Intra-organisational tensions arising from the deployment of AI

The application of AI in marketing has the potential of delivering many benefits for businesses, such as obtaining customer insight, or providing customer support. But it is not without challenges. There are challenges related to the technology itselfchallenges relating to customers, and challenges relating to the power dynamics between actors. And, then, there are the organisational challenges.

My co-author, Ben Keegan, and two of his colleagues (Denis Dennehy and Peter Naudé), examined the tensions arising, in an organisation, from deploying AI in a marketing department. They identified four types of intra-organisational challenges or sources of tension, (which they term “contradictions”). Namely:

Misaligned value systems between marketing and management teamsMisaligned value systems between the AI B2B solutions provider and client due to no shared understanding of how AI could be used to drive B2B marketing in the context of the client’s business.
Conflicting rules, norms and roles between AI and current marketing practicesManagement teams not taking into consideration the disruption to current work practices as marketing team assimilate AI technology into existing work processes.
Disconnect between expected versus realised benefits of AIMisalignment of expected and actual benefits of AI technology within the community (e.g., C-level management) of the AI-solutions client, in terms of their daily work practices and the nature of their work.
Tensions between marketing and management activity systemAs the AI B2B solutions provider activity system interacts with the client’s activity system, the emergence of contradictions necessitates more change in both activity systems.

It’s quite an interesting and accessible paper. The title of the paper is “Implementing Artificial Intelligence in Traditional B2B Marketing Practices: An Activity Theory Perspective”, and is available in open access, here.

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