Generative AI has revolutionized how data is processed on a large scale, enabling the creation of text, images, and audio that closely resembles human conversation.
One reason gen AI continues to take us by storm is its interactive nature and immediacy. As a subset of machine learning, algorithms are trained to respond like you and me when asked a question. You see? Less artificial and more intelligent.
Recently, I explored generative AI’s transformative potential on my show CXO Spice with Dell Vice President of Corporate Strategy Mindy Cancila. Mindy Cancila is no stranger to compute-and-storage products. She worked on Compaq computers in the 90s, joined Dell in the early aughts, left to serve as a public cloud analyst for Gartner and returned in 2022. Today, she leads the growth strategy at Dell by identifying emerging technologies impactful for customers. She’s confident generative AI will “massively disrupt” many industries and says it “is all about the data.”
“Innovation comes in lots of form factors,” she says, adding that while people wonder if generative AI will impact their work, most organizations are leaning into the idea of increased productivity in a new way rather than getting more out of the resources they have. “It’s more how can I take the things they do today and offload those into generative AI and therefore take my talents so they can do more impactful types of tasks. So it’s really as much about increasing productivity as driving operational efficiencies.”
As an infrastructure and solutions provider, Dell focuses on customer priorities. Dell meets customers where they are at and learns with them. “It all ties back,” says Cancila, “to the business objective that we’re trying to help our customers solve for.”
Cancila suggests not making rash decisions for fear of falling behind competitors. However, she also warns not to wait. “The companies that harness generative AI are the companies we believe are going to disrupt the industries. They’re going to drive new revenue streams, they’re going to seek new opportunities for operational excellence, and they are going to have a resulting increased productivity,” said Cancila.
Not sure where to start? Here are 10 questions to get your generative AI conversations off the ground:
What problem are you trying to solve?
What needs to be true to enable generative AI?
What are your past mistakes and lessons learned?
What mission critical deployments are not tied to production, sensitive data and productivity?
What are the potential risks and rewards of embracing non-mission-critical initiatives in the context of generative AI?
What talent do you have in your organization?
Does the culture of your company embrace technology or fear it?
What is the right data strategy?
What is the right infrastructure strategy?
What are the right security postures?
From these questions, Cancila suggests three major phases to getting generative AI off the ground:
Strategic planning. Strategy should be rooted in purposeful outcomes to drive increased productivity, operational efficiencies or net new revenue streams.
Use case identification: Uncover non mission critical areas that could benefit from GenAI leading to expected outcomes.
Steps for implementation: Execute the transformation in a structured, progressive manner.
Dell tailors generative AI solutions to address unique challenges across various industries. For example, highly repeatable tasks can benefit from large scale data being infused into the learning model, like software engineering where AI develops code and solves problems. Another example is using generative AI for knowledge-based articles in marketing.
Dell has long fostered a culture of innovation. The company ranks No. 13 on the 2023 Patent 300(R) List and earned “Best Place to Work in 2023” by employees on Glassdoor. Dell’s proactive technology adoption, rather than a break-fix strategy, keeps the company at the forefront of innovation with diverse perspectives and values integrated into AI training.
While generative AI largely focuses on operational performance, Cancila is excited about its future potential. “One of the most interesting facets that sort of struck me is the impact I think it (generative AI) will have on our current and our future workforce. One of the top priorities at Dell is to really foster this diverse workforce.”
From my perspective, I’m excited to see how generative AI enables less unconscious bias, creates more inclusive job descriptions and can even suggest recruitment strategies for a more diverse workforce.
Five years ago, I worked with a global financial institution to bring AI-powered chatbots into their customer service setup. Making this happen was a bit complex and took a good amount of effort. We started by figuring out how AI could be useful and gathering the right data. The more data we fed in, the better the AI could learn, but that also meant waiting for hours to test how well it worked. Working with the data required technical skills, like coding and understanding data models. Plus, we had to spend time convincing others within the company that this was a good move. Back then, it wasn’t a walk in the park, and even today, it’s still no walk in the park. But thanks to GenAI, it has advanced us by leaps and bounds.
Engaging with GenAI is remarkably authentic. Using GenAI no longer demands technical expertise.. Envision a scenario where a broader populace harnesses the machine’s intelligence to embrace a more human-focused methodology, marked by reduced artificiality. Such technology holds the potential to contribute positively to humanity’s welfare. Let the machine do what it does best with human oversight.
This reminds me of something CEO Michael Dell said: “AI won’t replace jobs, but companies leveraging AI will disrupt industries.”
Cancila concedes there is no generative AI easy button. “Instead of taking all that data and bringing it to AI, take the AI and bring it to your data,” she advises. Wise. Consider your data based on use cases and outcomes you want to achieve. Then, drive them with the right GenAI model.
Perhaps then the button will read: more intelligence and less artificiality.
Looking for AI ideas? Check out CXO Spice_Activating GenAI with Mindy Cancila and follow Dell’s AI journey at #DellGenAI as they take AI to new places and beyond.
Helen Yu is a Global Top 20 thought leader in 10 categories, including digital transformation, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, cybersecurity, internet of things and marketing. She is a Board Director, Fortune 500 Advisor, WSJ Best Selling & Award Winning Author, Keynote Speaker, Top 50 Women in Tech and IBM Top 10 Global Thought Leader in Digital Transformation. She is also the Founder & CEO of Tigon Advisory, a CXO-as-a-Service growth accelerator, which multiplies growth opportunities from startups to large enterprises. Helen collaborated with prestigious organizations including Intel, VMware, Salesforce, Cisco, Qualcomm, AT&T, IBM, Microsoft and Vodafone. She is also the author of Ascend Your Start-Up.