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Episode 71

How To Drive Business Growth With An AI Council

Tessa Burg
Chief Technology Officer at Mod Op | Host of Leader Generation

Ever wondered how top companies maintain the edge in today’s rapidly advancing technological landscape? Enter the AI Council.

In this episode, Tessa Burg emphasizes how having a well-orchestrated AI Council is not just a strategic move, but a game-changer for businesses. By harnessing the power of diverse expertise and aligning it with the innovations in AI and machine learning, companies can unlock unprecedented growth opportunities.

“An AI Council can be a catalyst for how you grow business sustainably.”

Dive into this podcast to discover how the right structure and focus of an AI Council can become your secret weapon to drive business growth.

Leader Generation is hosted by Tessa Burg and brought to you by Mod Op. To provide feedback and ask marketing questions for future episodes, message Tessa on LinkedIn.

Highlights From This Episode:

  • AI Council structure and purpose
  • Cross-functionality and diverse perspectives in AI
  • Importance of change management
  • Various committees within the AI Council
  • Evaluating tech opportunities and improving efficiency
  • Balancing innovation and stability in organizations

Watch the Live Recording

Full Episode Transcripts

Tessa Burg: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Leader Generation, brought to you by Mod Op. I’m your host, Tessa Burg, and today we’re going to talk about something that I’ve really enjoyed being a part of the last three months, and that is building our AI council.  

Tessa Burg: We, before building our AI council, had sort of an ad hoc group of people who were interested in learning more about the impact AI and machine learning was going to have on our business and on their profession and on their teams. But what we have done over the last three months, by strategically organizing a committee of experts that’s focused on proper use, standards, compliance, security, and change management, has really fundamentally changed the way that we look at our business and the way that we’re aligning innovation to driving our vision, growth, and scale. Well, I’m excited to share this with you, and let’s jump into this topic.  

Tessa Burg: So, first off, what is an AI council? Generally, it’s a committee of experts that govern the use of AI and machine learning across your entire organization.  

Tessa Burg: Now, are these AI experts data scientists, do they have to have experience in AI or deep experience in using machine learning? No. In fact, what we found is that it’s better if they are experts in their own fields of knowledge work and for our purpose in marketing. So, getting a good cross-section of amazing front-end developers and graphic designers and copywriters and social media managers and digital media planners all together. So, having that cross-section of people who are experts in a specific field of marketing is really what composes a successful AI council.  

Tessa Burg: Let’s think about that definition a little bit more; governs the use. We have put our AI council in the center of our business. And why is that? That sounds dramatic. At first, I was like, hmm, you know, is this kind of an offshoot or is this some slow-moving process that will slow down our progress to really leveraging this technology? And if you do it right, the AI council can be a catalyst for how you grow sustainably. And that is because, one: we’ve talked about it’s cross-functional, so you’re getting those diverse perspectives. And two: since these diverse perspectives are coming from experts within a specific field and expertise your company has built up over time, whether that is in marketing, or even if you are creating diverse perspectives across a manufacturing organization, you’re bringing together examples and use-cases of things that can be automated, improved, or scale.  

Tessa Burg: So, while it might sound like a big ton of bureaucracy to put something called a council at the start or at the center of your business, what it really is saying is that you recognize that AI and machine learning is going to impact every aspect of how we work, how we service our clients, how we make products, and how we go to market.  

Tessa Burg: So, let’s say you are open to considering putting the AI council at the center of your business. Who are the right people to be in it, and what are their roles and functions?  

Tessa Burg: So, first, nothing succeeds without change management. So, you should definitely identify who are the leaders and managers in your organization who are the best at leading change management. These people often are great trainers, great educators; they are the people that when someone is stuck, they turn to you to ask questions. So, they’re highly empathetic. They have a deep expertise in their field, and they’re respected. These leaders of change management can really come from anywhere in the company, so this might also give you a chance to recognize a rising star within your organization. It may also give you a chance to shine a light on an emerging manager who is looking to see how they can take that next step up to VP or executive VP or director position. So, really think about that. Think about those qualities, because it’s those people, the people who can lead change management, that will be the most productive and the most successful inside of an AI council.  

Tessa Burg: So, the other roles that you want in there really depends on the committees that your AI council is made up of. I’ll share the committees that we’ve put together. I will say our company now is over 200 people, and we have 20 members on our AI council. I think the number of committees you have and the number of people by committee or the number of people in total in the council scales up or down depending on your business. What determines the committees and the number of people is really your vision and what you’re trying to accomplish. So, be very tight on what the vision is for your company, and then roll that vision down into some smart goals so that you’re able to measure the impact the AI council is having on driving and aligning to that vision.  

