(A)I Feel Good: How Top CMOs Are Framing Artificial Intelligence

Overview The year 2020 will be the year of artificial intelligence (AI). That was the prediction of Jean Foster, the SVP of Marketing and Communications for the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®, during our conversation in this year’s CES C Space Studio.

CTA is the organization that owns and produces CES®, and from Foster’s wide-angle perspective, AI was “everywhere in every aspect of the show.”

My interviews with other marketing leaders were no exception. In a time of hype and hyperventilation, here’s how two of tech’s top CMOs are leading the conversation about AI.

(A)I Am Everyday People

AI may be everywhere, but the concept can sometimes seem beyond the realm of regular people. If Google is a reflection of our collective consciousness, it's telling that an image search for "artificial intelligence" yields row after row of futuristic brains and superhuman figures. But at Salesforce, CMO Stephanie Buscemi isn’t trying to build a future limited to the techno-elite.

“One of our key missions is to democratize the access of technology,” she said. “We always want to be on the leading edge of the most innovative and new technologies — and make them useful for everyone in their day-to-day life.”

Imagine, for instance, a salesperson who meets with a prospect while an AI tool listens in.
“Salespeople innately don't want to do data entry,” Buscemi noted. “I don't think anyone really wants to do data entry.” A promise of AI is that they wouldn’t have to.

The company’s AI has a name, Einstein, to aid approachability. 

“I think people go, ‘Oh my God, I don't have a degree in data science. I'm not wearing a white lab coat. AI couldn't possibly be for me,’” Buscemi said. “And in reality, the power of AI now is really putting it in the hands of everyone.”

Einstein suggests smarts but also playfulness. Who can forget the famous photo of Albert sticking his tongue out? 

“We really wanted that fun, irreverent brand there, and to make AI not so scary to everyone — to realize that it's accessible and you can get that intelligence too.”

 

(A)I Wanna Get Better

SAP also approaches AI with people in mind. And like Buscemi, SAP CMO Alicia Tillman knows that AI can seem scary. But Tillman wants anxious consumers to rest easy. 

“The technology,” she said, “is not going to ever replace the human being.”

For Tillman, “artificial intelligence, as one form of modern technology, can help augment and support you gaining greater efficiencies.” Tillman and her team position SAP technologies as helping  to replace busywork that bogs people down and make the customer “better as a human.” 

The process of hiring humans can get better, too. Tillman pointed to AI’s ability to scrub unconscious bias from job descriptions. 

“These are beautiful ways when we think about artificial intelligence and the positive impact it can have on things that really matter to us as human beings,” she said.

I asked Tillman if her people-first positioning was a matter of principal or practicality: is it that technology shouldn’t replace humans, or that it actually can’t?

“I will say it's both,” she responded. “Technology does not have emotion. Maybe one day there'll be a time and a place where there's going to be a heart and soul in technology. But that is not the role of technology. That's the role of us.”


Watch the full interview with CTA SVP Marketing and Communications Jean Foster. arrow-black

Watch the full interview with Salesforce CMO Stephanie Buscemi. arrow-black

Watch the full interview with SAP CMO Alicia Tillman. arrow-black

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