Generative artificial intelligence is all the rage, but how can enterprises actually harness the technology\u2019s promise and implement it for value? What benefits can be expected and what challenges might arise?\n\nGen AI is a relatively new tool for organizations and individual users. And while many CIOs might have a fairly solid understanding of the technology, putting it into actual use at scale is something else entirely.\n\nAs with any other significant technology rollout, it\u2019s generally better to walk before running. That means launching gen AI pilot programs first to get a feel for how it works and how it might benefit the business, and to help identify promising use cases across business functions.\n\nIdentifying worthwhile use cases\n\nHackajob, a company that provides a platform for organizations to find and recruit IT and developer talent, began piloting generative AI models in the second half of 2022 as part of an informal research and development initiative to explore emerging technology trends.\n\n\u201cThe decision to launch this pilot phase was driven by a desire to stay ahead in the field, assess the potential applications of gen AI, and subsequently transition into targeted proof-of-concept projects,\u201d says Vlad-George Iacob, vice president of engineering at Hackajob. \u201cThese initiatives helped us to understand the real-world applicability of gen AI in enhancing our efficiency and exploring new product development opportunities.\u201d\n\nOne of the reasons the company is deploying gen AI is to help increase diversity and representation in technology teams, by removing bias from job descriptions. Employers can upload job descriptions to the Hackajob platform, where AI technology scans and assesses the content, creating suggestions for more inclusive language.\n\nEmployers can then implement suggested changes, ensuring that their recruitment materials are free from bias and appeal to a broad spectrum of potential candidates.\n\nThe initial engagement with gen AI was during a two-day hackathon with one of Hackajob\u2019s product teams. \u201cThis phase included a company-wide ideation process, gathering insights from various parts of the business to prioritize and implement a selected idea,\u201d Iacob says.\n\nFollowing this initial success, gen AI technologies have been adopted by several product teams within the organization in various capacities, Iacob says.\n\n\u201cWe have established a robust framework for leveraging gen AI across our product organization and the wider business,\u201d he says, adding that, with a solid understanding of various technologies and use cases, the company now considers gen AI to be a viable solution for many challenges it faces.\n\nVarious Hackajob departments beyond its product teams have started adopting a variety of gen AI tools as well. \u201cThis demonstrates our company\u2019s broader commitment to embracing and integrating this transformative technology, aligning it with our strategic goals, and enhancing our capabilities across various domains,\u201d Iacob says.\n\nHackajob employs a multifaceted approach to identifying promising use cases for gen AI. One is an idea submission structure. \u201cWe utilize a system to capture product ideas from across the business, including specific gen AI ideas,\u201d Iacob says. \u201cBy following a more targeted crowdsourcing approach for gen AI, we are frequently able to gather and consider fresh insights and applications.\u201d\n\nAnother is education. \u201cIn the wider business, we\u2019ve shared informal training and guidelines on using gen AI tools,\u201d Iacob says. \u201cThis educational initiative empowers various teams with the knowledge and confidence to explore gen AI\u2019s potential, and use it safely and appropriately. By suggesting a number of use cases, we further encourage experimentation and creative application.\u201d\n\nFostering a culture of learning\n\nSkillsoft, a provider of education services and technology, has been leveraging AI for some time to deliver personalized, dynamic, and interactive learning experiences for users.\n\n\u201cMost recently, our product teams have been piloting and successfully deploying new capabilities with gen AI in areas of content localization, content production, assessment creation, and assessment strategies, as well as within our search and recommendation engines,\u201d says Orla Daly, CIO.\n\n\u201cGen AI is an accelerator for Skillsoft to deliver capabilities to help our customer organizations and their people grow together,\u201d Daly says.\n\nLooking to achieve internal efficiency opportunities with gen AI, Skillsoft began with a Digital and IT Hackathon focused on leveraging ChatGPT to solve business problems or create new business value, Daly says. \u201cBut the real goal was to start to get people familiar with leveraging ChatGPT in a safe space, understand its potential and shortcomings in the context of real business use cases,\u201d she says.\n\nSince then, team members across product, engineering, content production, and the lines of business have been engaged in pilots and bringing new capabilities to market leveraging gen AI.\n\n\u201cIn many examples, we have quickly moved from the pilot phase to new customer offerings or platform enhancements enabled by the responsible use of AI,\u201d Daly says.\n\nSkillsoft\u2019s CAISY (Conversation AI Simulator), its gen AI-based tool designed to help professionals develop their business and leadership conversation skills, is an example of that.\n\nThe company will continue identifying opportunities to use gen AI to\n\ndeliver new capabilities. \u201cWe plan to leverage AI for driving adaptive learner journeys \u2014 meeting the learner where they are at \u2014 as well as to derive insights from usage data for [administrators] to understand how to best improve engagement and performance,\u201d Daly says.