Why your business needs a chief AI officer

Jodie Cook speaks to AI expert Daniel Linden on the importance of a hire to guide your business through the inevitable technological revolution to come.

Our experts

We are a team of writers, experimenters and researchers providing you with the best advice with zero bias or partiality.
Written and reviewed by:

The integration of AI into your business’s operations will be so profound that it will be someone’s full time role to oversee it. Even if your role can’t be replaced by artificial intelligence, it can be replaced by someone who knows how to use artificial intelligence. So get that someone on board, or become them yourself.

One day, your business will have a chief AI officer, and the sooner you create that role, the better. That’s the recommendation of Daniel Linden, co-creator and chief AI officer of chiefaiofficer.com, suitably titled DanThePrompt on Twitter. He and his partners, Mike Koenigs and Chris Daigle, help companies adapt AI, by training and certifying C-suite level, ambitious and curious individuals who will take this role. Implementing security and data standards and running courses to empower businesses with AI leadership, Linden knows this role can help entrepreneurs and corporations unlock the full potential of their company during fast-paced technological change.

I asked Linden about the role of chief AI officer, its importance, and why your business needs one.

What is a chief AI officer, and what do they do?

“The position of chief AI officer is responsible for guiding businesses through the complex world of AI, defining job roles, setting standards, and ensuring that they stay ahead of the curve, capitalizing on the immense potential of this cutting-edge technology,” said Linden. While a chief executive officer has three goals: set the vision, put the right people in place, and make sure there’s enough cash, according to Linden the CAIO has as many as ten.

1.    Unlock new opportunities

The CAIO works to find and see the opportunities that are everywhere. Opportunities to, “make employees more productive, save money, save time, or have less skilled workers become skilled.”

CIAO’s need to know what to look for in relation to the size and vision of their company. According to Linden this includes, “futureproofing with a different tech stack, redefining job roles or scaling up to completely new levels.”

2.    Streamline processes

Many companies are simply too late to incorporate automation and artificial intelligence, which means they might miss the efficiency gains that can be made. They haven’t built their core processes with AI in mind and reworking it now doesn’t seem worth it. “The CAIO figures out where processes can be streamlined within the company,” said Linden. “This might mean creating prompts for a copywriter or setting up a generative AI chatbot for customer service.” The CAIO improves operations so they run without waste.

3.    Drive innovation

Whatever processes the CAIO creates now will evolve over time. The goal is that they are in control of this change, not caught off guard. Linden creates certification and strategy for driving innovation now and with whatever is to come.

Driving innovation is key to this new role, explained Linden. “The CAIO makes sure the tools, LLMs and strategies are future-proofed; fit for purpose right now with flexible capabilities, keeping in mind that more change is inevitable.”

4.    Diversify into new markets

Things are different now, meaning in some ways there has never been a better time to expand into new markets and even go international. “Language is no longer so much of a barrier, and companies of all sizes can leverage AI to penetrate markets that were previously unreachable,” said Linden.

“One client has started selling their US-based SaaS to Japanese customers, all powered using AI tools that didn’t used to exist,” he added. The CAIO finds these pockets of potential.

5.    Implement the vision

“Our flagship strategy helps identify the goals and next steps of a company with ambitions of using AI,” said Linden. Together, they imagine what the future could look like, go back to first principles, and plan ahead from there. AI shouldn’t be a distraction from serving your customers. Unless you’re pivoting down a brand new track, which is potentially an option for the future, make sure it contributes to your overarching vision in line with your existing values.

Whatever your strategy for using AI, follow a structure. Once an initial testing period has passed, there should be records, tracking, metrics and progress markers. You have to be able to see the efforts of your hard work.

6.    Build an AI-focused team

“This means educating people on your team and possibly letting go of those that can’t adapt,” explained Linden. Adaptability is key. “CAIOs work to refine job roles and progress the hiring process to focus on a new personality type.”

Linden isn’t convinced that the role of prompt engineer will go the distance, but thinks the CAIO will. “Prompt engineering will soon be a required skill straight out of school, but the main implementer, and the more valuable position is the CAIO.”

7.    Create uniformity and standards

“We worked with a large fintech company with hundreds of employees, each of whom were using different prompts, software and tools,” said Linden. “This caused a jumbled mess with no consistent output, which defeats the purpose of AI.”

What’s the alternative? A CAIO who oversees everything. They seek out best practice in one department and apply it elsewhere, creating methods and standards and ensuring the orchestra is playing the same tune.

8.    Invest and scrutinize

“It’s becoming cheaper by the month to use AI,” said Linden. “And the costs of many tech stacks will reduce to zero.” But at the same time, compliance and laws are on the horizon. Your CAIO will make sure you’re prepared.

“They need to create a suitable tech stack that will serve you now, from a capability and costs perspective, as well as ability to adapt to future compliance requirements.” Busy entrepreneurs simply don’t have the time to sort this themselves.

9.    Make ethical considerations

If the person training a recruitment AI model has a slight bias towards candidates named John, that bias will be multiplied when the model is left to make hiring decisions. “A good CAIO is aware of bias and echo chambers,” said Linden. They spot these before they get too far.

“This is crucial for scale,” he added, “because at some point you’ll need to start all over again from scratch.” Make sure that doesn’t happen by having the necessary eyes on your AI from the very start.

10. Measure and report success

Linden believes that measuring and reporting success, from a CAIO’s perspective, is “almost too easy,” because of, “how much impact they can make with just a few changes.” He’s seen an average 37% increase in productivity of workers as well as a substantial increase in employee satisfaction. But without knowing the extent to which AI is helping or hindering your company and team, the results will be anecdotal.

If your team is using tools incorrectly or avoiding them all together for fear of losing their role to the robots, the CAIO can educate them as required and set their minds at ease. The CAIO can help them measure success to keep momentum going. The team might be ready and raring to see what they can do with this new toolkit now available.

Final thoughts

Linden believes that “the future of AI implementation for business will be determined by a chief AI officer.” Knowing what this role entails, including how to hire, train and manage one, will be key to the success of your business in this future.

Want to read more about AI?

Mid shot of Jodie Cook freelance journalist.
Jodie Cook - business journalist

Jodie Cook started her first business at 22, straight after completing a business management degree and one-year graduate scheme. As she built her social media agency over a ten year period, she started writing for Forbes on the topic of entrepreneurs. In 2021 Jodie sold the agency for seven figures. Since selling, Jodie has written a book, “Ten Year Career”, created courses for entrepreneurs, and mentored start up business owners on accelerator programs. In 2023 she founded Coachvox AI – a platform for creating AI coaches, where you can train an AI version of you to coach, mentor and answer questions just like you would.

Coachvox AI
Written by:

Leave a comment

Leave a reply

We value your comments but kindly requests all posts are on topic, constructive and respectful. Please review our commenting policy.

Back to Top