By Bryan Kirschner, Vice President, Strategy at DataStax\n\nToday, we\u2019re all living in a world in which \u201chumans with machines will replace humans without machines\u201d\u2014for the second time. The first time around, smartphone apps became ubiquitous and indispensable machines that just about everyone uses to get things done. This time, generative AI applications will become ubiquitous and indispensable machines that just about everyone uses to do things on their behalf.\n\nMobile\u2019s destiny as a \u201cfront door to the business\u201d and a mainstage for delightful customer experiences wasn\u2019t obvious to everyone in its early days. It took former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, for example, nearly a decade to publicly express regret for his famously dismissive opinion of the iPhone at its launch.\n\nBut the jury is already in on generative AI.\n\nChatGPT has been proven to deliver double-digit gains in speed and quality for knowledge workers (even when just used \u201coff the rack.\u201d) Generative AI can already outperform medical doctors head to head on high-quality and empathic answers to patient questions.\n\nAnd the technology and tooling will only get better.\n\nIn short order, every new employee will show up with apps like ChatGPT on the phone in their pocket. Every customer will know generative AI from the productivity apps or the browser they use at school or work (and from support chats with just about every company they interact with).\n\nWe can also count on some generative AI new entrants that are equivalent to the Instagrams, Ubers, and Spotifys of the mobile transition to reshape expectations in surprising (and, frankly, for most of us as consumers, delightful) ways.\n\nThe only question at hand is whether any given organization, yours included, stands out as being particularly good or bad by comparison.\n\nThe good news: Your people are likely to be ready, willing, and able to embrace generative AI and figure out ingenious ways to better do their jobs and service your customers. In a survey of 500 IT leaders and practitioners released today, only 2% of respondents consider it a threat to their careers. By contrast, 61% said they believe that AI will \u201cgreatly enhance\u201d their careers or create new opportunities.\u00a0 And your technical leaders and hands-on practitioners\u2014rightly, in our view, as I wrote about previously\u2014aren\u2019t intimidated by generative AI applications: More than half are \u201cvery\u201d or \u201cextremely\u201d confident that they have the skill set to build generative AI applications.\n\nAnd CIOs are already playing a vital role in putting enthusiasm and talent to work: 43% said that AI strategy is led by IT.\n\nBut there\u2019s a critical misunderstanding to watch out for that surfaced in another recent survey. BCG found that 52 percent of CEOs agreed with the statement: \u201cWe do not fully understand GenAI and actively discourage its use across our organization.\u201d\n\nHere\u2019s the rub: Today, no one fully understands generative AI. The pattern for success at learning how to create value safely and responsibly is a mindful culture of experimentation and thoughtful \u201clearning by doing.\u201dOrganizations that hold back on coming to an understanding of how to apply it, in their context, will earn the worst of both worlds: You still won\u2019t understand it, and your proactive competitors will steal a march.\n\nPick some enabling metaphors and guardrails (such as the \u201ceager intern\u201d or \u201cautonomous agent\u201d). Appoint some champions for governance through \u201cpolicing, coaching, and refereeing.\u201d And get people going with collaboration, openness, and curiosity. No one today wishes they\u2019d taken mobile less seriously or moved more slowly. In the very near future, the same will be true for generative AI.\n\nDownload The State of AI Innovation report to learn how 500 IT leaders and practitioners rely on AI for productivity, the challenges they face, and the tools they trust to drive innovation.\n\nAbout Bryan Kirschner:\n\nBryan is Vice President, Strategy at DataStax. For more than 20 years he has helped large organizations build and execute strategy when they are seeking new ways forward and a future materially different from their past. He specializes in removing fear, uncertainty, and doubt from strategic decision-making through empirical data and market sensing.