Harnessing the Power of Change Agents to Facilitate AI Adoption

Mar 13, 2024   |   By SEI Team

Learn how a strategic change agent network can help you address challenges and accelerate artificial intelligence integration into your organization.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is taking the world by storm. It’s cropping up in everything from self-driving vehicles to the healthcare industry — and today’s business landscape is no exception. In fact, 42% of IT professionals at organizations with over 1,000 employees report they have already deployed AI, while another 40% are actively experimenting with the technology to determine how they can use AI — and 59% of those 40% have accelerated their AI rollout or investments.

While artificial intelligence has plenty to offer businesses, many organizations encounter deployment barriers. Not only is there a lack of understanding of AI’s capabilities, but there also isn’t a strategic framework for implementing the technology. On top of that, organizations have to contend with ethical concerns and resistance to change. As a result, many organizations cannot harness AI’s full potential. That’s where a change agent network can help. But what is organizational change management, and why are change agents essential?

Designed to bridge the gap between the promise of AI and its successful adoption, a change agent network is a strategic tool organizations can use to help address common challenges associated with AI adoption. Whether your organization is struggling to overcome an overwhelming amount of skepticism, needs to bridge knowledge gaps, or wants to foster an environment conducive to innovation, a change agent network might just do the trick.

Understanding Change Agents

Change agents are the people with the knowledge and influence to facilitate change within your business. They can serve as role models and advocates for change, helping others within your organization understand artificial intelligence’s benefits and embrace new technologies and processes.

However, change agents don’t necessarily need to be managers or leaders. Anyone in your organization can be a change agent as long as they have a strong network, excellent communication skills, and are willing to learn and adapt. Some organizations will also form a formal change agent network (a group of individuals designated to lead and facilitate organizational change initiatives) to further drive transformations.

Defining the Role of a Change Agent in the Context of AI Adoption

Change agents can be crucial in successfully adopting artificial intelligence within your organization. Essentially, these individuals will serve as catalysts for change, promoting and facilitating the integration of AI technology into various aspects of business operations, ultimately accelerating and simplifying AI integration.

When it comes to AI adoption, change agents not only need to know the ins and outs of AI on a technical level, but they also need to understand how its adoption could impact your business. Then, they must successfully communicate that vision with others to drive organizational change effectively. In short, it’s a major undertaking that requires time, effort, skill, and passion.

There are a few roles change agents may fulfill, including:

  • Visionaries: Not only are these change agents able to articulate a compelling vision for AI integration, but they can also inspire and motivate others to embrace artificial intelligence.
  • Communicators: The gap between technical and non-technical staff regarding artificial intelligence can be quite wide. Enter communicators. They narrow the gap by translating complex technical concepts into accessible language everyone can understand.
  • Mentors and Supports: Change can be intimidating, especially for those who know little about artificial intelligence. They might not see the point of AI or even view it as a threat. That’s why the change agents who support and guide colleagues are invaluable in getting widespread AI adoption off the ground.
  • Advocates of Change: These change agents play a crucial role in advocating for the benefits of AI technology implementation while addressing any concerns and resistance among the workforce. They work tirelessly to ensure that everyone understands the potential advantages of integrating artificial intelligence into their workflows.

Building Your Change Agent Network

Building your change agent network starts with identifying people across your organization who might be effective change agents. Remember, the best change agents are those who are always ready for the next challenge. They’re curious and excited about the future and aren’t afraid to experiment with new technology. Instead of blindly committing to the current status quo, change agents should be ready to embrace new ways of working and spread that energy and mindset to their more skeptical coworkers.

