As the numbers of tech-based companies grow in number, there is a crucial point to note – Artificial Intelligence (AI) adoption is also growing. They are looking at AI to handle certain operations within the organization. For most of these companies, AI is a part of their core. They look at AI as an important part leading to their long-term growth and sustainability. Considering this, companies are contemplating hiring a C-suite executive to head their AI team and handle related matters. But there are arguments around it. If you follow the discussions happening within the industry, you would be aware of the arguments against hiring a CAIO. At the same time, there are a respectable number of discussions in favor of hiring a CAIO. While some say it is not necessary, some say it brings new perspectives towards AI. One such common argument is ‘we hire a Chief Finance Officer to handle finance-related tasks; we hire CDOs to handle data-related tasks, so why is it any different for a Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer (CIAO)? Some might be hesitating to add one more C-suite executive to the organization!
Are you stuck in the middle of such discussions and are not clear whether to hire a CAIO?
In this write-up, we throw light on the pros and cons of hiring a Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer (CAIO). This will help you in deciding what’s right for your organization.
Are Organizations Already Hiring CAIO?
You might be curious to know whether businesses have already started hiring CAIO leaving you behind. You can relax, as of now, there are not many businesses with the job title. So far, no major global company has adopted this job title. And, we cannot be sure about the future, but we can see some profiles on LinkedIn with their job titles as ‘Head of AI.’ These professionals handle responsibilities that are like what a CAIO does. And it is where the discussion started.
When a competitor is creating some specialized job title it is natural for others to wonder whether they too need people at that position or not.
To make things clearer to you, here we have collected opinions about this emerging C-suite job title. This will help you understand what’s right for you with a solid logical reason behind your decision.
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Experts’ Argument in Favor of Hiring Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer (CAIO)
Some industry experts the inclusion of CAIO in C-suite executives as inevitable. These people have some valid reasons for their argument.
The role of AI is only going to increase in future
The first and most valid argument in favor of hiring a CAIO is that the role of AI is only going to increase in the future. The dependency of companies on AI for decision-making and validation will increase like never before. So, when AI becomes pivotal in every aspect of a company’s operation, the company will need an executive-level officer focused on Artificial Intelligence. They argue that the increasing importance of AI will bring new roles and responsibilities that existing C-suite officers will not be able to do justice with.
Artificial Intelligence is a dynamic field
The next argument in favor is that AI is a dynamic field. New research and trends keep on coming every other day. A dedicated C-suite executive adds value to the AI team. They have a better understanding of trends and implementation, based on the data gathered. Without this, it would be difficult for companies to leverage the power of AI. Artificial Intelligence does empower businesses, but with a CAIO, they can leverage its benefits to the fullest.
Potentials of the AI team remains untapped in absence of CAIO
Your AI team might have enthusiastic members who can come up with innovative ideas to transform your business. But their potential will remain underutilized unless they have a representative at the C-suite level. Not every member of the decision-making team understands AI. Owing to this lack of understanding, they may reject an idea given by an AI team member. So, by hiring a CAIO, it becomes easier to use the talents of the AI team and promote an experimentation culture.
Experts’ Argument against Hiring Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer (CAIO)
We have discussed the benefits or promises of having a Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer (CAIO). Now, let us see why some experts are against hiring a CAIO. Before proceeding, understand that these experts are well-aware of AI and the value it brings to an organization. And still, they consider hiring CAIO useless or not-so-beneficial for organizations. Let us see what makes these experts think so.
Artificial Intelligence is another technological advancement
Experts arguing against hiring a CAIO see AI as another technological advancement. It is like the development of an OS or the internet… While these advancements transformed business operations, they do not need a C-suite executive. Take the case of the Internet. It is important for business operations; but there is no need for Chief Internet Officer. There is no need for a CAIO to handle AI. For these experts, there are transformative technological advancements cropping up every other decade. This does not mean that there should be a C-suite executive for each.
There is no defined role or territory for CAIO
Another argument against hiring CAIO is that the role is not distinguished. According to them, the role of a CAIO is always overlapping; and may interfere with the job of management executives. Their argument is that redistribution of CAIO’s roles and responsibilities are not ideal as there is no territory for a CAIO. As an integral part of the business strategy, AI is engrained in different business processes. Businesses already have a CTO for their long-term vision of technologies. CIO is already there to take care of all information including AI and ML. So, it is useless to hire CAIO.
Having a CAIO indicates that AI is not completely engrained in your business
The next argument comes as a warning. Some experts convey that hiring a CAIO sends a wrong message to the stakeholders. Their arguments convey that hiring a CAIO would me that ‘you see the role of AI as an entity that is not part of your business strategy. Hiring a CAIO might convey the message that AI is not embedded in your entire business operation. It creates a sense of separation and might be perceived in a different sense. So, the experts standing against CAIO perceive it as both useless and risky. According to them, AI should be extensive, covering the width and breadth of the business. Thus, you should not confine it to a certain department or role.
Our Take on the Matter
If we conclude our stance in one sentence it would be – forget the job title; go for the value of AI. The decision whether to hire a Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer or not depends on your business needs. And you should not ignore the opinions of the key decision-makers of your organization. But, what is more, important is that you must not be left behind in leveraging the benefits of Artificial Intelligence.
Giants like Google and Microsoft do not have any position called CAIO, but they are utilizing AI to the fullest. So, your main motto should be to have someone in your company who has a keen eye on the research and development in the field of artificial intelligence. And, at the same time key decision-makers of your company should be open to utilizing the benefits of AI for your business growth. If this requires hiring someone or making a minor change in your existing management structure you can go for it. If you can optimize your business for implementing AI-based developments without any changes in the key position, do not do anything unnecessary.
CAIO may or may not be required or important for your business, but AI is imperative if you are looking to make your company sustainable and growth oriented.20
Artificial Intelligence can make you more powerful in every aspect viz. taking quick and accurate business decisions, taking care of finance and taxes, handling business operations, creating customer satisfaction, and many more. So, whether you hire CAIO or not, every C-suite executive of your business, including the CEO, needs to think AI-first. The use of AI and ML should be included in the mission and vision of your business. Let AI add value to every aspect of your business.
Shivani is a talented CS manager with the skillsets to elicit, scope and manage end-to-end B2B SaaS project delivery. She has a keen interest in depicting her learnings in customer success by writing resourceful blogs and articles.
Published March 14, 2022, Updated March 01, 2023