2024 Marketer’s Priorities – All Signs Point to AI

Martechvibe’s expert panel on overcoming implementation woes, aligning teams for a new mindset and making AI work for you, instead of the other way around.

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  • 2024-Future-Scope logo

    The conversation is no longer if we need to use AI in marketing, it is how. Understanding how to work with new technologies can create employee resentment, build busy work, and distract from the ultimate aim of reducing cognitive load, and fulfilling business goals.

    There has been enough talk about the benefits of AI and its potential impact on the marketing function. It’s time to break the barriers to adoption, and build AI capabilities with your enterprise.  

    We spoke to industry veterans to get their advice on how to make the most of AI, and how to onboard teams to leverage GenAI. 

    Combine AI with Human Inputs

    Dr. Xu Zhang, Assistant Professor of Marketing at London Business School

    Dr. Xu Zhang

    “Everyone is talking about AI. There is no doubt that AI will fundamentally influence every aspect of marketing decisions. Therefore, businesses should be open to embracing AI tools and integrating them with human inputs. However, adopting AI in marketing decisions is the easy part.

    The real challenge is to decide which marketing functions to delegate to AI and which should remain primarily human-driven. Businesses that can seamlessly combine the benefits of the two and achieve synergy will gain the most efficiency improvements from AI development.”

    The “How” (Pathways) is a Critical Consideration

    Sid Bhatia, Regional VP & General Manager for Middle East, Turkey & Africa, Dataiku

    Sid Bhatia

    “When looking to implement AI, and scale the technology in the enterprise, the “how” (pathways) is a critical consideration.

    Organisations can go down one of four paths; Services  — wherein the organisation can outsource development and deployment of a Gen-AI suite to a third party, Point solutions — where an enterprise can buy a Gen-AI application off-the-shelf, DIY — where as the name suggests, the organisation can develop the internal AI and software capabilities to build solutions that make sense and align with the wider AI strategy, or finally Platform — market offerings that allow the business to build machine-learning & AI capabilities, including Gen AI, into their day-to-day operations. 

    The platform approach is the best of all worlds — reduced entry-barriers, lower costs, faster time to value, easier maintenance, more audit options, better governance, and more. But to fulfil its potential, an AI platform requires an organisation-wide shift in mindset. Business leaders must be prepared to break down silos and move towards an Everyday AI culture where teams collaborate routinely, and value can be added repeatedly through brainstorming and rapid prototyping. A middle ground must be found between developmental autonomy and governance, so that employees feel empowered to add new value.” 

    Safeguard GenAI Systems

    Sharon Mandell – CIO at Juniper Networks 

    Sharon Mandell

    “One of the key areas of focus for technology leaders committed to helping their organisations grow should be how to operationalise generative AI (GenAI), even if we haven’t solved the cost management challenge yet.

    As we move beyond proof-of-concept (POC) phases, the productivity gains and potential savings will become increasingly clear, especially in areas such as coding, test creation, legal, and marketing content creation or validation. IT will also be under pressure to convert these gains into real benefits or cost reductions.

    At the same time, sustainability is going to remain high on the agenda and that’s partially because customers are asking about it – not only for AI, but across the board. For example, 60% of Juniper’s top customers have carbon reduction goals for vendors. That being said, generative AI’s compute requirements specifically (not all AI), can be quite high. Thus, as we are working on proofs of concept, we’ll have to evaluate these costs in our value equation for the use case, in addition to the usual metrics. Moreover, CIOs will be required to manage and provide data for ESG reporting, while also baking ESG and energy efficiency into technology decision making.

    We also anticipate that security concerns will keep evolving, demanding greater attention and investment. This includes safeguarding GenAI systems. In response to emerging threats, we expect that a growing percentage of IT budgets will be spent on prevention, mitigation, and recovery efforts. Furthermore, ensuring compliance with new regulatory requirements in the UAE and the wider Middle Eastern region will be a big focus.”

    Expect Clear Legislations for using Generative AI

    Mohamad Rizk, Regional Director & CIS at Veeam Software

    Mohamad Rizk

    “Traditional Artificial Intelligence (AI) is there to grow

    Right now, traditional AI, also called Weak AI or Narrow AI, is everywhere. It is automating industries, reshaping the retail business and consumer behaviour, and a lot more.

