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5 tips to accelerate your company’s AI implementation

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30-second summary:

  • The potential of artificial intelligence is almost boundless. AI solutions are starting to be introduced by organizations across many industries and fields.
  • A strong starting point for any AI implementation is to get buy-in from company decision-makers. If key stakeholders understand AI’s potential, they’ll properly resource any transition.
  • AI is particularly useful in the field of data analytics. If you are going to join the ‘Big Data’ era, you need robust data governance.
  • There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to AI implementation. You need to explore and test the different tools and solutions available to you.
  • Don’t neglect the human side of your business in seeking AI-driven answers to your problems. Make sure you train staff effectively in all automation or AI tools you introduce.

It’s not insider information to know the unmatched potential of company-wide AI implementation. Even with all the advancement in recent years, it still feels like we’re only beginning to see what artificial intelligence can do.

There are countless examples of enterprises across dozens of sectors using AI for diverse tasks and processes. Algorithms help firms to predict customer behavior and buying patterns, optimize supply chains, personalize experiences, understand your workforce, and even help you find Waldo

For some companies, though, implementing and accelerating full-scale implementation is a daunting prospect. Many have concerns over vendors, integration ability, cost, and privacy and regulatory issues. Is the juice even worth the squeeze given these challenges?

So, if you’re thinking of further adopting AI into your processes, or you have begun the transition and are finding it frustrating or tedious, here are five ways to reach your goals quicker.  

Source: McKinsey & Company

1) Secure executive sponsorship

Like SaaS examples before it, AI is ushering in a new way to do things compared to on-premise software. But with the change, comes challenge. Having C-suite buy-in is crucial for success.

The more informed and engaged the higher-ups are in the uses of AI, the better the chances of enterprise-wide adoption. “Strong executive leadership goes hand-in-hand with stronger AI adoption.

Respondents from firms that have successfully deployed an AI technology at scale tended to rate C-suite support nearly twice as high as those from companies that had not adopted AI technology,” according to this McKinsey Global Institute study. 

If there’s no business leader positioned to take the lead of your AI transition, you’re already off to a bad start. Make sure that those in executive positions are tasked with different facets of an AI integration program.

Each step also must be staffed appropriately to drive the process, without being afraid to change the management over the course of a campaign to be successful. 

Schedule a weekly teleconference with the key stakeholders to ensure roles are constantly refined, and everyone’s kept in the loop in terms of the adoption status. 

It’s also worth stressing that you – as the head of this campaign – need to be able to dictate resources, investment, and overall strategy across the organization. This includes actively engaging those around you for support with AI strategy, human and IT assets, and cultural adoption.

It would help if you made cultural adoption a priority by holding organizational leaders accountable as they execute the revisions needed to continue the transformation. C-suite must remove barriers and obstacles, both technical and cultural, to increase your chances of success. 

Once C-suite is aligned with your goals, you need to determine how you wish to manage and control the budget. That’s especially true if your current landscape is made up of competing internal analytics or AI efforts. 

Lastly, don’t forget to celebrate and communicate progress to your organization. This helps bolster the commitment from executives as well as gain support for the transformation.

Source: McKinsey & Company

2) Define data management and governance

Smarter and more accessible ‘self-service’ and team collaboration software brings with it an increase in data, data sources, and more end-user expectation.

As a result, the demand for proper data governance becomes essential. Without it, the data sits without a purpose in a data lake or warehouse. Look at it this way, more data without restriction can give businesses more freedom.

However, at an enterprise level, it can mean missed steps, inefficient outputs, and oversights. Faster analytics may become a problem before it feels like a solution.

It’s critical to address this with support from executives. This means defined resources to manage and enhance data collection, efficiency, and usage across all vital functions.

The data governance team must, additionally, set out and oversee data policies, standards, definitions, and manage data quality. 

Remember, not all data is equal. Define what needs executive control, and which data can be made publicly available for use. 

Given today’s availability of more user-friendly analytics and visualization tools, how much ‘self-service’ can be allowed to create better predictive models or different ways of creating new business processes? Who can define these datasets and use cases?

These are vital aspects to consider, as there’s a balance that needs to be struck between being rigid and protective and being flexible. This, again, highlights the importance of a useful data governance model.

