Artificial intelligence (AI) promises to change how we live, work, and plan in the coming years. This seismic shift means boards must go beyond traditional focus areas (e.g., forecasting, finance) and place a greater emphasis than ever on resilience, trust, and ethics.
At this crucial intersection of technology and social change, board leaders must adapt and lead the way.
Things Are Changing, Again
Boardrooms are often resistant to adopting emerging, disruptive technologies. But consider how recent tech-focused trends and events have impacted decision-making within the boardroom.
From ever-growing cybersecurity risks to the Zoom meetings required by the COVID-19 pandemic, boards and their stakeholders were forced to adapt, adopt, and even embrace new approaches to technology.
Artificial intelligence and the opportunity – and risk – it represents is all but guaranteed to follow a similar pattern. Boards will have to make strategic decisions that alter the trajectory of the organizations they serve.
What AI Can Do for Your Boardroom
AI is the latest development that promises to transform how boards work. AI models quickly and efficiently analyze large swaths of information more quickly than any human could dream of doing. Tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard enable users to analyze and generate insights from data in a fraction of the time it once required.
Here are a few examples of how boards can benefit from AI:
- Better decision-making: The ability to see information from virtually everywhere helps board members make more informed decisions.
- Improved governance: With less time needed for research, board members can focus on governing more effectively.
- Centralized information: Research by OnBoard shows that using a board portal offered more flexibility between meetings because everything they need is in one spot. Integrating AI technology will enhance that.
- Efficiency: Boards can use AI to make all board work more efficient, such as developing agendas and key documentation.
- Data-driven focus: AI models can provide insights for boards on what’s working well, what isn’t, and how to improve problem areas.
- Risk mitigation: Predictive modeling and machine learning help AI foresee risk that may not be otherwise apparent.
Caveats to AI Use
There’s a right way and a wrong way to use AI, especially in the boardroom. Remember that AI might present invalid information. It’s up to your board members to fact-check any information they might glean from AI tools to ensure accuracy.
Also, AI has no moral compass, and ethics aren’t a factor in AI models. Because they were encoded and trained by humans with all their human fallacies, prejudices, and biases, those biases have been proven to appear in their generative responses. It’s up to your board to infuse your ethical standards into your AI practice.
AI chatbots aren’t secure communication channels, either. AI takes whatever information you feed it and incorporates it into its knowledge base, including proprietary information. Train board members and employees to take proper precautions such as using secure, standalone AI environments with certified compliance credentials at the highest levels of data privacy, encryption, and data privacy.
How Should Your Board Prepare?
Fortunately, there are several steps your board can take to ensure your organization continues to grow with the times.
- Give the board an AI crash course. Don’t count on one board member to serve as a de facto “AI expert.” Your CTO or CIO can host an informational session or invite an independent expert to guide your board’s approach to managing potential AI risks and opportunities.
- Back up your policies with a sense of responsibility. Connect AI to the compliance and regulatory guidelines that (hopefully) are already in place.
- Consider your AI strategy. Make sure this new technology aligns with your business goals. Develop time frames for training and create benchmarks for reviewing proper implementation.
- Remember AI’s limitations. Verify any AI-generated data and use sound judgment on what to trust. No technology can replace the judgment of an experienced board member. Consider these tools as supplemental support that informs the board’s decision-making.
The Bottom Line on AI
AI is already a core piece of businesses in 2023. Be willing to learn how AI can help your board achieve its goals. When implemented correctly, this technology can help your organization become more modern, efficient and productive.