Every organization is on an AI journey. Some don\u2019t know they are. Others don\u2019t want to leave home. Very few have a map or a mutually agreed upon destination. And only a tiny fraction have the appropriate shoes.\n\nThat\u2019s the current state of AI at Global 2000 enterprises, whose behavior set thus far in the AI space appears to be designed more to avoid embarrassment than to maximize value creation.\n\nFor IT leaders who find themselves in this situation, and that\u2019s most of you, it\u2019s time to focus less on \u201cmanaging the narrative\u201d around AI and more on capturing the value associated with this important technology. And that begins with incubating \u201ccreate value with AI\u201d habits throughout the enterprise.\n\nToday\u2019s AI narrative\n\nAt the \u201cThe Two Faces of AI\u201d Digital Solutions Gallery hosted by the College of Engineering at The Ohio State University, I asked the 100-plus executives in attendance, \u201cIs your organization \u2018normal\u2019 with regards to its treatment of AI?\u201d Forty-six percent said their organizations were normal, another 46% said they \u201cdid not know,\u201d and 8% said they were not normal.\n\nThe question is intentionally vague, and putting aside for a moment whether seeking to be \u201cnormal\u201d is an appropriate strategic goal, it\u2019s worth unpacking the elephant in the room: At this moment, our industry does not know what \u201cnormal\u201d is regarding the driving technology of the age.\n\nEvery executive I spoke with had just come from \u201cbriefing their board\u201d about artificial intelligence. As an investor and customer, I am very interested in who exactly is briefing the board and what is the content of that briefing.\n\nThe subjects covered in most board briefings are: What are we doing, where are we headed, and what are our competitors doing? Boards need to be assured that organizations are spending enough and moving quickly enough. There appears to be a deep level of FOMO, aka fear of missing out, in the AI space. In previous moments of technological discontinuity, boards were concerned about being \u201cAmazoned\u201d or \u201cUbered.\u201d I have not heard of a board lamenting over being \u201cChatGPTed\u201d yet.\n\nUrsula Cottone, chief data officer at Huntington National Bank, asked ChatGPT to give her team the outline for presenting AI to the board. It came up with a great outline which they shared with the board. It was an interesting way to be able to show the board of directors what this technology can do.\n\nThere is a narrative component to the AI journey. At the top there is what is the board being told. On another level there is what are we telling stakeholders. Just about every communication with investors \u2014 e.g., the annual report, investor days, or earnings reports \u2014 now includes information about AI. CEO Jamie Dimon at JPMorgan\u2019s May 22 investor day talked about AI spending, use cases (over 300 in production), and benefits realized and expected (more than $1 billion).\n\nPivoting to value\n\nAI \u2014 which comes in many shapes and sizes \u2014 is a powerful tool. Guru Vasudeva, SVP and CIO of infrastructure and operations at Nationwide Insurance, is a gifted communicator advocating that one has to use the right tool for the right task. Generative AI is not the right tool for many tasks.\n\nCardinal Health, a Fortune 14 company with revenue around $181 billion in 2022, has pulled together a cross-functional team drawn from leaders across the business \u2014 sales, operations, and finance \u2014 as well as technology experts. Recognizing that ideas for AI use cases are popping up every hour in every area of the enterprise, Cardinal Health created a central collection point and process to funnel the AI demand signal. Opportunities are assessed according to strategic priorities for customers and then run through a classic business case evaluation.\n\nI teased the impressive executive overseeing this operation, Jerome Revish, SVP of digital and commercial technologies, that Cardinal Health should change his title to Designated Adult In the Room or perhaps CCSO, Chief Common Sense Officer.\n\nEmbracing the journey\n\nDuring a practicum workshop, we asked executives, \u201cWhat is the biggest obstacle to your organization realizing full value from AI?\u201d We surfaced a wide variety of obstacles. Everyone agreed that \u201cdata was an obstacle.\u201d\n\nMalcolm Frank, formerly chief strategy officer and president at Cognizant, now CEO at TalentGenius and author of What to Do When Machines Do Everything: How to Get Ahead in a World of AI, Algorithms, Bots, and Big Data,embraced the metaphor of the AI journey and explained that while we may not know the exact path our AI road trip might take; nor what weather we might encounter, we do know that we will need good boots. Boots are to hiking the Appalachian trail what data mastery is to your AI journey \u2014 a foundational element.\n\nWith the objective of \u201cpracticing safe AI,\u201d enterprises are being quite creative establishing \u201cAI petting zoos\u201d where employees can come to better understand what AI can and can\u2019t do, as well as its associate risks, by enabling them to experiment hands-on in a controlled environment. Online courses and focused AI hackathons are important way stations on the AI journey.\n\nIt\u2019s high time to map out yours.