Executive Insights, UPDATED 2023

Is it time to create an AI Guild in your organization?



Implementing AI in many organizations often hits a roadblock when it comes to scaling, primarily due to a lack of understanding of AI from a business perspective. To achieve successful digitalization, companies must develop AI, data analysis, and data science skills among their employees. However, acquiring or hiring such expertise presents its own set of challenges. Organizations need a radical approach: make AI, data, and data science appealing to everyone. This issue led to the innovative concept of forming an AI Guild.

What’s an AI Guild?

An AI Guild would consist of members from all departments within an organization. Its purpose would be to enhance the members’ proficiency in AI and data science while emphasizing the personal benefits of understanding these subjects. Taking inspiration from medieval guilds, which meticulously chose members and shared skills, tools, and knowledge, a modern AI Guild must be inclusive and strive towards skill development through collaboration. In fact, introducing an AI Guild in several large organizations has resulted in increased participation in training programs and substantial improvement in overall AI competencies.

What’s the need for an AI Guild?

Why establish an AI Guild instead of relying on HR for employee learning and development, especially in areas like AI, data analytics, and data science? Firstly, the traditional HR model might be too slow to keep up with the fast-paced progress in AI and data-driven competencies; a guild approach offers more agility.

Secondly, engagement levels are likely to skyrocket with employees running the guild—an essential factor for widespread and rapid growth in AI and data proficiencies. Although HR should support an AI Guild’s formation, letting it function separately from the standard L&D initiatives is crucial.

Perks of an AI Guild

First and foremost, it encourages employees to acquire crucial skills relevant to their career progression and the organization’s competitiveness. An employee-driven method ensures a higher adoption rate and fosters quicker skills retention since it’s initiated by individuals rather than as top-down directives.

Second, an AI Guild helps demystify AI and data science by fostering understanding and appreciation across the organization. This clarity promotes innovation using data and AI while cultivating a pro-AI mindset among employees.

Thirdly, an AI Guild stimulates discussions around AI ethics, risk management, and governance—indispensable topics for organizations in the digital era. This collaborative atmosphere enables widespread knowledge acquisition in these areas.

Lastly, the guild serves as a catalyst for nurturing future-proof skill sets, nudging employees toward adapting to evolving job roles over the coming years. The AI Guild is ideally suited for guiding this metamorphosis in organizational skill requirements.

In a nutshell

Achieving success in broad organizational initiatives, such as skill improvement, depends on a harmonious relationship between company strategy and employees’ goals. If data and AI are integral to an organization’s future, establishing an AI Guild can engage employees in skill development. Enhancing everyone’s AI, data, and data science expertise increases the organization’s chances of success. Although the HR department may financially support the AI Guild, multiple executives can serve as ambassadors since their success also relies on widespread AI and data competencies. The CIO is a prime example of such an executive. Ultimately, the CEO must be the driving force behind improving AI and data literacy; organizations could struggle to survive the next decade without this growth.

Placing data and AI at the heart of transformation will be crucial as digitalization continues to evolve. Engaging all employees and cultivating their skills for the future is essential for successful change. An AI Guild with diverse employee representation could be a vital tool in driving a successful transition.

Peter Soendergaard

Peter Soendergaard


Peter is Chairman of the Board at 2021.AI and the Owner of Executive Advisory company, the Sondergaard Group. Before this, Peter worked as the Executive VP and member of Gartner’s operating committee for 15 years. Peter is a well-known and sought out speaker covering many topics within IT, AI & ML.

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