A Letter from Our CEO

I’m thrilled to introduce the inaugural edition of the Catalant Quarterly—a new initiative to release relevant and timely business insights for executives and top independent consultants. 

Who is Catalant, and how are we leading this new era we call Consulting 2.0?

At Catalant we’ve long been catalysts for change, working alongside more than 30% of the Fortune 500, the premier private equity firms and their portfolio companies, and the top consulting firms in the industry to create a transparent, flexible, and fit-to-purpose form of consulting that we call Consulting 2.0. 

The fact is, there are people in the world who have solved your problem before, and odds are, at least some of them are working independently. They are former senior consultants, senior operators, and subject matter experts proficient in real-world operations and equipped with cutting-edge skills. Using our technology platform, leaders (including those outside of the C-suite) have direct access to the expertise of over one hundred thousand vetted freelance business professionals. Companies partnering with this fast-growing part of the workforce gain a competitive edge.  

In a world full of content for business leaders, what sets the Catalant Quarterly apart? 

Because Catalant is a platform aggregator of global experts, and not a consulting firm, we can provide a level of transparency that traditional firms can’t. It also means the wealth of data that lives in Catalant’s centralized platform provides an unprecedented opportunity to discern trends and distill valuable insights. Alongside data-backed trends, we collaborate with our consultant community, the Catalant Experts, to delve deep into the operational nuances our clients are dealing with. These are not“career advisors”; Catalant Experts work deep in the operations of our clients’ most strategic issues, and they share their learnings from the trenches generously. 

Today, as we delve into our first Catalant Quarterly theme, Artificial Intelligence, we stand at the precipice of a technological revolution. The demand for genuine operating expertise in this realm far exceeds the available supply of talent. ​​In the last six months, a surge of outstanding consultants with machine learning and GenAI expertise joined the Catalant platform. 

In this issue, you’ll hear directly from some of the most talented AI consultants on the Catalant platform about how to strategically approach and implement new AI initiatives, as well as specific examples of AI at play in marketing and in healthcare. AI work isn’t new to Catalant. Hundreds of AI/ML projects are consistently posted to our platform each year. We experienced a surge in AI projects throughout 2023 with double the share of AI projects in 2023 vs. 2022’s share. To say the topic is top of mind for our clients is an understatement.

We’re excited about the Catalant Quarterly and its promise to provide regular and unmatched insights.


This issue is focused on the role of AI in business transformations. First, we open with a detailed walk-through of how to achieve success, from planning to prototype to optimization. Then, diving into two examples of AI transformation, we’ll get an inside look at AI transformation in marketing and healthcare. Finally, the issue caps off with an understanding of the delicate balance of art and science in AI transformation.

How AI Drives Transformation: Key Strategies and a Strategic Approach to Success

Artificial Intelligence (AI) boasts undeniable transformative power. Recognized by the World Economic Forum as a key driver of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, AI’s potential to reshape industries is disruptive and profound. 

Reasons for embracing AI are legion and grow daily, but for many established businesses, the fear of falling behind also acts as a powerful motivator for embracing AI. As AI-powered solutions become increasingly commonplace, companies that fail to adapt risk losing both their real and perceived competitive edges. Beyond the fear of lagging behind, AI clearly offers tangible benefits across diverse functions, from exciting, net-new functionalities to optimizing internal legacy processes to quantifying and enhancing customer experiences.

As AI-powered solutions become increasingly commonplace, companies that fail to adapt risk losing both their real and perceived competitive edges.

Unfortunately, studies show that established companies lacking prior AI experience face multiple significant challenges to successfully implementing this technology. The recent statistics are grim for companies tackling this alone. In fact, Gartner found the failure rate as high as 85%

This article addresses these factors head-on, showing leaders how to achieve success in this unfamiliar landscape. 

