Artificial intelligence is no longer a dream, but simply not yet the nightmare that some have predicted. Although the term AI—otherwise known as artificial intelligence—is used in many different areas, it doesn’t really have an agreed upon definition. Some use AI to describe AGI (artificial general intelligence), an intelligence capable of completing a wide range of tasks like human intelligence, while others use AI to describe narrow AI, an AI that can perform a single task or a few tasks with high competence.

Despite significant hype, most companies still struggle with how to successfully integrate AI into their businesses, according to a Lux Research report on the state of AI and how companies can improve decision-making around AI. The report, “Artificial Intelligence: A Framework to Identify Challenges and Guide Successful Outcomes,” cautions against investing too early in applications that require more advanced AI capabilities, as they are often too immature and untested. Companies that take a sober approach to AI investment that prioritizes company needs and ROI (return on investment) and avoids a “technology-first” approach will ultimately be better-positioned for success.

Rather than focusing on technologies first—deploying AI techniques like machine learning for the sake of deploying “something called AI”—and to reduce the likelihood of an AI failure, start by determining the problem and outcome to solve for. Then, work backwards to determine the level of AI needed to solve that problem and whether it is feasible with today’s tools.

Following that approach, identify the key challenges in development and deployment and determine whether emerging solutions will be capable of mitigating those challenges. Remember, in the end, it doesn’t matter what elaborate algorithms a product uses. Ask: what can AI do for your company?  How can you avoid buying the latest buzzwords and instead focus on the product’s capabilities? How to determine an AI application’s maturity level? How to identify opportunities and threats in such a fast-moving field?

The answers will help you establish if AI is ready for you and if you are ready for AI.

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