5 Questions to Ask Before Implementing AI in Your Business Strategy

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Questions Business Leaders Should Ask About AI

There’s a lot of confusion around AI these days – especially for people in key business operations roles like finance, procurement, supply chain, and IT. We all know we can’t ignore the AI wave. But the amount of AI-related questions pressing on business leaders’ minds can lead to a bit of analysis paralysis. 

To help you get unstuck, here are five questions you should ask when considering where and how to implement AI to support your business operations and spend management strategy: 

5 questions to ask about AI before you adopt it for your business

How does AI support your business strategy? 

This feels obvious, but we had to bring it up. AI tools are just one way to help your company drive profitability, increase cost savings, improve margins, detect fraud faster, and unleash your organization’s true capabilities. You’ll get a lot more out of them if you’re clear on the specific role these tools can play to help you drive profitable growth and act as a margin multiplier.

Do you have the right data (and do you have enough of it)?

Any AI tool is only as good as the data on which it’s built. That’s true for generative AI, machine learning, and AI-driven automation. Let’s say you want to use AI to help you flag unusual amounts of spending or purchases. Or maybe you want to use an AI agent or assistant to help solve logistics challenges and optimize your routes. In either case, if the data you feed the algorithm is incorrect, outdated, missing, or just insufficient, it could skew the recommendations. The AI tool wouldn’t be able to identify meaningful patterns or serve up helpful recommendations. In effect, the results would be useless. 

Any reliable AI solution needs a certain amount of depth and breadth in the data sets that train the AI algorithms. The data sets must be relevant to your business and industry, regularly updated, and applicable to your business size and goals. 

How will AI enhance your business operations and teams? 

AI business strategies should focus on the value they bring to your business and operations goals. For example, where can AI-driven insights and recommendations deliver significant cost savings and efficiencies? 

A huge benefit of AI is how it can uncover new opportunities to optimize business operations, identify compliance issues, and automate routine tasks. But without clear alignment and communication, you could be left with mediocre results. 

Here are some ways you might think strategically about this question:

  • For CFOs, can you use AI to help you identify opportunities to detect suspicious patterns and prevent fraud? Can AI help you uncover opportunities to contain costs and improve margins that you might not otherwise see? 
  • For procurement leaders, how can you use AI-driven insights to reduce risk and become more profitable? Can you leverage AI-driven automation to foster efficiency across your organization? 
  • For supply chain leaders, can AI recommend scenarios to reduce cost drivers and achieve greater savings faster and more efficiently?  

Regardless of your role, can you build buy-in from the start so that everyone who could benefit from AI sees it as an aid, not as a replacement? Can you work with these key people to make sure you’re allocating the right AI resources to the right places? 

Key decision-makers and people who use or could be impacted by the AI tools must understand how AI will reduce friction and enhance their operations and efforts. 

Will your business operations data be private and secure? 

Data leaks and potential misuse present huge risks to any business. While generative AI tools are popular and can be helpful assistants, organizations should look closely at how the companies behind those tools use sensitive and proprietary data. You should be able to trust that your organization’s sensitive data is protected, and that data sets fed into the algorithm are properly aggregated and anonymized. 

Best practices in data privacy and protection include regular risk assessments, multi-stakeholder reviews, and regular testing to ensure compliance and security. A culture of high ethical standards and transparency should also be in place. 

How will you boost trust and adoption of AI for business tools? 

In line with the above, it’s important to acknowledge the wariness around AI solutions and help people understand that AI is about enhancing – not replacing – human abilities and intuition. Effective leaders acknowledge people’s fears and misgivings and show them a path forward. 

When you want to encourage trust and adoption of AI business tools, make sure to: 

  • Pick a tool that’s easy to use, integrates well with existing systems, and shows immediate benefits 
  • Choose technology that provides transparency and recommendations that are easy to understand 
  • Embed AI in users’ everyday processes and tasks so they see the immediate benefits
  • Choose a solution that also helps even occasional users to work more efficiently, adhere to company purchasing guidelines, and reduce rogue or maverick spend
  • Help your teams see how they can combine their subject matter expertise with recommendations and insights to make smarter decisions faster 
  • Create user groups that can help users learn, share success stories, and incentivize adoption  

One analogy we like is that of navigation tools like Google Maps or Waze. Drivers still need to use their eyes, ears, and other senses. They still need to pay attention. But these tools take the work out of planning routes, adjust automatically if roadblocks come up, and help you find your way again if you get lost.

AI-ming high 

These questions are a starting point as you develop your AI strategy. For more guidance on this subject, explore our resource hub and stay tuned for more practical applications – whether you’re a finance, supply chain, procurement, or IT professional.

As you continue on your AI journey, we’re here to help. For over a decade, Coupa has aggregated the world's largest private B2B commerce data set with billions of real-world transactions and an unparalleled network of over 10 million suppliers and partners.

Using community-generated AI, Coupa connects every part of your business operations to deliver maximum efficiency and growth. Our AI helps you confidently navigate the most complex business issues your finance, procurement, and supply chain leaders face, becoming a margin multiplier for your business.

Learn how Coupa has been leading the way in AI innovations. 

How Coupa AI can work for you