Is your organisation ready for AI?

The second webinar in our six-part series with Brunel University looked at the relationship between AI, strategy and leadership. The session was led by Professor Ashley Braganza, Professor of Organisational Transformation, Dean of Brunel Business School and founder of the Centre for AI at Brunel, with guest host Andrew Fairhurst FCG, former Director of Company Secretarial at Legal and General Plc Recent research by Ashley and his team has revealed that on the whole, the further up the organisational hierarchy you go, the less AI is seen as offering a strategic advantage. Decisions about integrating AI into the organisational strategy take place at the board and senior leadership level, so it’s important that these groups are sufficiently engaged with what these technologies can offer. Ashley highlighted the risk of those who don’t make the most of AI being ‘left to pick up the pieces of what remains after competitors have come in and taken advantage what AI technologies can do for them. 

Rather than creating a standalone AI strategy, Ashley recommends integrating AI into the organisational strategy. Andrew pointed out that AI can also be used to harness and analyse the rich seams of data within the organisation to support more evidence-based strategic decisions. 

This requires those on the board and on the senior leadership team to accept AI as a credible source of information. They will need to accept the quality and relevance of the data that is fed into machine learning algorithms, and have sufficient understanding to be confident that potential biases are not being perpetuated or amplified. The inherent ‘black-box’ nature of AI processes presents risks in this regard, so Andrew emphasised the importance of having adequate risk management and control processes in place.  

AI isn’t always the answer 

It's not just about knowing that the technology exists, it’s about being able to apply it to the specific context of the organisation. While discussion about AI is everywhere, Ashley reminded attendees at the webinar that Not every question has the answer AI. Try to separate out the hype about AI as a cure all, because it’s not that. It shouldn’t be used in every situation – it’s context specific.  

To make sure that it’s being applied in the best way for their context, boards should feel empowered to ask questions. This is essential to provide the information they need to feel confident in the application of AI. Andrew reflected that so often in the board room, one person having the courage to ask the ‘daft question’ results in a collective sigh of relief.  

AI outputs cannot be subjected to the same kind of questioning as would be applied to people, allowing you to understand their reasoning and decision-making, but that doesn’t mean that outputs can’t be scrutinised. There is still space for the influence of ‘gut feelingson the right course of action.  

Andrew reiterated the role of AI as a tool that boards and senior leaders can use as part of their toolkit and provided checks and balances are in place it will enable organisations to mine rich seams of data, but confidence and common sense needed to question outputs.  

Ashley agreed, adding that the integration of AI into your strategy requires sufficient leadership engagement to be in place first.  

Based on the findings from their research, Ashley shared an AI strategy checklist for UK companies:  

Strategy and monitoring 

  • Perceive AI as a source of strategic advantage and set priorities and budget accordingly. 

  • Identify benefits from AI transformations. 

  • Create strategic AI implementation metrics. 

Operationalising AI 

  • Treat data as a strategic asset and make data available in the right quantity and quality for deep-learning algorithms. 

  • Incorporate AI-driven applications and processes into the organisation’s ethos. 

  • Implement fully developed AI operating models and standards. 

  • Monitor performance metrics with AI security. 


  • Establish formal governance of AI investments. 

  • Adopt and agree on AI standards and ethical protocols. 

  • Adhere to AI standards and regulatory frameworks. 

People-related factors 

  • Hold senior managers accountable for AI projects. 

  • Empower and develop board members and senior managers skills and understanding of the strategic aspects of AI. 

  • Increase levels of awareness of AI implementation. 

  • Develop clear roles and responsibilities related to AI solutions. 

  • Consider AI’s impact on employees’ morale. 

The AI Series is running from May to November 2024, make sure to catch up on the previous webinars and sign up for future sessions 

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