The AI Revolution: Preparing Your Company

Analytics & Cognitive
  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

Over the past two months, we talked about getting ready for AI, both for yourself and your co-workers. But what about the organization as a whole?

In the third installment of this series, I want to talk about what has to happen from a company point of view for AI to make a grand entrance and succeed.

It Starts with a Desire

I’m going to assume here that you’re not the CEO. As a result, you can’t just say, “Hey, we’re going to do AI” and have everyone snap to.

You need to start by getting some people in the company interested in AI. Frankly, that shouldn’t really be hard to do. There are articles everywhere that hawk the importance of AI, stating that it’s going to be the “it” thing in the future. Rather than getting pushback, it’s more likely you’ll almost have to hold people back.

Naturally, you want to make the C level of your company the main target of this sales cycle, but you don’t want to ignore everyone else. As we said last month, you can get some of the best and most practical ideas from people who are at a more “line” level. Of course, the C level has all the cash, so you probably want to get them interested early; you’ll want to start by canvassing people who are on the firing line.

I know, C-level people can have ideas too. The problem with their ideas is that they tend to be more strategic than tactical, and strategic ideas tend to be broader in scope and therefore more time-consuming (and expensive) to implement.

A Simple Desire if Possible

The hard, cold truth is that AI is not easy to implement. And now you know why I suck at sales.

Anyway, the web offers tons of examples of companies that turned to AI to solve complex problems. And some of them succeeded, at least partially. But in every case, they spent a boatload of money, took a ton of time, and were only able to keep going because they were lucky that the ultimate management group felt it was important.

It would be very hard to argue that AI is not still in its infancy. And I think it would be easy to argue that it might be 20 years before it really begins to mature (that’s my opinion, not something I have seen somewhere). And, in my opinion, at this time it makes more sense to do something small with AI, something that doesn’t cost much and won’t take two lifetimes to achieve. And these are the kinds of projects that many times lower-level people are more in tune with.

And Some Knowledge

Either way, big project or small, I want to go back to what I said last month (and the month before). People, even highly intelligent and technically trained people, have many misconceptions about what AI is and how it can be used to resolve problems that are common in your company.

No one needs to be trained as a data scientist (unless you are doing analytics), but you should have some sort of training to make sure people understand a few things.

The first is what the different components of AI are. I mean, it’s more than robots carrying laser guns and roaming through the corridors of a building looking for people who don’t have a hall pass. Robots might not even be involved, and if they are, they probably shouldn’t be given weapons, at least not until the beta test is over. Instead, the components could be chat bots, or analytics, or visual inspection, or some other facet of the AI revolution.

The second, and perhaps the most important, thing that you will need to stress is that AI is not something you implement overnight. It’s not a “one and done” kind of technology. Again, I encourage you to start slowly, with a small project that has a modest cash requirement and doesn’t change your existing systems much but can deliver a meaningful and measureable punch. The measurable part is important. You’ll need to be able to justify this thing by showing tangible benefits that couldn’t be obtained any other way.

Third, many AI solutions require extensive training to learn how to perform the task they are assigned and make decisions in an appropriate manner. It’s probably the most difficult part of the process. Never underestimate the time required, and don’t undersell that fact.

And a Plan

Any corporate plan is like Adrian Monk’s ability to solve crimes. It’s a gift and a curse. On one hand, it’s impossible for any large organization to commit to a goal and reach it without having a solid, detailed plan for how that’s going to happen. On the other hand, nothing seems to paralyze an organization and ensure that nothing really good will happen like a solid, detailed plan.

The difference, of course, is in just how important top management considers AI to be.

If this is just one more project standing in line with moving to Windows 10 or retiring obsolete hardware and software products, then it may not turn out to be the revolution that everyone was hoping it would be. There will be delays, redefinitions, and compromises that will reduce the effectiveness and perhaps even the distribution of this project.

Strong corporate sponsorship and involvement will be critical to the overall success of something that is potentially as transformational as AI, and that commitment must exist from day one.

And a Staff

Once commitment is established, a broad-based project team must be created—maybe not huge, at least to begin with, but broad-based. This is not just an IT initiative. IT must be included, but user involvement should be equally or more important. And top-level management needs to be in the team as well. Not as a steering committee or as “observers” but as actual participants with roles and responsibilities.

