Accelerating value with AI: Align your digital and business strategies

AI readiness focuses on optimizing four key capabilities – People, Processes, Data, and Technology. To succeed, all must be informed by a strategic, digitally focused approach. Are your digital and business strategies heading in the same direction?

AI is alluring. A shiny object with a silicone sheen, it offers a promise to catalyze growth like never before. As the buzz around AI grows louder everywhere from news articles to earnings calls, adopting the landmark technology seems to be a strategic imperative for any market-leading organization. But before you start incorporating AI, you must understand how exactly it can benefit your business before it can propel you toward your goals. 

That starts with understanding your business.

AI is a tool that informs your aims. Lack of clarity on where you’re going clouds AI’s ability to get you there. So, to get the most value out of AI, your digital strategy must align with your overall business strategy.

This alignment serves as a foundation for growing capabilities across your business: people, processes, data, and technology. Leveraged correctly, AI can drive unique value in each. 

Preparing your organization to drive AI value

When it comes to the value that you can derive from AI, there are two aspects: value created and value preserved. In both cases, preparation and a strategic approach are essential.

Creating value with AI

For most businesses, AI creates value predominantly in the form of improved decision-making and increased efficiencies, with potential to optimize anywhere from administrative offices to assembly lines. 

Take, for example, the 80/20 rule of imbalanced efforts and impacts (also known as the Pareto principle). Employees might spend 80% of their time aggregating and scrubbing data, but only 20% working with it. 

AI flips that equation, handling most of the data tasks with only minimal human support, and reducing human error. This enables employees to focus 80% of their time on working with the data – uncovering insights and leading to better-informed decisions. 

Preserving value with AI

AI’s rapid evolution makes it important to continuously monitor its future possibilities, because those possibilities mean future value for your organization. While that value is value created, you can preserve value by positioning yourself today to evolve along with the technology.

Understanding and self-awareness empower you to leverage AI such that it best utilizes your resources. From the perspective of developing your digital strategy, ask yourself:

  • How does my company’s technology landscape compare to my competitors’? Is it modern? Where is maturation needed to stay competitive?
  • Does my company have the people, processes, skills, and predilection to move with agility to take advantage of future-state AI opportunities? What technology enhancements should be made today to build the foundational structure needed to modernize my company quickly via AI adoption and stay competitive?

Steps to a strong AI strategy

Value creation starts at the top

Every part of your organization can benefit from implementing AI properly. But how can you secure buy-in from every stakeholder? And where do you need to focus?

Just as company leadership as a whole needs to understand the overall organization prior to implementing AI, individual  leaders throughout the organization must understand AI as it relates to their specific responsibilities. Focus especially on the following:

  • Top leadership
    • The CEO at a minimum, plus the CFO and the CIO
    • Other C-level leaders based on your organization’s use cases (e.g., COO for production-related matters)
    • Departmental leadership as needed based on use cases and affected departments
  • Legal and compliance for their industry-specific regulatory awareness, plus perspective on AI’s ethical ramifications
  • IT not only for the heavy lifting of implementation, but also to make sure that AI is purpose-built

The importance of individually understanding AI

For all these audiences, the first step is to demystify AI. Help them understand the unique value it offers them. This demands diving into details and relies on strong relationships.

  • How can AI enhance the outcomes of your team members’ daily responsibilities, allowing more time for “passion projects” and value-added activities?
  • How can it alleviate operational pain points and optimize processes?
  • Are their goals out of reach – or out of time? Could AI be the accelerant they need?

Many tech solutions today already have AI features embedded, which puts basic capabilities within reach – if your company knows how and why to take advantage of those features, and is prepared to train and upskill on their uses and outputs.

By helping key players  understand how AI can make their jobs better, you can transform “Why should I adopt AI?” into “How could I not?”

Leading the value conversation

Before having these vital conversations, consider who should lead them. The answer to that lies in identifying the use cases that your organization needs.

Consider implementing an innovation committee for AI, tasked with use case development, identification, and vetting, and, eventually, monitoring and assessing effectiveness. Innovation committees can help ensure that use cases add the right value to individual departments and the overall organization.

Invest in the right investments

To both create and preserve the maximum value from your technology landscape, you will need a defined digital strategy to make sure that digital initiatives align to and enable broader business strategy realization. Consider the investments needed to optimize people structures and capabilities; defined, standardized processes; data collection and analysis; and technology infrastructure. We will explore each of these topics in future articles –subscribe now to make sure you don’t miss them – but as a start, ask yourself:

  • Do I have the “right skilled” team to unlock the value AI holds? If not, is the best choice to upskill my existing team, or to identify and leverage additional support?
  • Is my operational model mature enough to adopt AI capabilities? Are processes standardized, and can I measure process effectiveness?
  • Where does data live within my business ecosystem? Is it fit, and can it be easily accessed and leveraged to empower accurate insights?

To achieve success, define success

Success looks different for every business, and can even look different for every division within a business. It’s critical to define early on what it will look like for you: Increased customer satisfaction, reduced turnover, a bolstered bottom line?

Identifying success in clear, KPI terms, with both qualitative and quantitative metrics, gives you a clear destination for charting your course. And once you know what success looks like, you can confirm that your AI efforts are aligned along that trajectory, achieving the desired ROI, and course-correct if needed.

The value equation

Too many organizations adopt a “build it and they will come” approach to AI, believing it to be an off-the-shelf value generator. But critical forethought is necessary in order to see results.

There’s little doubt that AI will continue to disrupt and transform business as we know it. Its potential for top-line revenue and EBITDA increases – when approached correctly – are unlike anything the business world has seen.

But to make the most of the value that AI offers, leaders must dedicate careful time and attention to aligning their digital strategy with that of their overall business. Aligned in that way, AI can lead to untapped value.


Subject matter expertise

View All Specialists
shawn gilronan

Shawn Gilronan

Principal, Digital Advisory Practice Leader
Stephen Mancini

Stephen Mancini

Director, Digital

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    This has been prepared for information purposes and general guidance only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. You should not act upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining specific professional advice. No representation or warranty (express or implied) is made as to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this publication, and CohnReznick LLP, its partners, employees and agents accept no liability, and disclaim all responsibility, for the consequences of you or anyone else acting, or refraining to act, in reliance on the information contained in this publication or for any decision based on it.