I have written and spoken a lot about why your company should hire a Chief AI Officer (here). But you should not only hire a CAIO you should also hire a Chief Automation Officer because each compliments the other.
A Chief AI Officer is someone who is steeped in the technology of AI in all of its forms from machine learning to deep learning to computer vision to NLP and more. The CAIO is someone who not only understands where the tech is today but has insights into where it should/could be in 5 years and is also someone who can reach out to experts when needed within his/her network. The CAIO is someone who helps translate these technologies into plain language for CXO’s to help drive strategic planning and operational decisions. A CAIO will have at least a masters, and more often a PhD. While many companies look for PhD’s in Artificial Intelligence it is not always necessary. Some of the best CAIO’s I have known over the years have a undergraduate degree in math or physics, a masters in computer science and a PhD in Philosophy. The Ideal CAIO will have some R&D experience but will also have a proven track record of successfully implementing applied AI in the enterprise. A CAIO is invaluable in today’s AI 1st world and if you don’t have one you should hire one as quickly as possible. They are hard to find and expensive, but your future depends on it!
A Chief Automation Officer on the other hand brings a different set of skills to this process of digital enterprise and business transformation and is just as critical to a company’s success. A Chief Automation Officer leads the charge around identifying and understanding each process, task and job throughout the enterprise and then works with the CAIO to understand what the technical constraints are around automating each. The CAO then drives that business process transformation. The ideal CAO is a senior executive with a background in Management and Data Systems, often times with an MBA, and proven success in process transformation within an organization. Too many companies see a Chief Automation Officer as someone who is focused solely on using robots in manufacturing, but it is really about Business Process Automation (BPA) which is a much bigger job and potentially exponentially more impactful.
There is a race to automate physical and cognitive activities across the enterprise and the early movers will realize outsize gains in productivity and profits. This transformation of your company will be much easier with both a Chief AI Officer and a Chief Automation Officer in place and working together.
There roles complement each other and each is diminished without the other.