Microsoft's new AI Business School teaches execs how to lead AI initiatives, for free

The online courses are meant to help business leaders define an AI strategy for their company.

How to teach yourself machine learning Intuit's chief data officer Ashok Srivastava advice on how to start building expertise in the fast-growing field of machine learning, speaking at the AI Conference presented by O'Reilly and Intel AI.

As companies grapple with how to implement artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning tools to improve decision making and gain a competitive advantage, executives and business leaders are often stalled by questions about how and where to begin adding in these technologies across the company, what cultural changes will be required, and how to build AI systems in ways that are responsible, protect privacy and security, and comply with regulations.

In response, Microsoft on Monday launched a free, online AI Business School to help business leaders navigate creating an AI strategy.

SEE: IT leader's guide to the future of artificial intelligence (Tech Pro Research)

The school offers four online course modules ranging from 55 minutes to 3 hours and 40 minutes to complete. Courses include "Introduction to AI technology for business leaders," "Define an AI strategy to create business value," "Discover ways to foster an AI-ready culture in your business," and "Identify guiding principles for responsible AI in your business."

The courses include brief written case studies and guides, and videos of lectures and talks that executives can access in small doses when they have time, according to a Microsoft blog post.

"This school is a deep dive into how you develop a strategy and identify blockers before they happen in the implementation of AI in your organization," Mitra Azizirad, corporate vice president for AI marketing at Microsoft, wrote in the post.

The AI Business School is Microsoft's latest venture in AI education, following its developer-focused AI School and the engineer-focused Professional Program for Artificial Intelligence. The AI Business School is non-technical, and designed to help executives lead their organizations through AI transformations, according to the post.

More companies are looking to train employees on AI as the technology becomes more mature: LinkedIn launched an internal AI Academy last year to fill tech talent shortages in that area, and Google and Amazon also offer free machine learning courses.

While these courses can be a good option to get your feet wet, they aren't necessarily a good way for someone without a technical background to break into a career in the field, according to TechRepublic's Nick Heath, as those jobs still typically require a related degree. However, they can offer the opportunity for those with the right background to specialize their skills.

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Image: Microsoft

By Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.