The rise of the chief artificial intelligence officer
In February, Levi’s hired its first chief artificial intelligence officer, ahead of an expected IPO.
Katia Walsh joined the 146-year-old jeans maker from Vodafone, where she was chief data and analytics officer.
For a company of this size ($5 billion in 2017 revenues) and legacy to hire an executive for AI is a big move. Many companies of similar or larger size lack an AI leader, let alone have a CDO (chief data officer). The decision recognizes the potential to harness all manner of data to drive growth and operational efficiencies using AI and other analytic methods.
Even without a C-level data and analytics executive, it’s probably a good idea to get a handle right now on advanced analytics opportunities relative to your business strategy. The challenge is identifying the right person to take the reins — and this person can be a technology leader like the CIO or CTO, or it can be a CMO or CFO. Ideally, it’s the CEO.
Whoever leads, three aspects should be considered:
Challenge of many projects: As noted in a blog from the International Institute For Analytics, AI progresses at a linear rather than an exponential rate in part because the technology supports tasks rather than entire jobs or processes and requires multiple projects “to make much of a difference in organizational performance.” The time machine learning takes to process data and challenges obtaining data are other hurdles.
Challenge of the right people: Technology, data and business teams have to be connected and working alongside each other in some cases to support AI initiatives.
Challenge of cultural change: Organizational alignment and agility issues that impede the adoption of Big Data and AI initiatives are often rooted in resistance to cultural change.
This whiteboard diagram suggest one way to organize thoughts relative to the three challenges:
A lot’s going on in this picture. The general idea is to organize and scale use case opportunities to improve confidence as quickly as possible, given the state of your company’s competencies and available resources. Success begets more success, confidence and business value.
- The rise of the Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer – Linkedin
- Levi Strauss & Co. Names Chief Strategy and Artificial Intelligence Officer – Levi Strauss & Co.
- Successful AI Adoption Requires Clear Strategies – eMarketer
- AI is a Linear — Not Exponential — Technology – International Institute For Analytics
- NewVantage Partners Releases 2019 Big Data and AI Executive Survey – Dataversity
- Levi’s Hires Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer – TotalRetail
- Don’t Look Now, but 146-Year-Old Levi’s Just Hired an Artificial Intelligence Officer – Adweek
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see the business need for a chief artificial intelligence officer at the c-level for retailers and consumer brands? What advice would you have for making the right hire and positioning the roll relative to data scientists, CIOs and the rest of the c-team?