The awe and wonder of generative AI (genAI) — instantly generating ad headlines, email copy, images for social posts, quality video, and more — is quickly fading as the complexities of adopting its capabilities into marketing workflows take center stage. CMOs and their organizations should now prioritize proficiency — the hard work of developing genAI expertise, scaling capabilities, and evolving workflows. Unfortunately, a hyperfocus on cost efficiencies, low AI literacy and data maturity, a sluggish regulatory environment, employee fears of job disruption, and the pace of change stand in the way of your success. The first step to overcoming AI adoption roadblocks is understanding what they are and how to steer around them.

Roadblock #1: Efficiency As The Only Business Case

The first benefit you’ll discover piloting genAI initiatives is the productivity and efficiency gain. Many CMOs are intrigued by genAI’s potential for reducing labor costs and agency fees. One Forrester client told us, “Our AI marketing task force began with our CMO asking, ‘How much will AI save us?’” In a business environment where every CMO for every brand must “do more with less,” using genAI to reduce agency fees and produce marketing content is appealing. But the cost-reduction mindset obscures more advanced benefits of improving performance through more audience precision, more relevancy, and more customer acquisition. As much as genAI helps reduce costs, it also helps grow revenue.

Roadblock #2: Siloed AI Expertise

Many marketers are still learning how AI works, what it means for their role, and how it delivers value to their company. Often, AI knowledge and experience remains among the few and doesn’t easily travel outside of taskforces or AI councils. Break down the silos by building opportunities for AI literacy, knowledge sharing, and gathering best practices. As your team becomes more educated about AI, their comfort level rises, as does the likelihood of realizing advanced benefits sooner.

Roadblock #3: Sluggish Regulatory Environment

Governments are slow to regulate AI: The EU AI Act won’t take effect until early 2026, Canada’s guidance specifies voluntary practices, and AI legislation is stuck in the US Congress. The White House’s AI-focused Executive Order calls for guidance from 15 government agencies, the soonest of which is expected in 2025. And the US Copyright Office’s “human authorship” standard for copyright protection requires further clarification. You should proactively establish guidelines for transparency, tool selection, accountability, and acceptable use cases. Until regulators and the courts catch up, you are largely on your own.

Roadblock #4: Rogue Tool Use

Employees aren’t waiting for employer-provided tools as they seek new approaches to solve tasks and replicate their peers’ successes using genAI. Employees are accustomed to bring-your-own-device policies with smartphones and laptops. The use of unauthorized genAI tools takes this to a new level. Work with your CIO or CTO to open up options for your team to experiment with or scale their use. This will help them gain valuable expertise while still protecting the brand, customer privacy, and company data.

Roadblock #5: Fear Of Job Loss

“AI is coming for our jobs” is the thought at the back of every one of your team members’ minds. Employees preoccupied by job disruption self-censor more. Learning from mistakes or freely sharing ideas without concern for the consequences becomes more difficult when executives are also terrified of missing out on the genAI advantage or facing impatient stakeholders. Emphasize how genAI tools require marketers’ expertise — they’re not a replacement. And back this up by establishing plans for training and upskilling.

Opportunity: Move From Pilot To Permanent

In our latest report, Advance GenAI Marketing From Pilot Projects To Proficiency, we’ve identified four AI maturity segments or profiles to help recognize your current maturity. Use this knowledge to then focus on the framework we’ve offered to achieve scale. Are you unsure of where to start or still experimenting? Or has your marketing team been using genAI in marketing execution? We’ve outlined recommendations for each profile, along with practical steps for how to successfully mainstream genAI in your marketing organization.

If you are a Forrester client and would like to learn more, schedule a guidance session, or contact Jay Pattisall and Lisa Gately for more information and a deeper dive into Forrester’s GenAI Marketing Adoption Framework.