Hollywood has given us films portraying humanoid robots and sentient computers since the 1920s. Recently, these futuristic ideas have become a reality, earning artificial intelligence a constant place in the spotlight of the business world.
IBM Watson has competed against Jeopardy champions, Netflix is using machine-learning algorithms to make binge-worthy recommendations, and chat bots are now being used by businesses to change the face of customer service.
Equally important, albeit under-the-radar, advancements in artificial intelligence have enabled companies to act on robust data sets, giving executives the ability to make data-driven decisions at a moment’s notice. The decision-making process is undergoing an evolution thanks to the support of artificial intelligence, and it will lead to an unprecedented restructuring of the C-suite as we know it.
Most professionals are familiar with titles like chief marketing officer and chief information officer. These roles have distinct places in the collective conscience of the business community and have remained relatively stable for decades, even in the digital age of marketing and technology. But the widespread adoption of artificial intelligence is having a big impact, ushering in major changes to the roles of top executives, more so than social media, smartphones, or even the Internet.
Artificial intelligence techniques, such as machine learning, have advanced to a point where companies can program a computer to run tests automatically and refine processes in near-real time until it receives optimal results.
In marketing, machine-learning algorithms can make decisions, evaluate the results, adjust and learn. Decisions the CMO’s team once made with gut instincts and historical data can be made by looking at next-best actions suggested by artificial intelligence in an instant, automatically, with a database full of validation based on ultra-precise simulations.
The Collision Of Tech And Marketing
Once the decision-making process is altered, it’s easy to imagine how that process can send ripples throughout an organization.
As more companies deploy artificial intelligence to do everything from analytics to marketing, the role of the CMO is changing drastically. Professionals in fields of study that typically produced candidates groomed for IT positions will now be thrust into marketing roles.
Suddenly, a background in econometrics might be as appropriate for a CMO as it has been for a CFO or CIO. As artificial intelligence becomes more entrenched in decisions, there will be more and more overlap between marketing, IT, customer service, manufacturing, and other business functions.
In addition to departmental overlap, the newly realized ability to harness the power of data collection to enable smart decisioning will truly change the face of the C-suite marketer. Brand new positions are becoming more common. Titles like chief marketing technologist or chief data analytics officer combine statistical backgrounds with marketing theory.
Businesses can expect to see the emergence of executives like the chief digital officer in the coming years, who will be in charge of understanding customer data and leveraging machine learning to ensure that the customer experience is augmented in the right place, at the right time, by every piece of available intelligence. These roles are making a significant impact on the decisions that drive revenue, positioning these individuals as some of the most influential executives in the organization and strong contenders for the coveted role of CEO someday.
For decades, marketers have drawn hypotheses about what products and offers consumers want based on their own experiences or intuition. Artificial intelligence is now allowing executives to predict the future and know what each customer is looking for, sometimes even before the customer knows.
The role of artificial intelligence will only increase in the coming years as organizations lean on this technology for decision-making and validation. Along with this change in strategy will come new roles and responsibilities in the C-suite.
The coming overlap of expertise illustrates one important takeaway: Organizations need to implement an approach that will allow them to break down departmental silos and share data, resources, and knowledge. This will not only give them a competitive advantage, but will help prepare them for the next futuristic technology. We can only imagine what’s next.