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Now is the time to hire your first Chief AI Officer

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The field of artificial intelligence (AI) is growing at an alarming rate. It's expected to create 2.3 million jobs by 2020, and around three-fourths of tech leaders plan on hiring more AI talent. It is true for many jobs that rather than your entire job being automated, it's likely that AI (Artificial Intelligence) will just take over parts of your job allowing you to concentrate on other tasks.

Seeing the huge potential of AI, many large companies start using it to communicate with customers and automate work in the areas of customer service, marketing and information technology.

The need for AI leader

AI is still immature and evolving quickly, so it is unreasonable to expect everyone in the C-suite to understand it completely. But if your company generates a large amount of data, there is a good chance that AI can be used to transform that data into value. With interest in the use of AI growing at companies, it makes sense to have someone in charge of its use. A Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer (CAIO) would oversee all AI efforts to help set strategy for using artificial intelligence throughout the company, while also looking for new areas where it could be put to use. If companies do not adopt AI strategies at this early stage then they may struggle to compete in the future when AI becomes a major player in the success of a business.

The CAIO would need to be an experienced businessperson with direct experience working on data analytics, cloud computing and machine learning technologies. Like most C-level hires, the individual should have more than 10 years of experience in a related industry with a history of success (and failure!) working with teams in the appropriate industry.

While CAIOs could play an important role in organisations for the next few years, the long-term viability of this role will heavily depend on continued innovation in the field of AI. A majority of the CAIO's time would require having an insight into the discipline and uncovering opportunities to exploit advances in the field within your organisation.

As AI becomes a mainstream part of any business, the role might be transformed into the CTO (Chief Technology Officer) function, whose primary role is to ensure the continued evolution of technology as it relates to the advancement of business. CTOs of the future will need to have an understanding of machine learning as a minimal job requirement, but today's CTOs are already juggling a lot of responsibilities, so creating a separate job for a CAIO would be beneficial.

What to look for in Chief AI Officer

Hiring the right AI leader can dramatically increase your odds of success, but only if you pick the right person. Here are some traits that's experts in the field of AI recommend you look for in a Chief AI Officer, based on their experience in leading and growing some of the most successful AI teams at Google and Stanford:

  • Good technical understanding of AI and data infrastructure

  • Ability to work cross-functionally

  • Strong intrapreneurial skills

  • Ability to attract and retain AI talent

Hiring a Chief AI officer is a solid investment for the future of your business but finding the right person will be difficult as there is a storage of experts in the field due to it still being a new field.