How to check if your AI problem is a potential AI initiative (PAI)?

What is a Potential AI Initiative (PAI)?

A potential AI initiative (PAI), based on The Business Case for AI, is an AI-worthy automation idea that makes rough business sense and has the basic development building blocks. While many automation problems will seem like excellent AI problems on the surface, many will not be. Strategically identifying PAIs can save you time and allow you to use AI for the best problems—instead of random initiatives. 

To start identifying PAIs using this workbook, do the following:

  1. Write down the identified AI opportunities or problems
  2. For a given problem, determine the relevant starting point 
  3. Follow the workflow for each starting point to determine if you have a PAI
  4. Update your AI opportunity table, then repeat the process for the next problem 

At the end of this exercise, you’ll know which problems are PAIs and which ones are not. With that, you can move on to framing your AI initiatives


Based on the problem at hand, determine your starting point and move on to Step 2.

​​Starting Point A: Current Manual Solution

If you currently have a problem solved manually by humans and you’d like to replace this with AI, this would be your starting point. A semi-automatic solution (i.e., software automation with humans in the loop for quality control) can fall into starting points A or B, depending on which part you’d like to replace. If it’s the manual component, use starting point A. Otherwise, B.

Starting Point B: Current Software Automation

Suppose you already have an existing software automation to solve the problem you’re considering. You may have reasons to replace it with an AI solution or a more sophisticated AI solution. You think that perhaps an AI-powered solution can reduce errors and make the software more manageable. This type of problem falls squarely into starting point B.

Starting Point C: New Problem with No Current Solution

If you have no current solution because you are facing a new problem, then you are in this category. Say you’re looking to develop an AI-powered recommender system for your website, and your website currently doesn’t make any recommendations. Then this is a brand-new problem as there isn’t a competing solution.

AI strategy....PAI DISCOVERY.
The business case for ai

Now that you’ve determined your starting point, move on to Step 2.


Skip to the appropriate starting point as identified in Step 1 to answer three or four questions that will help you determine if you have a PAI. Use the relevant flow diagrams provided.

Starting Point A: Manual Current Solution

Starting Point B: Existing Software Automation

Starting Point C: New Problem


Once you’ve determined whether the problem on hand is a PAI or not, update the specifics in your AI opportunity table. If you have a PAI with pending data verification, try to ensure that the data is available or can be collected or generated.

If you need more support, you can wait till expert verification (Step 3 of the HI-AI Discovery Framework) or involve your experts early in the process.   

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