Your change agent network for AI adoption should also have:

  • Artificial Intelligence Literacy: Your agents of change need to know their stuff. After all, how can you expect them to effectively advocate for AI integration and guide others if they aren’t already familiar with artificial intelligence and the many benefits it offers?
  • Communication Skills: Solid communication skills are a must for anyone, but they’re absolutely vital in change agents. Without strong communication skills, your change agents wouldn’t be able to effectively convey the benefits of artificial intelligence, translate complicated topics into something that everyone can understand, or rally support from their coworkers.
  • Empathy and Emotional Intelligence: A major part of the role of change agents is working with others, which requires empathy and emotional intelligence. Without these qualities, change agents may struggle to understand their colleagues’ perspectives and feelings, making it more difficult to effectively address concerns and build trust.
  • Adaptability and Resilience: Adaptability allows change agents to embrace evolving technologies and unforeseen challenges, ensuring they can pivot and adjust strategies on the fly to achieve AI adoption and integration. Resilience, on the other hand, helps change agents bounce back from setbacks and persevere through any obstacles.

Empowering Your Team 

Having a network of change agents is a great first step, but it won’t matter if you don’t give them any power. After all, change agents are only as good as the support they receive from the top. And with 37% of respondents surveyed by Oak Engage saying they’re resistant to change and 43% saying their workplace isn’t ready to manage change effectively, you need to do your part by providing your change agents with the authority, resources, and organizational backing necessary to drive meaningful transformation.

Provide Access to Necessary Resources

Change agents need access to tools, information, and support to carry out their roles. Consider giving them AI training, funds for change initiatives, and access to technology platforms and documentation when necessary.

Grant Authority and Decision-Making Power

In order for your change agent network to bring about significant changes, you need to grant your agents authority and decision-making power. By trusting them to take action, you’ll allow them to overcome challenges more effectively and work towards smoother digital adoption and transformation.

Encourage a Culture of Innovation and Risk-Taking

You chose your change agents because of their knowledge, adaptability, and openness to change, so create an environment where new ideas are welcomed and taking risks is celebrated. Embrace success and learn from failures to encourage your change agents to push boundaries, innovate, and drive meaningful progress.

Offer Visible Endorsement and Communication

If you want your change agent network to be effective, you must ensure your agents feel valued and that everyone else knows it. That means staying on top of your communications and regularly offering visible endorsements.

Establish Clear Goals and Metrics for Success

Establishing clear goals and metrics for AI and digital adoption provides a roadmap for your change agents to follow and allows you to track your progress. By defining specific objectives and measurable outcomes, you can create a framework for evaluating success.

Measuring Success and Impact

Choosing change agents and empowering your entire change agent network will give you a solid change management framework. However, to evaluate your team’s effectiveness and long-term impacts on AI adoption and organizational culture, you’ll need to collect data and keep an eye on certain metrics.

There are several ways to assess your change agent network’s effectiveness. Surveys and interviews can give you direct insight into how the general employee population feels about AI. On the other hand, simple observations can provide valuable qualitative data on where and how AI is making a difference in your organization.

KPIs worth tracking include:

  • The Adoption Rate of AI Technologies: Tracking the rate at which AI solutions are being adopted across different departments can provide valuable insights into the overall acceptance and integration of AI within your organization. More specifically, you may want to observe the number of AI-based projects initiated, the percentage of employees using AI tools, and the integration level of AI in business processes.
  • Operational Efficiency Improvements: It’s also worth measuring the changes in operational efficiency that can be attributed to AI adoption. For example, are processing times faster now? Are you seeing lower error rates or cost savings?
  • Employee Engagement and Satisfaction: It’s also important to gauge the impact of AI on employees’ feelings. Use surveys, interviews, and feedback sessions to assess employee engagement and satisfaction levels after integrating AI tools and processes into their workflows.

Streamline AI Adoption with SEI

If you want your organization to remain competitive, productive, and innovative, you can’t ignore artificial intelligence. While getting an entire organization to embrace AI technologies can be difficult, an effective change agent network can accelerate adoption. That’s why taking the time to build your change agent network and providing your agents with the resources and support they need is essential for successful AI technology implementation and digital adoption.

At SEI, we’re experts in managing change and are ready to help your organization develop a solid change management framework to adopt artificial intelligence. We’re an agile and collaborative team, working with you to strengthen your organization and develop tailored solutions for everything from process improvement to technology enablement. Ready to learn more?

Get in touch with our seasoned consultants to discover how SEI can help your business effectively adopt artificial intelligence.

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