If 2023 was the generative AI (genAI) inflection point, 2024 will be the year that B2B marketers drive its adoption for better execution and impact. Yet, in many client conversations, I hear marketers express uneasiness or fear that they’ve fallen behind in using genAI as an organization.

This uncertainty springs from different circumstances. Sometimes, it’s the whiplash caused by one-off approaches rather than unified company efforts to pilot and scale genAI. And, often, it’s reconciling headlines and industry claims with corporate policies that constrain experimentation or even ban the use of genAI tools. In recent months, marketers getting started with genAI have told me they feel stuck on use cases they consider “low-hanging fruit.” Although they want to expand their team’s adoption and bring genAI into official workflows, they agree they have work to do to bolster content and data maturity and build employee skills.

If these scenarios sound familiar, how can you set up your marketing organization to achieve meaningful progress with genAI? 

Choose Action Over “Wait And See”

During the past year, we’ve seen genAI capabilities appear in the martech stack along with a rise of multimodal capabilities, where AI models can understand, interpret, and generate content across multiple formats like text, images, audio, and video. It can be overwhelming to understand which systems do what tasks and to determine which ones to embrace. However, making time to learn about these capabilities is important. GenAI brings more power to content creation, audience engagement, and personalization. Content use cases (client-only access) aren’t only a practical entry point for scaling genAI adoption; they also represent a large part of B2B organizations’ activities and offer enormous potential for enhancing the customer experience and speeding time to market. Acting now is essential because the pace of change for genAI will only accelerate. 

One of the best ways to move your organization forward is to raise your hand. Contrary to what you might think from news headlines, it’s early days for B2B organizations’ widespread genAI use. Most marketers are still learning how genAI works, often with limited company-provided tools or direction. Some tell me they’re caught in a “wait and see” dynamic, anticipating what Google, Microsoft, or OpenAI will do next or taking direction from corporate-level initiatives. However, this moment represents a significant career opportunity. Be proactive in identifying use cases where genAI can help you achieve more efficiency and impact. Try some of the most common, lower-risk use cases, like summarization, research, or ideation. Reach out to your network to learn what other marketers are doing. Take inspiration from early adopters, then assess your team’s readiness as you identify the resources and efforts you need to move forward. 

Focus On Foundational Capabilities 

Early genAI adopters in B2B marketing share several similar traits, including a continued focus on foundational capabilities for content and data. Forrester’s Marketing Survey, 2023, shows that B2B marketing decision-makers cite quality and accessibility of data among their top challenges for achieving their goals. Additionally, marketers know they must make significant efforts to mature how they manage and measure content and improve its utilization/reuse. These challenges become even more poignant when driving successful use of genAI.

The past year sparked a fascination with prompt engineering skills, and we’ve found that the best prompting comes from effective communicators. Stay committed to improving your team’s foundational skills in judgment-based areas, such as writing, editing, data analysis, and managing content. Before teams can move ahead, marketers must first know what genAI can do for them, then how to take its outputs and use them skillfully. Make sure your team knows what a good outcome is for both your customers and your organization. This requires critical thinking and solid writing and editing skills. By focusing on these future-dependent skills and making a commitment to addressing foundational challenges, you position your organization for better progress with genAI, no matter your adoption pace or starting place. 

Enlist Allies To Power Progress

The proliferation of different genAI tools across a B2B organization represents another barrier to progress. When different pockets of teams work in their own set of genAI tools, it amounts to one-off experiments. This doesn’t deliver the expected efficiency or business outcomes and, even worse, creates its own set of risks. Savvy marketers form AI councils or working groups to gain expertise from different experts. These groups are more effective at building proposals, securing executive sponsorship, and codifying how the marketing organization tests, learns, and grows expertise. 

This collaboration brings better visibility into marketers’ needs, tasks, and activities — and matches the use of AI and data to where, when, and how work gets done. This allows teams to then decide how to evolve future workflows for efficiency and provides a checkpoint to review how genAI users make the best use of brand guidelines, templates, glossaries, and messaging. Having allies in this overall process brings greater awareness to new processes and highlights where human involvement and oversight matters. If you notice fragmented approaches to using genAI within your marketing organization, engage other experts and work together to assess your current capabilities, prioritize efforts, and share learning.

Want to talk about how you can help your B2B organization move from genAI exploration to excellence? Join me at Forrester’s B2B Summit North America, happening in Austin, TX and as a virtual experience on May 5–8. You’ll learn from trends in B2B genAI usage and explore frameworks to help you expand genAI adoption beyond pilot projects, creating value for your organization and your customers.