Pankaj Chowdhry and the Four Realities of Transformation on the hello, Human Podcast

Our podcast, hello, Human, features the leading builders, explorers, and warriors of AI. Together, we dig into how they’re putting AI to work to transform enterprises and make sustainable progress on automation, privacy, business disruption, human-bot teaming, and much more. We aim to make each episode intelligent and engaging, with the ultimate goal of improving your understanding of the opportunities AI can bring to your business and our world. 

Episode 1 – The Four Realities of Transformation

 
 
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In our very first episode of hello, Human, we welcomed our very own Pankaj Chowdhry, the founder and CEO of Fortress IQ. Pankaj and I discussed how humans and AI can interact to add more value to business processes, and then explored the four realities of transformation. But, we began where every AI conversation seems to begin: how robots are going to take over and destroy humanity. 

“I think the thing to do is to step back and say, what would make AI different from anything else?,” asked Pankaj. “Any technology that we as a human civilization or a more technology-advanced society, has always had positive and negative to it.”

As Pankaj quickly explained, however, the pace at which AI is advancing is unprecedented. That’s fueling the fears and forcing us to change the conversation by pointing to areas where AI can improve our lives. But, we also need to address the fears which arise as AI changes how we work. The solution, says Pankaj, is in using AI to help workers be more accurate, efficient, and productive in their existing roles. 

“I think a joint solution is always going to be better,” said Pankaj. “When we’re looking at transformation and the reimagining of these job roles, you wouldn’t expect someone to do a job without a laptop. AI is kind of that same level. There is going to be a certain level of interaction with artificial intelligence that every job role is going to have. The key is just to figure out how much of it works and if it actually adds value.”

This joint human-AI solution is where AI is adding real value to enterprises today. AI helps as an assistant, a second set of eyes, or the doer of mundane or repeatable tasks. Humans then have more time or information to perform higher-level tasks and make important decisions. This is where the four realities of transformation come in. As a quick recap, these four points state that your processes, systems, people, and structure might change (for the better!) with AI, but they aren’t going away. 

“When I say your processes aren’t going away, what I’m trying to make sure people understand is that the process is going to exist,” Pankaj explained. “You have to deal with the realities of what your IT landscape is. Any transformation strategy has to embrace the people that are going to be impacted by it because these people are oftentimes the core of what’s going on in the process.”

That’s the classic golden triangle of people, process, and technology. But the fourth one, organizational structure, is where the real challenges to transformation come into play. I’ve read that as many as 86% of transformation projects fail to live up to their performance improvement goals, and just a tiny fraction, a mere 3%, achieve sustainable change. Pankaj points to this fourth reality of transformation as the often-overlooked key to project success: everyone and every team affected by the transformation has to be on board. 

“Any transformation strategy that requires a wholesale change of the org chart on day one is going to be most likely a non-starter,” said Pankaj. “You’re going to have compliance, security, training, HR. All these things need to be taken in so you can make sure the organization you’re building has a very, very clear path of how the existing organization is going to arrive there.”

It may seem counterintuitive that a successful transformation is only possible when embracing both change and the status quo, but that’s why so many transformations fail. Success lies in figuring out how to leverage the existing people, processes, and technology while delivering the desired organizational change. Listen and subscribe to hello, Human to hear my full conversation with Pankaj, as well as his favorite resource for staying current on the latest technologies. Or, you can read the full podcast transcript here.

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