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    AI transformation: How to prepare your marketing team

    AI transformation: How to prepare your marketing team

    Generative AI is rapidly transforming marketing, introducing new capabilities that disrupt how we work. However, successful AI adoption requires more than just implementing new tools. It demands a people-focused approach to navigate the changes and align your teams for the transformation. Embracing AI is not just about technology but about managing change and enabling your teams to thrive in the evolving marketing environment.

    How generative AI disrupts martech

    Generative AI disrupts martech across multiple fronts. It impacts how we market to consumers and perform our jobs, the new skills we need, where and how we integrate the new capabilities in our martech stacks and how we motivate and prepare our teams. Today, I want to focus on the latter, which is the toughest because it involves dealing with people.

    Embracing change, especially with AI, can be challenging. Some team members may eagerly welcome it, while others may resist due to fear of job loss or reluctance to change ingrained habits. However, for sustainable progress, everyone must be willing to invest effort and adapt to new ways of doing things.

    Enlist ‘champions’ to help shape a plan

    Because AI implications are so expansive, you can’t do this alone. You need champions who are interested in change, can help shape a vision and can influence others to join you when the time is right. I prefer to enlist support first from teammates who have their hands on the keyboards. They often know the biggest pain points, what processes take the longest and where AI can have the biggest impact on their space. 

    My next stop would be your business partners in finance, legal, change management, procurement, etc. They support a broader cross-section of the organization and have a domain-specific perspective on what’s critical and what to avoid. They can also share what others are concerned about. By listening to their opinions, you can develop a plan that comprehensively addresses more people’s needs.

    In addition, by proactively seeking input from various champions, you can discover where you may face pushback. Often, we look to technology to fix things, but when we listen to people who are closer to the issue, they may suggest another approach. If you disregard that input without explaining why, you’ve created a dissenter that may make implementation difficult down the road. 

    This bottom-up, side-to-side view helps me determine what to propose to our last group of champions — leadership. We need their input, direction and sign-off, but you must give them something to react to. Before recommending to senior leaders, I want to know that other champions support my approach and are brought into the recommendation. This helps the next step go a bit smoother. 

    Dig deeper: How to do an AI implementation for your marketing team

    Create and communicate a clear vision 

    Once you finalize the plan with leadership, it must be conveyed as a clear, relatable vision. The vision should address the pain points outlined by the champions but, most importantly, speak to how this AI transformation aligns with the organization’s values and key department goals. People need inspiration. And to sustain change, I believe they need to feel connected to and included in the vision.

    An effective communication plan goes beyond an announcement email and a few meetings. To sustain engagement and interest, communication must be ongoing, relevant and personal. I often try to answer the questions, “Why should I care?” and “What do you want me to do?” in every communication touchpoint. If the people you are addressing don’t see themselves in your vision, they will likely not retain it nor be motivated to contribute.  

    To get started, identify existing forums and meetings to share the vision, get input and ask for participation. Often, people believe their new initiative needs a whole new set of meetings to convey its importance, but that is not always true. If your AI solution is for the creative team, ask to have a standing agenda item in their weekly team meeting first. If the transformation plan is more expensive, work with leadership and their chiefs of staff to be included in larger forums.

    Think creatively here. Communicating can be more than updates from leadership; it could be demos from teams involved, a contest for input submission, guest speakers from another organization that did something similar and much more. 

    Lastly, I recommend you also find ways to communicate what happens if you don’t go on this transformation journey. It’s easy to paint a rosy picture of the future, but don’t forget to remind people of the challenges they face today and what they may look like if they continue to get worse. It’s not just about the benefits; it’s also about awareness of the consequences. 

    Dig deeper: How to assess your organization’s AI readiness with the 5P framework

    Define roles and upskill talent

    This step should be thought through from the beginning, informed by the champions’ needs and current team structure. If you look at the transformation from a capability-based viewpoint, you can align work with team members who already manage the same or similar skills. If new capabilities are needed and you need resources to support them, consider reskilling existing team members before hiring new talent. 

    While we aren’t at a place where many jobs are being 100% replaced by AI, there are elements of jobs that will become obsolete. Consider how capabilities could be aligned to existing people with the right training. When partnering with a vendor to deploy their solution, ensure they provide multiple sessions for different user groups (ops, data, marketing, etc.). 

    Training is a must. Even beyond the core transformation teams, everyone should have the opportunity to receive generative AI training as part of their role. Generative AI improves efficiency in many ways, so I recommend training that demystifies how it can be used inside and outside of work.

    Now, with Copilot (note: I do work for Microsoft), I don’t take notes and don’t search for files. I also write fewer reply emails and chats. These small changes save me tremendous time; every employee can take advantage of them. Make sure they do. 

    Enabling AI transformation within your marketing organization

    These three areas of preparation are often overlooked in large-scale transformations. When we are asked to go fast, it feels difficult to get others’ input and perspectives before we outline and communicate the next steps.

    That said, lasting change requires an ongoing commitment to the vision, trust in leadership, and active involvement from teams across the organization. That may not be needed to change a CMS, but it is when you transform how cross-functional teams work together in new ways, using new tooling. The expansion of AI will continue for many years, so take time to consider how you enable your teams’ success.     

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    The post AI transformation: How to prepare your marketing team appeared first on MarTech.

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