We are proud to be named a West Coast Regional Leader for 2024

The middle market artificial intelligence (AI) playbook

Authored by RSM US LLP

What AI is and what it isn’t

Artificial intelligence (AI) is seemingly everywhere and is top of mind for stakeholders from a business and information technology perspective at organizations large and small. While the technology has existed for quite some time, it has now become more accessible for middle market and emerging organizations for use with a vast array of business functions and small projects alike. Today’s AI applications can deliver significant value in many ways, enhancing productivity and providing better insights that can take a business to new heights.

But before your company can start developing an AI strategy and experiencing its full potential, you must first understand what the technology is and what it can do. Some misconceptions about AI in the marketplace can hinder effective AI planning, or cause projects to miss the mark on their projected return on investment.

To learn more about how to take advantage of AI and machine learning technology, read our article AI and machine learning: It may not be as difficult as you think.

AI mimics human decision making by processing data to perform tasks that commonly require human intervention. It does not operate with specific programmed outcomes, like a decision tree. Instead, AI analyzes historical data and outcomes to solve a problem or complete a specific task. Solutions are designed not to replace humans, but to enable companies to shift talent to more valuable tasks that can’t be automated.

"Artificial intelligence is often talked about but rarely understood. At this point one thing is certain: This revolutionary technology will permanently alter the structure of the economy."

Joe Brusuelas, RSM chief economist

Generative AI is the latest advance in AI technology, enabling companies to create new content, including images, video, text and audio. Generative AI tools are powered by large language models, algorithms that use advanced learning techniques to analyze massive data sets. With these solutions, companies can rapidly gain deep insights and discover answers to complex questions that would otherwise require significant time and effort from humans.

For middle market companies, AI solutions are no longer a nice-to-have, but a must-have. Harnessing AI’s inherent productivity and efficiency capabilities has rapidly become a differentiator in the marketplace, and companies must integrate AI into their strategies, with adjustments as tools evolve.

How can you leverage generative AI to support your business goals? Learn more in our article Frequently asked questions about generative AI.


The 3 pillars of artificial intelligence: How AI will reshape business and the economy

Understanding what AI can bring to businesses is critical. What we call the three pillars of artificial intelligence will have profound implications for businesses and the...

Read More

Back to top

Common uses for AI solutions in the middle market

AI solutions can provide rapid, direct improvements to many critical business functions, and the list of potential use cases grows daily. With numerous improvement opportunities, knowing where to start and where the biggest impact may be felt can feel overwhelming. Below are just a few common areas where AI can provide considerable benefits and yield a significant return on investment for your business.

Responding to requests for proposals (RFPs):

Presenting documentation to answer questions to win work during the RFP process takes time, and many companies simply do not have the personnel to respond to as many requests as they would like. Generative AI solutions can utilize historical data and user context to develop high-quality responses to questions with a much smaller time commitment.

Predicting churn:

All companies and organizations experience some level of customer or member churn, but of course you’d like to limit that as much as possible. AI tools can help to predict who is most likely to churn and when it might happen, providing an indicator of when to reach out with timely messaging to keep them engaged.

"Everybody is going to find value and opportunities using this technology."

George Casey, RSM advanced analytics leader

Detecting fraud:

Reducing losses and shrinkage is an ongoing battle for many businesses. With AI applications, your company can quickly identify and address any outlier transactions in financial ledgers, payments, orders, etc., and determine whether they may be due to fraud, error or abuse.

Providing valuable tax insights:

With the help of AI, the tax department can contribute more to generating profits and reducing costs. Integrated digital solutions with tax AI and machine learning capabilities can streamline tax functions, mitigate risk and deliver valuable insights related to income, costs, cash flow and other variables.

Scoring leads:

Knowing where to focus sales efforts can help you maximize success. AI applications can analyze behaviors and demographics to predict the likelihood of converting sales opportunities and help determine the proper course of action with potential customers.

To learn more about how AI applications can make you more efficient, productive and profitable, read our article Capitalizing on AI: 8 common use cases for your organization.


For more information on RSM’s transformative AI work with Microsoft and Kelowna, British Columbia, view our on-demand webcast “Empowering smart cities: A collaborative approach to generative AI deployment.” Learn how deep experience and cutting-edge AI solutions led to multiple opportunities and a better citizen and employee experience.

