AI For CXOs -- Redefining The Future Of Leadership In The AI Era


Artificial intelligence is getting ubiquitous and is transforming organizations globally. AI is no longer just a technology. It is now one of the most important lenses that business leaders need to look through to identify new business models, new sources of revenue and bring in critical efficiencies in how they do businesses.

Artificial intelligence has quickly moved beyond bits and pieces of topical experiments in the innovation lab. AI needs to be woven into the fabric of business. Indeed, if you see the companies leading with AI today, one of the common denominators is that there is a strong executive focus around artificial intelligence. AI transformation can be successful when there is a strong mandate coming from the top and leaders make it a strategic priority for their enterprise.

Given AI’s importance to the enterprise, it is fair to say that AI will not only shape the future of the enterprise, but also the future for those that lead the enterprise mandate on artificial intelligence.

Curiosity and Adaptability

To lead with AI in the enterprise, top executives will need to demonstrate high levels of adaptability and agility. Leaders need to develop a mindset to harness the strategic shifts that AI will bring in an increasingly dynamic landscape of business — which will require extreme agility. Leaders that succeed in this AI era will need to be able to build capable, agile teams that can rapidly take cognizance of how AI can be a game changer in their area of business and react accordingly. Agile teams across the enterprise will be a cornerstone of better leadership in this age of AI.

Leading with AI will also require leaders to be increasingly curious. The paradigm of conducting business in this new world is evolving faster than ever. Leaders will need to ensure that they are on top of the recent developments in the dual realms of business and technology. This requires CXOs to be positively curious and constantly on the lookout for game changing solutions that can have a discernible impact on their topline and bottom-line.

Clarity of Vision

Leadership in the AI era will be strongly characterized by the strength and clarity with which leaders communicate their vision. Leaders with an inherently strong sense of purpose and an eye for details will be forged as organizations globally witness AI transformation.

It is not only important for those that lead with AI to have a clear vision. It is equally important to maintain a razor sharp focus on the execution aspect. When it comes to scaling artificial intelligence in the organization, the devil is very often in the details — the data and algorithms that disrupt existing business processes. For leaders to be successful they must remain attentive to the trifecta of factors — completeness of their vision for AI transformation, communication of said vision to relevant stakeholders and monitoring the entire execution process. While doing so, it is important to remain agile and flexible as mentioned in my earlier section — to be aware of possible business landscape shifts on the horizon.

Engage with High EQ

AI transformation can often seem to be all about hard numbers and complex algorithms. However, leaders need to also infuse the human element to succeed in their efforts to deliver AI @ Scale. The third key for top executives to lead in the age of AI is to ensure that they marry high IQs with equally or perhaps higher levels of EQ.

Why is this so very important? Given the state of this technology today, it is important that we build systems that are completely free of bias and are fair in how they arrive at strategic and tactical decisions. AI learns from the data that it is provided and hence it is important to ensure that the data it is fed is free from bias — which requires a human aspect. Secondly, AI causes severe consternation among the working population — with fears of job loss abounding. It is important to ensure that these irrational fears of an ‘AI Takeover’ are effectively abated. For AI to be successful, it is important that both types of intelligence — artificial and human — symbiotically coexist to deliver transformational results.

AI is undoubtedly going to become one of the sources of lasting competitive advantage for enterprises. According to research, 4 out of 5 C-level executives believe that their future business strategy will be informed through opportunities made available by AI technology. This requires a leadership mindset that is AI-first and can spot opportunities for artificial intelligence solutions to exploit. By democratizing AI solutions across the organization, enterprises can ensure that their future leadership continues to prioritize the deployment of this technology in use cases where they can deliver maximum impact.

Sameer Dhanrajani, contributor, is Chief Strategy Officer at Fractal Analytics. Recognized within the Top 10 Influential Analytics Leaders in India, Sameer is renowned as an analytics and AI business leader and visionary known for his deep knowledge, innovation and topical approaches in the analytics and AI space. He is responsible for curating strategic roadmaps, driving investments and inorganic growth thru M&A’s, building partnerships and alliances, leading high-priority growth initiatives, and helping Fractal's clients on AI-led transformation of their businesses.

In Sameer’s previous role, he was Global Business Leader for Cognizant Analytics and Data Sciences at Cognizant Technology Solutions where he pioneered the Customer, Risk & Operations Analytics framework (CRO) to help clients realize transformative value from data detonation encircling enterprises, and enabling accelerated business impact through greater customer experience, robust risk management strategies and optimized business operations. Under Sameer's leadership, Cognizant Analytics became a leader in the analytics market with 3400 professionals and an exemplary broad-based structure with an exhaustive repertoire of services framework, consulting methodologies, solutions and platforms spanning the advanced analytics and data science spectrum serving 180 clients across geographies.

A fast tracker and a well-rounded professional with 20+ years of industry experience, Sameer has filled various leadership roles to help deliver innovative analytics and AI solutions, and has consulted with many CXO’s for faster, better decision making. Prior to Cognizant, Sameer was the Country Head at Fidelity National Financial and pioneered India's first Global Competency Center (GCC) to be based on a non-linear growth model with platform-based value propositions, and developed Fidelity India into a hub of customer delight, delivery of innovation, and operational dexterity. Before Fidelity, he worked as Vice President, Analytics for Genpact.

Sameer is a distinguished member of the NASSCOM Analytics Special Interest Group, CII knowledge roundtable, ASSOCHAM digital council and has been instrumental in leading the effort to position India as the next best destination of choice for AI & Analytics. He is a recipient of the “Outstanding Leadership Award” at India Human Capital Summit, and also the “Exemplary Leader Award” during the Asia Pacific HRM Congress. Sameer has been highlighted four times consecutively (2014-17) in the “Top 10 influential analytics leaders in India” published by Analytics India magazine. Sameer is also advisor to Telangana and AP government council for setting up data analytics park and policy in Hyderabad & Vizag and is a steering committee member for drafting AI policy in India.

Sameer is also a renowned keynote speaker and has been a moderator on various business, leadership and topical AI and analytics themes at leading conferences. He is quoted regularly in business media and news publications. Sameer is a prolific blogger and his blog post “Demystifying digital, data analytics and decision science” is a trendsetter.