17 Oct, 2017

Is The Chief Artifical Intelligence Officer Replacing The CIO?


Move over CIOs, there may be a new chief in town. This chief specializes in a digital trend that we touch on frequently: artificial intelligence.

Artificial intelligence is more than just a digital trend. It is a disruptive force that experts are predicting will completely dominate leading industries as we know them. Ever heard of Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX? Well, he is very passionate about artificial intelligence. He has even warned that society needs to pay more attention to this AI because it has the potential to hold a lot of power.

(We wrote a blog about the predictions of AI. If you missed it, don’t worry, you can view it here.)

“If you’re not concerned about AI safety, you should be,” – Elon Musk.

Elon may not be wrong. Businesses are catching on and integrating artificial intelligence into operations more than ever. In fact, 80% of businesses are investing in this digital component. Enterprises are seeing AI as an opportunity to stay above the digital wave, and to become more innovative than ever.

AI is transforming the workplace, shifting business toward an innovative direction, and also allowing enterprises to gain large ROI from this investment.

“For every invested dollar, companies expect a 99% ROI in five years after implementing AI. But true AI gains are long-term, with companies expecting 187% ROI over the next 10 years, according to the report.” CIO Dive reports. 

In order to effectively integrate AI into the workplace, businesses must change their strategies altogether. It is impossible to implement a brand new innovative trend if the structure of your business is outdated. Business strategies must become aligned with the priorities of AI. Often times, creating new roles in the workplace is an effective way to combat these changes. That is where the role of the CIO has benefited innovative businesses.

“There is an important trend emerging evident in this report–enterprises today see AI as a strategic priority that will help them outpace the competition in their respective industries,” says Atif Kureishy, vice president of emerging practices at Think Big Analytics. “But to leverage the full potential of this technology and gain maximum ROI, these businesses will need to revamp their core strategies so AI has an embedded role from the data center to the boardroom.” ZD Net reports. 

The Role Of The CIO

Usually, the CIO is in charge of all decisions regarding technology, including, but not limited to, artificial intelligence. The CIO’s journey into this disruptive world is complex and quite a necessary one. Since businesses often struggle with successfully integrating AI into operations, the CIO helps make this transition a smooth and transparent one.

“Chief information officer (CIO) is an executive job title commonly given to the person at an enterprise in charge of information technology (IT) strategy and the computer systems required to support the organization’s unique objectives and goals,” TechTarget reports. 

Of course, as technology grows, so does the role of the CIO. Since technology is constantly developing, CIOs are forced to shift their knowledge and priorities toward more disruptive trends. Artificial intelligence is no exception.

Every enterprise is different, which makes every CIO’s role vary. The one thing that they have in common is that they are the top information officers that can help combat any technical objective or goal. As digital transformation expands, the role of the CIO has become very important. If you have not integrated a CIO into your business operations, you may want to think twice.

A successful CIO needs a reliable IT structure. Since the CIO works directly with the IT staff and reports directly to the CEO of the company, the IT department must be steady and work for hand in hand with the CIO. For this to happen, all teams must be on board when it comes to integrating new techniques.

According to CIO Dive, many enterprises do not believe that the integration of new digital trends is a smooth transition. This is mainly due to the fact that people are not properly trained to deploy the technology. Since AI is such a unique and sensitive component, CIOs and IT professionals must be trained effectively in order to combat any potential problems. When they fail to meet these requirements, the business is at risk of failing as well.

“AI holds many promises, but most respondents expect their organization to struggle with adoption. Only 28% of respondents believe their organization has enough people trained in AI to buy, build and deploy the technology. Some of the leading barriers for implementation are a lack of IT infrastructure, budget constraints and limited talent and understanding.” CIO Dive reports.

Since businesses are struggling with this more than ever, leaders have coined a new role for all things artificial intelligence related. This role has the ability to transform the job of the CIO as we know it, in order to transition enterprises into the future.

Chief AI Officer

When AI first appeared on the digital market, many feared that they would lose their jobs to the innovative and disruptive factors that are found within this trend. Business professionals mainly began to worry that robots would take over their jobs, shifting industry roles forever.

AI encompasses methodologies and practices for teaching computers how to learn, make decisions and solve problems like a human. AI has endured many fits and starts for the last few decades. CIO reports. 

This is not entirely true, mainly because there are more complex components that deal with AI. Sure, robotics is a factor of AI, but that does not mean all jobs are at risk, even though some professionals may say otherwise.

