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AI is everywhere: Strategies to safeguard your company’s innovation

October 31st, 2023

Thought Leader Report: Technology

By JOSEPH OURS, Director, AI Strategy

Centric Consulting

Joseph Ours is the Director of Centric Consulting’s AI Strategy and Modern Software Delivery Practice. With more than 25 years of expertise in IT and team leadership, he excels in devising strategies that achieve significant business outcomes by leveraging advanced technologies for organizations.

Although AI has been around for years, ChatGPT’s viral moment illustrates how AI tools can surprise us with their abilities. Just this May, Samsung recorded several instances of employees uploading confidential code to ChatGPT, exposing the company’s sensitive data to potential security risks. As businesses embrace AI technologies, they must navigate a complex, quickly changing landscape of regulatory, security and ethical concerns.

Because of the absence of federal AI regulations, it is crucial to establish internal AI governance that ensures responsible use while also facilitating successful digital transformation. But how can businesses control company use of powerful, wide-reaching AI tools? Approaching AI management from three angles — governance, security and ethics — is a holistic strategy that ensures AI protects assets, promotes best interests and operates ethically.

Governing AI usage

Governance is the foundation on which companies build responsible AI practices. It not only ensures compliance with laws and regulations, but it also fosters transparency. To manage AI adoption, companies should form a stakeholder committee to create policies that align with industry requirements and organizational goals.

Once policies are in place, the committee should establish key performance indicators (KPIs), considering costs, risks and the company’s goals. Afterward, the committee can lead training sessions and workshops to communicate best practices to relevant employees. As a standard practice, the committee should regularly monitor AI performance, review current company AI projects, raise concerns, and discuss the latest AI innovations.

Securing AI solutions

As Samsung’s case illustrates, the improper use of AI tools can lead to data breaches, regulatory violations, and reputational damage. Many executives fear “leaky data,” the accidental release of proprietary information to a third-party system. To ensure a secure work environment that leverages AI technologies responsibly, companies should encrypt sensitive information and restrict AI access to authorized personnel.

Additionally, the stakeholder committee should prohibit those employees from entering sensitive data into AI tools without express executive permission and train them to use AI securely so they not only protect sensitive data but also anticipate and recognize potential security threats.

Prioritizing AI ethics

AI technologies pose several ethical risks, including harming users and perpetuating damaging biases. For example, in the mortgage industry, AI algorithms assessing loan applications have exhibited higher denial rates for minority applicants, a phenomenon known as high-tech redlining. Additionally, AI’s susceptibility to plagiarism necessitates safeguards to ensure the integrity of its generated content. Most ethical issues with AI, however, are user errors.

To prevent unintended but serious ethical consequences, employee AI training must cover data security and responsible use, including when and when not to leverage AI.

Expertise is the foremost defense against the misuse of AI tools. Once users recognize existing data biases and the ethical risks AI poses, they can reduce their impact on their work.

Implementing AI responsibly

Despite AI’s challenges, forbidding its use would be detrimental. Banning AI means preventing your employees from using essential apps like Word and Excel, which Microsoft is actively integrating with Copilot, an AI assistant.

Organizations can harness the potential of emerging AI models like ChatGPT responsibly so long as they plan accordingly. Establishing internal regulatory, security and ethical practices will empower your organization to use AI to remain competitive and chase innovation.