AI Strategy Development: Identifying Strategic AI Partnerships and Collaborations

In the era of rapid technological development, strategic partnerships and collaborations have become an integral part of many organizations’ AI strategy development. They provide a viable means of accessing expertise, resources, and capabilities that might not be readily available in-house. This article explores how to identify these strategic partnerships and collaborations, highlighting practical steps your organization can take to leverage these relationships for maximum advantage.

Identifying Potential Partners with Complementary Skills and Expertise

The first step towards building a successful AI partnership involves identifying potential partners who can offer complementary skills and expertise. These partners could range from AI consultancies and academic institutions to industry consortia and other entities.

For instance, Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has successfully leveraged artificial intelligence (AI) startup H20.ai to improve its banking operations, ranging from cyber-threat detection to cash optimization. The partnership, which started as an experimental pilot, has transformed into a collaboration that offers custom technology and extensive support for talent development, training, and change management. However, only 1 in 5 traditional companies can cultivate such a fruitful partnership, known as incumbent-transformer relationships. According to a BCG Henderson Institute survey, incumbents that establish meaningful collaborations with transformers are three times as likely to derive significant financial benefits from AI. To overcome barriers to these partnerships, incumbents need to address and modify preconceived notions and ingrained behaviors.

AI consultancies, for instance, have extensive experience and practical knowledge in implementing AI solutions. They can provide the technical know-how required for the successful adoption of AI technology. An example here could be Boston Consulting Group’s BCG Gamma, which specializes in applying AI for business optimization.

Academic institutions, on the other hand, are often at the forefront of AI research. They can offer fresh insights and innovative solutions. Partnerships with such institutions could, for instance, involve setting up research and development centers or funding joint research projects. Stanford University’s Human-Centered AI Institute is one such institution pushing the boundaries of AI research.

Finally, industry consortia, such as the Partnership on AI, can offer a platform for sharing best practices, discussing ethical considerations, and gaining an industry-wide perspective. Collaborating with such entities can help ensure that your AI strategy aligns with broader industry trends and standards.

Evaluating the Strategic Fit and Alignment

Once potential partners have been identified, the next step involves evaluating their strategic fit with your organization. This involves assessing whether the potential partners align with your organization’s goals and values.

For example, if your organization values transparency and ethical use of AI, a potential partner should demonstrate similar commitments. Google’s AI Principles, which guide its approach to AI, could serve as a benchmark when assessing potential partners’ commitment to ethical AI.

Moreover, the potential partners should be able to contribute to your strategic goals. For instance, if your goal is to enhance customer service through AI, a potential partner should have demonstrated capabilities in AI applications like chatbots or customer sentiment analysis.

Assessing the Potential Benefits and Risks

Finally, any strategic partnership involves both potential benefits and risks. The balance of these factors will ultimately determine whether the partnership is worth pursuing.

Benefits can include resource sharing, knowledge transfer, and gaining competitive advantages. Resource sharing can lead to cost savings and the ability to undertake larger projects. For instance, OpenAI’s GPT-3 language model, a result of a collaboration between multiple entities, would have been difficult for a single organization to develop due to the resource-intensive nature of the project.

Knowledge transfer can lead to the acquisition of new skills and insights, driving innovation within your organization. For example, IBM’s AI XPRIZE competition encouraged participants to learn from each other, stimulating innovation and knowledge transfer.

Potential risks can include misalignment of goals, loss of proprietary knowledge, or reputational risk if the partnership fails. Therefore, it is crucial to have clear agreements and expectations, including a comprehensive exit strategy, before entering into a partnership.

In conclusion, identifying strategic AI partnerships and collaborations can significantly contribute to an organization’s AI strategy development. By carefully identifying potential partners, evaluating their strategic fit, and assessing the benefits and risks involved, organizations can leverage these relationships to drive innovation and growth in their AI capabilities.


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