“The pace of artificial intelligence development is staggering—Google estimates robots will reach levels of human intelligence by 2029, and IT research firm Gartner estimates that by 2025, one-third of jobs will be replaced by robots and smart machines. But before you start panicking, most experts predict that artificial intelligence will mostly introduce new jobs and augment existing jobs instead of replacing current positions.” Fow Community reports. 

Businesses have been forced to confront this reality. As opposed to running from AI, business professionals were found in a place that can either transform their business operations or stay stagnant in the traditional sector of doing things. As stated before, 80% of businesses have chosen option 1: integrating AI.

With this reality coming to the forefront of all business operations, CIOs must focus on talent, priorities, and strategy in order to handle data effectively. Since artificial intelligence is so complex and in-depth, it is crucial for businesses to focus on the entirety of the subject. That is why the Chief AI officer has emerged.

So, what is a chief AI officer?

A chief AI officer is exactly what you would think. It is a person who specializes in AI, can work with data and create value from the complex world of artificial intelligence. As a business leader, appointing a chief AI officer is as simple as appointing a CIO as technology expanded.

The topic is now up for debate among business professionals and CIO. Is a chief AI officer what your business needs? Some experts are saying yes.

“You need a chief AI officer,” Ng told Fortune assistant managing editor Adam Lashinsky. “If you have a lot of data and you want to create value from that data one of the things you might consider is building up an AI team.” Fortune reports. 

If you are asking yourself the same question, it is important to keep in mind just how much you will be integrating AI into your workplace. If you are like the 3,343 global data and analytics decision-makers who reported that 41% of companies will invest in A.I within the next year, you may want to consider it.

Who Is Hiring Chief AI Officers?

Artifical intelligence is being integrated into many industries, shifting the priorities of business leaders. We have seen AI in industries like healthcare.

Some of the tasks that will become smarter due to artificial intelligence include robot-assisted surgery, visual nursing assistants, fraud detection, connected machines, and cybersecurity. This will change how healthcare professionals carry out tasks and will work to lift the tedious burden found on clinicians, as well as offer innovative tools to physicians that will ultimately make their jobs easier and more effective.

“Growth opportunities are hard to come by without significant investment, but artificial intelligence (AI) is a self-running engine for growth in healthcare. According to Accenture analysis, when combined, key clinical health AI applications can potentially create $150 billion in annual savings for the US healthcare economy by 2026.” Accenture reports.

Artificial intelligence is predicted to only get smarter, move industries toward innovation, and change digital transformation forever. We have also seen it in marketing and finance, driving customer engagement.

According to AdAge, an independent firm called CrossMedia is ahead of the AI wave and had acquired new talent to combat this trend. They recently hired a director of cognitive solutions, that will be in charge of all thing artificial intelligence. This includes their unique chatbot that is involved in client engagement as well as tools that resemble Amazon’s Alexa, a popular tool that depends on AI to function.

The new role that CrossMedia designed is an example of how businesses are using new talent in order to deal with the emerging data that AI creates, in order to derive value and change. CEO of a tech company, Robot Stampede, weighed in on this topic on AdAge.

“If agencies don’t make this kind of change right now, and really understand they have to really commit to it, we’re going to have an evolutionary separation,” he said. “We’re going to have two different species of agencies: One that evolved with AI and one that didn’t.” AdAge reports.

As businesses adapt new roles like chief AI officer, they fully submerge themselves into the world of artificial intelligence. It will set them apart from those who have integrated AI, and those who have not. Since new roles are emerging from this trend, it goes to show that digital transformation is changing more than simple business operations, it is changing the entire business structure.

So, the debate continues. CIOs will always be valued, needed, and relied on by enterprises. But, as AI continues to emerge, business professionals may have to rethink how they manage specific roles. The chief AI officer may be here to stay, so it is important to continue to pay attention.


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As we move closer to 2018, prominent digital technology and business leaders from all the major private and public sectors are looking to CIOs to manage the explosion of information that has ignited digital enterprise.

As technology grows, the role of the CIO has changed drastically. As we see new trends emerging in different industries, business leaders are turning to create business operations to be more specific to technology, like artificial intelligence. The fact that chief AI officer has developed proves that businesses are changing structures to meet the demands of digital transformation. It brings forward questions for CIOs, changes their roles more than ever before.

As data continues to expand, businesses need to integrate the tools necessary to create the most value out of data, to position themselves above the competition and directly into the digital revolution. Technology is constantly evolving, creating new roles, changing business operations and bringing digital transformation to the forefront of all industries.

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