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You Can’t Connect AI to Your Fax Machine

Welcome to business in the 2020s — where we’re focused on how we stay ahead, how we can adapt B2C strategies, and let’s also use AI for everything!  Yes, AI is everywhere. Big companies are doing cool things with it. It’s making (questionable) art, writing content, and anticipating your needs. Why wouldn’t you want to jump into this new, exciting pool of possibilities and leverage it for your business? Eagerness aside, you can’t just connect AI to your fax machine. Like any good wave of the future, it’s an entirely new beast that stands apart from the conceptions of our past. It needs novel infrastructure to support it and to act as a base to build off of, and then, of course, knowledgeable teams to use it. So how do we go from fax machine to artificial intelligence? Let’s find out.

Let’s first understand what AI is purporting to DO for us. Right now in creative and truly self-sustaining roles (like self-driving cars and robotics) it’s early days. There are still accidents and breakdowns and human-powered overrides built in as safety measures when AI isn’t quite up to human standards. In the less glitzy areas of AI, there is content, artwork, and data analysis happening that – with the specific, correct inputs, are generating labor-reducing efforts. That’s quite a range of AI production possibilities. The most important question is, what do you want AI to DO for you?

AI will not come in and solve problems you haven’t yet identified. Before implementing an AI program, you’ll need to know where your pain points are, or where gaps in knowledge or data exist. Where TMG recommends starting to take advantage of AI is 1) slowly and 2) with something like search functionality – internally, externally, or both, as a way to gather data about your customer (or employee) journey and identify gaps or previously unknown connections.

Why AI won’t work for you

Let me refer to, again, the previously mentioned fax machine. If you are operating on legacy technology or analog systems that do not tie in automatically to business systems, you’re going to have a bad time. Or no time at all, really, because AI cannot make manual, analog processes automatically adapt to AI. There is a case for intermediary apps that scan paper tickets into spreadsheets and then push those to another system…but you are building a taller house of cards instead of doing controlled demolition and building a new, more future-proof structure. Buy the dynamite, burn it down, build new.

Besides legacy technology, you might not even be collecting (and storing, and processing, and analyzing, and visually representing, and cross-collaboratively sharing) enough data. What is your data process? Do you have one? How are you currently using it to gather data on your current business streams? If you’re struggling to come up with examples of data driving business decisions in your organization currently, this is where you need to start.

Prep work for AI

If you ARE using data in your org, that’s great news, and you’re one step closer to AI-readiness. The next reality to face is, are your teams sharing information and data? Do you have silos in your org? AI works best when there is cross-functional data to analyze, allowing AI to uncover interdependencies, causal vs correlated data relationships, and other deep truths waiting to be discovered. Without knowing how sales data relates to marketing campaigns, how can AI create optimized ads for you? Without shipping data tied to inventory data, how can AI maximize warehouse capacity, shipping routes, or identify returned product trends?

Another area to devote time and consideration to is your teams. This includes not only training all organization teams on how to use AI, but how to operate in conjunction with it. AI literacy is paramount to running and maintaining a successful AI practice. In addition to training teams on working with and understanding AI, you also need to devote training time to the other types of job skills AI does not cover, but depend on a creative, critically-thinking mind. With AI in the picture, the nature of job details change and allow for employees to devote time to creative projects and critical strategy they previously didn’t have bandwidth for. Make sure you’re enabling them to bring more business success in tandem with the addition of AI.

AI needs agility

Businesses need to fundamentally change the way they work to fully embrace transformation. Ford abandoned horses altogether in pursuit of the Model T. Unless you are committed to enterprise-wide process redesign, you will not reap the impressive benefits of AI. AI can only enhance what is already there. If you think you can get by with not changing any of our businesses infrastructure to accommodate AI, you will be achieving the tech equivalent of putting lipstick on a pig.


With restructuring in mind, the use of AI makes for another compelling reason to move away from monolithic systems. AI demands agility and velocity, things at odds with on-prem architecture and custom-coded solutions. Moving to cloud-based platforms and modular, composable solutions with not only let you test, isolate, and modify AI applications, they’ll also allow you to scale as needed and find best-in-class solutions instead of working within the monolith. TMG’s operating procedure is agile-focused, centering on continuous discovery and continuous delivery. We’re perfectly aligned to bring b2b businesses into the future of agile, composable solutions that integrate AI strategy and technology into the complex network of b2b systems.

Plugging into AI

So, you know now that your fax machine isn’t coming with you into this new era. But you’re ready to dismantle the ways of working from the past and create the new, necessary, groundbreaking pathways forward to enable AI and future business transformation. You’re going to create a culture of data, with every employee thinking about the cross-functional ramifications and connection points of that data. Those groups will meet and intermingle and discover efficiencies, opportunities, and gaps in your performance and metrics. You may even uncover new metrics to track that better quantify customer sentiment, predictability, and loyalty.

Dismantle. Create. Discover. You’re not alone in the journey to better business procedures, or in the quest to assimilate new technology into a well-established business. We see these inflection points happening across industries and throughout the B2B landscape. The good news is that you now know what you have to do, and the b2b, technology, and experience experts at TMG can help create a process that packs away the fax machine and ushers in a new epoch of enlightenment. We can’t wait to bring you there.

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Jenn Daugherty
Jenn Daugherty
June 21, 20246 minute read
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