    In 2024, public and private sectors in the Middle East will continue to introduce AI to their digital services. For example: AI in cybersecurity, AI to predict real-time payment scams, face recognition, etc.”

    “Right now, most countries in the Middle East do not have clear legalisations for using Generative AI tools which puts all organisations and individuals at risk of breaching privacy regulations. Furthermore, the laws are incredibly vague at the moment leaving them open for misinterpretation and misuse. In

    2024, it is expected that the efforts for regulatory entities in the Middle East will be focused on regulating the usage of data in autonomous and semi-autonomous systems.”

    Democratise Accessible AI through Intuitive Solutions

    Karl Crowther, VP of MEA at Alteryx 

    Karl Crowther

    “Reflecting on the dynamics of the current business landscape of 2023, the new year offers opportunities to further push boundaries, explore uncharted territories, and utilise technology and innovation to redefine success 

    in the Middle East’s dynamic business ecosystem. However, a business-wide approach to data-driven decision-making that empowers the entire workforce

    to take full advantage of technology such as AI is crucial to success. Our focus for the coming year is to continue to simplify the complexities of data science and help democratise accessible AI through

    intuitive, low-code and no-code solutions that empower all to navigate this era of AI-driven intelligence.”

    Playing at All Levels of the Martech Stack

    Scott Brinker, Editor of the chiefmartec

    Scott Brinker

    “Generative AI is the first major innovation in the history of marketing technology with the power to fundamentally reduce UX complexity.

    I see Gen AI playing at all levels of the martech stack: the underlying data, the orchestration and decisioning layer, the user interface for marketers, and ultimately the customer experience for both human buyers and AI agents working on behalf of human buyers.

    I am most excited about the coalescing universal data layer. Having access to all the data, aggregated across the organisation and different apps and touchpoints, will provide enormous fuel for the next generation of AI-powered digital operations and customer experiences.”

    AI – the Ultimate Marketing Assistant

    Kat Warboys, HubSpot’s Marketing Director for Asia Pacific

    Kat Warboys

    “Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become the buzzword of 2023, with investments in the technology on the rise within Asia Pacific. 

    We expect adoption of AI to continue in 2024 within SEA, where the region’s companies are poised to invest 67% more in AI and machine learning (ML) in 2023 than the previous year according to a report from Dataiku. We have observed marketers in SEA increasingly viewing AI as an assistant that augments their ability to better manage day-to-day tasks. This is especially true for generative AI applications, which helps marketers develop higher-quality, personalised content that resonates better with audiences, all at a quicker pace. These sentiments are reflected in a HubSpot study, where content creation emerged as the top use case for generative AI among 89% of marketers in the region’s business hub of Singapore. 

    Another leading use case for AI is automating labour-intensive work. HubSpot found that marketers spend an average of five hours a day – more than half their workday – on low-impact tasks such as keyword research, data cleanup, formatting content, reporting and analytics, all of which can be automated by Generative AI tools. Time intensive tasks that are part of the creative process such as digital asset management, file tagging,  file naming, as well as content creation can also be managed by Generative AI. This frees up valuable time and energy for marketers to focus on more meaningful work like project execution and creative brainstorming. Most importantly, it empowers marketers with the time and data-backed insights needed to genuinely connect with customers, and work with them to identify and solve complex customer challenges.

    However, significant barriers to adoption remain. 35% of Singapore marketers participating in a HubSpot study are facing challenges of not knowing how or where to begin with generative AI tools, highlighting the need for training and development among marketers. Other common concerns we have observed involve the potential of AI-generated content to harm brand reputation due to plagiarism or misalignment with brand values.

    We expect these concerns to be overcome as companies hire AI implementation experts, marketers become more comfortable using AI, and as AI tools strengthen fact-checking capabilities. Part of these efforts are expected to be led by the government. For instance, Singapore recently unveiled its updated National AI Strategy, a blueprint for the country that focuses on preparing the economy to embrace and utilise AI, with other major SEA economies also having similar initiatives in place.”


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