Perhaps the key member(s) of this project team will be the machine-learning trainers. As noted above, many AI solutions—for example, anything analyzing pictures or video looking for product defects, or anything dealing with text or human voices—will need extensive training on just how to interpret that data. And setting up and evaluating this machine learning is a specialty all its own. Whether you bring in someone from the outside to do this or have one of your own folks trained is up to you. What’s really important is that you do it and then take the time to do a proper job of letting them train the machine; don’t expect instant results.

The question then is, who should lead this effort? A top manager? An IT person? A user?

Truth is, there is no ideal title to put in charge of this, Instead, choose someone good. Forget about who they are, just pick someone good.

And by “good” I mean someone who will stay focused on the goal, will be detailed enough to verify that vital plan steps are properly carried out, and will have both ownership of and a passion for what AI can bring to the table. Again, it could be someone from outside the organization, and sometimes that works best in terms of minimizing turf wars.

In the End

In the end, you can’t do AI alone. You need some knowledge yourself, the support (and knowledge) of your co-workers, and the support of your company. And the latter is very important. AI can take a long time between the initial decision and the final results. And unless your company is fully invested, you will not get there.

Remember, AI is in its infancy. It will be a decade or two (in my opinion) before we’re talking to AI intelligences like they’re friends who are familiar with our idiosyncrasies, are able to recognize sarcasm, etc. But you can take the first steps today…and see some tangible, useful results.

David Shirey

David Shirey is president of Shirey Consulting Services, providing technical and business consulting services for the IBM i world. Among the services provided are IBM i technical support, including application design and programming services, ERP installation and support, and EDI setup and maintenance. With experience in a wide range of industries (food and beverage to electronics to hard manufacturing to drugs--the legal kind--to medical devices to fulfillment houses) and a wide range of business sizes served (from very large, like Fresh Express, to much smaller, like Labconco), SCS has the knowledge and experience to assist with your technical or business issues. You may contact Dave by email at or by phone at (616) 304-2466.

MC Press books written by David Shirey available now on the MC Press Bookstore.

21st Century RPG: /Free, ILE, and MVC 21st Century RPG: /Free, ILE, and MVC
Boost your productivity, modernize your applications, and upgrade your skills with these powerful coding methods.
List Price $69.95

Now On Sale

More Articles By This Author
Related Articles


Support MC Press Online





  • White Paper: Node.js for Enterprise IBM i Modernization

    SB Profound WP 5539

    If your business is thinking about modernizing your legacy IBM i (also known as AS/400 or iSeries) applications, you will want to read this white paper first!

    Download this paper and learn how Node.js can ensure that you:
    - Modernize on-time and budget - no more lengthy, costly, disruptive app rewrites!
    - Retain your IBM i systems of record
    - Find and hire new development talent
    - Integrate new Node.js applications with your existing RPG, Java, .Net, and PHP apps
    - Extend your IBM i capabilties to include Watson API, Cloud, and Internet of Things

    Read Node.js for Enterprise IBM i Modernization Now!


  • Profound Logic Solution Guide

    SB Profound WP 5539More than ever, there is a demand for IT to deliver innovation.
    Your IBM i has been an essential part of your business operations for years. However, your organization may struggle to maintain the current system and implement new projects.
    The thousands of customers we've worked with and surveyed state that expectations regarding the digital footprint and vision of the companyare not aligned with the current IT environment.

    Get your copy of this important guide today!


  • 2022 IBM i Marketplace Survey Results

    Fortra2022 marks the eighth edition of the IBM i Marketplace Survey Results. Each year, Fortra captures data on how businesses use the IBM i platform and the IT and cybersecurity initiatives it supports.

    Over the years, this survey has become a true industry benchmark, revealing to readers the trends that are shaping and driving the market and providing insight into what the future may bring for this technology.

  • Brunswick bowls a perfect 300 with LANSA!

    FortraBrunswick is the leader in bowling products, services, and industry expertise for the development and renovation of new and existing bowling centers and mixed-use recreation facilities across the entertainment industry. However, the lifeblood of Brunswick’s capital equipment business was running on a 15-year-old software application written in Visual Basic 6 (VB6) with a SQL Server back-end. The application was at the end of its life and needed to be replaced.
    With the help of Visual LANSA, they found an easy-to-use, long-term platform that enabled their team to collaborate, innovate, and integrate with existing systems and databases within a single platform.
    Read the case study to learn how they achieved success and increased the speed of development by 30% with Visual LANSA.