Key strategies for success

First, to maximize the value and impact of your AI investment and journey, prioritize these key considerations:

  1. Define Clear Objectives and Scope: Align project objectives and scope with business goals to ensure tangible results and avoid rework.
  2. Seek Expert Guidance: An outside perspective brings value to new investment areas, particularly more specialized areas like AI. Carefully assess potential consultants’ experience, portfolio, and alignment with project requirements. 
  3. Foster Collaboration: Utilize communication and collaboration tools to facilitate seamless project management, real-time updates, and knowledge transfer.
  4. Track Progress with Measurable Results: Set clear milestones and deliverables to track progress and ensure tangible value is delivered along the way. Keep in mind, most AI initiatives are iterative—requiring previous steps to be repeated based on the outcomes.
  5. Cultivate a Culture of Innovation: Encourage creativity and experimentation to unlock novel AI applications and stay ahead of the curve. This typically involves a dedicated research or experimentation capability.
  6. Prioritize Continuous Learning: AI has never been “one and done”—mature AI capabilities involve monitoring results, refining strategies, and staying updated with the latest advancements. This ensures future compatibility and reduces operational risk in an ever-changing landscape.

Maximizing value through a proven approach

Few topics are more intimidating than getting started. The best advice is to start small. Think: crawl, walk, run. This approach guides companies through their AI transformation, harmoniously leveraging external expertise at each stage:

Crawl: Building a Strong Foundation:

  1. Assessment and Planning: Conduct a comprehensive assessment of AI readiness, encompassing data quality, architecture, people, and processes. Identify potential skill gaps and evaluate overall preparedness for AI integration. This exercise provides valuable insights that guide subsequent actions and resource allocation for AI integration.
  2. Pilot Projects and Proof of Concepts: Many companies fail to validate ideas and test the waters before making large-scale investments. Pilot projects, Proof of Concepts (PoCs) and minimum viable products (MVPs) enable controlled experimentation and mitigate risk—all while garnering stakeholder support and clearly demonstrating the value proposition. AI capabilities typically require custom data flows and sometimes new architectures, but these aren’t necessarily known a priori. Starting work on the back-end frequently leads to more tech debt, so, start by proving out controlled, small-scale AI initiatives with ad hoc data processing which test feasibility, and validate potential benefits. 
  3. Foundational Development: Based on the successful outcomes of pilot projects and POCs, organizations can confidently move forward with establishing data governance frameworks, integrating essential AI tools, and building employee AI literacy. This ensures a seamless transition to broader AI implementation and maximizes the potential benefits of the technology.

Walk: Taking the First Steps Beyond Prototypes and MVPs:

  1. Building a Scalable Infrastructure: With proven value, now is the time to design and build a more robust infrastructure capable of supporting future AI growth. Invest in scalable computing resources, data storage solutions, and network infrastructure to accommodate future AI deployments.
  2. Scaling Pilots: Build upon successful pilot projects, expanding the scope and complexity of AI solutions by iterating on successful models and applying them to new areas within the organization.
  3. Investing in Talent Development: Build internal AI skill sets for long-term success through employee training programs or hiring. Empower employees with the necessary knowledge and skills, reducing dependence on external expertise.

Run: Optimizing and Transforming:

  1. Continuously Refine and Scale: Continuously refine existing AI deployments, scale successful models, and continue to integrate AI into core business operations with the guidance of external experts. Optimize existing AI models for performance and efficiency, integrating them into daily operations for maximum impact.
  2. Embrace Innovation and Transformation: Leverage AI for innovative initiatives, including predictive analytics, advanced automation, and transformative business model changes, with the support of specialized consultants. Explore novel applications of AI that significantly impact the organization’s operations and drive competitive advantage.

