First Steps With AI: Don’t Lose Your Head, Use It

  • Photo of Tobin Conley
    Tobin Conley

There has been a lot of chatter about artificial intelligence (AI) recently. If you’ve been following the conversations at all, you’ll likely have been flooded with a whirlwind—or maybe more of a category 5 hurricane—of information with some blend of optimism, pessimism, and excitement. But that excitement has bred urgency—urgency to use AI, urgency to protect yourself and your members from AI, urgency to establish policies around AI, or perhaps just an urgency to talk about AI.  

Listeners of our Reboot IT podcast may have had a sobering experience listening to Jeff De Cagna express his concerns about the developments in AI technology. And while there’s much to be concerned about regarding the ethical implications of these technologies, it’s imperative that we ready ourselves for whatever changes such technology inevitably brings.  

Tori Miller Liu, the CEO of AIIM, recently put out an article on LinkedIn likening the current landscape of AI technology to the Wild West by highlighting the similarities between the development of AI technology to the “early, lawless days of Western expansion in the United States.” In her article, she emphasizes the necessity for leaders in the association space to begin the process of familiarizing themselves and their organizations with AI tools.  

Tori’s insight is incredibly valuable and helps establish a manageable scope of focus for association leaders. While there’s much uncertainty surrounding what AI will do to the association space, leaders shouldn’t shy away from engaging in discussions about AI and starting to think about how those technologies can be leveraged to help their organizations. 

Echoing Tori’s perspective on the matter, the best step organization leaders can take in this early phase of development is to get involved, start learning about AI and identifying how it can be used by associations, and begin to anticipate the challenges and problems that may arise because of the introduction of AI.  

There’s no way to know what exactly the landscape will look like in a decade, but it’s clear we’re accelerating toward change as new tools such as Microsoft’s Copilot are being announced more frequently. While a future where AI plays a significant role in our businesses is likely inevitable, we have some agency in how we leverage these technologies to help our members and how we design our policies and procedures to protect our members and our staff.  

In her article, Tori emphasizes three things association leaders ought to be doing to prepare for AI. We wanted to share them and expand on what you should start doing right away to prepare your organization for the dawn of the new horizon.

  1. Start learning about AI technology.
    It’s important to understand what AI technology is and how it functions on a conceptual level. As a leader, you will be responsible for how your organization and your staff orient themselves to not just AI but also all the challenges that arise as AI technology is used more regularly. But it’s just as important to start getting your hands dirty and experiencing how these tools actually work.

    For those who may want some content to help them get started, there are materials out there that can help make learning about AI more accessible. This free online course provides a great introduction to what AI is and how it can be applied.
  2. Familiarize yourself with what is and what is not AI.
    With all the buzz about AI, there are many companies marketing AI technology, but not all of them are actually using AI technology. Familiarize yourself with what AI can do and start to develop a discerning eye for when AI is being used to generate something. Tori lists a few helpful links in her article that would be worth checking out.
  3. Begin to identify use cases and use limits for your association.
    While you may not begin to implement AI technology into your organization en masse anytime soon, it may be a bigger part of the landscape in the not-so-distant future. In fact, it may be that some of your staff are already learning about and working with AI. It’s important to try and adapt as early as you can so that you’re not left trying to catch up after the fact.

    You don’t have to draft organization-wide policies and procedures by the end of the month, but you probably should begin to have conversations with your staff and other trusted sources about what AI might offer your organization and your members. Begin to identify use cases as well as limitations for how your organization can use AI. It’s important to be wary of the risks and rewards and plan your organization’s adoption of AI technology accordingly so that you can be sure you’re prepared to protect your organization and, most importantly, your members. This article from the Harvard Business Journal does a great job of breaking down one way you might go about identifying use cases for your organization.    

As Ferris Bueller observed “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” AI is much the same.

Watch for future dispatches from DelCor as we continue to monitor developments in this emerging IT area.

Check out all DelCor resources on AI and more.

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