Episode 17 – Establishing an AI and Data Science Practice with Josh Edwards

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Companies have been racing to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and data science to succeed. But before teams can benefit from them, it’s important to establish these practices in a manner that’s profitable and done correctly, so we talked to expert Josh Edwards, global data science and operations director at Black & Veatch. 

In this conversation, co-hosts Rigvinath Chevala, Evalueserve’s chief technology officer and Erin Pearson, our vice president of marketing talk to Edwards about common obstacles and best practices when establishing an AI practice, picking the right use cases, next steps, dodging the hype and more. Subscribe to the Decisions Now podcast today, you can find us on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Amazon Music among other platforms.

Common Obstacles When Establishing an AI Practice

Edwards discussed the common obstacles that businesses face when launching an AI practice. Rigid business structures and an investment framework that doesn’t allow for innovation are one of them.

“You’ve got to tackle that one first if you haven’t already,” Edwards said. “A good way to do that is to tap into your existing innovation efforts. If not, you must establish one and ensure you have the right investment framework.” 

Companies should ensure their board and executive teams are educated on AI, lack of awareness can hurt the practice. Change management programs and education play an important role. He also mentioned that teams should look into the health of their automation programs to ensure it’s functioning well, which ensures the success of the AI practice.

“You need to spend a little time there and kind of understand the cultural acceptance of that automation program. And then lastly, I would say the fourth common obstacle is the lack of in-house skills for machine learning and leveraging AI,” Edwards said. “So finding the right partner to jump-start is really important.”

The first one resonates with him personally from an investment decisioning standpoint, Chevala said and asked Edwards, what is driving the desire to build these practices and why there’s such a higher failure rate.