Some fantastic industry-specific examples worth considering:

  • Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG): Demand forecasting models can help optimize inventory levels and production planning based on historical data, market trends, and promotional activities.
  • Healthcare: AI-based systems for early detection of chronic diseases and population health management add immense ROI by analyzing patient data and notifying healthcare providers about high-risk individuals, enabling proactive interventions and improved health outcomes.
  • Industrials: AI-based predictive maintenance and anomaly detection of industrial equipment help minimizing downtime and enhancing productivity by analyzing sensor data to identify potential equipment failures before they occur.
  • CX: By leveraging AI, any organization can personalize the customer journey, automate repetitive tasks, and provide 24/7 support, ultimately leading to a more positive and satisfying customer experience.

Unlocking AI’s potential with external expertise

Building an internal AI team and capability can be expensive and time-consuming, hindering adaptation and rapid benefit realization. Partnering with external experts offers a compelling alternative to this daunting endeavor by enabling three key advantages: 

  • Faster implementation
  • Cost-effectiveness and scalability
  • Reduced risk and investment outlay 

By bypassing lengthy hiring processes and harnessing the needed skills on a project-by-project basis directly, you can achieve faster time to market and secure visible early wins necessary for garnering stakeholder support and sustaining momentum. 

Most verticals have data scientists who evolved from analysts. While these resources benefit from hard-earned subject matter expertise, they typically lack the breadth of experience needed to build the best solutions based on broader market trends and technologies. 

By embracing the agility of external expertise from trusted partners and adopting this strategic approach, established companies can overcome traditional barriers to AI adoption. Following the approach outlined here enables the achievement of remarkable, lasting success, unlocking the potential for rapid implementation, cost-effectiveness, and accelerated outcomes. These guidelines also empower non-AI-first organizations to navigate the ever-evolving AI landscape and unlock its immense potential for growth, innovation, and enduring competitive advantage.

About the Author: Chris Clarke holds a Ph.D. in theoretical physics and has used advanced mathematics and AI/ML to solve hard problems in top secret defense, renewable energies, CX, fintech, cybersecurity, social-emotional learning, professional service organizations, wireless communications, health, and insurtech. He has been independently advising and consulting since 2021. He specializes in early-stage SaaS startups and initial AI transformation companies with emphases on strategy and IP. He holds six patents and has written four of them. When not staring at a screen, he enjoys time with his family and hiking, snowshoeing, mountaineering, and technical climbing.

Adaptive Marketing with AI

Digital marketing is focused on delivering the right content to the right audiences in the right channel at the right stage of the marketing funnel.  It is hard to get this right without experimentation, particularly with media saturation. But conventional MarTech is not designed for this rapid, frequent experimentation. 

Now, AI is emerging as the catalyst by blending behavioral sciences with data sciences and automation. It simplifies conventional processes, challenges conventional wisdom, and has led to what the industry is calling “adaptive marketing.”  It is the continuous optimization of digital campaigns in response to real-time data and consumer behavior – a perpetual process of testing, learning, and refinement.  

“Adaptive marketing” is the continuous optimization of digital campaigns in response to real-time data and consumer behavior – a perpetual process of testing, learning, and refinement.

Major D2C (direct-to-consumer) brands are using this adaptive approach to engage with consumers in a range of channels. Sephora’s chatbot, Starbucks’s voice-powered barista, Nike’s emotional marketing, and Lowe’s personal shopping assistants are some success stories.

Perhaps the best example is The Economist publication which identified a segment of its audience that it considered to be reluctant readers and increased ROI by 10:1 from this segment using adaptive marketing with AI. 

How does adaptive marketing with AI work?

While GenAI (Generative AI) serves as a content generator, ML (Machine Learning) serves as the decider for which content to serve when a consumer is engaging online or through loyalty apps. It is not necessary to get it right the first time as it will improve with each iteration. With automated learning, it is not hard to imagine digital marketing on autopilot. 

It starts with three capabilities that are not new, but made easier with AI:

  1. Segmentation – ML models can define consumer segments from audience attributes, engagement, and transaction history. They are good at detecting signals that will predict the behavior of a similar audience online. 
  2. Personalization – GenAI with prompt engineering can generate a wide range of content tailored to audience segments. 
  3. Differentiation – Varied content can test performance within targeted audience segments. GenAI can create variants faster than humans, even the most experienced marketers – when structured correctly.

