The Washington Post gathered technology innovators, pioneering researchers, business experts, and leaders today for its Washington Post Live event, “Transformers: Artificial Intelligence.” Vice President Adi Bhashyam took part in a panel addressing the topic “The AI Revolution: How to Make It Real for Your Organization.” Along with partner Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), Bhashyam discussed what makes AI technology adoption successful, how the technology is changing the way we work and live, and addressed crucial questions on the profound impact AI will have at both a national and global level.

“AI is everywhere as it relates to a set of B-to-C apps. However, in the public sector or the enterprise space, AI is still in its infancy. There’s an overall awareness of what it is, but adoption is fairly early,” said Bhashyam. “When done correctly it gives an organization one of two super powers: either a million very good interns that can do anything very quickly or one super powered intern who can do something extremely well, better than your entire organization.”

Bhashyam and HPE VP of AI Beena Ammanath spoke with panel host Bill Burnham, HPE U.S. Public Sector CTO about pressing industry questions including what the reality of AI is in terms of what it can and cannot do, the biggest hurdles to adoption of AI, and the best practices to accelerate AI adoption.

Where organizations achieve the most success is in being able to combine both of these models of AI use. For example, in the work does with the U.S. Air Force, AI is used to improve readiness of aircraft, by predicting failure, predicting where that failure will occur, and sending spare parts and the right workers to the right locations to maintain aircraft. This has a cumulative impact of dramatically improving aircraft availability.

Improving the effectiveness of existing staff is an important benefit in current industrial AI applications. In one AI application adoption, an organization tripled the effectiveness of its people with no change in the workforce, said Bhashyam. “That is where the most value and most adoption will come from in AI in large organizations, whether public or private.”

Bhashyam and Ammanath addressed how to avoid common roadblocks by setting tangible AI use case goals and determining where it will have the most useful impact within the company in order for it generate real, lasting value. Organizations need to understand what AI can and can’t do. Instead, think through where and how AI can be used. Fixate on the useful, not on the cool, said Bhashyam. If you can’t figure out how an AI application will generate value today, it will not be useful and will be abandoned, he added.

Despite many of the initial challenges AI has faced, both Bhashyam and Ammanath reinforced that the AI revolution is real, has measurable impact, and companies and organizations are investing heavily in the technology as a change catalyst to benefit the way we live and work.

Washington Post Live is the newspaper’s live journalism platform, where government and business leaders, emerging voices and newsmakers discuss the most pressing issues of the day.

The Transformers: Artificial Intelligence event was held January 10, 2019 in Washington, D.C. The full panel can be viewed here.