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Thanks for your interest in our AI white paper, featuring insight from the world’s leading service providers in data analytics.

Learn about the four steps our expert service providers say every business must take before implementing artificial intelligence tools:

  1. Identifying Your Use Case
  2. Working with an Advisor
  3. Evaluating Data Availability and Hygiene
  4. Implementing the Tool: Buy or Build?

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Unleashing Business Potential with AI: Beyond Open Source Tools

Artificial intelligence has evolved from a futuristic concept into a business norm. The advent of Language Learning Models (LLMs) like ChatGPT and Bard is only the tip of the iceberg.

While these consumer-focused models are noteworthy, they form only a fraction of AI’s potential. Businesses stand to gain significantly by digging deeper into the realm of AI and integrating advanced models.

Let’s dive into how AI is revolutionizing private equity firms, their portfolio companies and other private and public businesses.

business analytics

Beyond Data Availability and Hygiene

AI models are adept at analyzing and interpreting massive datasets, providing businesses with valuable insights that drive decision-making. With data being produced at an unprecedented rate, AI’s role in sifting through this sea of information and drawing actionable conclusions is invaluable.

READ MORE: The Road to AI Implementation: Precursor Activities

Ken McLaren, partner at Frazier Healthcare Partners, spoke to this on a recent AI-focused webinar hosted by BluWave.

“We do a lot of prototyping on desktops,” McLaren said. “As we prove the value and the use cases, we then start getting ready for production. But don’t build in production first. Get the proof value with your customer market in place before you start building.”

He elaborated on the importance of not just having clean data, but that it’s also production-ready, which means having a quality data lake infrastructure.

“Having your data pipes with things like Azure Data Factory, having good storage…or using Databricks Delta Lake on top of that, having a production-ready data environment is important,” he said. “Once you’ve got your models ready…you can plug in a lot of open source tools. So there’s really no one platform to rule at all.”

Protecting Your Sensitive Data

With AI tools new and old evolving so rapidly, there’s also concern from business leaders that the data they share with these same tools is not safe.

“If you’ve got history turned on, then it becomes part of that AI system,” said Keith Thomas, National Practice Lead, Cybersecurity Operations, at AT&T. “It gets built into the models, and there’s the ability for the model to use that data.”

Since McLaren’s firm exclusively works with healthcare companies, they err on the side of holding back data from open tools that could otherwise compromise privacy.

“We still guide our portfolio companies for sensitive business data, customer data – keep it out of any open tool,” McLaren said.

BluWave CEO and founder Sean Mooney also cautioned about sharing propriety data that gives your company an edge:

“If that’s something that’s competitively sensitive or advantageous your business,” he said of adding it to an open-source tool, “you’ve just given it to the world.”

Beyond Open-Source AI Tools

Tech stacks at innovative businesses are changing faster than ever. Not only are the tools themselves changing, but they’re also becoming easier to use for team members who aren’t as technically skilled.

“In software development in general, there’s this movement more and more toward no-code, low-code solutions,” said Alex Castrounis, Why of AI founder and CEO. “Part of the benefit of those things is, one, accessibility and making it easier for people in organizations to sort of build software, or in this case, train models, iterate on models, tune them, optimize them, deploy them and so on.”

He added that the future of AI could look more like J.A.R.V.I.S. in Ironman than simply getting help summarizing large sets of data or writing an email.

He describes this potential technology as an “interface that becomes sort of an information-retrieval system or a question-answering system on top of your data. …It solves a lot of those issues that I know a lot of organizations are wondering when it comes to proprietary data and confidential data.”

Other tools like LangChang – used in conjunction with other tools – can help users make templates out of their existing prompts and iterate them for future inputs. These can then be set up with outside sources such as Wikipedia, as well as databases and APIs.

These, however, are just a small sample of the growing list of possibilities.

While OpenAI, Microsoft and Google continue to grab the lion’s share of attention when it comes to new AI tools, there are countless others being developed and improved every day.

Business leaders must strike the delicate balance between experimenting and staying ahead of the curve against protecting proprietary, and even sensitive data. Miscalculating could not only compromise competitive advantages, but also user safety.

The Business Builders’ Network is full of expert, trustworthy service providers who are on the leading edge of artificial intelligence technology. When you’re ready to connect with an industry-specific resource for your business, contact our research and operations team to set up a call.

The Road to AI Implementation: Strategic Planning, Data Management, Cybersecurity

What’s worse than not implementing artificial intelligence tools into your business?

Implementing them without a plan.

While it might feel like you’re falling further behind competitors every day you’re not adding AI to your tech stack, you’re better off waiting a little longer to get it right. Rushing out a half-baked product will only cause you more harm in the long run.

