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Caution, the AI Moving Walkway Is Accelerating - Embracing Tech for Strategy Success

Washington Dulles.  Chicago O’Hare.  Reid International Las Vegas. 

These are just a few of the airports I’ve traversed recently.  They all offer travelers a great opportunity to up their step count between parking and terminals.

In Dulles on a recent trip, I was relieved to see that the moving walkways were operational. I’m someone who steps on and continues to walk (on the left, of course!) to arrive faster. It often surprises me though how many people choose to not take the expedited assistance and instead walk on the linoleum. Do they perhaps not feel the urgency to accelerate their pace? Does the “caution: moving walkway ending” warning voice from above evoke fear? Are they simply on autopilot or just comfortable moving along their vector at their usual pace?

The Moving Walkway struck me as another #StrategyIRL metaphor for AI and technology adoption in today’s business landscape. The walkway serves as a means of transport, navigation, and expediency. Similarly, AI is a tool that helps individuals and organizations potentially accelerate achievement of their strategic objectives. 

One routine example of AI in my daily life is using Waze to get to a destination. I may know multiple routes to get to the Maryland Soccerplex for kids’ travel games, but which one is fastest at the specific point in time I’m driving? I choose to use the AI-enabled mapping app whereas others may choose to just go the way they know. Both options still get to the destination albeit at likely different times and with varied mileage and energy consumption.

It’s not just on the roads where AI is aiding navigation. The recreational boating industry is similarly offering captains technology that helps avoid underwater risks and chart better navigational paths with enhanced situational awareness. 

David Rose, the founder of LOOKOUT, stated, “Augmented reality and spatial computing are the most transformational new technologies of our time, and LOOKOUT puts these technologies to work in a way that will save lives. The LOOKOUT provides assurance on a sunny day, offers 100% situational awareness in challenging situations like docking, and becomes essential in conditions like fog or night.”

Similar to how the majority of modern cars have built in sensors to alert you when someone is next to you on the highway, the LOOKOUT provides AI awareness to alert the captain of objects in the water to prevent collisions. These are all prime examples of how AI can support the decisions a captain needs to make at crucial times, such as running aground or hitting a buoy during a foggy morning or in a crowded harbor. 

Another example is the supply chain needs in global retail. Walmart offers a strong example in how it applied AI to address some of its challenges in ensuring popular items are always in stock at thousands of locations. By applying AI to this problem, the company predicts the restock way in advance to make sure they are on the shelf before the last item is purchased, avoiding a large gap in supply. The strategy to apply AI resulted in operational efficiency, cost reductions, and increase in customer satisfaction. 

What this technology and many others like it all face is the perennial challenges of technology adoption.  Fear, lack of trust, disinterest in new processes or operations - all of these are reasons that organizations and individuals may shy from AI. Add to it the legitimate risks of any technology and we can often justify rebuking tech advances in favor of the status quo. 

While challenges like supply chain disruptions, boating mishaps, and the routine hustle of ferrying children to sports practices aren't novel, the approaches to solving them can be thanks to the rapid evolution of AI technologies. Like my willingness to take the moving walkway personally, these examples show the true value of embracing faster, AI-driven solutions. 

For those of us that are not only travelers but leaders of organizations, we must ask ourselves whether we’re embracing the ‘moving walkways’ and navigational tools to accelerate business growth or content to be passed. This is the first of a few topics on which I’ll be writing regarding how adopting AI mirrors other ways in which we drive #StrategyIRL - including mitigating its risks. There are surely risks to tech adoption, but taking these steps can help you take advantage of its benefits. 

  • Keep calm and carry on: In the words of the British Ministry of Information nearly a century ago, putting one foot in front of the other is the best way to move forward. When making tech adoption decisions, don’t pause everything and expect movement to happen. Embracing one tech rarely means leaving another.  Stepping foot on the moving walkway still requires one foot moving before the other.

  • Slow traffic stay right: Stepping into tech adoption and strategy acceleration, you still have control of your pace. Piloting (pun intended) technology is a good way to move faster while not fully sprinting to the airport gate. 

  • Heed caution: there is a reason the warning voice comes at the end of the walkway and not at the beginning. Risk is greater once you’re moving quickly, and how you slow down requires intentionality. Similarly, once you’re applying technology, be intentional with how it’s used, how you invest, and what decisions and accountability are in place.

Time to board my next flight… Steamboat, CO, here I come!

Nyla Beth Gawel headed to Steamboat, CO!

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