Too much control can mean slow processes, lack of response, red-tape, the need for things like email verification, and overt use of business-led IT solutions.

Too much flexibility can mean different versions of the truth, leading to no real ownership or responsibility, conflict, and a reduction in productivity. 

AI 3

Source: KPMG 

As you make decisions about AI, a data governance process allows you to implement and manage said decisions. Including who can access what, how much access, and what that access entails. 

3) Take a consider and test approach as opposed to success or failure

All AI adoptions are unique and present their own sets of challenges. And so, you need to begin all AI introductions with a ‘test and refine’ method as opposed to a ‘success or failure’ approach. 

Conventionally, analytical methods infer a defined relationship between variables. Trialing a one-sided hypothesis will either validate or reject it, but won’t uncover the hidden connection between the variables; the why

Creating hypotheticals for each step, and then using these learnings and experiences through the next ones is critical. It means refining and curating your AI deployment until it feels like a workable solution that delivers meaningful results is a much easier process. 

And, while this approach will inevitably extend deployment deadlines, it also allows you to fine-tune the outcome to incorporate real-life lessons learned.

If you’re integrating AI into computerised customer service like automated chatbots, it’s vital no matter where the customer goes there’s an answer waiting for them. It can’t work up until a certain point, it needs absolutes. Ultimate solutions will then align with the employee and end-user needs. 

AI 3

Source: PWC

4) Spend time on change management and training

Deploying an AI API to ingest a new dataset is straightforward. However, altering the management and training for analysts who’ll be using these processes going forward is a challenge. 

Most forms of AI create automated decisions – “yes” or “no.” However, it is often the case that the integration of ML algorithms can allow for more subtle responses as well. These responses may be used in conjunction with existing processes to deliver the best results. 

For example, if an AI decision scores say, a loan application on a 1-10 scale of suitability, scores from 7-10 may yield an automatic yes.

However, anything lower will still require human input to grant or deny the application. If you’re integrating AI to analyze voice commands in a call center over VoIP communications, how can it distinguish commands deeper than just “option 1 or option 2”? 

Just as you would spend time training employees on how to use a specific process, the same is true for AI-based outcomes. 

Human employees may need to spend a few weeks analyzing the results coming back from the AI algorithms. That would give them a frame of reference in terms of how to interpret the scores best.

If you’re using an AI vendor, they can guide in terms of how to understand results and how employees can get the most out of the new system. Otherwise, learning how to create an online learning platform could be a worthwhile investment to get team members up to speed. 

AI isn’t ‘magic.’ It’s just a way to understand patterns and behaviors to deliver more accurate results and make predictions. AI only works when it has a defined problem to solve and the right metrics to succeed. If you haven’t clearly defined the issue you’ve bought AI in to solve, you won’t get the right solution. 

AI 2

Source: Harvard Business Review

5) Consolidate and assimilate automation

As you ramp up enterprise-wide AI adoption, what these processes look like in the future will change with the introduction of a multitude of types of automation. From complete manual processes all the way to the adoption of RPA, and even more advanced AI protocols. 

It’s best to just (and I know it’s a big just) re-invent business processes from the ground up with AI in mind. You can then apply the best tool for the job at any given step.

Merely inserting RPA or AI into established processes may mean you miss out on all of its potential. You also need to consider the handoffs that need to happen as you further integrate. 

This includes human-machine or machine-machine learning. By streamlining the handoffs and making them more seamless and reliable, you can further enhance your future processes to be cost-effective, competitive, and agile. 

AI 1

Source: Harvard Business Review

AI implementation can be sped up. However, it’s not necessarily about being smarter; it’s about making the right choices. Having executive buy-in combined with a defined data governance team is vital.

As is becoming fixated with data quality, dedicating enough time to change management, and having a test without defined expectations approach. 

If you’re finding your AI project taking up too much time, be patient. Like any kind of digital transformation, just as you’re approaching the finish line, you’ll likely encounter another hurdle. Overcome it, though, and the possibilities are boundless.   

John Allen is the director of global SEO at RingCentral, a global UCaaS, VoIP and video conferencing solutions provider. He has over 14 years of experience and an extensive background in building and optimizing digital marketing programs. He has written for websites such as Hubspot and BambooHR.

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Marketing Strategies

Sixty orbits

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Birthdays are contagious. No one actually remembers the day they were born, other people remember it for you. And the way we celebrate them is cultural, a shared process that keeps changing.

