Empower Your Business with an AI Council: A Future-Forward Strategy

by Jess Wood
  |  April 3, 2024  |  
April 3, 2024
Robot helping woman with computer. AI Council Strategy.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is rapidly transforming the B2B landscape, with more and more companies investing in this technology to gain a competitive advantage. Implementing AI in a B2B business can be challenging, particularly when navigating issues like integrating AI systems with existing legacy technologies or upskilling your team. However, a thoughtful approach that includes clear goal setting, strategic investment in talent and technology, and a commitment to ethical standards and continuous learning can unlock tremendous opportunities. This is where forming an AI council comes into play. 

Forming an AI council can help your company adopt artificial intelligence strategically by providing guidelines for responsible use while mitigating the potential risks from a lack of oversight.

An AI council is a group of cross-functional leaders and company experts responsible for driving the AI strategy, identifying opportunities, and ensuring successful implementation. We will discuss the guidelines for getting started and provide actionable takeaways you can immediately implement.  

Why Does a Business Need an AI Council Strategy?

An AI governance body is essential for responsible AI adoption. It promotes transparency and trust and considers the perspectives of people across departments. Coordinated input leads to faster and more aligned decisions. A forward-looking strategy helps shape the emerging impacts of AI. It can act as a steering committee to make informed decisions and avoid silos.

Benefits of an AI Council 

These councils act as a steering committee, making informed decisions and setting priorities for generative AI projects. This ensures that all departments are aligned with the overall AI strategy. Other benefits include:

  • Greater Transparency & Trust – A governance body will set guardrails for ethical artificial intelligence use and keep stakeholders looped in.
  • More Inclusive Perspectives – People across departments and roles offer unique vantage points on maximizing AI’s promise while minimizing harm.
  • Faster & More Aligned Decisions – Coordinated input prevents siloed adoption and gives leadership efficient data to decide on policies or investments.
  • Forward-Looking Strategy – Looking beyond immediate returns allows the council to shape generative AI’s emerging impacts on budgets, culture, operations, and innovation pipeline.
AI Council Strategy

AI Councils: Who Should Be Involved?

The first step in forming an AI council is to identify the key stakeholders who will be part of the AI governance council. These should include representatives from each department that AI will impact and individuals with technical expertise and knowledge of AI. An AI-enabled CMO can make for a valuable council member. To make your panel cross-functional, aim for representation spanning:

  • Executive Leadership – Set direction, green light recommendations
  • IT, Data & AI Experts – Assess technical dimensions
  • Marketing, Product & Ops – Leaders flag use cases and guide testing
  • Finance & Risk Management – Model long-term impacts across key performance indicators
  • HR, Culture & Ethics Advocates – Safeguard people and values
  • Diverse Frontline Staff – Surface concerns and validate ideas

Generative AI Council Framework

An AI Council framework refers to the structured approach a B2B business adopts to guide its AI Council’s operations and decision-making process. Your framework should offer a comprehensive understanding of AI and provide a road map, ensuring that the council operates effectively and fulfills its purpose – leading AI integration and adoption across the entire organization. Once you have members’ buy-in, you should establish the following,

  • Vision – Articulate a north star so AI execution is aligned with your corporate values
  • Charter – Define council mission, scope, and decision rights
  • Cadence – Set recurring council meetings, subgroup sessions, and all-hands updates
  • Outputs – Determine expected deliverables, such as ethical frameworks, pilot results, policy drafts, and budget impacts
  • Loops – Identify channels to update company stakeholders

Establish AI Council Guidelines/Principles

Establish guidelines and principles to serve as guardrails for the council’s actions and decision-making processes. These guidelines should be aligned with the organization’s values and mission, as well as industry best practices for the ethical implications of AI integration.

To help you get started, we’ve created a comprehensive AI Council Guideline Template to help you navigate the process and ensure responsible adoption. This template outlines the key objectives, guiding principles, structure, KPIs, and next steps for establishing an effective AI Council within your organization. You can grab the template in our AI Toolkit in the AI Policy/Guidelines section

AI Council Strategy

Successful AI Council Priority Focus Areas

Whether enhancing customer experience, streamlining operations, or driving new revenue streams, AI can fundamentally change how your business works. You can also utilize the AI Toolkit mentioned above to help you gauge your readiness, identify use cases, and start piloting efforts.

