CMOs and Corporate Sales Leaders are Fans of AI

Tuesday Aug 8th 2017 by Pedro Hernandez
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Marketing and sales executives are adding AI to their technology toolkit, according to a new study from IBM and Oxford Economics.

CIOs and efficiency-seeking CEOs aren't the only members of the C-suite that are bullish about artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace. Chief marketing officers (CMO) and their colleagues in sales are also on board, according to a new study released today by IBM.

IBM's Institute for Business Value and Oxford Economics surveyed 525 CMOs and 389 sales leaders about their attitudes toward cognitive computing, IBM's spin on artificial intelligence. A majority (64 percent) said their industries were prepared to adopt cognitive technologies within the next three years.

Just don't rush them. Only 24 percent of respondents said they currently had an implementation strategy in place.

Among "outperforming" organizations, the 13 percent that have beaten their competitors in terms of sales and profitability over the past three years, a whopping 93 percent said cognitive computing is mature and ready for commercial adoption. Ninety-one percent of these so-called outperformers consider AI good for their organizations and 24 percent already have some cognitive systems up and running, compared to three percent for less cutting-edge companies.

Embracing cognitive computing may seem like a seismic shift for many sales and marketing organizations, not to mention the IT departments that support them. IBM recommends making the journey less daunting by taking baby steps.

"Start small, if necessary — but do start — many marketing and sales executives fear the shift to cognitive will require them to 'rip and replace' the tools and processes they use to analyze customer data and create customer experiences," advised IBM. "Instead, there are numerous types of cognitive solutions — from improved capabilities for personalization to content tagging — that marketers and sellers can implement in stages to target specific challenges and often can be integrated into companies' existing cloud platforms and data management systems. By starting small, companies can begin to enjoy the benefits of cognitive computing and determine how best to expand over time."

Generally, CMOs expect AI to deliver a better customer experience, and of course, improved financials, including the ability to evaluate the return on investment of their marketing expenditures and efforts. Meanwhile, sales executives are pinning their hopes on the technology's ability to provide a 360-degree view of their customers to better anticipate their needs and improve their own customer service and lead-gathering activities.

Regardless of the expectations placed on AI, the technology's spread across the corporate world is practically guaranteed.

Earlier this year, a study from Infosys and Vanson Bourne revealed that 71 percent of enterprise organizations described AI's rise in the workplace as inevitable. Seventy-six percent consider AI a pivotal factor to their success.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

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