People keep track of birthdays, and today used to be mine.

Sixty of them.

It doesn’t feel like it’s been that many. Time flies when you’re busy. Lots and lots of projects. Countless friends made, lessons learned and ideas shared. Quite a journey, with lucky breaks and advantages again and again, beginning with my parents, the cultural identity, time and town where I was born… I wouldn’t have been able to go on this journey without you, thank you.

But today’s not my birthday (no need to send an email or a card). I’ve never really liked my birthday (it’s a long story involving a non-existent parrot), and the only reason for this post is to talk about who owns my birthday now.

What happens if we start celebrating our birthdays differently? Today belongs to the 20,000 + people who are on their way to a permanent supply of clean drinking water because readers like you brought their birthday (and mine) to charity:water. Thank you. Now, particularly now, when the world is in pain and when so many people are wrestling with health, the economy and justice, it’s more urgent than ever to think of someone you’ve never met living a life that’s hard to imagine.

And today, because it celebrates a round number, I’m hoping you will join in and help us break charity:water’s birthday record. And maybe donate your birthday too. Better still, if you subscribe as a monthly donor, you become a core supporter of a movement that changes lives with persistence and care.

How it works:

If you have the ability, I’m hoping you’ll click here and donate to charity:water to celebrate what used to be my birthday.

And either way, I’m hoping you’ll also donate your birthday to them. Because when it’s your turn to celebrate a missing parrot or a lost cake, you can ask your friends, and they can do what you just did.

It’s hard to visualize 21,000 people, mostly kids, fighting illness because the water in their village is undrinkable. That’s about three times the population of the town where I live. Thanks to all of you, my projects, including this blog, have already raised nearly a million dollars to build long-term solutions to this problem.

Will you help me double that?

Even one kid who lives the life he or she is capable of is worth this blog post and worth your support.

Thank you.



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SEO Negotiation: How to Ace the Business Side of SEO — Best of Whiteboard Friday

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Posted by BritneyMuller

SEO has become more important than ever, but it isn’t all meta tags and content. A huge part of the success you’ll see is tied up in the inevitable business negotiations. In this helpful Whiteboard Friday from August of 2018, our resident expert Britney Muller walks us through a bevy of smart tips and considerations that will strengthen your SEO negotiation skills, whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newbie to the practice.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. So today we are going over all things SEO negotiation, so starting to get into some of the business side of SEO. As most of you know, negotiation is all about leverage.

It’s what you have to offer and what the other side is looking to gain and leveraging that throughout the process. So something that you can go in and confidently talk about as SEOs is the fact that SEO has around 20X more opportunity than both mobile and desktop PPC combined.

This is a really, really big deal. It’s something that you can showcase. These are the stats to back it up. We will also link to the research to this down below. Good to kind of have that in your back pocket. Aside from this, you will obviously have your audit. So potential client, you’re looking to get this deal.

Get the most out of the SEO audit

☑ Highlight the opportunities, not the screw-ups

You’re going to do an audit, and something that I have always suggested is that instead of highlighting the things that the potential client is doing wrong, or screwed up, is to really highlight those opportunities. Start to get them excited about what it is that their site is capable of and that you could help them with. I think that sheds a really positive light and moves you in the right direction.

☑ Explain their competitive advantage

I think this is really interesting in many spaces where you can sort of say, “Okay, your competitors are here, and you’re currently here and this is why,”and to show them proof. That makes them feel as though you have a strong understanding of the landscape and can sort of help them get there.

☑ Emphasize quick wins

I almost didn’t put this in here because I think quick wins is sort of a sketchy term. Essentially, you really do want to showcase what it is you can do quickly, but you want to…

☑ Under-promise, over-deliver

You don’t want to lose trust or credibility with a potential client by overpromising something that you can’t deliver. Get off to the right start. Under-promise, over-deliver.

Smart negotiation tactics

☑ Do your research

Know everything you can about this clientPerhaps what deals they’ve done in the past, what agencies they’ve worked with. You can get all sorts of knowledge about that before going into negotiation that will really help you.

☑ Prioritize your terms

So all too often, people go into a negotiation thinking me, me, me, me, when really you also need to be thinking about, “Well, what am I willing to lose?What can I give up to reach a point that we can both agree on?” Really important to think about as you go in.

