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CMOCouncilDeloitteDigital Biggest Challenges AI Implementation Oct2021

In order to gain a competitive edge, a majority of marketing and customer experience executives have their eye on frictionless integration of emerging technologies, with AI being one of those technologies expected to improve personalization and ease for the customer. Nevertheless, as it stands now, only 13% of marketing leaders surveyed for a report [download page] from CMO Council and Deloitte Digital say their AI capabilities for marketing are advanced. 

The quest for ideal AI capabilities — roughly described by the report as providing “CX with enough data to make informed decisions around what to do next,” and giving “marketers choices on how to interact and then learns from the outcomes”— is potentially some time away. Currently, only 7% of respondents say they have already achieved ideal AI capabilities. More than 6 in 10 say they are either 7-12 months (33%) or 13-18 months (32%) away, while another 14% say that ideal AI is achievable in more than 18 months.

Scarcity of Talent Stands in the Way of AI Implementation

It’s clear that having the right talent is important to achieving ideal AI capabilities. Some 8 in 10 (81% of) the marketing leaders surveyed report that hiring more talent with AI skills is the most critical need to develop their AI capabilities.

Nevertheless, finding people with the right skills is also the biggest impediment for marketers implementing AI capabilities. About half (51%) of respondents cite hiring more talent in AI/machine learning/data science skills as their biggest AI-related challenge. Some 3 in 10 (31%) have also found it challenging to cross-train existing talent on AI/ML/data science skills. 

This skills gap is far from new. As far back as 2017, a report from Emarsys and Forrester Consulting showed that retail marketers cited a lack of technical skills among internal staff as one of the biggest obstacles to executing an AI marketing strategy. More recent data from The CMO Club shows that more than three-quarters (78%) of CMOs surveyed said data science was one of the most critical skills gaps within their organization

What’s more, this recent report indicates that some marketers aren’t keen on expanding their capabilities in this area. More than one-third (37%) of the marketers who do not currently have data science/AI/ML capabilities have no plans to build them.

Challenges to Managing Customer Experience Data

Having the right skill set in place internally is also a challenge cited by nearly half (47%) of marketing leaders in response to being asked about their main challenges with the management of customer experience data. However, a deficit in skills is not the biggest challenge respondents face in this area. About two-thirds (65%) find it challenging to connect siloed data and content from multiple systems, while 3 in 5 (59%) find creating cross-channel customer experiences a challenge.

Additionally, although a wide majority of marketers believe that creating a consolidated customer profile is very important, some 45% of respondents say that having an incomplete view of the customer is one of the main challenges they face with the management of customer experience data. 

The full report can be found here.

About the Data: Findings are based on a survey of more than 300 marketing leaders across a range of industries.

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