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An AI Primer for Business Leaders

Establish a solid footing before committing the organization to action.

  • The technology is so new that it is difficult to distinguish between what it can do, what it will do, and what it should do.
  • Expertise is limited. Expertise with more than six months of experience is extremely limited.
  • The initial excitement has waned, but the overall pressure to respond remains notable.
  • As use cases mature, the upside potential becomes more believable.
  • With the passage of time, the downside risks become more tangible.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

The pressure to act immediately was nothing more than illusion, but the pressure to act safely is unwavering.

Impact and Result

  • Familiarize yourself with the concepts of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and generative AI.
  • Examine use cases related to your organization’s business.
  • Prepare to discuss the impacts of generative AI on your business and on your people.

An AI Primer for Business Leaders Research & Tools

1. An AI Primer for Business Leaders Deck – A guide to help propel you forward while the AI market and technologies take shape and begin to fit together.

Develop your organizational readiness to act before the next round of reactive urgency. Prepare your people for key roles in managing the upcoming impacts to people, process, and technology.

An AI Primer for Business Leaders

Establish a solid footing before committing the organization to action.

Analyst Perspective

Invest in knowledge and skills while this massive change solidifies.

Business and technology leaders are under pressure to get up to speed on generative AI (Gen AI) to prepare for the new burden of leadership.

We don't have a choice.

Opportunity abounds, and many others are pursuing previously unthinkable advantages to reduce cost, unleash new revenue, and scale their operations. Competition is poised to intensify in the near term.

Over time, inaction may prove to be a critical mistake. Yet there's an immediate sense that our actions can lead to a critical mistake. It's a paradoxical nightmare. It could also be your dream come true, if others are frozen while you move ahead.

We must prepare ourselves and our teams to act, yet the broader organization may not yet have prepared a cohesive strategy.

Use this primer to propel yourself forward while the AI market and technologies take shape and begin to fit together.

A picture of Barry Cousins

Barry Cousins
Distinguished Analyst and Research Fellow
Info-Tech Research Group

Executive Summary

Your Challenge

  • Gen AI caught most of us by surprise. Seemingly overnight, it went from emerging technology to immediate threat and compelling opportunity.
  • Most people's first impressions were based on ChatGPT. The value was immediately apparent, and the software was immediately usable.
  • Use cases were articulated at breakneck speed, and business leaders could immediately identify competitive advantages.

Common Obstacles

  • Few organizations have an actionable strategy for AI. Businesses typically seek direction from the top, but it has yet to come. The leaders were not prepared.
  • It goes beyond technology this time. Non-IT leadership is challenged to act or react from a business perspective as competition articulates existential threats in real time.
  • Gen AI has proven untrustworthy in many cases. Deciding to adopt is riskier than pausing to observe.

Info-Tech's Approach

  • Start the learning process early and take the lead on understanding the business impacts of this impending shift.
  • Develop your organizational readiness so you can act before the competition reacts. Prepare your people for key roles in managing the upcoming impacts to people, process, and technology.
  • Normalize the idea that business units will feel compelled to develop AI roadmaps before a comprehensive and actionable strategy has been articulated at the enterprise level.

Info-Tech Insight

For the remainder of 2023, you can run a Gen AI strategy from the perspective of risk avoidance. This is also a great time to prepare for rapid action to leverage the upside opportunities.

You are here: Finding your way with Gen AI

There's so much to do in such a short time. We'll help you get oriented before you develop a plan.

To prepare your department for the emergent challenges introduced by AI and Gen AI, you must do plenty at once:

  • Learn what it is.
  • Adapt your view of organizational and departmental processes to the new possibilities.
  • Understand the risks of both action and inaction.
  • Seek out new competitive advantages.
  • Define an acceptable use policy for your employees.
  • Study and/or infer what competitors are doing.
  • Contribute to the broader corporate strategy.
  • Develop use cases for a pilot or trial implementation.