Back to top

The AI adoption continuum

Creating and implementing an AI strategy is a journey. Proper integration does not come overnight, and the journey does not end at implementation, as solutions and capabilities will continue to evolve and improve moving forward. Demonstrating the value of AI quickly is important within your organization to encourage adoption and fuel further investment in the game-changing technology.

By determining where you reside on the AI continuum and understanding next steps, you can determine a strategic pathway to leverage AI for powerful results.


At this stage, you’re looking to increase awareness and education around AI among internal business or technical leaders.

Strategy and assessment:

You need to identify where and how AI can be used within your business and IT operations. You wish to formalize a strategy and develop a plan of how to evaluate potential AI opportunities and build them into your overall road map.


You have a defined AI strategy and viable use cases. In this phase, an AI solution is either selected or designed, and the data and governance environment is prepped in advance of AI execution.


This phase focuses on the activities around your AI implementation. This may include software implementation or specialized development, along with key activities such as change management and process optimization.

Support and maintenance:

Following a successful AI implementation, this phase focuses on the ongoing maintenance and support required moving forward.

Back to top

Are you ready for AI?

Before you begin your AI journey, you should define what business problems you want it to solve. Perhaps you are concerned about increasing operating costs, your margin is eroding or your sales conversion rate is not as high as initially expected. Some key questions that could help guide your AI strategy and investments include:

  • What role do you expect AI to play in your organization?
  • What is your internal level of AI proficiency, aptitude and literacy?
  • What are your biggest concerns about AI?
  • Have you allocated budget for AI investment tools, research and resources?
  • How do you plan to prepare for or adapt to the changes or challenges that AI may bring to your industry?
  • What kind of help could you use to get started with AI or refine your plan?

Without a target and goals in mind, establishing a strategy or determining return on investment is not truly possible.

Other challenges when initiating an AI strategy often relate to data availability and resources. AI solutions commonly rely on data that can yield insights about your business, but you may not feel like you have enough clean data to draw actionable insights. Even if you are a new business or do not have a strong data foundation in place, you likely have enough to work with.

If not, you can use proxy data sets to augment or substitute for your data. This information is representative of your industry and can provide a base to provide insights until you have more internal data to improve your estimates.

Not all middle market companies will have the resources readily available to launch or maintain an AI program, especially as qualified talent remains scarce and solutions continue to increase in popularity. If developing an internal team becomes too costly or is just not realistic, a trusted third-party advisor can provide in-depth program development or augment your existing resources to help you reach your AI goals.

Back to top

Taking a responsible approach to generative AI

AI solutions continue to advance, and recently, generative AI tools have become more popular as companies see their potential for increased insight and efficiency. But while companies evaluate opportunities to leverage generative AI across business units, these strategies do not come without risks. A measured approach and a comprehensive governance plan can help you develop an effective generative AI plan that delivers on expected value while minimizing risk.

Generative AI represents a significant opportunity to gain rapid insights and answers that previously required extensive research. However, the capabilities and risks with the platform ultimately depend on how it is used.

Generative AI differs from many technologies because it evolves extremely rapidly, makes new decisions on its own and generates original content. Some of the risks involved with generative AI tools include increased vulnerability to cybersecurity threats and elevated privacy risks, as well as quality control and bias concerns around data, outcomes and interpretation of outcomes. In addition, ethical concerns can arise when computers make business rules without effective governance.

To alleviate these concerns, generative AI should be used in tandem with a comprehensive governance plan to guide usage. Several frameworks are currently available, including platforms from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Google, and Microsoft, as well as guidance from several countries and organizations. In addition, RSM has created a comprehensive governance framework that combines elements from several leading frameworks and other best practices.

The RSM AI Governance Framework is flexible to align with your business needs and will continue to evolve as new AI tools emerge and new standards are introduced.

To learn more about how a comprehensive governance plan can help you develop an effective generative AI strategy, read our article Responsible adoption of generative AI.

"The risks don’t outweigh the opportunities, but companies need a disclaimer to ensure nothing is taken as a source of truth from generative AI systems without independent validation and verification."

