How to win the race to become a generative enterprise™ - Ascendion

How to win the race to become a generative enterprise™

Early wisdom from the Ascendion C-suite

Ascendion December 11, 2023


HFS Research

In this installment of Your Generative Enterprise™ playbook for the future, Ascendion CEO Karthik Krishnamurthy shares the hard lessons that can help us all unlock value with generative AI.

Karthik Krishnamurthy is on a mission. He aims to make his company the first Generative Enterprise™ in software engineering, and he is moving fast.

Founded in 2022, digital engineering and services company Ascendion is free of the potential drag of legacy ways of working as the generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) revolution takes off. With years of experience applying AI to software engineering and talent orchestration, Ascendion was born with GenAI in its DNA.

Karthik, Ascendion’s CEO, enthused, “I’ve been an AI and data guy for 25 years. I don’t need any convincing of the importance of artificial intelligence. This is something I personally believe in, and our team believes in.”

The Generative Enterprise, coined by HFS Research CEO and Chief Analyst Phil Fersht in May 2023, refers to an enterprise that implements AI technologies based on large language models (LLMs) like GPT-4, LaMDA, Constitutional AI, and others that power increasingly sentient-seeming conversational AI systems like Bard, Claude, and ChatGPT.

The intent is to reap business benefits that include (so far) improved productivity, new ideas, and better consumer experiences to ultimately redefine how work gets done and disrupt business industrial economy models steeped in decades or more of antiquated processes and technology.


What does it take to be a Generative Enterprise?

In practice, a Generative Enterprise must meet some specific criteria and demonstrate specific capabilities:

  • It must display strong GenAI and LLM models, use cases, and capabilities in active deployment across jobs, workflows, and consumer experiences.
  • It needs a demonstrated ability to redefine how work is done in a way that materially impacts enterprise-wide core business metrics, such as 30%–70% additional productivity, data-driven decision making, creative content generation, improved customer experiences that drive growth, or new partnership ecosystems encouraging AI- powered business models.
  • It is deploying robust frameworks for responsible and ethical AI.
  • It has maturing ecosystem partners that drive co-innovation, new products and services, dramatically improved processes, and higher productivity.
  • It has well-rounded capabilities across all value creation levers: talent, domain, technology, data, and change management.
  • It has deep partnerships with AI technology leaders, possibly including joint IP creation.
  • It has made substantial investments in GenAI.
  • It has evidence of purpose-based (co- creation) partnerships with clients and an increasing number of performance-based relationships in its portfolio.
  • Clients must recognize it as a thought leader.
  • Its referenceable and satisfied clients drive new business models with partnerships.


Successful AI deployment impacts the entire organization

HFS named Ascendion a Horizon 3 Market Leader in its inaugural report on how service providers support enterprises in their journey to becoming Generative Enterprises. Karthik explains that Ascendion’s focus on becoming a Generative Enterprise goes beyond what it offers to clients and how it executes. It extends to applying GenAI to enhance everybody within the organization-it is an organization-wide effort.

“Firstly, this means getting the entire organization comfortable and trained on artificial intelligence. We’ve already trained more than 1,500 Ascenders on generative AI. I’m not just talking about client partners, account managers, engineering managers, and delivery people. I’m talking about finance, HR, marketing, and talent experts,” said Karthik.

The result is buy-in and hunger that have identified many opportunities to create value with AI across multiple processes. Ascendion’s CIO now leads the charge to build tools to embed them in new ways of working across the company, and the head of software engineering continues to develop and deploy Ascendion AVA-powered by AI-to improve how the company delivers services.


AI and GenAI have cut recruitment time by a third; AI + people pods next

Another example of the application of GenAI at Ascendion is talent acquisition. Ascendion has built a platform that, with the help of machine learning (ML) and GenAI, reframes job applications as they come in to align them better with matching roles. It provides scores matching the right candidate for the right role, and AI is helping keep more than 15,000 candidates engaged for current and future roles.

GenAI even supports pre-screening by generating relevant initial questions for recruiters to use in interviews. A detailed time and motion study clocked a 34.5% reduction in the time to complete the interview process.

Ascendion is productizing the approach for sale to clients.

Such results inspire rapid take-up of GenAI in sales, marketing, quality engineering, and software development. Other early work includes proposals to create working “pods” in which teams comprise “Digital Ascenders”- AI-enhanced human developers and engineers.

“We are looking at the economics right now. We think where you may have had a team of about 10 people in a pod, we may be able to do it with six when they are fully enhanced by AI,” predicted Karthik.


Understand your data to build the right foundation

Karthik identifies data and cloud maturity among the key accelerants for any business seeking to journey to the Generative Enterprise.

“People who do not have a data strategy will really struggle to figure out how to apply GenAI,” he warns. “They need a well- integrated and modernized data platform.” He asserts that understanding all the inherent relationships within your data is critical to this so that you know the impact on any other data points you touch.

“A lot of modernization efforts are just a lift and shift. They just take a bunch of data, put it on a new platform, and think they’ve modernized it. No. That will not lend itself to the appropriate use of AI and GenAI,” warns Karthik.


Insights from the journey toward a Generative Enterprise

Karthik’s journey has already taught important lessons, including technical capabilities to double down on and behaviors to adopt:

  1. Learn to prompt: Developing depth in prompt engineering will be essential; there is not enough talent currently in the market.
  2. Learn to consume: The market is short on what Karthik refers to as “consumption intelligence”-the kind of expertise required to consume the outputs of GenAI in a way that enhances the context it delivers. For Karthik, this consumption intelligence manifests in the ability to write algorithms to better adjust to outcomes and learn lessons from hallucinations toward greater value for the business.
  3. Balance patience and urgency: The person leading the GenAI effort should be curious about new ways of working but be willing to start now! Also, plan for the long haul. Follow a plan with clearly defined expectations and milestones. Recognize that changes of this magnitude won’t happen overnight.
  4. Be reasonable: Don’t quit on GenAI if it hallucinates incorrect responses from time to time. Humans make many more mistakes, yet we are happy to keep working alongside them. People working with GenAI should consider the relationship a partnership in which you can help each other improve.


The Bottom Line: It takes inspired leaders and organization-wide commitment to progress toward becoming a Generative Enterprise.

Embracing the potential of becoming a Generative Enterprise and embarking on the journey toward it requires an organization-wide commitment and conviction from the top. Karthik and Ascendion can tackle all this without the massive demand for change management that most organizations will need-but the lessons learned can and should be taken on board by every leader taking their first steps.


About this research

Your Generative Enterprise™ playbook for the future is a HFS Research and Ascendion research program based on more than 20 in-depth interviews and a survey of more than 100 C-suite leaders and practitioners with first-hand experience implementing GenAI in organizations.

Watch out for more, and join us on the journey at Ascendion and HFS Research to access all our research findings.

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