Earlier today on LinkedIn, podcast partner Greg Verdino and I announced the merger of our firms into CognitivePath, a new strategic research and advisory firm serving enterprise marketing organizations. Our initial primary focus is generative AI and other AI technologies that will reinvent marketing over the next few years.
Obviously, choosing to merge Generative Buzz with Greg’s firm is a big step. My decision reflects an evolving view of the best way to help marketing organizations adopt AI.
When I set out on my Generative Buzz journey in June, it was apparent that the marketing profession as a whole needed help embracing this new digital era. That general view has not changed, but my perspective on how to do it has, culminating in our new research and advisory.
Marketing organizations need help embracing this new digital era. Marketing is struggling to adapt for various reasons, most of which are in my 10 Barriers Article. In short, generative AI is much harder to adapt than simply using ChatGPT; it is more costly and often requires significant evolutions in culture and technology.
The promise of generative AI and the larger suite of AI tools is very real. Based on my experiences, the best way to support marketing’s adoption path is by providing unbiased analyses of AI technologies and enterprise adoption trends, and when desired by the enterprise, AI training and implementation advisement.
The Need for Independent Analysis of AI Announcements
The need for unbiased analysis and advice on AI announcements is very real. Marketers and the business world, in general, are receiving confusing information about AI developments. Media and influencer posts are thin and revolve around three narratives:
- Parotting vendor hype.
- Pointing out flawed vendor hype and general AI problems.
- Doomsaying about the AI apocalypse.
Generally, coverage focuses on topics that will gain the most attention and likes, which is no different than most news ecosystems in the 2020s. In the worst cases, supposed experts and AI consultancies are literally taking fees from vendors and promoting them with murky disclosures (if any at all). Because of this issue, CognitivePath will not sell any services to AI tech firms to maintain true objectivity.
Enterprises need clear and pragmatic marketing-centric guidance to implement AI well and with minimal errors. I am excited to work with Greg and CognitivePath as a trusted advisory firm to help them get that information.
Our initial offering is simple:
- AI workshops that provide enterprise-level training for marketing leadership and departments.
- Advisory services for enterprises who want one-on-one counsel on their specific approach to AI implementation.
- The Cognitive Path, a publication offering initial analysis of timely news and trends in the form of Blazes. Our No Brainer Podcast will also be cross-posted here.
As the next few months evolve, we will build out a more robust Research offering, including reports that provide in-depth analyses of core trends impacting enterprise marketing as well as reviews of technology. We have several Pathfinder reports earmarked for 2024, including:
- Maturity Model for Marketing AI Adoption
- AI Impacts on the CMO Office Marketing
- AI Writers, Analyzing the Best Platforms for Enterprises
You can see our full offering on the CognitivePath website.
From Services to Product to…
So, a select few of you will want the back story on how I arrived here. If you care, please continue reading. You can safely move on if you are in just for the announcement.
Most people assumed I would launch an AI-centric marketing agency of some sort. While that would be a natural tie to the past, my agency days are long behind me. I have no interest in the traditional model, and the future agency business strikes me as one that will encounter significant evolutions and contraction due to AI.
My initial service play was to help companies integrate AI into their enterprise, including:
- Creating the governance and infrastructure necessary for AI.
- Building their first models.
- Advising them on technology choices.
- Guiding adoption via change management and training.
However, the aforementioned barriers were significant, and the average marketing department was more interested in dabbling with AI apps rather than evolving processes. As we moved through July, it became clear that a platform similar to Xapier, Sprinklr, or Sprout was needed to integrate these many apps into the existing martech stack.
The Buzz IntegrAItor concept was born. Trying to get the product off the ground consumed much of my time for the remainder of the year. However, this half-year effort convinced me the platform concept is not attainable for various market reasons.
The Harsh Product Reality
New AI products — or, in this case, AI-centric platforms — are not easy to build. They require significant funding and technical talent, neither of which Generative Buzz has.
It became apparent we would not be able to build the platform using a low code/no code platform after several attempts. We needed significant development resources to build this, and that requires funding, which the company does not have.
As we began speaking with angel investors and venture capitalists, it also became apparent we would not require funding without a minimum viable product (MVP) or a chief technology officer (CTO). A chicken or egg situation developed.
Given the hot AI market, getting quality technical talent was simply impossible with just the lure of promise and equity, at least in the Washington, DC, metro area. I suspect this is an easier problem to resolve in Silicon Valley; however, relocation is not an option.
It became clear that we needed cash to succeed. That left the self-funding through services path as the most likely course to creating an MVP. By the time we generate enough money, it will be the end of this year, and others will have already deployed similar types of products.
Worse, I came to dislike the process. I was very unhappy with pursuing funding, specifically talking with investors and convincing technologists to sweat their way to success. The investor-product path is generally a quixotic experience with little actual impact on my goal of helping marketers adopt AI.
By December, I decided to stop pursuing product development and move to a faster way to touch more marketers: Providing quality, objective information. And this method is in my long-term career path, so it feels natural and exciting.
Landing on Research and Advisement
Quality information without bias, without a need to upsell services or products, is the best way to serve the market. This is the domain of research firms and, in part, management consultancies.
My career began as a writer and a journalist, including a stint at the now-defunct Strategis Group and even publishing an analyst report on 3G technologies. At my highest points as an entrepreneur, I provided information to the marketplace via blogs, books, and podcasts.
Most Generative Buzz engagements have been to speak, advise or provide training for marketing AI adoption. While Generative Buzz is still relatively new, for the past six years, I have blogged about AI here, and for the past year, I have teamed with Greg on the No Brainer Podcast.
Adding to these content and service offerings with quality research, training, and AI is a natural and obvious path forward. CognitivePath is a return to my core competencies and 30-year career arc of serving businesses and communicating strong information about technology adoption.
While the allure of building a technology platform was tempting, it is much more exciting to get back to what I do best. My AI articles will now be published on the Cognitive Path, though I will cross-post summaries for a short period of time to help folks migrate over. Please subscribe!
All images created on Midjourney.