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AI not yet making a channel marketing impact

Lack of guidelines, concerns over data, and a failure to deliver compelling results are hindering adoption of artificial intelligence tools

Channel marketers are yet to fully embrace artificial intelligence (AI) tools as part of their day-to-day processes.

A lack of guidelines and fears about data integrity are the most common reasons holding back greater adoption of generative AI (GenAI) tools such as ChatGPT.

Although most marketers are aware of the technology, with many using it in their personal lives, that has not transferred into the professional environment.

A survey of channel marketers at a recent Coterie Connect event revealed only 10% of those quizzed were using it to help with campaigns and communication.

Shona Bettany, professor of marketing, school of business, law and education, at the University of Huddersfield, said there was a lack of guidelines around AI in many fields, including academia, which made it harder for users to feel comfortable with the technology.

“Many universities now specify appropriate levels of AI use for assignments, typically: Zero AI (no use of AI allowed); AI can be used but must be referenced clearly; or AI is an integral part of the assignment task. Something similar needs to be stipulated in the corporate world – we need some standards in place,” she said.

A lack of user guidelines was one stumbling block, but there was also a sense that the technology was not quite able to deliver results for a channel audience at the click of a button.

Jo Dunkley, co-founder of Coterie Connect, said marketers are constantly innovating and are often early adopters of technology, but GenAI currently has limitations.

Generative AI is not going to give you a workable outline marketing strategy the first time, or even the tenth time. But it does help you break that blank page – it’s a launch pad, not a destination
Shona Bettany, University of Huddersfield

“We are living in an ecosystem world, and what AI doesn’t do is create a value message between two, three or four organisations. However, when it comes to helping to provide insight and research that humans can then blend and interpret, AI will become essential.”

Bettany added that AI was not going to do all the work for the channel, but it could help get things started.

“Generative AI is not going to give you a workable outline marketing strategy the first time, or even the tenth time. But what it does is help you break that blank page – it’s a launch pad, not a destination,” she said.

There have been calls for more AI training to be made available across the channel to supplement the current ad hoc efforts of individuals dabbling with the technology.

“To really leverage the opportunity, we need to understand the capabilities and the limitations, and I think that’s where the training adds its value. Not just in what to do and how to do it, but what not to do. To AI or not to AI?” said Barnaby Wood, director of product management – go-to-market, at Veritas.

He said there was an opportunity, if it was approached properly, to use AI to improve the life of those working in partner marketing. “We consistently discuss being the forgotten child in the partner world, and with that comes less investment. The potential is there for generative AI to help redress that balance, if we use it well and understand the boundaries,” he said.

The Connect event also unearthed a sense across the channel that these remain the early days of the AI story, with use cases still evolving on the marketing front.

Aimee Moreau, field marketing manager at Fivecast, said the technology had not yet become a compelling part of her toolbox.

“At some point, we’ll all be using it to enhance what we do, but right now it’s not at that level. It’s like the difference between using a typewriter and a PC – generative AI will make our lives easier and more productive, but we still have to press the keys,” she said.

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