Artificial intelligence

Navigating the AI revolution through curiosity

November 15, 2023

In the swiftly evolving landscape of AI, businesses are presented with unparalleled opportunities for growth and innovation. But how do companies get things rolling? We asked professional board member and speaker at the upcoming /imagine futures event Merete Søby about her views.

Merete Søby is a professional board member with extensive experience from various board memberships and a keen interest in AI implementation. Being a board member in several companies, she has first-hand experience with adopting AI into company processes.  

"AI holds immense potential for companies, both internally and externally," Merete Søby begins. "It's about enhancing processes, increasing efficiency and ultimately driving value in our organisations – but it's vital to start asking questions to understand the possibilities."

This is one of the areas where a company's board of directors can play an important role: in fostering a culture of curiosity, facilitating the integration of AI into strategic discussions and ensuring investments are made.  

"For top management – and us as board members – AI is not something we learned about during our education; it really is a new world. So, it's vital to ask questions, seek education and invite partners in who can inspire with cases from similar companies," she says.

"You need that basic knowledge to determine where the opportunities lie within your company and to start asking questions: Are we investing enough? Are we allocating people and hiring the right resources?"

Start in one corner of the company

Though Merete foresees that AI will be a major game changer that has the potential to totally transform companies' business models, she acknowledges that the changes will not happen overnight. Instead, her advice is to start with small, focused initiatives.

"It can be small gimmicks – just to begin with! For one of the boards I'm on, we used AI for the minutes, and it worked very well. They were more or less 95 per cent correct, so our secretary could just adjust and send them out, and it saved her a lot of time," says Merete, also pointing to test and try in larger scopes as a way to get going.

"On another board, we have trained 40 superusers in AI across the company and asked the different business units to present business cases from their areas. Based on that, we chose the best cases because they could either enhance processes; or create new business services or had opportunities to generate revenue. So just to start small in a corner of a company, make some small sprints, and see what it will bring."

Speaking of enhancing processes, Merete is especially optimistic about the potential impact AI can have on the climate agenda.

"There's a need to focus on things that generate the most CO₂ – such as buildings – and our use of resources, like water. For instance, I have worked with AI solutions that help provide an overview of energy consumption in buildings, which accounts for 40 per cent of CO₂ emissions. If AI can help create solutions that ensure an automatic carbon reduction without causing any inconvenience, these are low-hanging fruits that must be picked," she says.

When asked if Merete is not concerned about any negative consequences of AI, she says we have to be precautious, but not too preventive:

"We do need a lot of governance, but I also think we have to be careful not to discuss too much governance before we understand the possibilities. We have to be openminded and see what it can do for our companies. AI is here to stay, so companies have to jump on the train and get going," she says.   

"Once you have seen the possibilities of AI, you can't forget them – it will change your mindset and way of working."

Hear more of Merete Søby's viewpoints and thoughts at the upcoming /imagine futures event where she will participate in a panel debate on how AI is supporting growth and the green transition.  

About Merete Søby

Merete has been a professional board member for more than 20 years and is currently a member of the board of directors of DHI, RelyonNutec, NTI, RISMA and BlueWaterShipping. She is the former Executive Vice President for Data Driven Solutions at KMD and was the CEO of leading technology companies for more than 15 years and held positions at, e.g., Fujitsu, Hewlett Packard and A.P. Moller - Maersk.