitoring for potential vulnerabilities, and ensuring data privacy. 

Establish governance.

Establish guidelines for the responsible use of AI technologies and ensure compliance with relevant industry and governmental regulations. Companies also may want to consider setting transparency standards to disclose when content, software or other forms of AI were generated by AI, or when users are speaking to a robot.  

Regardless of how it’s used, GenAI is anything but free. It requires resources and significant investment. Yet, unlike other technology breakthroughs, AI impacts an entire business and as such its cost should be spread across the enterprise – from marketing and sales, to human resources and product development.  When multiple departments are contributing to the cost of AI, it can be more easily absorbed by the enterprise. 

In addition to sharing the cost across the enterprise, below are some additional ways that companies can pay for GenAI: 

Use standard models.

Generative AI requires massive amounts of data, robust GPU servers and data science expertise – costs and resources that are prohibitive for most companies.  For this reason, companies should turn to existing, pretrained and free models, such as ChatGPT, and they can customize them on their own or by partnering with a third-party AI service provider.  

Leverage subscription models.

Consider using subscription-based pricing models, where companies pay a recurring fee for access to generative AI services.  

Collaborate and partner with others: Forming partnerships with other companies to jointly fund and develop generative AI solutions can lead to shared resources and shared costs. 

Start small and risk-free.

A good way to see if GenAI is a good fit for your organization and to get executive and line-of-business budget buy-in, is to try it out in a minimally invasive way, with a small, less risky project.  

For all of its benefits, the introduction of AI into an organization can not only be a massive disruptor to how a business operates, but it can also be a costly endeavor. By taking a strategic, enterprise-wide approach to operationalizing it and more importantly, paying for it, companies can ensure its success as a core business driver.  

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