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Four Things a Chief AI Officer brings to your company

As the potential of AI is is becoming more clear to corporate boards, CEO’s and investors the pressure is on for every large company, as well as every start-up, to have an “AI story”. The problem is that most companies aren’t actually “doing AI”. They are automating some processes, maybe doing a little more around predictive analytics, but in a bigger sense they are not really “doing AI” and therefore are not doing anything that will provide the type of sustainable competitive advantage that corporate boards and investors are expecting.

There are a number of reasons for this, not the least of which is that AI is hard and confusing and takes a company wide “all in” approach to really have success. But no company can “do AI” in an effective way if they do not have a senior leader with the right background, credentials and pedigree leading the charge. Without the proper background and insights your company will have four unfilled holes that will doom your AI efforts.

And like a broken record that just keeps playing the chorus I have to point out the facts: a) 60% of AI and digital transformations fail, b) 88% of c-suite leaders say that they are planning on increasing their investment in AI and c) only 17% of executives say that they understand AI and its applications for their companies. You need a “head of enterprise AI” and these are four of the many reasons why:

Knowledge of the past: AI in many ways is equal parts art and science. Because of this many of the techniques that work are based on trial and error. Having someone who has “been there done that” is step number 1 on the “Journey to AI”.

Understanding what can and can’t be done with AI: There is a lot of snake oil being sold as AI in the market today. Hype has gotten out of control. A true AI leader knows what can be done now, what might be able to be done in 5 years, and what the path looks like to get there.

Internal evangelism: An AI leader is the best person to evangelize the potential benefits of AI to other leaders throughout the organization.

Respect and a Network within the AI community: AI moves fast and the people working at the highest levels are a tight knit community. A respected AI expert is able to continually stay in touch with the pulse of AI which will provide a competitive advantage to your company. In addition, your Chief AI Officer will tap this network for recruiting efforts - which is going to be one of your biggest challenges.

The fact is that 60% of AI projects fail and/or go undeployed. A good majority of these fail because they do not have a “Head of AI”.


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