You can’t flip a page in the Wall Street Journal these days without running across a reference to artificial intelligence – Las Vegas city planners using AI to manage traffic lights… rental screening companies using it to quickly screen prospective tenants by looking at spending habits and patters… smart speakers learning the nuances of speech and language patterns in different parts of the country.
These capabilities are quickly moving out of the lab and into day-to-day business functions in companies as varied as MasterCard, where their Decision Intelligence program enables real-time analysis to catch fraud and false declines before they happen, and DHL, which is leveraging AI for everything from self-driving trucks to customer service.
If it hasn’t happened already, don’t blink: your industry may be next. If you want to say ahead of the curve, a short course in artificial intelligence could be the answer.
How Understanding Artificial Intelligence Strategy Will Make You a Better Manager
It’s important for managers in every organization to start thinking about artificial intelligence strategy today.
AI is cutting-edge, black magic stuff for taking advantage of Big Data, with new developments happening all the time. Only the best and the brightest computer scientists can deliver the insights and the code to make it work.
But that’s the work on the ground—managers and executives have to have the 50,000 foot perspective on when and where to launch projects that rely on AI, and how to feed and support them to fruition. And that’s not knowledge you’re going to pick up at a one-day conference somewhere.
No one is going to ask you to sit down and code Hal 9000 from scratch. But you do need to understand the strengths and limitations of state-of-the-art AI capabilities, and how to integrate those with business operations. Your decisions and directives will set AI projects into motion in your organization, and you will need a solid footing to make the right choices moving further into the 21st century.
A short course in artificial intelligence aimed at strategy and executive decision-making can give you exactly what you need without breaking the bank or distracting you for months on end.
What to Look for in Short Courses on Artificial Intelligence for Managers
There’s a lot to digest around the technology end of AI, but extraneous courses are exactly the ones you should avoid as an executive.
Instead, you need a split-level approach: the practical applications of AI today, along with the long-term implications of the technology on business operations and strategy. You need a course that can immerse you in the vocabulary of the field without bogging you down in the details of neural network implementation.
You can get that perfectly balanced curriculum from top-level schools that are pushing the field forward, and innovative, insightful instructors who serve as thought-leaders in the field. Schools like MIT have been at the forefront of both practical and theoretical AI development since the inception of the field, and have both the cutting-edge curriculum and the caliber of instructors who can boil it down and explain it concisely and effectively in business terms.
What You Can Expect a Short Course in Artificial Intelligence to Cover
With a typical length of just over a month, with between six and ten hours of instruction per week, you shouldn’t expect a short course in AI to go in-depth or cover a lot of ground. Instead, there are certain key elements you need to make sure it contains to prepare you as a leader in an AI-enabled organization.
Understanding general and narrow AI – Practical business use of artificial intelligence all takes place in the realm of narrow, or weak, AI today, but science fiction has blurred the lines of possibility in the public eye. A good explanation of the differences between strong and weak AI is essential to ground your expectations.
Evaluating AI performance and progress – AI often has a steep learning curve, performing disastrously for much of the span of development, before suddenly magically clicking into place and returning brilliant results… or collapsing entirely under impossible demands. Evaluating those scenarios and weighing them in your project management is critical for being an AI-informed manager.
Specific AI approaches to business issues – Machine learning, natural language processing, and even robotics… a good course will make you familiar with these techniques and others used to implement AI solutions in business today.
The realm of the possible – AI is changing fast, and your decisions today will shape the potential it has in your organization tomorrow. Look for a course that not only talks about what AI can do today, but what the best and brightest theoreticians see it accomplishing tomorrow. This will give you a target to shoot for with your long-term strategic plans.
Online AI Strategy Short Courses Are Custom Made for Busy Managers and Execs
Short courses in AI are primarily offered online today. The confluence of demand, expertise, and physical location don’t line up for traditional on campus courses, so you are likely to find your short course offered through an exclusively online provider, like Coursera or edX.
Online course aggregators like these simply host and deliver the course content developed by colleges and private businesses. In some cases, universities offer the courses directly through online platforms run by the schools themselves.
Course aggregators and universities offering online programs are well versed in how to deliver course content effectively, offering user-friendly
Learning Management System (LMS) that include elements that make the experience dynamic, accessible and engaging:
- Asynchronous course delivery
- Video and audio support
- Chat or virtual classroom conferencing support
- Digital resource libraries
- 24/7 support
Another feature that may be useful to you and that is becoming increasingly common is mobile classroom support, typically through a dedicated app. For a busy manager on the go, being able to easily turn to your tablet or phone to study during a few minutes of downtime during the day can make a big difference in your ability to engage with the class while fulfilling your responsibilities at home and on the job.
How Better Understanding AI Will Benefit Your Organization and Boost Your Career
You don’t need to become an AI expert to get big benefits out of a short course in the subject. AI is just at the cusp of becoming a breakthrough technology, a game-changer in every industry. By getting an introduction to the capabilities of the field ahead of most of your peers, you’re positioning yourself for big career moves in the future.
It’s impossible to quantify your promotion prospects from being the person in the room that everyone is suddenly listening to when the subject of AI strategy comes up, but you can pin some numbers on how your salary might be affected over time. Robert Half, a leading staffing agency and consultancy, tracks technology hiring and salary trends in their annual 2020 Salary Guide in Technology.
According to their research, the key differentiator between executives at the median level of salary in a given position and those in the top 5 percent is the level of experience and expertise they can bring to bear… particularly in specialized and hard-to-find skills. Right now, AI strategy is definitely one of those skills.
That kind of advantage can be well worth the investment of time and money in a short course, in addition to the many clear benefits it will bring to your organization.