Blog post By Paula Chiocchi on 2023-10-11
By now, most marketing leaders have implemented AI and machine learning into at least some aspect of their work operations. The technology is impressive, but as a leader, I’ve found that the best part of AI isn’t what it does—but what you don’t have to do.
When used well, AI tools can dramatically improve efficiency to save marketers valuable time. Exactly how much time will vary depending on what and how you implement tools. A recent Salesforce survey of more than 1,000 marketers reveals that “marketers estimate generative AI will save them over five hours of work per week.” So what will you do with that time? From my experience as a leader conscientiously incorporating AI, here are three tips for optimizing AI use and getting the most from improved efficiency.
For years, humans have speculated about the rise of artificial intelligence. Can machines be programmed to think and feel? Will robots take over one day? But unlikely situations aside, there are some real concerns with AI that must be assessed.
For one, someone needs to decide how to implement AI as it makes sense for your business. Just because there are tools available doesn’t mean you should use all of them. And because AI spans several business areas it can be hard to define ownership. The best solutions I’ve seen involve creating an AI committee, council or “task force,” as a recent Wall Street Journal article phrased it. These generally consist of members from various departments—marketing, IT, HR, operations, etc.—that work together to address the technology and identify the best opportunities. Also critical is setting limitations on what should or should not be left to AI—critical determinations, especially in light of data privacy concerns.
The biggest time wastes may or may not be the things that take the most time. But they will be the things that take more time than they need to.
For example, at OMI, we’ve incorporated generative AI into our processes to enable email personalization at scale. By combining machine learning with business firmographic and contact data, we’ve been able to streamline time-consuming processes and automate many aspects of personalization across content, images, subject lines, calls to action and more. Sometimes generative AI outputs can sound robotic, so it’s important to customize the text. But even with manual customization, the time and resources saved have been significant and given our team the leeway to approach other tasks in new and innovative ways.
If the Salesforce estimate of saving employees five hours of work per week is true, what are you doing—or will you do—with that time? A hustle mindset would say that it’s an extra five hours to push yourself to the next level. And depending on where you are in your business and life, maybe that’s the best choice for you. But personally, I think those five hours could be better used with more mindful activities.
Having breathing room in your day may allow you to think more critically, stay more attuned to your environment, and foster your connections with others. This newfound freedom reduces the need for quick reactions and “firefighting,” resulting in both personal and business benefits.
It could also mean the gift of more personal time to pursue the things you're truly passionate about. And as a result, your work becomes more energized and purpose-driven. I’ve come across several articles noting the paradox of how AI actually allows us to be more human. It may take a mindset shift to adapt to this way of thinking and working -- of making space and leaving space for greater work-life balance. Many leaders have made that shift with AI and are already seeing progress and an impact on their daily workflow.
Incorporating AI into your marketing strategy isn't just about automating tasks; it’s the resulting efficiency that’s most valuable. If you let it, this “extra” time can empower you to be a more efficient and effective leader while also adopting a more balanced lifestyle.
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