How Midsize Companies Can Keep Up with AI

How Midsize Companies Can Keep Up with AI

By Matt Dallisson, 08/05/2023

What do the internet, smartphones, social media, the metaverse, and generative AI have in common?

Answer: they’re all part of the same, ongoing innovation movie.

We’ve seen this movie before, and if the Fast & Furious series can create double-digit sequels (movie number 10 coming soon), we should expect the same from technology.

Somehow, we keep forgetting, but this current AI hype cycle isn’t the first, and certainly won’t be the last. Innovation is exciting, but it’s also ongoing. Just when we started figuring out the internet, along came smartphones. As the metaverse grabbed our attention, generative AI arrived. While we’re all still navigating both the ethical and safety concerns, if this truly is generative AI’s smartphone moment, then another innovation will have its own generative AI moment. It’s not a coincidence; it’s a never-ending pattern. Rinse and repeat.

How can leaders make sense of it all? Those at midsize companies face this obstacle from a unique perspective. Their size and agility allow them to mobilize more quickly to understand generative AI’s capabilities and how to optimize them for maximum organizational benefits. However, midsize companies have their limits when it comes to resources and how much they’re able to scale. To combat these challenges, research suggests that midsize companies lean into an ecosystem of partners to compete with large enterprises in the fast-paced world of AI. Gaining access to the right talent, data, and ideas is critical.

But at this point, the disruption that is generative AI shouldn’t have come as a shock. Midsize companies are not immune to groundbreaking technology; it’s something they should anticipate. The only questions are what the next one will be, what it will do, and how they will use it.

Constant change is now the expectation, and it’s almost impossible to keep up. But I believe middle-market leaders can make sense of this latest AI craze by creating a culture of adaptability. Here are three things they should keep in mind as they aim to accomplish it:

Avoid a Narrow, Short-Term Focus

Right now, many businesses are reacting to generative AI in a vacuum. But individual innovations shouldn’t be approached with a narrow, short-term focus, as midsize companies that chase each new trend will find themselves over-committed and under-prepared when that trend wears off. Instead, zoom out. How does this current innovation build on the technology already in place, and what can we expect it to build toward in the future? A wider, long-term view will bring much-needed perspective at a time when many are being swept up in the attention AI is getting.

Adaptability = Resiliency

When we talk about future-proofing for the next big disruption, that starts with adaptability, as midsize organizations that are versatile in the face of ongoing change are also resilient. It’s not about tying everything to one particular disruptive moment; it’s about becoming an organization that thrives in the face of disruption because you have become so flexible that it doesn’t faze you. The rate of change is accelerating, with the pace of AI growth now exceeding Moore’s Law. Midsize companies that are architected to transform and prepared to pivot relish in these moments because they provide a competitive advantage. Middle-market leaders who connect adaptability to resiliency not only gain this advantage, but their organizations also avoid surprises and are built to last. It may sound simple but getting back to business basics can bring enormous value in these moments.

There Will Be Another ChatGPT

As revolutionary as it may be right now, more innovation is coming that will make generative AI seem obsolete. Don’t ask yourself how you’ll modify your business today to maximize the capabilities of ChatGPT. Instead, ask yourself how you’ll create the foundation now so your business can quickly adjust for every other ChatGPT (and new version of it) that’s still to come. It might feel like these innovations burst onto the scene, but they’re in development for years. It’s impossible to predict the future (even AI can’t do that, although it tries), but those midsize companies that are paying attention can anticipate the next big thing. By understanding the long historical context of innovation cycles, leaders should recognize that this journey does not have a finish line and is likely to repeat.

In the current tech landscape, experiencing déjà vu each time there’s buzz around a new technology is a normal (perhaps even healthy) response. Recalling the continuous cycle of innovative breakthroughs we’ve witnessed over the years can hopefully bring mid-market leaders a sense of calm and clarity. Through a big-picture focus and an emphasis on future-proofing for the next disruptions with a culture of adaptability, midsize organizations can tackle whatever challenges may come their way. It’s a crazy time, but we’ve seen this movie before. And the series is far from over.

This content was originally published here.