Artificial Intelligence: MBO Senior Leadership Perspectives  

By MBO Partners | March 15, 2024

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Key Points

Members of our senior leadership recently offered their thoughts on several key topics, challenges, and strategies related to AI.

They touched on seven topics for enterprises and independent professionals.

We will dig deeper into some of these topics in future articles.

As part of our continued focus on how enterprises and independents interact with AI, members of our senior leadership recently offered their thoughts on several key topics, challenges, and strategies. We will delve deeper into some of these in future articles.

Welcome to the Wild West

We’ve seen it time and again. When any new technology enters the arena, there is a period when business uptake of the technology precedes relevant regulation. That is where we are with AI today. It’s a new frontier. As enterprises and independents are figuring out how to use the technology effectively, governments worldwide are doing the same. The US government has enacted initial AI regulations through Executive Order, and the European Union is setting up AI regulations which will take effect in 2026. Other countries are also enacting their first AI regulatory mechanisms. These developments are in the early stages; meanwhile, we have a powerful new technology but no rules of engagement regarding how it will be governed.

Potential AI Pitfalls

Three areas of concern focus on intellectual property, data security, and bias. Enterprises must ensure that their IP isn’t at risk through external AI tools (used by their employees or contractors). This is related to safeguarding their data, which could also be risky. Implementation of a proprietary internal AI system can address both issues. Bias is more challenging, as it can be embedded in the human-AI interaction. Biases can be unintentionally trained into an AI system by human operators. The solution lies more on the human side of the equation—finding ways to train people to recognize potential biases before AI assimilates them.

Make Haste, Carefully

Adopting AI demonstrates a commitment to continuous learning and adaptation for both enterprises and independent professionals. Additionally, both must enter the AI arena, or they will suffer competitively. However, technology is moving fast, so all businesses must be nimble and ready to change to and master new AI tools and workflows quickly. Further, as technology evolution continues, business investment in AI systems must be considered carefully. Today’s leading-edge AI could be tomorrow’s old news, with an accompanying loss of competitive advantage.

Changing Rate Structures?

One of the business advantages of AI is speed and efficiency. It can help produce outcomes more quickly, which can bring costs down. This can present a challenge for high-value independents—charging an hourly rate may not be practical when AI saves time on a project. While enterprises naturally welcome savings, these independents may not be willing to receive less income for the projects they participate in. To arrive at a win-win solution, other pricing models can be considered—for example, value-based pricing, which accounts for the expertise and knowledge of the contractor, or fixed pricing, where an amount is agreed upon for a deliverable. The independent may need to make a “pricing menu” that includes a list of amounts for deliverables with specific characteristics (e.g. word count, number of drafts, social media posts) in the contract or scope of work.

Disclose and Protect

Independents should be using AI to deliver their services and must disclose this use. Part of that disclosure is the assurance that they take the appropriate privacy and security measures to protect client data. Such measures are covered by security protocols that are part of the contract. The client needs to ensure that the AI tools used by the contractor pose no copyright or intellectual property risk or lead to data exposure.

The Two Sides of Disclosure

Enterprises should also be proactive with their independent contractors by asking about AI use upfront. Conversely, an independent should ask about what AI-related resources the company will make available to them. For example, internal knowledge repositories built with AI can help the independent immerse themselves in company culture and processes and ramp up quickly.

A Look into the (Near) Future

While there may be hiccups along the way, the amount of attention on the technology guarantees that it won’t be long before the next generation of AI is around the corner.  AI evolution has been swift and is likely to accelerate. Investors are throwing a lot of money at companies focusing on the next step in the process. We’re already getting close to a point where AI doesn’t just serve as an assistant but has the role of co-worker. Understanding the nature of the human-AI connection is imperative, knowing it will continue to change.

Thank you to the leaders at MBO who generously gave their time to this report:Miles Everson, Keaton Swett, Audra Nichols, Fernando Cardenas, and Manikandan Parakkat

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