☑ Flinch!

This is a very old, funny negotiation tactic where when the other side counters, you flinch. You do this like flinch, and you go, “Oh, is that the best you can do?” It’s super silly. It might be used against you, in which case you can just say, “Nice flinch.” But it does tend to help you get better deals.

So take that with a grain of salt. But I look forward to your feedback down below. It’s so funny.

☑ Use the words “fair” and “comfortable”

The words “fair” and “comfortable” do really well in negotiations. These words are inarguable. You can’t argue with fair. “I want to do what is comfortable for us both. I want us both to reach terms that are fair.”

You want to use these terms to put the other side at ease and to also help bridge that gap where you can come out with a win-win situation.

☑ Never be the key decision maker

I see this all too often when people go off on their own, and instantly on their business cards and in their head and email they’re the CEO.

They are this. You don’t have to be that, and you sort of lose leverage when you are. When I owned my agency for six years, I enjoyed not being CEO. I liked having a board of directors that I could reach out to during a negotiation and not being the sole decision maker. Even if you feel that you are the sole decision maker, I know that there are people that care about you and that are looking out for your business that you could contact as sort of a business mentor, and you could use that in negotiation. You can use that to help you. Something to think about.

Tips for negotiation newbies

So for the newbies, a lot of you are probably like, “I can never go on my own. I can never do these things.” I’m from northern Minnesota. I have been super awkward about discussing money my whole life for any sort of business deal. If I could do it, I promise any one of you watching this can do it.

☑ Power pose!

I’m not kidding, promise. Some tips that I learned, when I had my agency, was to power pose before negotiations. So there’s a great TED talk on this that we can link to down below. I do this before most of my big speaking gigs, thanks to Mike Ramsey who told me to do this at SMX Advanced 3 years ago.

Go ahead and power pose. Feel good. Feel confident. Amp yourself up.

☑ Walk the walk

You’ve got to when it comes to some of these things and to just feel comfortable in that space.

☑ Good > perfect

Know that good is better than perfect. A lot of us are perfectionists, and we just have to execute good. Trying to be perfect will kill us all.

☑ Screw imposter syndrome

Many of the speakers that I go on different conference circuits with all struggle with this. It’s totally normal, but it’s good to acknowledge that it’s so silly. So to try to take that silly voice out of your head and start to feel good about the things that you are able to offer.

Take inspiration where you can find it

I highly suggest you check out Brian Tracy’s old-school negotiation podcasts. He has some old videos. They’re so good. But he talks about leverage all the time and has two really great examples that I love so much. One being jade merchants. So these jade merchants that would take out pieces of jade and they would watch people’s reactions piece by piece that they brought out.

So they knew what piece interested this person the most, and that would be the higher price. It was brilliant. Then the time constraints is he has an example of people doing business deals in China. When they landed, the Chinese would greet them and say, “Oh, can I see your return flight ticket? I just want to know when you’re leaving.”

They would not make a deal until that last second. The more you know about some of these leverage tactics, the more you can be aware of them if they were to be used against you or if you were to leverage something like that. Super interesting stuff.

Take the time to get to know their business

☑ Tie in ROI

Lastly, just really take the time to get to know someone’s business. It just shows that you care, and you’re able to prioritize what it is that you can deliver based on where they make the most money off of the products or services that they offer. That helps you tie in the ROI of the things that you can accomplish.

☑ Know the order of products/services that make them the most money

One real quick example was my previous company. We worked with plastic surgeons, and we really worked hard to understand that funnel of how people decide to get any sort of elective procedure. It came down to two things.

It was before and after photos and price. So we knew that we could optimize for those two things and do very well in their space. So showing that you care, going the extra mile, sort of tying all of these things together, I really hope this helps. I look forward to the feedback down below. I know this was a little bit different Whiteboard Friday, but I thought it would be a fun topic to cover.

So thank you so much for joining me on this edition of Whiteboard Friday. I will see you all soon. Bye.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com


Scoop up more SEO insights at MozCon Virtual this July

Don’t miss exclusive data, tips, workflows, and advice from Britney and our other fantastic speakers at this year’s MozCon Virtual! Chock full of the SEO industry’s top thought leadership, for the first time ever MozCon will be completely remote-friendly. It’s like 20+ of your favorite Whiteboard Fridays on vitamins and doubled in size, plus interactive Q&A, virtual networking, and full access to the video bundle:

Save my spot at MozCon Virtual!