In adaptive marketing, the best content is whichever outperforms the others in each iteration, regardless of what experts agree on the message and aesthetics. It is the “survival of the fittest.”

Which platforms should you use?

MarTech vendors are racing to offer these adaptive AI capabilities. Between the establishment (Salesforce, Adobe, Hubspot), disruptors (C3 AI, Palantir), and Tier-1 (AWS, Azure, Google), there are many options to choose from off-the-shelf capabilities to a generic platform that can be customized. However, a novice marketing team would face many challenges that would force them to lean heavily on consulting experts. 

  1. Complexity and Learning Curve: Users may find the integration of AI features complex, requiring a learning curve to fully leverage the software capabilities.
  2. Accuracy and Performance: The effectiveness of ML models depends on the accuracy of measuring engagement and campaign performance. Users rely on out-of-the box analytics which may not be ideal.
  3. Integration Challenges: Users may encounter difficulties integrating AI into their existing workflows or systems, especially if they have specific requirements or use other third-party tools.
  4. Limited Customization: Limitations in customization may be restrictive for those with unique preferences or requirements.
  5. Privacy Concerns: The use of AI involves processing and analyzing data. Users may have concerns about privacy and the security of their data, especially when utilizing cloud-based AI services.

Where to start with adaptive marketing?

Uncertainties are inevitable with AI. Planners should consider a safe approach without disrupting the status quo. One such approach is decoupling AI infrastructure, processes, and people from business-as-usual. With a parallel AI infrastructure and interim talent, companies can test the business case until the decision to move forward (or roll back) is clear. Reverting to business-as-usual could be painless with this approach.

Consider decoupling AI infrastructure, processes, and people from business-as-usual. With a parallel environment, companies can test the business case until the decision to move forward (or roll back) is clear.

Building a parallel environment could be daunting for many companies. Interestingly, AI with no-code offers an alternative solution without IT bottlenecks, deep integration, or complex learning curve. Often overlooked, this “lite AI” approach can fit smaller budgets and can be delivered faster than integrating existing MarTech applications. 

An interesting case study in lite AI is a platform built from the ground up in 2 months using Splunk for real-time stream processing and Azure ML Studio for model development. Content was structured as product-message-offer, and chatGPT was used to generate a wide range for experimentation. This no-code solution is capable of segmenting millions of audiences using 1st and 3rd party data attributes. Personalized, differentiated campaigns can be set up in Excel, and delivered via APIs to engagement platforms for real-time decisions. The data platform continuously measures performance and identifies the winners at the end of each iteration. Weekly iteration is achievable with this level of automation. 

Another interesting case study is consuming ML in Excel without expensive infrastructure and IT dependencies. Such a solution was developed in 2 weeks for a market research team dealing with consumer surveys to identify high-value segments using a “logistic regression” algorithm. The goal was to help novice users apply this technique in a foolproof manner without building an entirely new application with an ML backend. Solutions like these lower the bar for AI adoption.

For corporations intrigued by AI, digital marketing is an ideal playground. A key ingredient for success is the commitment from leadership. Experts can guide them with the right option tailored to the budget and level of disruption that can be tolerated with this exciting transformation.

About the Author: Sanjay Iyer is an independent consultant in Princeton, NJ. He is focused on helping organizations adopt AI in their products, decisions, and operations. As a strategist and practitioner, Sanjay helps to demystify the technology and create a pragmatic roadmap for adopting AI progressively. With 20+ years of experience from Big 4 and boutique consulting firms, Sanjay has served leaders across the enterprise as a techno strategist with data-driven innovation, transformation, and continuous improvement. He holds an M.B.A. degree from NYU.

