As the head of the AI practice at Riviera Partners, my role involves not only identifying and placing top-tier leadership in AI roles but also foreseeing the evolution of these roles within tech-forward and tech-enabled companies. As we step into 2024, the landscape of AI in the corporate world is undergoing a significant transformation. Here, I share my predictions on AI hiring trends this year.
The Rise of the AI Product Manager
Traditionally, when we thought of Head of AI roles, our minds would drift towards deep science and research positions. However, the reality is rapidly changing. Many of the “Head of AI” roles we see are evolving into Product Strategy roles, focusing on driving business value through AI products and services. These roles are addressing key questions of what the organization should be building and why (or why not), what can the organization build, and what timelines will look like given the state of internal platforms and data quality. This shift emphasizes the importance of looking both internally, to enhance business operations, and externally, to innovate with new products and services, when building a holistic AI strategy for an organization.
Emergence of the Data Product Leader
Positions such as VP of Data, GM of Data, and Head of Data are becoming increasingly pivotal. These horizontal data leaders are tasked with viewing enterprise-wide data as a strategic asset, not just data engineering, pipelining, and data warehouse. They need to address why it’s being built, and for what end purpose, and what these assets will enable an organization to do today and in the future. A trend we’re observing is the integration of Data Collection into the heart of Product Design. Companies are reevaluating how their products are used and through which channels, with a focus on enhancing their ability to collect data for potential AI use cases. This evolution has been elevating data leadership roles out of the traditional tech organizational structure, positioning them directly under Chief Product Officers or even CEOs.
The Resurgence of Transformation Driving CTOs
In the evolving landscape of traditional service industries, a notable trend is the resurgence of Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) who excel in driving transformation. This resurgence is marked by top-down demand from Boards and CEOs to execute company-wide AI strategies. Leading their organizations through a pivotal transition to GenAI-powered and LLM-enabled product lines and services. This is particularly common in services businesses with an eye to improve operating margins by adopting and rolling out AI across as many ROI positive functions as possible.
CTOs are now at the forefront of leveraging GenAI to reimagine service delivery, current efforts are aiming not to replace human input but to significantly enhance it. This approach is about augmenting the workforce’s capabilities, thereby improving operational efficiencies, reducing the time-to-market for services, and ultimately, boosting operating margins. The integration of GenAI allows for starting projects with advanced, AI-generated drafts, streamlining the innovation process and enabling a more agile and efficient approach to service delivery.
Navigating the Transformation
As we navigate these trends, the role of executive leadership in AI becomes increasingly complex and multidimensional. The leaders of tomorrow need to possess a unique blend of technical acumen, strategic vision, and an understanding of how AI can be harnessed to drive both internal efficiencies and external innovations.
The trends of 2024 are just the beginning of a broader transformation that will redefine what it means to be at the forefront of AI in the tech industry. Our role, as strategic partners and advisors, is to stay ahead of these changes, guiding our clients and the leaders we place towards a future where AI is not just a tool, but a fundamental driver of business strategy and innovation.