- Companies lacking a foundation of automation need chief automation officers (CAO), according to Sean Chou, CEO and co-founder of Catalytic, a platform provider for automating business processes, in an interview with CIO Dive.
- The CAO role ideally scales to match a company's level of automation maturity. Companies early on in AI adoption had CAOs focus on "evangelizing and product introduction," said Chou. From there centralization and standardization take effect, followed by vendor inquiries and skills federation.
- The addition of a C-suite role, or a CAO-equivalent, is designed to take the burden of automation off the CIO or CTO, according to Chou. "Most CIOs and CTOs are too beleaguered to add yet another large initiative to their plate, especially one that will require such close interaction with the business."
Automation is an attractive business goal, but businesses are struggling to take it off the back burner. Back office automation — which CB Insights classifies as an experimental AI application — faces low adoption and market strength.
Companies borne from automation, like Amazon and Netflix, don't have the same burden adopting the technology, according to Robert Eve, senior director of data management at infrastructure software company TIBCO, in an interview with CIO Dive.
They don't have to shake the shackles of legacy technologies to maintain their business model.
Historically the "winning" business model was one that either offered the best product, had the most efficient distribution or had the lowest price. Now, companies have to provide personalization and efficiency.
The majority of companies, 60%, are struggling to find their footing with automation and AI, now faced with adjusting their business models to accommodate the disruption.
With change, guidance is needed.
"Either evolve the role of the COO or CDO to expand their area of focus to include AI and automation or, if you are a complex organization or don't want to rock the C-suite boat too much, hire a CAO," Max Cheprasov, CAO at media and digital marketing company Dentsu Aegis Network, told CIO Dive in an email.
A CAO should be able to weave AI and automation through enterprise faucets. The inclusion of the role in the C-suite could be a differentiator in a successful automation deployment. It could also reduce the risk of the 50% failure rate of AI projects.
"It's just hard to fathom the degree of possibility here," said Eve. "I think these new companies do it that way. And the old companies are kind of stuck."
For older companies, now is the time to embrace AI and automation "because a lot of the pioneering done by these other company is now readily available in standard commercial product," he said.