Dave Mahoney, RSM AI risk leader

In addition to a governance plan, an independent validation and verification approach is recommended to eliminate concerns around context manipulation and give constituents complete confidence in generative AI-produced data. These review solutions are typically either a catchall approach for all generative AI within the entire organization or focus on specific microservices such as sales, marketing or the customer experience. The microservices approach is generally more effective due to more control over more clearly defined business, technology and security requirements.

Generative AI can be instrumental in gathering insight and guiding ongoing decision making, but an independent validation and verification strategy should be adopted to offset potential risks. Learn more in our article Optimizing generative AI applications through validation and verification


View RSM’s on-demand generative AI webcast, where we discuss how our clients are implementing an AI governance framework, identifying value-add use cases and deploying AI within their organizations to drive a better employee and customer experience.

Back to top

Keeping up with evolving solutions

New AI solutions are emerging on a daily basis that can strengthen key business processes across your organization. But how do you know when to act and what aligns best with your business goals?

AI is a versatile tool, reflected in the variety of applications emerging in the market. Some AI products are stand-alone applications that can be integrated into existing technology solutions, while AI has also emerged as a feature now included in many leading automation products.

As with many technology solutions, Microsoft has a major presence in the AI landscape, delivering a complete portfolio of tools that align with the needs of companies at every level of AI maturity. These tools include:

  • Azure AI Studio
  • Azure AI services
  • Azure OpenAI Service
  • Copilot Studio

In addition, established automation tools that utilize AI as a growing component of their functionality include:

  • Abbyy
  • Appian
  • Automation Anywhere
  • Microsoft PowerApps
  • Salesforce
  • ServiceNow
  • UiPath

Furthermore, organizations can also leverage programming languages such as Python or R to develop custom machine learning and AI solutions.

No matter how you are leveraging AI, or plan to utilize it, the growing number of tools and available applications makes determining the right choices for your needs and creating a right-sized AI strategy a complex endeavor. Whether you have existing automation tools that have introduced AI functionality or plan on building a custom AI tool from scratch, working with an experienced external advisor is often a smart first step.

For example, RSM’s AI solutions team has extensive experience with each of these tools and programming languages. The team can provide services and insights that enable you to get the most out of the AI capabilities you already have or help design an effective strategy that meets your needs and maximizes your return on investment.

Back to top

Getting help on your AI journey

AI tools and applications are having a significant impact on how companies in all industries are doing business. The potential insight and efficiency gains are undeniable, enabling your company to work faster and smarter, and rapidly transforming critical organizational functions. But as with any technology investment, making the right AI choices and implementing solutions responsibly are critical for capturing anticipated value.

Whether you’re looking to make more informed business decisions, monitor data and processes for opportunities or anomalies, or elevate customer and employee experiences, RSM’s experienced AI solutions team is ready to help. No matter where you are on your journey, from building an AI foundation to implementing and optimizing a solution, we have the tools and advice to enable you to capitalize on AI’s vast potential both now and in the future.

Let's Talk!

Call us at +1 213.873.1700, email us at or fill out the form below and we'll contact you to discuss your specific situation.

  • Topic Name:
  • Should be Empty:

Source: RSM US LLP.
Reprinted with permission from RSM US LLP.
© 2024 RSM US LLP. All rights reserved.

RSM US LLP is a limited liability partnership and the U.S. member firm of RSM International, a global network of independent assurance, tax and consulting firms. The member firms of RSM International collaborate to provide services to global clients, but are separate and distinct legal entities that cannot obligate each other. Each member firm is responsible only for its own acts and omissions, and not those of any other party. Visit for more information regarding RSM US LLP and RSM International.

​Vasquez + Company LLP has over 50 years of experience in performing audit, tax, accounting, and consulting services for all types of nonprofit organizations, governmental entities, and private companies. We are the largest minority-controlled accounting firm in the United States and the only one to have global operations and certified as MBE with the Supplier Clearinghouse for the Utility Supplier Diversity Program of the California Public Utilities Commission.

For more information on how Vasquez can assist you, please email or call +1.213.873.1700.

Subscribe to receive important updates from our Insights and Resources.

  • Should be Empty: