The new executive CV: required skills in a new digital reality

Growth Tribe’s David Arnoux on why a solid understanding of AI will be critical for all executives and how they can use it to get ahead of the competition

Key Takeaway

Artificial Intelligence and machine learning are critical tools that will soon become not just necessary, but commonplace. If companies aren’t implementing these tools to help inform strategy now, they’re already falling behind.

David Arnoux wants to turn us all into data scientists.

Co-Founder and Head of Growth at Amsterdam-based Growth Tribe, David and his team are on a mission to help marketers and executives across a company gain a better understanding of their data and how it can help them make better decisions.

Growth Tribe is Europe’s first growth hacking academy, having trained over 2,000 people – from startups to corporate executives – with a goal of empowering them to gain essential skills in a rapidly changing world.

More than a marketing buzzword, “growth hacking” speaks to clever methods of growing a business through rapid experimentation. According to David, growth hacking is a mix of creative marketing, coding and automation, behavioral psychology, and data and testing.

“Growth dissolves the wall between product and marketing and puts it together at the bottom phases of the funnel.”

The new corporate CV

There are 4 key tools David feels all companies need to adopt today, starting with executive leadership:

Strong analytical tools

To understand what’s happening with the user as they move along the customer journey

Strong qualitative data-gathering tools

To understand why these things are happening from the user’s point of view

Strong A/B testing infrastructure

To test different parts of a website or customer journey independently without destroying the whole architecture

Machine learning and AI

To inform and help achieve business goals

“If your top executives or managers don’t understand these tools and technologies,” he says, “I really believe your company is going to be destroyed by other faster, smarter companies.”

Why AI and machine learning will help you maintain a competitive edge

David believes competitive advantage primarily lies in the a company’s culture – the ideals and focus that are driven from the top down. “We say that culture eats strategy for breakfast. If you don’t have the right culture within an organization, it’s very difficult to survive the digital change, the digital transformation.”

However, often the first hurdle to implementing an AI strategy is that managers and executives need to become literate in artificial intelligence – often not an easy task, as many are “overwhelmed by the amount of data they have, and they’re not completely sure what to do with it.”

In his blog post titled “‘Proficient in Machine Learning’ is a Must-Have on Your Resume”, David stresses how important it is to amend this, starting today. By diving into what were once intimidating or off-putting technologies, he explains how for himself, the language of machine learning went from “unreachable rocket science” to his “new secret weapon,” and how it’s changed the way he thinks.

For this very reason Growth Tribe is investing heavily in the first “AI for Marketing & Growth course” targeted toward executives.

“Machine intelligence for marketing is taking over analytics, taking over design and will take over strategy at some point. It will make our lives better because we can spend more time on the creative stuff.”

Practical use cases: how this will affect the bottom line

According to David, the key is asking the right questions – which questions can AI answer for you and for your business?

“From a marketing and growth point of view, you can for example do predictive analytics and understand which lead has higher value than another lead. It’s what we call lead scoring.

“There are also areas such as natural language processing which allow you to understand customer sentiment through sentiment analysis or topic modeling – what are customers saying about my brand right now at the release of a new product?”

From image recognition, to discovering trends within customer sets in your CRM, to creating data-driven personas, it affects your bottom line by helping you increase conversions, reduce customer acquisition costs and increase customer lifetime value. Most importantly, AI allows you to automate the decision-making process and allocate time and resources more effectively.

The Growth Tribe team focuses on what they call “The One Metric that Matters”. There’s often a single metric or KPI that’s more important than the rest. According to David, “machine learning and artificial intelligence can answer a lot of questions around that one specific KPI or metric.”

The future is right now

According to Harvard Business Review, “The most important general-purpose technology of our era is artificial intelligence, particularly machine learning (ML).

David predicts that very soon AI and machine learning will be a commonplace toolset – just like BI. So, the perfect time to learn how to use it is right now. “Three years ago, computers weren’t better than humans at recognising images, algorithms were not so openly available, computational power was still on the edge. The correct timing is right now. Four to five years from now, this stuff will be as common as using email at work. It will be necessary and less special.”

“We’ve replaced Don Drapers with spreadsheets and attribution models,” David says. “There’s no excuse for not measuring ROI with all the data available today.”

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