June 16, 2023

Overcoming Barriers to AI Adoption in Marketing


Not everyone is on board with adoption of AI in the enterprise.

Given all the hype surrounding Generative AI, it may be hard to believe that not everyone is 100% excited by this development in artificial intelligence. Yet across the enterprise landscape there are corporate executives, functional leaders, and individual contributors calling foul about the rapid Generative AI adoption. Given that investment in Generative AI is expected to multiply 4X from 2023 levels by 2025, you may be tempted to dismiss any resistance to using it as background noise.

Don’t. Technological advantages do not accrue solely from enthusiasts, but rather by technology “crossing the chasm” to mainstream adoption. To get there, organizations will have to overcome the barriers to adoption of Generative AI. This is especially true in certain industries (e.g. financial services and healthcare) and for certain individuals (e.g. creatives). Here, we look at how barriers to adoption of AI manifest today at the organizational, functional, and individual levels. We also offer suggestions for how to overcome it.

Overcoming organization-level barriers to adoption of Generative AI

In the months since Generative AI tools like ChatGPT have entered the mainstream, while many many firms have started to adopt and weave into their processes, a number of organizations have eliminated their use on enterprise devices. Samsung banned the use of ChatGPT inside its organization in May after an employee using the tool had input “sensitive” code as part of a prompt. The technology giant was following in the footsteps of most of the largest banks in the US, including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo, all of which had already restricted inhouse use. Other corporate giants like Verizon and iHeartReadio have taken similar steps.

This absolute stance is specific to ChatGPT and probably a response to two issues related to this tool. First, the fact that everyone knows about it. And second, that it is a consumer platform that anyone can use for free right from their computer without any oversight. Enterprises were not expecting a widely accessible AI technology like this to become available, and therefore did not have policies in place for governing it. In the absence of a more nuanced and thoughtful approach, organizations are banning it. This is a dramatic option and likely a temporary one.

In time, organizations will develop Generative AI usage policies informed by pilot experiments and by deeper understanding of the array of enterprise-ready Generative AI solutions. Some of these will come embedded in enterprise software.

Tips for helping organizations overcome barriers to AI adoption

Whether or not your organization has already restricted the use of Generative AI or is an active adopter, you need a set of enterprise-level policies and practices that govern where and how people can use it. These policies should be informed by and adapt over time to real pilots and experiments.

Having guidelines helps set expectations about where and how teams should use Generative AI—and how they should not. Include all of your dos and don’ts, even those you think should be self-explanatory. Don’t forget AI ethics considerations, which 40% of organizations are investing in. For example, uploading proprietary code or identifiable customer data to an open, external system is never a good idea.

Overcoming function-level barriers to Generative AI

As much influence as enteprises have on AI adoption, technology impact happens through the functions and business units that deploy it. Thus, even if an enterprise as a whole is open to Generative AI, it will not deliver value if functional leaders are putting up barriers to adoption.

Though most executives feel pressure to experiment with Generative AI, some do advocate for a slowdown. Their reasons come down to a lack of trust. In fact, about half of all executives say they do not trust Generative AI due to concerns about cybersecurity, privacy, or accuracy. Sub-concerns include worries over a lack of transparency about the results. There are also concerns about ethics and bias.

Tips for helping marketing functions overcome AI barriers 

Since we at Persado work primarily with marketers, our perspective relates to barriers to adoption of Generative AI in the marketing function. The logic applies to other functions battling resistance as well. Our recommendations come down to developing familiarity with the new technology in a controlled and managed way.

Executives do not trust Generative AI in part because they have limited first-hand experience with it. Furthermore, they keep hearing about common Generative AI challenges, such as hallucinations. (This is when the technology includes made-up information in authoritative-sounding statements.)

To overcome the trust barrier, engage in controlled exposure. Well designed and managed pilots and experiments with a trusted Generative AI solution partner can allow marketing teams to become familiar with the technology, how it works, and what it can do for specific use cases. Far from being limited to ChatGPT, the Generative AI market is filled with point solutions that solve specific problems. Work with a trusted, enterprise-grade Generative AI provider to design a pilot that addresses a concrete need in the organization.

For example, the Persado Motivation AI Platform uses Generative AI to create language that personalizes the digital experience and motivates customers to engage and act. Trained on over 1.5 billion customer interactions from 150 million US customers (not on general content from the Internet), Persado AI-generated messages drive increased engagement and ultimately business results on any digital channel. Persado also keeps the human element front and center through prompting and oversight by our Content Intelligence team, experienced writers and linguists who work as partners with our customers and the AI.

Overcoming individual-level resistance to Generative AI

Creative professionals are on track to be the most affected short-term by the rise in Generative AI. As a result, it’s no surprise that creative professionals are some of the most likely to resist the adoption of AI into their workflow.

While it is too soon to know for sure how Generative AI will change creative marketing work, we can be sure that it will. Yet that does not mean that Generative AI is poised to replace all or even most human marketers. After all, these technologies still require human input to work. For example, the Generative AI does not know when a marketing team wants to run a campaign promoting fall sweaters. At least for now, a marketer has to tell it. And a marketer has to prompt the Generative AI with details on the sweaters themselves as well as on the concept for the campaign. 

For marketing activities such as high-performing campaigns, Generative AI will serve as a critical partner to human creativity—that’s what Persado found in a recent research survey. For repeat or routine tasks, Generative AI may eventually automate parts or all of the process. Ideally, that will free human marketers to focus on more strategic and high-value activities.

Tips for helping marketers overcome AI resistance

As with functions, individuals can overcome barriers to adoption of AI through exposure. Encourage your marketers to participate in Generative AI experiments. Also provide opportunities, encouragement, or budget to allow them to learn new AI-related skills. Prompt engineering, for example, is a necessary skill for anyone who wants to improve the outputs from Generative AI to benefit from productivity (prompt engineering is the act of crafting training instructions for a Generative AI to follow when producing a desired output, such as a text or an image).

Adoption of Generative AI is already underway and is likely to accelerate, not slow down. Resistance is futile. What is not futile is taking a careful yet open-minded approach to developing sound policies and engaging in experiments to understand how Generative AI can benefit your organization, your function, and you.

Learn more about Persado and how the Motivation AI enterprise Generative AI platform helps organizations increase customer engagement with marketing messages by 41%.

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