Artificial Intelligence and the Healthcare Industry: Embracing Digital Transformation

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been significantly and increasingly influential, especially since the 2022 introduction of OpenAI’s popular ChatGPT. The impact and pace of this transformative technology has accelerated across various domains, especially in knowledge-intensive administrative work like legal, IT, finance, and accounting. For example, over half the companies in a recent survey reported their business has already deployed generative AI. Moreover, 45% are forecasting that AI will catalyze a major transformation in their industry during the next few years.  

In contrast to the striking pace of applying AI in most industries, healthcare has historically shown a marked resistance to change. This resistance is not new; it was evident during the Industrial Revolution, which had almost no impact on the medical industry and medical practice. More recently, this resistance can be seen during the initial phase of telemedicine, which was considered experimental just 5 years ago and only gained some acceptance during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Today, healthcare (often described as a blend of art and science) faces unique challenges. The healthcare sector, burdened by extended life expectancy and an increasing array of treatments and technologies, is facing important financial constraints and desperately needs a transformation. 

Additionally, healthcare, due to its complexity, struggles with standardization issues, and a low level of broadly accepted and implemented performance indices, leading to significant resource wastage.

And beyond, healthcare is being severely impacted by a diminishing number of healthcare professionals, and burgeoning administrative requirements that reduce time to provide services to needy patients. A recent report found that retirements and professional burnout resulted in the loss of over 150,000 healthcare professionals between 2021 and 2022. The overwhelming demand for documentation only adds to the sector’s challenges and reduces service time. 

Retirements and professional burnout resulted in the loss of over 150,000 healthcare professionals between 2021 and 2022.

The question is: Will technology advances spurred by the pandemic and the AI revolution be enough to meaningfully transform the practice of healthcare?

The potential of AI in healthcare

AI holds immense potential in healthcare, a field predominantly concerned with knowledge, documentation, and decision-making. Major technology companies recognize this and are increasingly investing in healthcare. For example, Google is rapidly becoming a healthcare powerhouse, with billions of dollars invested in the sector over the past few years. Microsoft has measurably raised its commitment to healthcare, with the purchase of medical-centered voice recognition company Nuance for over $19 billion in 2022. Amazon´s $4 billion investment in Anthropic AI will markedly reinforce Amazon´s AI-powered Web Services in healthcare. And Apple, according to Forbes, has “enabled an entire ecosystem for other creators to develop their own health applications and new ways to measure different health metrics.”

What is the potential of AI in healthcare?  Clearly, one important benefit of AI is a revolution in the most burdensome task for physicians: documentation. Tools like Dragon Ambient eXperience by Nuance, Oracle´s Clinical Digital Assistance and HealthScribe by Amazon Web Services are transforming patient-physician conversations into technical documents automatically, creating technical documents ready for uploading on Electronic Healthcare records and freeing up physician´s time to focus on clinical practice.

Managing vast and varied data is another area where AI can assist physicians. With the advent of AI’s capability for multimodality, it has become easier to handle diverse data formats. For example, at HTLH, the preeminent event for healthcare and wellness innovation, recently held in Las Vegas, both Google and Microsoft showcased solutions enabling physicians to access synoptic tables and medical information summaries with a single query, reducing hours of documentation review. We are also seeing significant benefits in drug development as new startups like Weave.bio simplify and transform the new drug development (IND) process in working with the FDA.  

AI promises to alleviate administrative burdens, enhance data analysis, and improve decision-making, with the goal of elevating patient care and outcomes.

In terms of quality care, AI’s role in facilitating accurate decision-making is paramount. Clinical Decision Support systems, enhanced by large language models, compare physicians’ decisions with the latest clinical guidelines, identifying discrepancies and suggesting more aligned actions.  One recent example: Cerebra.ai has shown significant value using AI in combination with CT scanning in the prediction of strokes. The fact that Cerebra was initially developed in Kazakhstan is further evidence of the global impact of AI research and practice.

