To succeed in the modern marketplace, businesses must consistently be transforming and innovating.

While this has always been the case, the acceleration of AI has changed the game and upped the stakes. AI has the potential to add $4.4 trillion in value to the global economy per year, with marketing expected to receive the lion’s share of that value – an estimated $460 billion annually – which is too enticing to ignore.

Driven by fear of losing out on this opportunity, businesses are tempted to ‘dive in’ In fact, almost 80% of executives are reported to be speeding up the time to market on AI initiatives. But hitting the ‘AI button’ and hoping for results is not a strategy – if 20 years of martech adoption has taught us anything, it’s that you need a plan. 

Businesses can’t successfully adopt AI without a clear vision for value and a culture of innovation. Here we'll explain how and why…

A critical prerequisite for success

Buying AI technology is no guarantee of success. Businesses must have the right organizational conditions and mindsets to drive positive outcomes and value.  

Building a culture of innovation with the following traits will enable leaders to take an effective and efficient approach to AI adoption, extracting as much value as possible from their technology investments: 

  1. Short-term goals & long-term vision: Organizations with cultures of innovation view transformative opportunities, like AI, as a journey – not a destination. This mindset enables them to balance capitalizing on short-term opportunities while pursuing long-term goals. They can see the forest through the trees and position themselves to deploy AI at scale versus building a collection of siloed AI solutions that further fragments their marketing organization, and delivers limited value.  
  2. Speed & agility: AI is moving fast – it is rapidly changing the marketing industry, and business at large. Cultures of innovation prioritize speed and agility, which means they can keep pace. They work quickly and iteratively to drive incremental, impactful and connected changes that compound in value over time. But, let's be clear – this does not mean working in an ad hoc fashion. Agile ways of working make a shared vision across empowered, multi-disciplined teams even more important.  
  3. Creativity & curiosity: Innovative cultures don't just embrace what's new, but routinely and creatively re-examine and maximize what they already have. This mindset enables them to uncover new and better ways to make the most of their existing tech investments and AI capabilities. They realize the answer may not always be buying something new.

Five ways to create a culture of innovation

So, how do you get there? How do you build an organization with these traits?

We have been helping companies transform their organizations for decades, and based on this experience we see five ways in which businesses can create a culture of innovation to support their AI ambitions and business goals:

  1. Prioritize value & outcomes: Clearly define where AI can drive value in your business. Make sure you can articulate your goals and create a shared understanding of success across the organization – this will provide important direction and alignment for testing, experimentation, and innovation at large.
  2. Encourage collaboration & connectivity: To innovate, you must be capable of rapid change with low intervention. That only happens in connected organizations that break down traditional silos and empower teams to work across disciplines.  
  3. Embrace agility & expect change: Change and innovation happens through execution. This is not to say that strategies and roadmaps aren't important. Every organization needs a north star for AI adoption. However, expect to pivot and change as the market evolves. Aim for multiple, connected wins as you make the journey towards the north star, rather than one grand reveal.
  4. Be inclusive & open: Nobody – not even your most seasoned executive – has all the answers. Create an environment where employees of all tenures and backgrounds feel empowered to share ideas and feedback.
  5. Always be learning: Take calculated risks and celebrate small failures as opportunities to learn something new, iterate, and improve. Teams learn fast and deliver great results when backed by a supportive culture that accepts failures as part of the process.

Drive growth and competitiveness in the long-term

When it comes to AI, the rewards are clear and the potential is almost limitless. But more than ever, businesses will require a culture of innovation to succeed. 

By following these steps and being responsive to the unique needs and context of the organization, marketers can successfully implement a culture of innovation that capitalizes on the opportunities that AI offers to drive growth and competitiveness in the long-term.