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Coca-Cola recently appointed Pratik Thakkar as its global head of generative AI and PayPal onboarded Vidyut Naware as the head of generative AI centre of excellence. Meanwhile, San Antonio-based multicloud solutions provider, Rackspace Technology, appointed its CTO Srini Koushik as the global head of the company’s newly launched Foundry for Generative AI. And last month, Mphasis announced a dedicated business unit for generative AI, led by the group CTO Anup Nair. But why are we telling you all this? To draw your attention to an emerging trend and an alternative.
So, why is it that companies are setting up specialised roles to drive generative AI initiatives? Is it really needed, or are companies just hopping on to the generative AI bandwagon by appointing leaders dedicated to drive their vision?
The Rise of Generative AI Leaders
In the backdrop of Coca-Cola’s Masterpiece ad, it makes sense for the company to elevate Thakkar, who was former head of global creative strategy and content to take up the generative AI global head’s role. In his new role, he would be in charge of leveraging AI technology in creating big ideas and developing marketing strategy across the entire brand and category portfolio of the Coca-Cola Company.
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Meanwhile, PayPal’s head of generative AI CoE is looking at using generative AI for risk assessment, customer service, and marketing and automation. PayPal is tackling a slump in customer acquisition since the pandemic and its woes with the stock market crash. The recovery requires the adoption of new AI technologies, said Dan Schulman, president of PayPal.
“We expect AI will allow us to lower the costs for years to come. AI, combined with a unique set of data, will drive efficiencies and a set of value propositions. Despite the fact that today’s environment is difficult to forecast, we are positioned to reap the investments in our products into 2024,” Schulman said at a recent earnings conference. Now, the company is going big on generative AI to save the day.
CTOs Are Enough
Rackspace Technology and Mphasis, on the other hand, have not created a specialised role for taking care of its generative AI initiatives, instead, are primarily driven by their chief technology officer (CTO).
Last month, Rackspace announced the launch of Foundry for generative AI by Rackspace or (FAIR), calling the platform “a groundbreaking global practice dedicated to accelerate the secure and sustainable adoption of generative AI solutions across industries”. Its offerings are meant to help organisations identify uses for generative AI, integrate and optimise its efficiency.
In 2021, Koushik became the CTO of Rackspace and was incharge of the company’s strategy and security. Since then, their AI development has been a combination of open source projects (Hugging Face and stability AI), resources from the acquisition of AI analytics firm Just Analytics and the development of its own generative AI — Intelligent Co-pilot for the Enterprise (ICE), which uses AI to “automate routine tasks, identify warm leads, surface relevant data and content, and provide real-time contextualised analytics for hyper-personalised customer interactions”.
Mphasis went the self-reliance route, set up a new division known as mphasis.ai which offers guidance on the integration of generative AI solutions, create proprietary generative AI technologies, provide licences to more than 250 AI models through its ‘Hyperscaler’ solutions platform, and collaborate with 50 startups to assist clients in solution development. The new vertical will also supply clients with conversational AI tools, such as chatbots, to employ in their businesses. Nair who has been the CTO of Mphasis for seven years now will lead mphasis.ai as its chief architect.
Generative AI Roles Galore
The number of jobs in generative AI has tripled in the last one year, not just in the senior leadership roles but also in the lower- and mid-levels. With skills from data science, linguistics, analysts, natural language processing and the others in policy which companies are promoting, there are new teams being created that need leadership and specialisation. As per LinkedIn, there are close to 846 people with the job role product manager in generative AI.
A large number of companies are quickly adding generative AI features or building their own LLMs. According to a Goldman Sachs report, a significant increase in the global increase in GDP is brought about by generative AI. Technological innovations are leading to the creation of new occupations, such as model trainers, generative AI architects, AI product managers, generative AI prompt engineers and so on.
So it isn’t surprising that every other company is adopting it without losing time.
Generative AI has been used for some time for automating work activities and more recently for collaboration. As it continues to evolve organisations can enhance innovation, product design, optimise supply chains among other myriad use cases coming up. Apart from wanting to maintain a competitive edge, understanding what use cases, strategising, creating, and implementing the road map for the same will require specialised AI roles or retraining of a part of the workforce( or both). Most important, people filling these roles would need to anticipate and navigate challenges especially those related to data quality, infrastructure requirements, and associated costs and incorporate any ethical regulations or legal compliances that are required.