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EHS Executives ‘Must Ensure They Are Operationally Ready For AI’

Market for AI projects is growing as cloud infrastructure cuts costs and COVID-19 accelerates adoption
Verdantix recommends EHS executives build holistic business cases for AI
AI is a term that is increasingly misused, and buyers should be careful to conduct due diligence

Environment, health, and safety executives should ensure they are operationally ready to deploy Artificial Intelligence (AI) projects as the benefits of adoption become too great to ignore, a new report from leading independent research and advisory firm Verdantix says. Interest in AI projects is growing as a rise in successful deployments of AI de-risks the technology in the eyes of executives while greater use of cloud infrastructure reduces barriers to entry and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic accelerates companies’ plans. AI can help EHS executives to cut costs and improve performance while offering the opportunity to prioritize value-added initiatives such as preventative safety, Verdantix says.

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However, executives still face a myriad of challenges in gaining approval for projects. Verdantix’s report Strategic Focus: Improving Health And Safety with AI outlines best practices for getting AI projects off the ground to support EHS teams in implementing AI and understanding the potential of its deployments. It recommends building a business case which comprehensively quantifies all cost benefits which may include environmental impacts, reputational risk, legal repercussions, and insurance premium benefits.

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Verdantix advises EHS executives who are contemplating AI implementation to fully leverage vendor expertise, supporting material and connections with past customers which may include asking for case studies and learning from previous customers that experienced a similar AI journey.

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EHS executives need to establish governance from the start of any project including possible remediation and to collect high quality data from a diverse range of sources. They should consider a phased rollout of projects to mitigate risk and gain internal support. Verdantix report author Bill Pennington wrote: “EHS decision-makers can struggle to prove to C-suite executives that EHS technology projects deserve priority in the capital allocation process.

This may be due to insufficient quantitative proof that a project is worthwhile, a lack of familiarity with the benefits of the deployment or EHS budgets competing against other departments such as sales, HR, or finance.” The report urges EHS executives to look beyond sales and marketing messaging and warns that artificial intelligence has become a highly misused term within the technology industry. Verdantix Analyst Chris Sayers writes: “This cuts both ways. On the one hand, executives should question whether AI really the best answer to their problem and on the other, whether the solution they’re being sold really does make significant use of the AI, or whether it has just been packaged that way.”

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