More impressively, AI excels in pattern recognition, especially in visual patterns. It has proven superior to physicians in identifying malignancies in X-rays and mammography tests. Innovative applications of pattern recognition, like identifying diabetic patients through voice recordings or assessing the prognosis of coma patients through brain scans more accurately than neurologists are groundbreaking. For instance, at Beijing’s PLA General Hospital, AI predicted patient recovery from coma in cases where doctors were doubtful.

Health: The last frontier for AI?

Despite AI’s potential, it’s crucial not to underestimate the historical resistance to change in medical practice and healthcare systems. According to a recent report by the NIH, resistance stems from a number of factors: 

“Implementing change in the healthcare system is difficult, challenging, and often has short-term results, especially when the context of change includes changes in care organization, modification of common clinical practices, increased collaboration between different disciplines, and changes in patient behavior. This happens because healthcare services are delivered in an environment where groups of people act in different and unpredictable ways, where tensions arise through opposing, competing, or collaborative forces, and where decisions are influenced by priorities, and records of healthcare professionals are adopted.”

Given these challenges, taking action on three recommendations for healthcare professionals and healthcare systems to maximize AI benefits is likely to have the best impact on healthcare AI development and implementation:

  1. Start with Culture: The success of digital and AI initiatives in healthcare largely depends on the healthcare professionals’ attitudes towards these technologies. Creating forums for professionals to learn about and discuss their concerns regarding these technologies is vital. Success stories from peers can be particularly motivating.
  2. Make it Practical: While establishing a national digital health blueprint and strategies is important, nothing replaces hands-on experience. Facilitate pilot projects where healthcare professionals can use AI, focusing specially on tedious tasks they prefer to avoid.
  3. Document and Upscale: Use previous pilot projects to document and conduct research. Assess both clinical and economic impacts and leverage this documentation for iteration and scaling up of successful practices.


There’s no doubt that the future of healthcare will include a massive positive impact by the application of AI. And, as we integrate AI into healthcare, the healthcare industry faces a transformative journey that goes well beyond technological advancements. AI promises to alleviate administrative burdens, enhance data analysis, and improve decision-making, with the goal of elevating patient care and outcomes. However, this journey is not without challenges: funding, resistance to change, ethical challenges, and the fear of technology replacing human roles. 

Overcoming these hurdles requires a cultural shift within the healthcare community, emphasizing education, hands-on experiences with AI, and open dialogues about its role and impact. The successful embrace of AI in healthcare demands a holistic approach, addressing both technological and cultural aspects, to redefine the future of healthcare and ensure its benefits are fully realized.

About the Author: Fernando Bonilla is a Physician and Surgeon, a member of the Board of Directors of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and a founding partner of the Clinical Research Association of Guatemala. He also holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration with a specialty in Marketing from the University of Valparaíso in Chile. Additionally, he has completed studies in Biostatistics and Epidemiology with the University of Pennsylvania and studies in pharmacoeconomics endorsed by La Salle University in Mexico and the Monterrey Institute of Technology, as well as a Master’s degree in Health Economics from the University of South Wales, United Kingdom.

With 16+ years of experience in the international pharmaceutical industry in positions of medical advisory, clinical research, and market access, Fernando is an expert in the evaluation of new health technologies and Digital Health and is a co-founder of the consulting firm Health Transformers 360, devoted to digital transformation and AI in healthcare. He currently serves as co-chair of the Commission for Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Business of the Network for the Americas in Health Informatics (RECAINSA). He is also a researcher and advisor for multiple public and private international organizations in the fields of accessibility, health economics, evaluation of new technologies, digital health, and innovation in health.

Mastering the Art of Strategic AI Transformation in Business

With the advent of generative AI, we’re seeing a new appreciation for what is required to stay competitive amidst a sea of digital-native “born in the cloud” startups. The pace of change is accelerating, and it’s clear companies must move quickly from digesting buzzwords to using data and AI (artificial intelligence) technologies for meaningful organizational transformation.

