NEW YORK—Heading into the afternoon sessions and before a break for lunch, Jim Rowan, principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP, shared his insights into how to weave AI into daily business operations. In his presentation titled, “How to Build an AI Team,” he noted that generative AI is transforming the way the optical industry does business, from diagnostics to managing patient interactions and marketing, suggesting that AI is seemingly making it easier to enhance the patient experience.

Deloitte’s Jim Rowan offered both practical and theoretical approaches to building an effective AI team.

Efficiently adopting this technology means having a team that understands how to utilize AI in a way that will drive business growth, he said. He drew from the latest research from Deloitte’s annual report, The State of Generative AI in the Enterprise, which looks beyond the IT department and focuses on building a culture of AI through propagating change and developing the right skill set.

Rowan offered both practical and theoretical approaches to building an effective AI team, noting that this can be achieved by combining both existing and new skills for long- and short-term solutions, and he surmised that businesses are onboard with AI adoption but are concerned about safe integration.

“What we’ve…seen is that organizations are starting to get a bit more concerned about the risk of governance and the talent associated with this as the new technology,” he told those in attendance. “Most of us are already using generative AI today, or AI technologies, in our day-to-day activities. You might not even know some of the companies that are out there.”

Even activities as simple as placing a call to a call center are now run through AI, according to Rowan, who added that the prevalence of AI is raising alarm bells with both consumers and businesses.

“We’re really concerned about the negative impact on society. Where are the jobs going to go?” he said, adding that there is also concern about how AI can be used in a manipulative way. “Is there a bias in the model that someone has built? How are you protecting yourself from that? Have you defined governance procedures and policies within your organization? Are you sending data to a cloud provider? Are they using that to train their models?”

All these questions, Rowan added, need to be answered when developing procedures and infrastructure within organizations so that both customers and employees are safely engaged with the technology. He believes these are the tools necessary to get buy-in within an organization.

“You need to have a plan or process in place to figure out how you’re going to get your workforce along on that journey. A lot of times, what we see in this conversation is that it’s a very IQ-driven conversation in the workforce. What we’re missing in that conversation is the EQ [emotional quotient] dimension,” he said. “What does this mean to me? How am I going to feel about this new technology? What does this actually do? Am I nervous? How am I going to deal with that situation?”

Rowan said many organizations tend to focus on the engineering of AI without thinking about what individuals themselves are going to experience. He noted that many people at the Summit and in business will soon find themselves in the position of either being subject-matter experts, advisors, guides or consumers of AI technology. “Or, you’re a part of an institution that’s trying to roll out this technology. You want to understand how to build more effective teams for the future.”

Before adopting AI, Rowan suggests businesses go at their own pace and skill set, bringing in the right people with the know-how to move adoption forward. This includes management taking a leading role in embracing AI technology.

“I think leading by example is super critical to the organization, saying we’re willing to adopt this, and you’re developing and showing your intellectual curiosity on the topic,” he said, suggesting that creating incentives for adoption is another way to build buy-in, such as having learning and development on-site when possible. “One of the things we found as a side benefit is a lot of the best innovation is happening closest to where the work is being done.”

Rowan said that fostering this culture of innovation within your business structure will enhance the ongoing development process and spark innovation, and that creating a center of excellence within your organization is one of the key things a company can do to ensure successful integration. Not only is this a way to begin collecting talent and building skill sets within your organization, he said, but this also develops a centralized democratization of access to information.

Emphasizing the importance of bringing human capabilities into the problem-solving process, Rowan noted that throwing engineers onto a team is not necessarily the right way to solve the AI equation.

“There are a lot of these human capabilities that you really try to encourage organizations to think about as they build these processes and make sure they’re both cross-functional,” he said. “It’s very important as we think about those soft skills. You can start looking at things that humans do extremely well and start figuring out how to amplify that within the organization.”

The Deloitte study found that while clearer answers in relation to AI adoption and implementation are still emerging, organizations should press on to keep pace with competitors. Rowan noted that businesses should be cautious when investing and conduct research before committing to any platform or technology.

“Your ability to invest might be hindered by your ability to get access to some of the platforms you need to innovate around,” he said, encouraging businesses to develop a strategy upfront and work with IT leadership to determine which vendors are right. “I encourage more of that centralization of the new things. We have to always be really careful about our patient data and other information.”