Tessa Burg: So, for us, we have a committee that is all about the vision and news and trends. So, we want to make sure that what we do and how we do it is aligned to our vision, but also is differentiating us and relevant in the market today.  

Tessa Burg: Our second committee is the Apps Use and Standards committee. They are the single point of entry into the AI council, and they’re evaluating what’s going on with the apps. They help us select the best apps, set the standards for how they get used and distributed across the company. The next committee is measurement. And this is one that I would say, even internally, was really hard for a lot of people to understand. But in the simplest terms, it’s very good to get a baseline of how you operate and what you’re doing today before you introduce any type of AI or machine learning-enabled app. But really, that’s any type of technology. So, we always say, first, let’s lay out the use-cases, then establish the process, baseline and measure that process, and then engage or implement a piece of technology or an AI machine-learning enabled app to make that process more efficient. And then, we’re able to measure lifts, increases in quality, productivity, and impact to revenue and scale.  

Tessa Burg: Our next committee is Innovation. So, if something is a great use-case that we can own or that can make us more efficient internally, then that’s going to go through the Innovation committee to really scope, and again, vet against our vision and what type of company we are. You know, we’re not going to be the next Anthropic or these large companies that are making models, but there are opportunities for companies of any size and in any domain to own the connections between apps, the type of data and the way they use the data that they collect that’s specific to their domain. So, innovation can mean a lot of things. What’s really important is this committee owns what it means to your business and how your business looks to grow and scale.  

Tessa Burg: Our next committee is compliance and security, which is very important. So, whenever we’re talking about ingesting data, transforming it, exporting deliverables based on data, making apps and technology and data accessible, compliance and security is top of mind. So, make sure that you are involving someone from your CIO department or your IT department to be involved, and I would recommend that they actually are the designated leader to start.  

Tessa Burg: And the next committee is Education and Change Management. So, these are the folks that, as we look at how AI and machine learning is impacting our business, that we’re educating and engaging advocates; advocates by committee that can help us train small groups and what that means now for our processes and for how we deliver our expertise. This also extends to salespeople. Are there things now that we’re doing in our business that make us unique and position differently in the market? And I think that’s all the committees. I have to check back at my list. But like I said, there’s no right or wrong list to what committees you have and how many people are on them. It really depends on your business. But I think, to emphasize, again, that layer of change management is just so important.  

Tessa Burg: So, how does this actually help you scale? Well, if you don’t have an AI council and you don’t have a standard way of evaluating opportunities or use-cases for the use of technology, then it actually can make you less efficient. There are always going to be people who want to try and test early and often; love those people. But if we’re not able to harness and make that energy something that’s repeatable for our business, then you’re only going to get efficiency in pockets. And just because people aren’t quick to change doesn’t mean that they are any less valuable or necessary for the company. There is a great power in mixing people who are those eager-to-use and those testers and those first movers with your very stable folks who really think critically about what changes to the process means across the organization.  

Tessa Burg: So, I would call that kind of some healthy tension that if you are able to harness that and really, again, leverage those awesome leaders in your company at every level to bring everyone along, that is where you’re going to see measurable impact to efficiency, to scale, and to revenue.  

Tessa Burg: So, I hope this helps your business get started on creating an AI council. It has been a ton of work, and the members of our AI council have put in extra time to investigate, test, research apps, go deep on use cases, partner with different people across the company; but it’s been worth it. And we’re already seeing the benefits of what collaborative, cross-functional, and diverse perspectives can do to help you get more out of this technology that’s changing all of our lives.  

Tessa Burg: If you want to hear more episodes of “Leader Generation”, visit us at modop.com. If you have any questions on AI councils, feeling a little bit like more of an expert these days, feel free to reach out to me. You can find me on LinkedIn. I’m @TessaBurg. And until next time, have a great week. 

Tessa Burg

Chief Technology Officer at Mod Op | Host of Leader Generation

Tessa Burg is the Chief Technology Officer and Host of the Leader Generation podcast at Mod Op. She’s been leading data-driven marketing and technology teams for 15+ years on both the agency and client sides of the business for domestic and international brands, including American Greetings, Amazon, Nestlé, Anlene, Moen and many more. Tessa has deep skills in data and tech architecture, software product development and management, digital transformation and strategy. As CTO, she oversees Mod Op’s technology stack to ensure the agency is leveraging and securing the right platforms and data to deliver valuable and measurable results across physical, digital and virtual experiences. Tessa can be reached on LinkedIn or at [email protected].