Let’s dive in to some of the key precursor activities for implementing artificial intelligence into your business.

Businessman touching the brain working of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the futuristic business and coding software development on interface and synchronize network connection, IoT, innovative and technology of business.

Aligning AI with Business Strategy

As you choose your AI use cases, it’s essential to align them with your broader digital and business strategies.

Nik Kapauan, principal at Access Holdings, recently talked about this on a BluWave-hosted webinar, Activating AI.

“Your strategy for using AI obviously needs to tie to your broader digital strategy, which needs to tie to your broader business strategy as a firm,” Kapauan said. “I’d also bifurcate it because when we say AI, it’s a broad spectrum of things. You have your traditional analytics, which is descriptive analytics, just getting stuff on a screen and reporting. And then you have your more predictive analytics for predicting the future.”

In either case, Kapauan reiterated the importance of aligning with your overall goals, noting that predictive analytics allow for more flexibility.

“The way you’d approach that strategy is a bit more iterative, a bit more experimental,” he said, “trying to get use cases and experimenting as soon as you can to figure out where the value is.”

Tackling Data Challenges

Data is at the heart of any AI initiative. The service providers in our network say the number one hurdle businesses face to adding artificial intelligence tools is not having a good sense of data availability or hygiene, respectively.

“A lot of people want to jump to the model or the technology. ‘What if we could do this with customers?’ I think it’s really important to start with, ‘What is the space of data that we have at our disposal?’” Michael Woods*, the CEO of an AI consulting firm BluWave works with regularly, said in an interview. “Then just as importantly, ‘Do we have any sense of the inaccuracies or things that could really lead us astray in that data?’

On the AI webinar, Kapauan said that handling data is often the most significant part of large analytics projects.

“That centralization of data, the cleaning of data, the ongoing maintenance of data, is the lion’s share of the effort,” he said.

BluWave CEO & Founder Sean Mooney said the effort, however, is worth it.

“You’ve got to do the unglamorous data cleanliness part… the only thing worse than no data is bad data,” he said. “Keep [the data] good because it’s like a piece of equipment that’s gotta be maintained. Anytime there’s rotation and force in anything, it wants to lose calibration.”

READ MORE: AI Data Analytics: BI Tools

Change Management: A Key Component

Kapauan emphasized the need for a high-level leader to drive the change internally when significant changes are being made to the way a business operates.

“I think one of the biggest predictors of success is a champion inside the organization that could really own the vision and drive the opportunity. And often that’s the CEO or someone the CEO directly holds accountable for the digital agenda,” Kapauan said. “Having that leadership voice to set the vision and drive the organization and mobilize change is critical to success for analytics and any other kind of major digital transformation.”

Mooney added that this is a key part of change management.

“AI’s going be part of your strategy,” he said. “It’s a tactic, it’s not your strategy.”

Securing Your Data Assets

Finally, as businesses build up their data assets, it is vital to safeguard them.

“We want to make sure that we protect [our resources] from theft, making sure that if someone gets into our organization that they can’t pull that model out and take it with them to use somewhere else,” said Keith Thomas, the Cybersecurity Operations National Practice Lead at AT&T. “There are some ways that we protect using different security tools, and different security capabilities support the idea of a [data] model theft by attackers.”

Thomas also emphasized the importance of having a robust disaster recovery plan. If an AI system goes down, the team must be prepared to mitigate any negative impact on data and analytics.

“Even if it is to go to a manual approach, that’s OK. Having the plan is the most important part of that,” Thomas said.

Mooney pointed out that various resources are available to help businesses of all sizes protect their most critical asset: their data.

“Once again, we’re seeing this theme of, ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail,'” Mooney said. “You’ve gotta do the work in advance. Not just even on the data and the analytics side, but also in protecting your data.”

BluWave has seen a rapid uptick in demand for AI-related services recently. What many firms lack, though, is the necessary foundation to get started.

Aligning your AI tactics with your overall business strategy, preparing your data, identifying an internal champion and protecting your data assets are crucial precursors to implementing these powerful new tools.

Whether you’re at a private equity firm, portfolio company or private or public organization, BluWave’s Business Builders’ Network is full of expert third-party AI resources. These highly vetted service providers can not only help you with the aforementioned preparations, but will also work with you to implement these tools.

Contact our research and operations team to learn more, and we’ll connect you with an industry specific expert to assist your digital transformation using artificial intelligence.

*Privacy is important to us. While the source and company name have been changed, these are real quotations from a real service provider in the BluWave Business Builders’ Network.