For the newest instalment in our series of interviews asking leading technology specialists about their achievements in their field, we’ve welcomed Katie King, CEO of AI in Business, a firm that specializes in AI consultancy and training.
With over 30 years of experience, Katie has advised many of the world's leading brands and business leaders, including Virgin, o2, Orange and Accenture. She is also a regular international keynote speaker and has also delivered TEDx talks and is a frequent commentator on BBC TV and radio.
Tell us about the business you represent, what is their vision & goals?
AI in Business is a consultancy that helps organisations globally to harness AI and data analytics for business growth, efficiently and safely. We've spent over 15 years at the forefront of digital transformation. AI is reshaping aspects of every business task, from functions as diverse as HR and marketing to product development and sales. No industry sector is immune, and every country is affected.
I’m a member of the UK Government All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) task force for the adoption of AI. Part of my vision is to help close the skills gap in AI and ensure diversity. At my March 2022 book launch, I highlighted diversity and education, as they feature extensively in the book. These themes were brought to life during the launch event by Anna Brailsford, CEO of Code First Girls, a social impact company that is on a mission to eliminate the diversity gap in tech by providing free education and economic opportunities to women globally. The event included an interview with Anna and Code First Girls’ alumna Isabel Scavetta, who shared the details of her journey from the programme to her current role as a Product Manager in the tech industry.
Can you share a little bit about yourself and how you got into the field of artificial intelligence?
I am 55 and I’m a published author, keynote speaker and consultant on Artificial Intelligence (AI), marketing, digital, leadership and business transformation. I started my consulting career in marketing 30 years ago and I have advised many of the world’s leading brands and business leaders, as well as universities and colleges. My degrees are languages and an MBA, so I am not a technologist, but tech has always been a huge focus of my work.
I have always been a very curious person. I am the type to be constantly looking for new ways to do things and ways to evolve. By the time I had reached my early fifties, I started to get restless and began wondering what came next. I like to innovate and stay ahead. I sensed the world changing around me and really wanted to evolve with it. I had heard a bit about AI, and the more I learned about the technology, the more interested I was in how it would impact the world of business. I began talking about the things I was learning, and at the time no one else really was yet. I wrote my first white paper on AI back in 2017 and decided to write business books on the subject, which have been published by Kogan Page.
What do your day-to-day responsibilities look like at your organisation?
It’s a real mixture. I spend a lot of my time delivering training sessions about a range of different topics including AI, digital transformation, marketing, and more. I have delivered two TEDx talks and I’m a regular Keynote speaker worldwide. So, on an average day, I am delivering a keynote or training session. I am also an Editorial Board Member for the AI and Ethics Journal (Springer Nature – global publisher).
Plus, I still run Zoodikers – a 12-year-old digital and PR agency, helping clients to manage their reputations and take advantage of digital platforms. In addition to the AI hats I wear, I am still very much in the marketing and communications space working with businesses to connect with their audiences and overcome their challenges.
Can you share some of the proudest achievements you've experienced in your career?
Having two books published has been one of the highlights of my career. I wanted to make my parents really proud, especially my father Stan who we lost this past year. I have very fond memories from my childhood of visiting the Tottenham Swap Shop in London with him, which fed my insatiable appetite for books. It has been amazing being to create two of my own and to have them be so well received worldwide. The first, Using Artificial Intelligence in Marketing, has been published globally in five languages and was listed as a reference source in the “Brand Strategy” module of the World Economic Forum's Empowering AI Leadership toolkit for corporate boards. The second book, AI Strategy for Sales and Marketing, has just been released and is getting amazing reviews from around the world.
Also, running the Leaders of Tomorrow in Tech schools’ initiative has been superb. It’s a pro bono project aimed at closing the skills gap and instructing young people about the ways in which AI will reshape their future careers. After a successful first cohort in 2020, we are running our second session of it now. It is really rewarding being able to help prepare the next generation for the future of business and technology.
In which industries and processes do you see the greatest opportunities for the application of artificial intelligence?
AI presents a major opportunity for businesses to become more customer-centric. Today’s consumers are becoming choosier about who they do business with and have a wide variety of options to choose from with the expansion of e-commerce. But as we come out of the pandemic, loyalty is more valuable than ever for businesses needing to recover from a difficult two years. If businesses want to attract and retain today’s customers, they are going to have to start differentiating themselves via their experiences. Regardless of industry or sector, organisations and their marketers need to focus all their activities and decision-making on the customers, their needs, their wants, their habits, and how the product or service can fit into that. Personalisation factors into that majorly, allowing every customer to feel like they are being understood. This is typically difficult to achieve at scale, because how can you possibly tailor every experience for every individual customer? AI can. AI can make sense of a constant flow of data and turn it into valuable insights and experience in real-time.
In certain sectors, the personalisation will not come from the product itself, but instead from how it is presented to the customer. Perhaps, unique features will be highlighted for different customers or personalised offers will be presented to help close the deal. In insurance or healthcare, the entire product or service itself will be altered. AI can assess each customer’s specific needs to offer a tailored policy or detailed treatment plans. This not level of personalisation benefits both the consumer and the business and is one of the best opportunities for organisations looking to rebuild.
What are the most significant changes you expect to see in business as a result of AI?
I think the biggest changes are the time savings and the improvements to the overall quality of working life we will see across industries. There is a major misconception that has been perpetuated by popular fiction that robots are coming after our jobs. Yes, there are certain things that AI will be able to do better than we humans ever could. However, AI is designed to do specific tasks really well, but that’s it. Artificial intelligence is not general intelligence, which is what we humans have. We are a long way from the technology reaching that level, and some experts have expressed doubts that we ever will. AI can be programmed to gain insight into your customer’s sentiments about your business via social media, but that same AI tool cannot drive your car. So, there will always be gaps in the knowledge that AI possesses and that humans possess.
What that means is that the types of skills we prioritise in the workforce and the nature of our jobs are going to majorly change. AI is best at the tasks that are analytical and routinised. With the technology able to take over the tasks that are repetitive and mundane, this will allow human staff to focus on more enriching activities. There will be a greater focus on things like strategy, creativity, and what we have historically considered to be ‘soft skills.’ AI can produce remarkable insights, but it will fall on humans to make sense of this information, relate it back to the business’s goals, and turn it into action. Not only does this benefit the business, but also makes the individual’s workday more enjoyable.