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We Shape AI, AI Shapes Us

Highlights of 2023 IT Symposium/Xpo keynote insights by Gartner analyst Mary Mesaglio, Don Scheibenreif, Hung LeHong & Rita Sallam:

We Shape AI, AI Shapes Us

AI is transforming the relationship between humans and machines. CIOs must actively shape the nature of this change.

Key Findings

  1. AI is transforming the human-machine relationship. Moreover, generative AI has sparked massive disruption that poses opportunities and threats to every organization. CIOs play a critical role in determining what role AI will play in each organization.
  2. Technology decisions, especially those associated with AI, come with ethical, social and financial implications. Treating any of these domains in isolation increases risk.
  3. Executive teams, and especially CEOs, expect CIOs to lead AI efforts. They expect the CIO to safely harness the benefits of AI while mitigating its dark side.


  1. Guide the executive team by defining your organization’s AI ambition, including how much risk appetite you have, how much money you will spend and how integral AI is to your business strategy.
  2. Cut through AI complexity by examining the opportunities and risks of using AI in 4 areas: the back office, the front office, new products and services, and new core capabilities.
  3. Facilitate swift and safe adoption of generative AI in the next 12 months by implementing AI-ready security, making your data AI-ready and establishing AI-ready principles.

2 Flavors of AI

  1. Everyday AI is focused on productivity. With everyday AI, machines remove drudgery from our lives. They become our supercharged productivity partners, enabling us to work faster and more efficiently. Everyday AI focuses on making you more efficient and productive at the things you already do.
  2. Game-changing AI is focused primarily on creativity. Game-changing AI does one of 2 things – either it enables you to create new results, via AI-enabled products and services; or it creates new ways to create new results, such as with AI-enabled new core capabilities. With game-changing AI, machines will disrupt business models and entire industries.

3 Scenarios

  1. Defend your position. Invest in quick wins that improve specific tasks, such as productivity assistants like Microsoft Copilot and Google Workspace. These everyday AI tools have a low-cost barrier to adoption, but they will not give your organization a sustainable competitive advantage. This is the table stakes part of the play, meaning that investment here merely allows you to keep up with the status quo.
  2. Extend your position. Invest in custom applications that provide a competitive advantage. For example, in wealth management, generative-AI-assisted financial advisors can help create custom financial plans and manage your portfolio. In this scenario, AI investments are more expensive and take more time to deliver an impact, but they are also more valuable.
  3. Upend your position. Invest in creating new AI-powered products and business models. These investments are very expensive, risky and time-consuming, but they have enormous reward potential and could disrupt your industry. Despite the huge upside, we predict that few organizations will want to pursue this scenario.

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