It's easy to become disoriented by the pace and disruption of change. For executive leadership, this is a critical time to maintain your situational awareness among the moving parts.

Drivers of urgency to act on Gen AI

The sense of urgency is palpable

Senior leadership knows that something must be done soon.

They just have to determine what that something is.

There are obvious drivers of this sense of urgency to act on Gen AI:

  • Rate of adoption, with technology futures turning to a panic state virtually overnight
  • Rate of technology advancement, with an explosion in the number of active vendors and active projects
  • Failures and delays in recent transformation projects, with a growing recognition that Gen AI could repair and recover struggling projects
  • Perpetual staffing shortfalls, with Gen AI offering to reduce some of the burden on our busy people

Most organizations were already concerned about their effectiveness before 2023. The surprise explosion of Gen AI feels threatening, but there's also some hope that it can repair a broken system if you act in time.

Today's Gen AI solutions may not last long

Solutions are emerging, merging, and morphing before our eyes as we try to establish a plan.

1. The pace of technology change is accelerating

  • Technology is evolving faster than our ability to utilize the features.
  • New vendors are rapidly emerging, revealing a substantial investment looking for payback. Expect an aggressive round of failures and vendor consolidation in the coming years.
  • Solution architects and product owners have barely begun to imagine the possibilities that accrue from combining the newest generation of technologies.

2. Use cases are revealing new concerns as we understand more

  • While the initial response was to automate with Gen AI, more radical transformations will evidently eliminate layers of the distribution economy. Disintermediation immediately disrupts those who provide product advisory services for retail, mortgage brokerage, real estate brokerage, insurance brokerage, etc.

3. Pre-AI era digital transformations are being reassessed

  • The idea of the corporate makeover was appealing enough when costly, high-risk projects began. Some were completed, some stalled out, and many are bumping along. Most would have been executed differently if they were started today.
  • Transformations that suffered from efficiency and resourcing issues may be easier to deliver with the help of Gen AI (process efficiency, speed of research, data analysis, data creation, etc.).

This primer prepares you for what's next

We will lay out the training, experience, and perspectives you need to optimize your approach to AI

1. Prepare to build your roadmap for the coming year

  • This primer provides a training experience that will help you prepare for the next phase of your business as the impact of AI is realized:
  • Developing an AI strategy
  • Implementing trial and pilot use cases
  • Identifying and mitigating emergent risks
  • Acquiring and licensing AI platforms
  • Rolling out new processes, products, and services

2. Focus on your role and your department

  • The experience prepares you to move ahead with role-specific and industry-specific issues for AI and the impacts of your tactics.

3. Evolution to full AI incorporation

  • The early stages of the AI revolution introduced AI to virtually every aspect of our businesses as we contemplated the impact of the sweeping changes, upside potential, and risks.
  • Before long, AI and Gen AI will be fully integrated into the business, like the impacts of the internet, mobile technologies, cloud computing, etc.

Info-Tech offers various levels of support to best suit your needs

DIY Toolkit

“Our team has already made this critical project a priority, and we have the time and capability, but some guidance along the way would be helpful.”

Guided Implementation

“Our team knows that we need to fix a process, but we need assistance to determine where to focus. Some check-ins along the way would help keep us on track.”


“We need to hit the ground running and get this project kicked off immediately. Our team has the ability to take this over once we get a framework and strategy in place.”


“Our team does not have the time or the knowledge to take this project on. We need assistance through the entirety of this project.”

Diagnostics and consistent frameworks used throughout all four options

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About Info-Tech

Info-Tech Research Group is the world’s fastest-growing information technology research and advisory company, proudly serving over 30,000 IT professionals.

We produce unbiased and highly relevant research to help CIOs and IT leaders make strategic, timely, and well-informed decisions. We partner closely with IT teams to provide everything they need, from actionable tools to analyst guidance, ensuring they deliver measurable results for their organizations.

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