Still not convinced? Moz VP Product, Rob Ousbey, is here to share five highly persuasive reasons to attend!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!





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Now Is The Time To Find And Correct Your Digital Strategy Pitfalls

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/

/Every brand or enterprise is crafting and refining their digital strategy on a daily basis. However, especially in the world of B2B, companies fall into many of the same mistakes. 

According to a 2019 Forrester report, “44% of B2B buyers expect to do more than half of their work-related purchasing online in the next three years.” In the wake of COVID-19, that figure is probably even higher. It is crucial that marketers create engaging digital content, leveraging every digital touchpoint as an opportunity to build trust and strengthen relationships.

Marketers have access to more target audience research and data than ever before, but that doesn’t mean it is easy to avoid pitfalls. Let’s consider the consequential B2B marketing mistakes that companies are making, and demonstrate why a digital strategy audit is the solution.

Your Content Shouldn’t Reflect Your Organization Chart

 Too often, companies — particularly B2B enterprises — build their websites and digital assets around their internal organization structure rather than a customer’s needs. As an example, imagine you are a customer looking for a mop. You surf to a company’s website to buy a complete cleaning solution, but they have separate pages for mop handles and mop heads because they operate as separate divisions. Now you have to research the parts separately, figure out what you need and ensure they are compatible with one another. That’s not a huge ask for a mop, but imagine you are purchasing a complicated business system with hardware, software and a consultative service component.

Your Messaging Should Focus On The Customer, Not The Product

Companies often lead with the news of the capability or product they just launched, but prospects don’t come to your website for product announcements. They visit because they have a question or a problem. Your messaging should show people you understand that problem. This is a best practice for all marketers, but it is especially true for those marketing to developers, engineers and the C-suite. These audiences are highly skeptical of “marketing speak” and an overly product-forward content strategy will turn them off. Plus, leading with product makes your company seem uninterested in building strong audience bonds.

Don’t Overload One Area Of The Buyer Journey With Content But Neglect Others

Another mistake that is easy to overlook when you are inside the organization is creating content around some areas of the buyer journey, but not others. If your organization doesn’t have a healthy mix of content formats, you may be making this error. For example, you might have multiple white papers and blog articles that are relevant to a prospect comparing competitive solutions, but no video to share on social media to create brand awareness.

It is also common to create content for one audience segment but forget about other personas, or simply run out of time and resources. B2B purchasing decisions involve multiple decision-makers with different priorities and needs. A complete digital strategy needs to encompass all of them, which is part of what makes B2B marketing so challenging.

Don’t Overuse Jargon

Your existing customers know your lingo, but new ones may not. It is important that your messaging and content use natural language, rather than jargon, so it resonates with your audience. This may sound like a simple one, but it can be hard to catch yourself because you are accustomed to the company’s lexicon.

Why Now Is The Time For A Digital Assessment

The first step in fixing mistakes is finding them. Your company may have slowed or even stopped marketing initiatives in response to COVID-19, so use this time to audit your digital strategy.

There isn’t an industry on the planet that hasn’t been upended by the pandemic. Buying processes have changed overnight, so even if your company has managed to avoid these marketing traps, you still need to audit your strategy and update it to reflect the new normal.

A comprehensive review should include:

  • A content audit and effectiveness assessment;
  • A website CX health assessment;
  • A channel audit and effectiveness assessment;
  • A brand message assessment; and
  • An event strategy assessment.

The good news is an audit will likely uncover low-hanging fruit — low-effort/high-impact actions you can take to drive fast results for your company. Next, you can devise a plan for tackling the bigger initiatives.

Remember, as a B2B marketer, your goal is to build relationships with prospects and to lead them through their consideration journey, fostering trust every step of the way. The missteps above compromise your ability to do so. An audit kicks off the process of doing this right.


Greg Harbinson is the Senior Strategy Director at Centerline Digital, where he focuses his time on helping companies create messaging and experiences to better communicate with their customers. His work includes building messaging frameworks, defining the information architecture for websites, designing customer experience programs and helping companies understand the best ways to solve communication problems.



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