5 Execs Discuss the Challenge of Incorporating New Technologies Into Their Work

Fear and expenses hold brands back from jumping right in

At Elevate: AI, industry leaders discussed some hesitancies and issues behind rising technologies.
Elevate: AI

As the speakers at Adweek’s Elevate: AI conference grappled with the big picture, conceptual possibilities of AI now and in the future, we wondered what the on-the-ground realities looked like for organizations actively working on incorporating machine learning into their practices.

We asked some of the sold-out crowd of attendees about the challenges they are working on solving as advancements like voice, chatbots, enhanced analytics and more become a bigger part of their organization’s arsenal.

Here are some of those responses.

Alicia Wiedemann, Chief Marketing Officer/Chief Experience Officer, Drum

“The biggest thing is that every system we’ve had to work with has walls that we can’t get around. We can only take the journey so far, so what we’re building in-house now is a way to connect the different systems together, so that if [IBM’s] Watson drops off at one place, we can pick it up in another and continue it in Trade Desk or another platform—not necessarily building anything from scratch, but tying all the third systems together.”

Sean MacDonald, global chief digital officer, McCann Worldgroup

“I think for us—because we try to take a very human-first approach—it’s really mostly about interpreting how the brand would engage with the customer through those platforms in a way that would be really true to its expression. I think our challenge is less in understanding the technology and creating the business decision trees of how one would interact with a chatbot, for example. It’s more like, OK, for brand X, how would it feel, what would be the right character, how would you do visual representation through the chatbot that would be a fun and engaging experience that would deliver on the brand product?”

Nicholas Paul, founder/president, O’Keefe Reinhard & Paul

“We just have to get our clients to start, to do something. Don’t think that you have to have the perfect solution, always. Innovation can be scary, using the things and making changes can be scary, but the more you start—we call it complex iteration—and so yes, it’s not easily solvable. But try something, learn, try something, learn, and then before you know it, 18 months goes away, and you’ve got a lot more confidence and a lot more learning. We’re really trying to get clients just to begin with a tactical implementation of something they can do with their customer base, and the second that we’re able to do that, I think we’re making the right strides.”

Kim Matio, vp, digital strategy, ConvergeDirect

“[One of the challenges is in] dealing with some clients whose websites aren’t there, so they’re hesitant to embrace technology to have more personalized email and web experiences or even better-optimized sites.

“Using those more advanced technologies to reach the right audience, at scale, you have to make a huge investment. That’s what I think the problem is: Everybody sees it as really expensive.

“How a giant brand like Nike uses VR or augmented reality—that just doesn’t happen for regular brands. I think [we need] more use cases for regular, mid-level brands that are maybe not going to break into different ways of reaching their audiences.”

Lindsey Port, sales and partnerships, Botworx.ai

“Awareness is always a hurdle at a small company. You have this amazing technology that can be augmented and utilized in order to take advantage of something the biggest platform in the world has been offering to brands, and then think that it’s a new medium—chatbots, AI, all that conversation commerce are new mediums. So like any other new technology, people need to learn about it; they need to adopt it. Sometimes people are scared of the new, and it’s harder to break molds and get people out of their comfort zone to learn about how a new medium can help you with engaging your consumers.”