Should companies create AI leadership roles?

Medium & Message

August 1, 2023 – 16:10

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Much has been said about how AI may impact jobs and roles in the advertising industry, but this new technology could also open up new roles and jobs for advertisers and agencies.

AI leadership positions are starting to emerge at big brands like Coca-Cola and Amazon, which are already recruiting people to lead internal strategies as well as coordinate the implementation of business partnerships.

However, whether genetic AI, at this early stage of development, can already create these leadership positions is something the advertising industry is still debating.

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The potential for a larger trend of AI jobs is particularly high in marketing, given the importance the technology is gaining in the field. Since ChatGPT first arrived on the scene in November 2022, many major brands have experimented with genetic AI both internally and in consumer-facing actions, and companies such as Dentsu, WPP, Huge and MNTN have release products using artificial intelligence as a basis.

the coke, last month, became the first major brand to appoint a global head of productive artificial intelligence. Pratik Thakar took it upon himself to develop AI platforms to improve the experience for consumers.

Thakar, who previously headed global creative and content strategy at Coca-Cola before taking on the new role, told Ad Age that AI’s diverse functionality is what makes it so disruptive.

Amazon Web Services, whose AI efforts include a partnership with Omnicom Group, has appointed Vasanth Philomin, who was already in charge of technology, as head of Generative AI. This title reflects the company’s specialized interest in helping customers adopt chatbots and other AI-generated content.


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Another company that holds specific jobs for genetic AI is Accenture, which has positions such as managing director of genetic AI transformation and director of genetic AI and DevOps, among others. The differences between these positions, as well as the reasons why they were created, are still unclear.

In June, 170,000 jobs in the United States called for some AI-related skill — with 3,575 of those jobs specifically asking for AI skills, according to data from Adzuna, cited in a CNBC report.

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Despite the moves, most advertising professionals are still not convinced to recommend someone for a specific genetic AI role.

“It’s too early to name those positions,” says Keith Johnston, vice president and group director of Forrester Research. Additionally, creating a role dedicated to genetic AI may not only be premature but also counterproductive for the original business.

Some R/GA customers have started thinking about creating such roles, but haven’t yet moved forward, said Nick Coronges, executive vice president and global chief technology officer for R/GA. The agency is not even considering creating a specific position for a genetic AI team.

Wunderman Thompson has the same reasoning, according to Alex Steer, the agency’s global head of data. None of the company’s clients even think about opening such jobs. However, Steer says he’s seeing brands and agencies move employees into new roles, adopting AI strategies that are created but without reference to that role in the job title.


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The preference for not using the terms genetic artificial intelligence in the title may have several reasons. First, many companies want to avoid categorizing their use of artificial intelligence to include the genetic subset. For this, titles with broader functions and traditions are preferred.

These niches can already be found in the marketing of many traditional companies. Edelman’s Alexia Dana, for example, helped lead the company’s genetic AI experiments, a company spokeswoman told Ad Age. Dafne Hefner, chief strategy and transformation officer at Kraft Heinz, has embraced AI with leading partnerships with developers such as Microsoft.

Some of these job titles include the term AI in the title. Sam Dover was named Univeler’s global AI leader in July, a mid-level role, according to a spokesperson. And Perry Nightinglae, senior vice president of creative AI at WPP from 2021, manages research on the technology and its intersection with creativity.

In fact, WPP is one of the few groups to have an AI leader. The role has been held by Daniel Hulme since the company acquired his tech company in August 2021. The value of naming such a role has been a matter of debate since at least 2017, though the title has mostly appeared at companies in the industry. and location.

Chief converting officer

Another explanation for portfolio companies delaying the creation of a specific AI leadership role is to avoid repeating the trajectory of Web3-related roles. Last year, as Web3 entered the industry mainstream, brands and agencies appointed chief metaverse officers.

But many of those roles have since become vacant, leaving the question of whether such appointments were opportunistic.

A similar concern may be at play with specific AI jobs. It is clear that agencies and advertisers, in part, are making efforts and moves to develop the technology, and appointing a leader would show a serious commitment to the process.

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