Getting Started with AI: It’s Easier Than You Think

Getting Started with AI: It’s Easier Than You Think
Reading Time: 5 minutes

By Dee Dee Walsh, Geek GAPster

Okay let’s be honest — the world of AI sometimes feels like a sci-fi movie. (Star Wars sci-fi not Roger Corman.) So-called experts are throwing out a lot of complicated vocabulary with words and acronyms like neural networks, deep learning, NLP, GAN, RAG, and SLAP. (Oops I made that last one up).

But guess what? AI doesn’t have to be scary, and it can bring some seriously awesome benefits to your organization.

Two movie posters side by side

Everyone Says AI is More Important than Anything on the Planet… But Why?

Before we dive into the “how”, let’s get real about the “why.” AI helps you:

  • Make faster, better decisions: Data overload? AI churns through tons of information to find patterns humans might miss. One example: GAP’s client BookmarkED — a library management solution provider — needed to build an ENORMOUS database of books. The only reasonable way to enable their customers to search effectively is via the power of AI.
  • Automate the boring stuff: Free your team from mind-numbing tasks to focus on areas that will directly impact your company’s growth.
  • Get really awesome customer personalization: You can offer tailored recommendations and hyper-relevant experiences.

Think of It Like a Toolkit, Not Magic

AI isn’t going to sprinkle some magic pixie dust and transform your business overnight. Instead, think of it like a powerful toolkit. You need the right tools, and you absolutely need to know how to use them.

spongebob with rainbow in hands
That’s why we compiled the GAP AI Starter Kit.

We’ve been using AI a lot, and experimenting even more. So we’ve pulled together this kit to document what we’ve learned. These resources are designed to give you a leg up. Think of them as a trail map through the AI jungle.

Getting Started with AI – Where Do I Even Begin?

AI Starter Kit: Let’s break it down into a few steps:

  1. Forget perfection, start small: It’s easy to get bogged down in the big picture. Instead, find one specific problem AI could potentially address. Think about:
    • Repetitive, time-consuming tasks your team dreads
    • Areas where you have lots of data but struggle to find insights
    • Customer experiences that could be more personalized
  2. Is your data ready to party? AI is data-hungry. Is yours clean, organized, and accessible? Having data formatted in a way that can be easily understood and analyzed allows AI to identify patterns and relationships within the data.
    • Garbage in means garbage out. If your data is messy or inaccurate, the AI model will learn those mistakes and deliver poor results.
    • Run a quick data audit with our AI Readiness Assessment. This will pinpoint areas that might need some love before AI can work its magic.
  3. Get some hands-on experience: The best way to wrap your head around AI is to experiment.
    • Experiment with tools like ChatGPT, Gemini, and Anthropic.
    • GAP’s Guide to Prompt Engineering will give you some great tips, tricks, and techniques that we’ve learned through experience. There are lots of prompts we provide to help you get the most out of AI assistants.
  4. Don’t forget the human side: AI should be a powerful teammate, not a disruptive force. Think about:
    • How will you communicate changes and benefits to your team?
    • Do employees need training to work effectively alongside AI?
    • How will you ensure AI decisions are transparent and explainable?

AI and You: Getting Down to Strategy

Alright, we’ve zoomed out on the big AI picture, but now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: how does this actually work for YOUR business? It’s time to talk strategy.

A good strategy that focuses on innovation, defines boundaries, and creates value can become your roadmap. But it involves trade-offs, meaning you’ll be choosing not just what you’ll be doing, but also what not to do.

Think about where you have challenges and pinpoint some areas that need improvement. As you explore AI solutions, set SMART goals (objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) and consider who within your company needs to get involved.

The Right Questions Make All the Difference

Executives, listen up! Before jumping headfirst into AI, here are four key areas to ponder:

  1. The Business Problem: Does AI Fit the Bill?
    • Let’s be real, AI isn’t a magic bullet. Ask yourself:
    • Is there a specific, well-defined problem AI could realistically tackle?
    • Do the potential benefits of using AI outweigh the costs and effort?
  2. Data: The Fuel for your AI Engine.
      • We’ve talked about it before but it’s worth repeating:
    • Do you have enough data and is it the right kind of data for the problem you’re aiming to solve?
    • Is your data well-organized and easy to access? If your data looks like a messy teenager’s room, AI is going to have a hard time.
  3. Tech Talk: Tools and Infrastructure
    • Do you need to build your own AI solutions or are there off-the-shelf tools that fit your needs?
    • Does your current technology setup support the type of AI applications you envision?
  4. People Power: Your Team is Key
    • Do you have the in-house expertise to manage AI projects or will you need to hire or partner?
    • How will you prepare your team for changes AI might bring to their work?

Remember, strategy is an ongoing conversation, not a one-time AI Starter kit checklist. Keep revisiting these questions as your AI journey unfolds.

monkey with a thoughtful look

Want Some Real-World Examples?

GAP’s AI Starter Kit Has a Bunch More Stuff

This is a quick overview. The AI Starter Kit has a bunch more detailed stuff to really help you get those wins and avoid common mistakes. We don’t want to brag but it’s a pretty sweet resource built on our experiences.

Finally, keep in mind: We’re all learning.

AI is changing fast. The most important thing is to jump in, get your hands dirty, and learn by doing. We’re all figuring this out together. But with a good roadmap in hand, your AI journey can start making a real difference.