AI first step

When it Comes to AI, The First Step is the Hardest

Fulcrum Labs
138 posts

When I walk into my gym, the first thing I see is a 10-foot sign that says: “The first step is the hardest, but you’ll never regret it.” It’s such a cliché. And yet, as I climb on the treadmill, I find myself actually dreading that first step. If history is any indicator, I know that once I get started, I’ll lose myself in the run and enjoy stretching my legs. And after it’s over, I’ll feel great. But as I stand there about to begin, all those benefits seem intangible.

It turns out (somewhat annoyingly) that starting really is the hardest part. Even when we know that the end results will be positive, getting started is hard.

The notion that “the first step is the hardest” doesn’t just relate to exercise. The struggle to get started is something we can all identify with in at least one area of our lives – at home, in our relationships, or at work.

Organizations Struggling with First Steps


It is something that’s particularly challenging for organizations. In recent years, we’ve seen how organizations that struggle to adapt to new digital realities, that have become complacent or just have trouble taking the first step into new technologies have failed. Think Sears, Blockbuster or Toys “R” Us. In fact, according to a McKinsey report, even when organizations try to take the first step, 70% of the time, they fail to achieve their goals (most often because of employee resistance to change). As Newton would say, an object at rest tends to stay at rest.

A perfect example of this at work today is how organizations are integrating (or failing to integrate) AI and machine learning.


“While some companies — most large banks, Ford and GM, Pfizer, and virtually all tech firms — are aggressively adopting artificial intelligence, many are not.” (And the list of who’s not may even surprise you. It surprised me.) “Instead they are waiting for the technology to mature and for expertise in AI to become more widely available.” –Harvard Business Review


Organizations know the benefits that AI can bring to their business. They know that AI can improve customer experiences and increase revenue. They’re aware it can provide opportunities for cost-saving automation. They realize that machine learning can lead to increased insights that, in turn, feed innovation. But they are struggling with that hard first step.

They might be asking themselves…

…Where do I start?

…Will it work for us?

…Are we really ready to do this?

…My budget is tapped out for this year – maybe next year?


Adopting AI


According to HRB, the organizations that wait to adapt AI – those who delay the first step – might never catch up. They may fall into relative oblivion the same way Eastman Kodak did when they failed to adapt to digital photography. That’s because it takes a lot of time to:

Develop AI systems, configure them to your business and train them with the data they need to function

Integrate AI systems into an organization

Train and upskill workers who operate alongside new AI systems

When it comes to AI, the first steps are not only technically difficult, but they require a lot of time, personnel resources and even the right personnel. To be successful, an organization needs to be fully bought in. It’s no wonder so many of them are dragging their feet.


Tools for Taking the First Step with AI


Luckily, there are easier ways to get started with AI. In fact, there are a whole host of AI-enabled tools that can be integrated to great effect. This means organizations can more easily take their first steps into AI and begin to see the impact of such technology at work within their organizations without having to do the heavy lifting of building a proprietary system. For example:

  • Marketing departments have AI tools that they can embed to help with content development, lead and prospecting tools and evaluate their programs.
  • Supply chain mangers have access to AI solutions that can power predictive applications that better manage operational processes, logistics and product delivery.
  • Learning & development departments have access to AI-powered training tools (including chatbots and adaptive 3.0 learning platforms) that can help verify mastery, identify gaps, identify knowledge trends/search trends, provide just-in-time-training and even predict whether or not employees can apply the training once back on the job.


Snapshot Makes L&Ds First Steps into AI Easy


For organizations looking to get started with AI before they get left behind, Fulcrum Labs can help. Our Snapshot product is a standalone tool that allows organizations to pilot AI within one of the most critical business units – training and development – without the challenges listed above. In fact, taking the first step with Fulcrum is as easy as 1,2,3:

1.Create assessments (using a range of Bloom’s) or pull assessments from an existing bank (making sure to have a mix of assessments

2.Upload the assessments into the Fulcrum Snapshot platform, and

3.The system does the rest

Once implemented, Snapshot’s AI delivers some pretty dramatic insights:

  • Pinpointing the depth and degree of employee knowledge down to a single competency or skill
  • Assessing knowledge
  • Identifying gaps
  • Delineating between those employees who have fully mastered the material and those who simply have a basic understanding of the content

All this helps L&D better evaluate organizational knowledge, understand future training needs, expose areas of hidden risk, and even assess new-hire candidates.

The tool also sheds new light on the efficacy of training content, so L&D can build more of what’s working and fix what’s not. (It also makes it easy to build content around the skill gaps identified by Snapshot.) And finally, Snapshot helps organizations assess how well their learning/training delivery systems are performing against organizational goals and target KPIs, so they can be smarter in their budget allocations. For companies that want to move on to our full learning program, the transition is a smooth one – after all, they’ve already taken the first big step!

With AI, as with so much else in life and work, getting started is the hardest part. But new AI and machine learning tools are allowing organizations to dip their toes into the AI pond with relative low investment and zero regret. For more information about how Fulcrum’s AI-powered adaptive solutions can help your organization take the first step with AI, let’s connect.