A message from David Lewien, CTLF members and Founder & CEO of Go West IT:

Experts say that Artificial Intelligence (AI), the development of computer systems and software to perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, will be more transformative than the industrial revolution or the Internet.  While AI advancements have been underway for many years, and there are thousands of AI solutions already being used, the emergence of tools like ChatGPT and Bard, known as large language models (LLMs), have inspired a level of excitement and ideation that has business leaders looking for ways to utilize AI in their business. This article seeks to help businesses understand some of the risks, potential rewards, and realities of the current AI landscape.


Many more risks are associated with AI than can be addressed in a short article.  For this reason, I am setting aside the ethical, moral, utopian, and Armageddon narratives for the purposes of this article.  That said, I do think it is important for everyone to seek information and contemplate the enormity of the potential implications surrounding AI adoption.

The most significant risk for business leaders is ignoring AI’s potential impact on their industry, employees, customers, and the business.  It is extremely difficult to imagine a line of business that will not be impacted in some way by adopting AI.  Further, the pace of adoption is likely to leave many businesses racing to catch up.  For this reason, I encourage every business to foster conversation, ideation, and investigation regarding AI.

As you seek to understand how to leverage AI, start actively assessing AI-specific risks to your business.  The risk assessment will likely start with the risk to data.  Who has access to your data, how is it being used, how is it protected, and how will you protect your customers and their data? Most states now have data privacy laws that require businesses to protect consumer data at a minimum, and nearly every business has some obligation to protect internal and customer data.  The nature of AI is that data is required for training to produce the desired intelligent outcomes.  Businesses should ask and understand data risks from day one.

Predictably, some of your employees already use tools like ChatGPT and Bard in their business life.  These LLMs work by taking immense amounts of unstructured data and applying algorithms to produce human-like responses.  When you include sensitive or confidential information in a prompt, you insert that data into the unstructured data set.  So, consider starting with a simple policy and training to inform employees of the risk.  If you choose to allow the use of publicly available LLMs (there is a good argument for doing so), require that employees anonymize questions and prompts at a minimum. Consider asking your people to identify what work product was developed with the help of AI.

Suppose your objective for using AI requires inputting sensitive or confidential data to get pertinent and valuable responses. In this case, you should investigate a paid subscription to AI services and leverage an application programming interface (API) to analyze your walled-off (protected) data.

Keep expanding your risk analysis as it relates to AI.  Don’t be afraid of the conversation.


Businesses that adopt and execute AI strategies stand to gain significant rewards.  The opportunity is not limited to any industry or type of business, although businesses that already use technology will likely have adoption advantages.

As businesses attempt to predict how AI will transform their world, it is important not to let the enormity of the possibility stifle the initiative.  Look for opportunities to streamline tasks and processes that routinely create bottlenecks or roadblocks.  If you cannot imagine how AI might be used to solve these issues, whatever they are, brainstorm with someone who is further along the AI enablement path.

Significant rewards can be found in customer acquisition, onboarding, customer service, data gathering, and operations processes.  Consider analyzing unstructured written and verbal communications from customers to determine needs, urgency, and opportunities so that you can automate responses by providing directions, scheduling appointments, escalating responses, or simply intaking valuable information so that a human can respond more meaningfully.  Any process where you have already developed a logic tree to analyze simple customer responses will likely benefit from injecting AI.


The reality of the AI landscape is that most businesses and industries will change with AI adoption.  Many businesses will choose to purchase AI off the shelf as part of an AI-enabled application, tool, or service.  This will simplify and speed up adoption for many businesses.  Others will innovate and develop ways to leverage AI to create unique and valuable competitive advantages.

Mistakes will be made, and opportunities to learn lessons will abound.   As businesses grapple with AI initiatives, the landscape will continue to evolve quickly.  What is cutting edge today may be obsolete tomorrow, and we will likely see a myriad of AI models rise, be acquired, and fall.

Get comfortable with the reality that AI will change your business.  Grapple with unknowns and discuss risks and rewards (opportunities).  Set aside time and resources to be intentional about your AI learning and strategy.  Do not let fear of the unknown inhibit your ability to thrive with AI.

Podcast Resources:

  • Last Week in AI
  • Data Skeptic
  • Leveraging AI
  • Machine Learning Street Talk
  • Talking Machines – Tote Bag Productions


I prompted ChatGPT to: Rewrite this blog post to make it more interesting and readable.

AI Enhanced Version – Unleashing the Power of AI in Business: Embracing Risk, Seeking Rewards, and Embracing Reality

Step into the realm of Artificial Intelligence (AI), where the potential for transformation surpasses even the industrial revolution and the Internet. As AI continues to advance, new horizons open up with exciting tools like ChatGPT and Bard – revolutionary large language models (LLMs). Business leaders are now captivated by the allure of AI, seeking ways to harness its magic within their organizations. In this blog, we explore the risks, rewards, and realities of the AI landscape to help businesses embrace the AI revolution confidently.

Risk: The Adventure Begins Let’s embark on our AI adventure with a focus on the risks, albeit leaving aside the ethical and doomsday scenarios for now. Ignoring AI’s potential impact on industries, employees, customers, and businesses is the most significant risk for leaders. AI’s rapid pace of adoption means businesses must keep up or risk being left behind. To navigate this landscape successfully, encouraging open conversations and exploring AI possibilities is vital.

When diving into AI, data security takes center stage. Understanding who has access to data, how it’s used, and how to protect customers and their information is crucial. Data fuels AI’s intelligent outcomes, so early data risk assessment is a must.

Employees may already be using AI tools like ChatGPT and Bard in their work. Educating them on potential risks and anonymizing sensitive information in prompts can mitigate some concerns. For cases that demand sensitive data input, exploring paid subscriptions with walled-off data analysis through APIs may be a solution.

Keep expanding the risk analysis; don’t shy away from the conversation!

Reward: Unveiling the AI Treasure Trove Embracing AI strategies promises significant rewards to businesses across all industries. The possibilities are limitless, and technology-savvy businesses might have an edge. Avoid getting overwhelmed by the vast potential of AI; instead, identify tasks and processes that could benefit from streamlining and brainstorm with those experienced in AI enablement.

Unstructured customer communications present a golden opportunity for automation. Analyzing written and verbal customer interactions can lead to automated responses, scheduling appointments, escalating queries, or gathering valuable insights for human follow-ups. Any process with a logic tree analyzing simple customer responses can thrive with AI integration.

Reality: Navigating the AI Landscape The reality is that AI adoption will transform most businesses and industries. While some businesses might opt for off-the-shelf AI solutions, others will pioneer unique and competitive advantages by innovatively leveraging AI.

Mistakes will inevitably happen, but they offer valuable learning opportunities. The AI landscape will evolve rapidly, and staying cutting-edge today doesn’t guarantee relevance tomorrow. Prepare for an array of AI models rising, merging, and sometimes fading away.

Embrace the changing nature of business with AI. Face uncertainties head-on, discuss risks and rewards, and allocate resources for intentional AI learning and strategy. Let curiosity and determination, not fear, drive your journey towards AI-driven success.

Podcast Resources:

  1. Last Week in AI
  2. Data Skeptic
  3. Leveraging AI
  4. Machine Learning Street Talk
  5. Talking Machines – Tote Bag Productions