Forming an AI Council should actively shape AI’s impacts on:

  • Business Growth – Identity innovations or optimizations to boost strategic goals.
  • Customer Experiences – Enhance and retain customer experience through personalized, intuitive interactions.
  • Employee Empowerment – Position AI as collaboration “co-pilot,” not job replacement
  • Transformative Products – Lead markets by integrating offerings with next-gen AI capabilities
  • Risk & Ethics Policies – Embed values like transparency, data security, bias elimination

Start with Education

Begin with internal education and ethical adoption within your team. This foundational step will set the tone for a successful and responsible integration of AI technologies. By building a thorough understanding of AI, its potential, and ethical considerations, your team can confidently drive the company’s digital transformation innovatively and responsibly. Follow these tips to get started.

  • Awareness Sessions and Workshops: Begin with organizing awareness sessions and workshops to educate your team about AI, its benefits, and its implications. 
  • Training Programs: Implement dedicated training programs that enable your team to understand and work with AI technologies. 
  • Assign AI Mentors: Assign champions within your team who can guide others through the learning process. 
  • Provide Access to Learning Resources: Offer your team access to resources such as online courses, webinars, and e-books that can help them deepen their understanding of AI. 
  • Early Adopter Incentives: Encourage early adoption of AI within your team by providing them with rewards and recognition. This could be in the form of public acknowledgment, career advancement opportunities, or even tangible rewards.

AI councils aim to foster an environment that embraces AI and exudes enthusiasm for its infinite possibilities. Similar to any substantial organizational transformation, this may take time and patience.  

Real-World Example: VMware’s Marketing AI Council

VMware, a leading software company, established its Marketing AI Council to ensure responsible and effective AI deployment within its marketing team. The council, which includes representatives from various IT, legal, product marketing, and sales functions, focuses on educating and empowering marketers to leverage AI tools responsibly and effectively.

AI Council Strategy

The video clip below features Jessica Hreha sharing her story on the formation, reason for, and impact of VMware’s AI Council.

Jessica’s four main points for establishing and operating an AI Council effectively are:

  1. Recruiting an Executive Sponsor: It’s crucial to have leadership support to ensure the initiative has the necessary visibility, resources, and alignment with organizational goals.
  2. Starting with an AI Policy: Developing a clear policy is the foundational step for guiding responsible AI use within the organization.
  3. Involving Passionate Team Members: The council should consist of genuinely interested individuals willing to invest extra effort in exploring and integrating AI technologies.
  4. Taking Initiative and Action: Encourages departments to integrate AI by emphasizing the importance of proactive engagement to drive adoption.

Empowering Your Marketing Team with an AI Council

AI councils are strategic moves for B2B marketers looking to drive responsible and effective AI adoption. By providing guidelines, education, and prioritization, these councils can help boost demand generation, reduce costs, create high-quality content at scale, and stay ahead of digital trends.

By taking a proactive approach to AI adoption, you can take the lead within your company and unlock the full potential of this transformative technology while mitigating risks and ensuring long-term success.

Key Takeaways in forming an AI council for your business:

  • Forming an AI council in your company is a strategic move that brings together the right stakeholders, ensuring that AI implementations are successful and aligned with your overall business objectives. 
  • The council’s role ranges from identifying AI opportunities, defining roles and responsibilities, establishing effective communication channels, and setting clear goals and metrics. 
  • The potential benefits of AI in various business areas, including sales, marketing, customer service, supply chain management, risk management, and product development justify the investment.
  • Equipping your teams with the necessary knowledge, skills, and resources is vital to successfully adopting AI technologies. The goal is to adopt AI and use it as a strategic tool to deliver more value to your customers, improve operational efficiency, and drive business growth. 

With these elements in place, you can drive success and transformation within your business: proper planning, a well-structured framework, and continuous learning and improvement.

How Can We Help?

The world is changing fast, and being agile is critical to stay competitive. At Vende Digital, we help B2B organizations like yours develop B2B marketing strategies to win in the digital-first world.

Tired of trying to figure out AI on your own? 

Schedule a complimentary discovery call with our team to discover how we can help you accelerate your growth and leverage the latest trend to your competitive advantage.

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