Finding the Way to AI: Return on Your AI Investment
By Ben Dyer
At the time of this writing, I am cognizant of how businesses small to large are keeping their pocketbooks buttoned up. In some cases, companies are even clawing back previous signing bonuses from up to two years earlier as they lay off executives. No doubt those bonuses were all spent long ago, even though their contracts provided for such a rude outcome. My source for that is a WSJ article this week about mortgage bankers caught in a market stalled by persistent high interest rates and consequently deeming them dispensable.
Even though prominent AI ventures continue to be funded lavishly, particularly in the Silicon Valley, Seattle, NYC, and Boston corridors, and are closely allied in many cases with the Big Tech leaders, they are facing calls to “show me the money.” OpenAI, for example, has shifted from experimentation to serious revenue generation and is on pace for $1.3B in 2023. Google has taken some hits from shareholders about upping its return on its AI products. Apple is getting away with operating somewhat in AI stealth mode, but one has to believe that it will reveal its cards soon enough. To quote the daily AI news post Neuron, the “do-more-with-less” ethos is all the rage on Wall Street, and AI is the game changer.
If you follow my writings, you know that I favor aiming your best AI ideas at big quantifiable challenges within your own organization or at medium and larger enterprises for whom you wish to become a technology vendor. AI has rapidly passed beyond the “tinkering” stage that I have referenced previously. Creative deep tech designs that can show returns and meet the requirements of solid use cases and strong protectable moats will be the winners in the grand schemes of the AI-powered world.
To achieve these goals, one has to have more than a brainstorm. The core requirement is assembling a team that can design, build, sell, and deliver a high value offering. If you are Facebook user, you see a flood of advertising for university courses, independently produced seminars, and all manner of online aids and consultants to raise up your team to the pace and intensity required to prosper in the AI wars. GA Tech has 360 AI engineers in its research units, but that doesn’t easily translate into folks walking by my GT office looking for jobs. The front lines of the grand competition will be the battles to ferret out and land the best available talent.
It goes without saying that talent follows the money. If you want to do big things that generate real returns, you must have the ability to fund them. The current economic, political, and wartime priorities add difficulty to fundraising, but the best investors have money to deploy and want to hear from you. Of course, if your existing company throws off enough cash for genuine innovation, you’re well set to gain against your known competitors. Your bigger challenge will be managing the performance of your genius corral as you artfully blend all the required business functions for successful deployment of your AI offspring.
A number of groups in Atlanta are trying to form regular meetings for collaboration and mutual education in the AI community. If you’d like to be invited to one, let me know. Everything is at formative stages at the moment, but there is budding interest. Georgia Tech’s ambitious AI Hub will soon be a reality, and Emory already has its Center for AI Learning.
Back to the headline of this piece, the elements of getting a return on AI are beginning to fall into place. Not everyone has to move to the Bay Area to achieve that goal; many of us are working to retain our best talent and attract all the resources necessary to make the greater Atlanta area an active player in this chase.
Why it matters: The “do-more-with-less” ethos is all the rage on Wall Street, and AI is the game changer.
Let’s chat more, message me in the Finding the Way Community
And here is some further reading for the week:
Ben Dyer is best known as the founding CEO of Peachtree Software and has been responsible for numerous startups in both Atlanta and Austin ranging from technology to financial services. He is currently an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the ATDC at Georgia Tech and spent 7 years in starting in 2011 in similar roles at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a prolific writer and has written many hundreds of blog posts on entrepreneurial topics. Among numerous honors, he is a member of the Georgia Technology Hall of Fame.