Microsoft launches business school focused on AI strategy, culture and responsibility

 |   Equipo Microsoft Latinx


On the road to developing a strategy, executives and other business leaders are often stalled by questions about how and where to begin implementing AI across their companies; the cultural changes that AI requires companies to make; and how to build and use AI in ways that are responsible, protect privacy and security, and comply with government rules and regulations. 

“There is a gap between what people want to do and the reality of what is going on in their organizations today, and the reality of whether their organization is ready,” said Mitra Azizirad, corporate vice president for AI marketing at Microsoft in Redmond, Washington. 

Today, Azizirad and her team are launching Microsoft’s AI Business School to help business leaders navigate these questions. The free, online course is a master class series that aims to empower business leaders to lead with confidence in the age of AI. 

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Focus on strategy, culture and responsibility  

AI Business School course materials include brief written case studies and guides, videos lectures and talks. A series of short introductory videos provide an overview of the AI technologies focusing on managing the impact of AI on company strategy, culture and responsibility. 

“This school is a deep dive into how you develop a strategy and identify blockers before they happen in the implementation of AI in your organization,” said Azizirad. 

The business school complements other AI learning initiatives across Microsoft, including the developer-focused AI School and the Microsoft Professional Program for Artificial Intelligencewhich provides job-ready skills and real-world experience to engineers and others looking to improve their skills in AI and data science. 

Unlike these other initiatives, AI Business School is non-technical and designed to get executives ready to lead their organizations on a journey of AI transformation, according to Azizirad. 

Teaching by example 

INSEADa graduate business school with campuses in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, partnered with Microsoft to build the AI Business School’s strategy module, which includes case studies about companies across many industries that have successfully transformed their businesses with AI. 

“There is still a lot of work that has got to have the human capital piece in it, especially if it is not something that lends itself to standardized processes,” explained Gary Cantrell, senior vice president and chief information officer for Jabil. 

A key to implementing AI, Cantrell added, was the leadership team’s focus on clearly communicating to employees the company’s strategy around AI – to eliminate routine, repetitive activities in order to free them up to focus on activities that cannot be automated. 

Prepping an AI-ready culture 

The culture and responsibility modules of AI Business School also place a core focus on data. 

“You need to start out with an open approach to how the data of an organization is going to be used, which is the foundation of AI, to get the results that you are banking on,” Azizirad said, adding that successful leaders foster an inclusive approach to AI that brings different roles together and breaks down data silos. 

AI and responsibility 

Building trust also comes from developing and deploying AI systems in a responsible manner, an area that Microsoft’s market research has found resonates with business leaders. Among high-growth companies, the research found, the more leaders know about AI, the more they recognize that they need to make sure the AI is deployed responsibly. 

The AI Business School module on the implications of responsible AI showcases Microsoft’s own work in this area. Course materials include real-world examples in which leaders at Microsoft learned lessons such as the need to safeguard AI systems against malicious attacks and the need for systems to detect bias in datasets used to train models. 

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