  • Progressive Web Apps: Create a Universal Experience Across All Devices

    LANSAProgressive Web Apps allow you to reach anyone, anywhere, and on any device with a single unified codebase. This means that your applications—regardless of browser, device, or platform—instantly become more reliable and consistent. They are the present and future of application development, and more and more businesses are catching on.
    Download this whitepaper and learn:

    • How PWAs support fast application development and streamline DevOps
    • How to give your business a competitive edge using PWAs
    • What makes progressive web apps so versatile, both online and offline



  • The Power of Coding in a Low-Code Solution

    LANSAWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed.
    Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

    • Discover the benefits of Low-code's quick application creation
    • Understand the differences in model-based and language-based Low-Code platforms
    • Explore the strengths of LANSA's Low-Code Solution to Low-Code’s biggest drawbacks



  • Why Migrate When You Can Modernize?

    LANSABusiness users want new applications now. Market and regulatory pressures require faster application updates and delivery into production. Your IBM i developers may be approaching retirement, and you see no sure way to fill their positions with experienced developers. In addition, you may be caught between maintaining your existing applications and the uncertainty of moving to something new.
    In this white paper, you’ll learn how to think of these issues as opportunities rather than problems. We’ll explore motivations to migrate or modernize, their risks and considerations you should be aware of before embarking on a (migration or modernization) project.
    Lastly, we’ll discuss how modernizing IBM i applications with optimized business workflows, integration with other technologies and new mobile and web user interfaces will enable IT – and the business – to experience time-added value and much more.


  • UPDATED: Developer Kit: Making a Business Case for Modernization and Beyond

    Profound Logic Software, Inc.Having trouble getting management approval for modernization projects? The problem may be you're not speaking enough "business" to them.

    This Developer Kit provides you study-backed data and a ready-to-use business case template to help get your very next development project approved!

  • What to Do When Your AS/400 Talent Retires

    FortraIT managers hoping to find new IBM i talent are discovering that the pool of experienced RPG programmers and operators or administrators is small.

    This guide offers strategies and software suggestions to help you plan IT staffing and resources and smooth the transition after your AS/400 talent retires. Read on to learn:

    • Why IBM i skills depletion is a top concern
    • How leading organizations are coping
    • Where automation will make the biggest impact


  • Node.js on IBM i Webinar Series Pt. 2: Setting Up Your Development Tools

    Profound Logic Software, Inc.Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application. In Part 2, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Attend this webinar to learn:

    • Different tools to develop Node.js applications on IBM i
    • Debugging Node.js
    • The basics of Git and tools to help those new to it
    • Using as a pre-built development environment



  • Expert Tips for IBM i Security: Beyond the Basics

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

    Don't miss this chance to take your knowledge of IBM i security beyond the basics.



  • 5 IBM i Security Quick Wins

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn today’s threat landscape, upper management is laser-focused on cybersecurity. You need to make progress in securing your systems—and make it fast.
    There’s no shortage of actions you could take, but what tactics will actually deliver the results you need? And how can you find a security strategy that fits your budget and time constraints?
    Join top IBM i security expert Robin Tatam as he outlines the five fastest and most impactful changes you can make to strengthen IBM i security this year.
    Your system didn’t become unsecure overnight and you won’t be able to turn it around overnight either. But quick wins are possible with IBM i security, and Robin Tatam will show you how to achieve them.

  • Security Bulletin: Malware Infection Discovered on IBM i Server!

    SB PowerTech WC GenericMalicious programs can bring entire businesses to their knees—and IBM i shops are not immune. It’s critical to grasp the true impact malware can have on IBM i and the network that connects to it. Attend this webinar to gain a thorough understanding of the relationships between:

    • Viruses, native objects, and the integrated file system (IFS)
    • Power Systems and Windows-based viruses and malware
    • PC-based anti-virus scanning versus native IBM i scanning

    There are a number of ways you can minimize your exposure to viruses. IBM i security expert Sandi Moore explains the facts, including how to ensure you're fully protected and compliant with regulations such as PCI.



