Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming organizations


The relationship between artificial intelligence (AI) and organizational processes is a complex one. AI is powerful but it’s not a magic wand and cannot just be implemented.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is an emerging technology viewed and becoming a precious resource for organizations operating across different industries. More and more businesses aim to adopt and employ AI and algorithmic technologies in their operations to reap their benefits in a variety of ways and mostly to improve efficiencies, save time, and decrease costs. However, embarking on an AI digitalization flagship initiative or project to design and change an organizational process or a routine that has been performed over time in a certain way is not a simple task. Organizations often become blindsided and fixated throughout these AI digitalization projects on the technology itself and can overlook engaging all stakeholders as well as considering other important aspects that need to be addressed to realize the realm of AI.

AI requires a comprehensive shift

AI cannot just be implemented and the introduction of AI and algorithmic applications in organizations is done by an assemblage of actors and technologies that reconfigure organizational practices and routines along an intricate process of enacting different emerging boundary-crossings. Such emerging boundary-crossings can be related to spatiotemporal, technological artifactual, human perceptiveness, and knowledge-related factors. For instance, AI requires a comprehensive shift in the organizational culture and alignment of understandings among the different concerned actors, thus maintaining a clear and consistent communication flow as well as a shared view, understanding, and commitment is essential. Moreover, data is the lifeblood of AI and algorithmic technologies, hence organizations need to consider how they will collect and use the needed data in the right quantity, quality, and manner to ensure AI functionality.

An ongoing initiative and process

Undoubtedly, AI should be treated as an ongoing initiative and process that requires continuous efforts and a human-machine collaborative mindset instead of treating it as a “one-time project” or a “design-it-and-forget-it-process”. Thus, research on AI and organizational routine design is important because introducing AI and algorithmic technologies into organizational routines and operations is not a simple flip switch, but it rather involves significant efforts in a complex process of emerging assemblages that requires iterative and ongoing interactions among the different organizational actors and technological artifacts. Moreover, AI can provide organizations with data-driven insights that inform both operational and strategic decisions, thus understanding how AI fits into the routine design can help organizations harness this data effectively and efficiently.

Zeina Othman

About Zeina Othman: Zeina is a PhD student at the Organization and Management Department at Mälardalens University. As stated by Zeina “The overall objective of my thesis is to develop an understanding of the organizational routine re-design process when introducing and deploying AI technologies and algorithmic artifacts to realize intended organizational goals, by shedding light on how organizational actors can influence the routine re-design, and the emerging consequences of this process and how it unfolds, specifically during the design and use of these technologies”.

Zeina’s thesis “Re-designing organizational routines in the echo of AI algorithms” is done in collaboration with Esmart Systems by following a case study of an AI digitalization project for one of their largest utility clients in Europe that aims to digitalize the inspection of their powerlines grid using drones and AI technology. The research is done using qualitative methods and data is being collected using interviews, observations, and archival research.