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How to disrupt the AI copycat landscape in 2024
Tue, 19th Mar 2024

The proliferation of generative AI shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, by 2035, the UK AI market alone is expected to reach around £800 billion

In parallel to this growth, there has been a substantial increase in AI copycat behaviour over the last few years as many companies mimic products deployed by their direct competitors or simply jump on the bandwagon of implementing the most popular AI applications internally without genuinely considering their strategic implications. This is creating an imitation crisis that inherently undermines the value of AI innovation.

2024 is set to be the year where imitators won’t get away scot-free. As more enterprises apply generative AI, 2024 will be the make-or-break moment where these businesses face intensified ethical checks and balances and increasingly crowded markets when it comes to deploying AI both within corporate operations and in AI-centric services to customers. 

Simply put, AI copycats will lose to competitors if they choose imitation over innovation, and many C-Suite leaders are already anticipating a shift. According to recent research examining the future of generative AI from the perspective of corporate executives, 56 percent of business leaders agree that AI will incite greater competition by minimising gaps between competitors. 

So, what can enterprises do to thrive in this current tide of generative AI and set themselves apart from the competition as creative, innovative disruptors?

Leverage partnerships to catalyse progress.

Companies must define their areas of expertise and distinction to clearly showcase unique AI services and features in the year ahead. One proven route to solidify differentiation is through strategic partnerships that capitalise on each company’s strengths to create more opportunity. Collaboration between technology companies is key to integrating both “best-of-breed” AI thinkers and development resources. Fundamentally, innovation begets innovation.

For example, Microsoft worked with several launch partners when bringing Azure OpenAI to the market, including Icertis. SAP partnered with IBM to integrate WatsonX directly into its user experience, Google works with Anthropic to back its Claude chatbot, and Icertis is part of PwC’s multi-billion AI roadmap – all prime examples of collaboration among companies that are pioneering AI.    

Enterprises that can work together to meet increasingly complex customer needs through secure, reliable AI-powered insights and automation are far more likely to market themselves as capable in the long run. 

Apply agility to innovation for a competitive advantage. 

The AI race is more of a marathon and not a sprint. The quickest way to spot an imitator is when they prioritise time to market over a set of processes and structures that support the creation, growth and execution of fresh, revolutionary services that also account for ethical AI practices.

Pisano’s perspective is crucial when it comes to achieving competitive and sustainable results in AI. It’s an approach that puts aside sporadic, “eureka” moments in favor of high-quality, slow-burn AI-driven innovation that has been frequently tested over long periods of time and against various macroeconomic circumstances. This type of methodology is key to delivering viable, rich innovation. 

In contrast, moving too slowly in a rapidly evolving market almost assuredly leads to a company’s demise. That’s why agility has become a critical component of AI delivery. Companies that can balance responsible AI innovation with the agility to speed new products, pivot strategies, respond to market shifts, and adapt to customer demands will ultimately win over competitors.

In the contract lifecycle management (CLM) market, this scenario is playing out in real time with the delivery of generative AI applications for enterprise contracting. Icertis partnered with both Microsoft and early adopters across its customer base to ensure Icertis Copilots were the first applications to market. By leveraging Microsoft Azure, Icertis is delivering the security and reliability large-scale businesses need to responsibly embrace generative AI in core contracting processes. 

Invest in AI to drive ROI, not the hype.

The AI market is set to become even more crowded in 2024 as new enterprises join the multi-billion pound space. Yet, there is plenty of opportunity for growth this year, and companies with a rich history of agile and authentic innovation are poised to accrue financial gain. 

Nearly 50 percent of business executives expect AI to impact their bottom line this year, and an additional 36 percent believe it will impact their bottom line over the next five years. While last year may have been an opportunity for initial exploration, company leaders and decision-makers are under increasing pressure to leverage AI in the context of profitability and long-term investments. 

AI should be considered a direct and organic follow-on from digital transformation as companies seek to deliver measurable returns on investment (ROI). With a holistic and multi-disciplinary approach that also prioritises diversity of thought – a concept that emphasizes the value of perspectives from different backgrounds, disciplines, cultures, and experiences – enterprises can ensure they have a top-down strategy in place that ethically deploys AI to meet all the needs of the organization. Whether this requires bringing a different set of stakeholders to the decision-making table or expanding the talent pool within your workforce, diversity across all levels is fundamental to success.   

Moreover, in this current environment of unstable macroeconomic factors, enterprises do not have resources to waste. Pressure testing their resilience to change management and pre-emptively assessing, refining and applying relevant change management qualifications to their business model is critical as they seek to convert hypothetical AI use cases into maximum ROI.

Within the contract intelligence landscape, we are seeing this come to life in the transformation of legal and procurement departments. These core business functions are now strategic drivers of innovation, with 44 percent of CPOs leading AI adoption efforts in the past 12 months and many General Counsels spearheading enterprise-wide committees that balance AI ethics and ROI-driven innovation. 

Amidst the evolving hype cycle and new entrants to the AI market, 2024 will be the year when the lines between imitators and innovators are clearly defined. AI copycats are far more likely to lose to competitors focusing on new and creative ways to authentically deploy AI, and company leaders are far less likely to gain buy-in on theoretical projections that fail to produce measurable value. As AI regulations become tighter and the risk of reputational and financial damage heightens, real AI innovation requires diversity of thought at the helm, backed by agility, strategic partnerships, and a clear action plan for converting AI into competitive advantage.