  • Encryption on IBM i Simplified

    SB PowerTech WC GenericDB2 Field Procedures (FieldProcs) were introduced in IBM i 7.1 and have greatly simplified encryption, often without requiring any application changes. Now you can quickly encrypt sensitive data on the IBM i including PII, PCI, PHI data in your physical files and tables.
    Watch this webinar to learn how you can quickly implement encryption on the IBM i. During the webinar, security expert Robin Tatam will show you how to:

    • Use Field Procedures to automate encryption and decryption
    • Restrict and mask field level access by user or group
    • Meet compliance requirements with effective key management and audit trails


  • Lessons Learned from IBM i Cyber Attacks

    SB PowerTech WC GenericDespite the many options IBM has provided to protect your systems and data, many organizations still struggle to apply appropriate security controls.
    In this webinar, you'll get insight into how the criminals accessed these systems, the fallout from these attacks, and how the incidents could have been avoided by following security best practices.

    • Learn which security gaps cyber criminals love most
    • Find out how other IBM i organizations have fallen victim
    • Get the details on policies and processes you can implement to protect your organization, even when staff works from home

    You will learn the steps you can take to avoid the mistakes made in these examples, as well as other inadequate and misconfigured settings that put businesses at risk.



  • The Power of Coding in a Low-Code Solution

    SB PowerTech WC GenericWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed.
    Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

    • Discover the benefits of Low-code's quick application creation
    • Understand the differences in model-based and language-based Low-Code platforms
    • Explore the strengths of LANSA's Low-Code Solution to Low-Code’s biggest drawbacks



  • Node Webinar Series Pt. 1: The World of Node.js on IBM i

    SB Profound WC GenericHave you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application.
    Part 1 will teach you what Node.js is, why it's a great option for IBM i shops, and how to take advantage of the ecosystem surrounding Node.
    In addition to background information, our Director of Product Development Scott Klement will demonstrate applications that take advantage of the Node Package Manager (npm).
    Watch Now.

  • The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security

    SB Profound WC Generic The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security
    Here’s the harsh reality: cybersecurity pros have to get their jobs right every single day, while an attacker only has to succeed once to do incredible damage.
    Whether that’s thousands of exposed records, millions of dollars in fines and legal fees, or diminished share value, it’s easy to judge organizations that fall victim. IBM i enjoys an enviable reputation for security, but no system is impervious to mistakes.
    Join this webinar to learn about the biggest errors made when securing a Power Systems server.
    This knowledge is critical for ensuring integrity of your application data and preventing you from becoming the next Equifax. It’s also essential for complying with all formal regulations, including SOX, PCI, GDPR, and HIPAA
    Watch Now.

  • Comply in 5! Well, actually UNDER 5 minutes!!

    SB CYBRA PPL 5382

    TRY the one package that solves all your document design and printing challenges on all your platforms.

    Produce bar code labels, electronic forms, ad hoc reports, and RFID tags – without programming! MarkMagic is the only document design and print solution that combines report writing, WYSIWYG label and forms design, and conditional printing in one integrated product.

    Request your trial now!

  • Backup and Recovery on IBM i: Your Strategy for the Unexpected

    FortraRobot automates the routine tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:
    - Simplified backup procedures
    - Easy data encryption
    - Save media management
    - Guided restoration
    - Seamless product integration
    Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Try the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Manage IBM i Messages by Exception with Robot

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Managing messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events?
    Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated message management
    - Tailored notifications and automatic escalation
    - System-wide control of your IBM i partitions
    - Two-way system notifications from your mobile device
    - Seamless product integration
    Try the Robot Message Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Easiest Way to Save Money? Stop Printing IBM i Reports

    FortraRobot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing.
    Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

    - Automated report distribution
    - View online without delay
    - Browser interface to make notes
    - Custom retention capabilities
    - Seamless product integration
    Rerun another report? Never again. Try the Robot Report Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Hassle-Free IBM i Operations around the Clock

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413For over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i.
    Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated batch, interactive, and cross-platform scheduling
    - Event-driven dependency processing
    - Centralized monitoring and reporting
    - Audit log and ready-to-use reports
    - Seamless product integration
    Scale your software, not your staff. Try the Robot Job Scheduling Solution FREE for 30 days.