A staggering 79% of corporate strategists report that AI and analytics are instrumental in their current growth strategies, underscoring their transformative power. However, the road to successfully integrating and scaling AI is fraught with challenges and requires a well-aligned, strategically planned, organization-wide approach. 

79% of corporate strategists report that AI and analytics are instrumental in their current growth strategies, underscoring their transformative power.

This article delves into why and how businesses must adapt to harness the full potential of AI and ML (machine learning), underpinning their transformation agendas with customer-centric and mission-driven strategies.

The role of AI/ML in transformation

The significance of AI/ML in reshaping business operations cannot be overstated. From automating routine tasks to providing deep insights into customer behavior, AI technologies are redefining efficiency and innovation in the corporate world. However, the integration of AI/ML must align with the broader corporate strategy, ensuring that every initiative enhances the customer experience or advances the organization’s mission. 

Unlike conventional digital transformations, AI/ML implementation is uniquely challenging due to its complexity and the need for specialized skills. Yet, its potential benefits, including improved decision-making, operational efficiency, and competitive advantage, make it a crucial endeavor for businesses.

Leadership and organizational culture in AI transformation

The successful adoption of AI/ML hinges significantly on the role of executive leadership and the cultivation of an AI-ready organizational culture. Leaders act as catalysts, setting the tone for change and innovation. For example, in the financial services sector, we’ve seen CEOs champion AI initiatives that revolutionized customer service and fraud detection. 

Similarly, in healthcare, executive leadership has been pivotal in implementing AI for patient care and medical research. Anastasia Christianson, Pfizer’s Head of Artificial Intelligence, said, “Artificial intelligence and machine learning enable us to use data to gain insights into disease and increase our understanding of how different patient populations respond differently to disease and therapies.”

With its ability to supercharge human capabilities, AI should be used as a tool to empower the workforce rather than hindering or replacing them.

Cultivating an AI-ready culture is equally vital. This involves not just educating employees about AI/ML but fostering an environment that encourages experimentation and embraces change. Effective employee education strategies can include:

  • Comprehensive training programs
  • AI literacy workshops
  • Cross-departmental collaboration exercises 

This cultural shift ensures that the organization as a whole is prepared to adapt and thrive in an AI-driven future. Salesforce, for example, is focusing heavily on skills-based hiring with an emphasis on re-skilling and quickly adapting to learn, evaluate, and leverage emerging technologies like AI for maximum value. Salesforce’s ASEAN’s Senior Vice President said, “With its ability to supercharge human capabilities, AI should be used as a tool to empower the workforce rather than hindering or replacing them.” 

Visioning, strategy, and prioritization in AI implementation

Developing a strategic vision for AI is the foundation of successful implementation. This vision should be clear, inspiring, and aligned with the organization’s overall objectives. It acts as a roadmap, guiding the selection and prioritization of AI/ML projects. Businesses must balance the pursuit of ‘quick wins’, which provide immediate value and build momentum, with long-term strategic initiatives that promise sustainable transformation. 

While it can be challenging to define a multi-year plan for a technology that is changing rapidly, business leaders can gain confidence in their strategy by ensuring their organization and technological platforms are positioned to take advantage of new breakthroughs over time. 

  • Invest in foundational enablers of AI that support data quality, access, and governance companies can take advantage of 
  • Foster a culture of continuous learning that embraces change with a growth mindset. General Catalyst, for example, highlights in their article ‘The Advent of the Human Enterprise,’ the need for companies to offer career pathways that promote ongoing training and skill development.

Strategic prioritization involves evaluating AI projects based on potential impact, feasibility, and alignment with business goals. 

  • For instance, a retail company might prioritize AI tools for customer segmentation and personalized marketing, as these directly enhance customer engagement and sales. 
  • On the other hand, a manufacturing firm might focus on AI for predictive maintenance to improve operational efficiency.

This strategic approach ensures that AI initiatives drive meaningful change and contribute to the overarching goals of the organization.