\n\nSkillsoft recently launched an Innovation Challenge, inviting all employees\n\nto participate and get familiar with gen AI capabilities. \u201cThe winning solution from 18 teams will be showcased at the company town hall in September, highlighting the importance of embracing AI and making it part of our culture of innovation,\u201d Daly says.\n\nThe company has also established an AI Advancement Council, with cross-functional representation. It\u2019s charged with facilitating and advancing the integration of AI technology at Skillsoft, providing a collaborative forum and ensuring AI is effectively and responsibly used to drive innovation, efficiency, and growth, Daly says.\n\n\u201cWe encourage all our team members to take advantage of our expansive content library, which offers a solid foundation on topics required for AI and AI-adjacent roles,\u201d Daly says.\n\nDemocratizing AI education and ideation\n\nCeridian, a provider of human resources software, began its foray into gen AI by applying it within its Dayforce human capital management platform as a pilot program. Specifically, the company is using AI for self-service capabilities to enhance customer support.\n\nThe initiative was driven in the first quarter of 2023 by leaders within the customer support organization, says David Lloyd, chief data officer.\n\n\u201cToday, we are fine-tuning the model, using it internally first to achieve a strong correct answer rate,\u201d Lloyd says. \u201cGiven our success in increasing the rate of answering directed questions to 85%, we are now working towards another 10% increase. In the future, we see the ability to use this approach for additional customer self-service as well as other resources.\u201d\n\nAll of this is a byproduct of training the model against implementation guides, knowledge bases, and other internal documentation that is refined against customer questions and responses, Lloyd says.\n\nHundreds of internal customer support professionals are running all questions asked by customers and themselves through the platform, to determine the accuracy of the response from a reinforcement learning perspective, Lloyd says. \u201cIt will likely continue to be an internal support assistant as we consider when it can be provided to customers,\u201d he says.\n\nThe key for Ceridian is democratizing how employees and partners think of AI. \u201cWe are focused on education, simple AI idea submission, and weekly \u2018ask me anything\u2019 sessions to discuss many topics,\u201d Lloyd says.\n\nThe company\u2019s Dayforce Lab provides an environment for testing and validating new AI technologies, as well as coaching and mentoring for business and product teams. \u201cDayforce Labs is complemented by our data science team, as there is no AI without data,\u201d Lloyd says. \u201cThis includes carefully examining how data can be used to create better outcomes through AI.\u201d\n\nEvery Ceridian employee can have a positive impact on the use of AI technologies, Lloyd says, whether it\u2019s within internal business groups or via Dayforce. \u201cIn the end, we need to ensure that AI is being used to produce an outcome that has business value and supports our core principles,\u201d he says.\n\nBest practices for gen AI pilot success\n\nFor those enterprises looking to deploy gen AI starting with pilot programs, a few practices are worth considering.\n\nBefore introducing generative AI in the workplace, leaders should begin with a risk assessment to identify what risks are present to them as an organization in the use and potential misuse of the tool, Daly says. This could be misappropriation, plagiarism, or bias, to name a few.\n\n\u201cEstablishing a sustainable, trustworthy, and transparent governance structure requires shared accountability from the company, its employees, and its providers,\u201d Daly says.\n\nBecause the responsibility shouldn\u2019t fall on one person or department, leaders might want to establish a cross-functional team to govern and help drive adoption, as well as create opportunities to identify use cases, Daly says. \u201cGood use cases can come from anywhere in the organization, but need support to go from a good idea to a prototype or a production-ready solution,\u201d she says.\n\nIn addition, Daly says, technology leaders should provide team members with the training and tools to get educated and stay current on the capabilities of gen AI. \u201cPromote a culture of curiosity and learning, to keep pace with what is a fast-evolving space,\u201d she says.\n\nIT leaders should create a \u201csafe space\u201d for innovation, Iacob says. \u201cIt\u2019s vital to encourage innovation without stifling creativity due to concerns around data protection risks or the use of proprietary data,\u201d he says. \u201cBy providing clear training and guidelines, you can establish boundaries that protect essential assets while still allowing engineers and other team members the freedom to explore and experiment.\u201d\n\nThis nurturing environment not only fosters innovation, but also builds confidence, ensuring that potential risks are well-managed without limiting the possibilities that gen AI offers, Iacob says.\n\nIt\u2019s important to keep in mind that not all large language models are the same, Lloyd says. \u201cSome have different attributes in the way they were trained,\u201d he says. \u201cThis is important, as it may shape how you deploy the model. For example, do you want it to be more information than conversational? Do you want to use one that\u2019s more fine-tuned for a specific industry or knowledge domain?\u201d\n\nAnother good practice is to consider multiple models and stay up to date on technology developments.\n\n\u201cThe gen AI space is evolving at a rapid pace, with new models and iterations frequently becoming available,\u201d Iacob says. \u201cIt\u2019s essential to maintain an open and explorative mindset, considering various models that fit your specific needs, and continuously staying abreast of the latest developments.\u201d\n\nBy doing so, companies can position themselves to benefit from advancements in the field, tailoring solutions that are both innovative and aligned with the latest best practices, Iacob says.