Cross-functional collaboration and ecosystem partnerships

In building culture readiness for AI/ML, a critical element in AI transformation is breaking down silos within an organization. 

AI initiatives often span multiple departments, from IT and data science to marketing and customer service. Effective cross-functional collaboration ensures a unified approach, fostering innovation and comprehensive solutions. 

For example, when a leading bank implements an AI-based fraud detection system, it requires seamless collaboration between the IT, risk management, and customer service teams. This synergy not only enhanced the efficiency of the system but also ensured a better customer experience. 

Building external partnerships is equally crucial. Collaborating with technology providers, academic institutions, and other industry players can bring fresh perspectives, shared expertise, and innovative solutions. These partnerships can take various forms, from joint research initiatives to co-development of AI solutions. They extend the organization’s capabilities and open new avenues for growth and learning.

Common mistakes and solutions in AI adoption

Despite the potential benefits of AI, many companies stumble in their adoption efforts. Four common mistakes stand out:

  1. Lack of Clear Strategy: Companies often jump onto the AI bandwagon without a clear understanding of how it fits into their broader business objectives. The key lies in aligning AI initiatives with the company’s strategic goals and customer needs.
  2. Underestimating the Cultural Shift: Simply implementing AI tools is not enough. Fostering an organizational culture that embraces AI is essential. This involves continuous education, change management practices, and encouraging a mindset of innovation and adaptability.
  3. Overlooking Data Quality and Governance: AI systems are only as good as the data they use. Neglecting data quality and governance can lead to flawed insights and decisions. Investing in robust data management practices is crucial for the success of AI initiatives.
  4. Failing to Set Targets: Establishing a baseline and setting clear targets are essential for measuring the impact and success of AI initiatives. As you build a portfolio of use cases, aggregate the benefits and performance to help build confidence in future AI investments.

By addressing these challenges proactively, businesses can enhance their chances of successful AI integration.


The journey to AI transformation is complex and multifaceted, involving strategic planning, leadership commitment, organizational learning, and cross-functional collaboration. By developing a clear vision, aligning AI initiatives with business strategy, and fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration, organizations can harness the transformative power of AI. As AI continues to reshape the business landscape, companies that successfully navigate this journey will find themselves at the forefront of innovation and efficiency.

As we venture further into this AI-driven era, the question for business leaders is no longer if they should adopt AI, but how effectively they can do so. The blueprints laid out in this issue of the Catalant Quarterly offer a strategic approach to embracing AI, ensuring that its integration is not just a technological upgrade, but a catalyst for holistic business transformation.

About the Author: David Berglund is an innovative technology executive and consultant with an intense focus on accelerating business value and leading large-scale strategic transformations by applying Artificial Intelligence and emerging technologies. He is a guest lecturer at The Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania) on AI Ethics in Financial Services, and he previously served as a Data & AI executive at three Fortune 500 companies. David is a successful technology entrepreneur and is actively involved in the startup ecosystem. He studied at Stanford University, the University of St. Thomas (MBA), Loyola University Chicago (BS). When he’s not charting the future of technology, he enjoys golfing, trail running, and surf fishing. 

Final Thoughts 

We hope you found this inaugural issue of the Catalant Quarterly illuminating and helpful. We look forward to continuing to partner with our Expert community to share relevant and timely business insights as we continue to monitor trends in our platform data. 

While our first Catalant Quarterly topic choice, AI, should come as no surprise to the business community, we know our data can be a canary in the coal mines. We saw spikes in supply chain projects during Covid before it was broadly covered by the mass media. We saw drops in due diligence projects before there was consensus that the transaction market had dramatically slowed. We saw increases in process improvement and organizational design projects before announcements of mass layoffs. 

Now, we see a cautious return to growth, aided by specific bets in AI, to both improve efficiency and identify competitive advantages, while companies continue to drive major organizational transformations, especially on the cost side. 

If you have ideas on future topics please reach out any time!