Skip to main content

Advice from Chief Marketing Executives at SAP and Rokt

When it comes to unpacking Generative AI (GenAI), we couldn’t think of two better people to join us for this virtual conversation on Visionaries, a marketing podcast bringing together today’s top marketing executives in partnership with The Wall Street Journal. These marketing leaders not only embrace AI in their daily lives, but professionally, they lead prominent software companies driven by it. Ada Agrait, EVP and Global Head of Corporate Marketing at SAP, and Doug Rozen, CMO at Rokt, have discovered fascinating AI insights and use cases for productivity and efficiency that free up space for next-level marketing. Want deep insights into how to use AI in marketing? The advice that follows will inspire anyone striving to remain at the forefront of this era of AI in marketing.

Stream the MTM Visionaries podcast on AppleSpotifyAmazon, or wherever you like to listen!

Defining GenAI

First, let’s define what Generative AI is and why everyone is talking about it. In its simplest terms, Coursera defines GenAI as a form of AI that “allows users to input a variety of prompts to generate new content, such as text, images, videos, sounds, code, 3D designs, and other media. It ‘learns’ and is trained on documents and artifacts that already exist online.” Here, Doug explains how he thinks about it, emphasizing that AI and ML are not synonymous, despite the term being overused wrongly used:

“I’ve always believed AI is about extracting robot-like tasks from humans, freeing us to focus on more significant work.”

Doug Rozen

Embracing GenAI in Marketing with a Learner Mentality

In order to be at the forefront and embrace all the unique ways GenAI can enhance your business and marketing career, you have to be a first-mover. Ada and Doug share their approach:

“I use an acronym: ABL, which stands for Always Be Learning. As a marketer, especially in technology, you must constantly think about the skills you need to stay relevant and become a better marketer…It’s about layering AI not for AI’s sake, but to increase productivity and business outcomes.”

Ada Agrait

“I said a few years ago that no one is going to out-AI me. Last year, I got a degree in Applied AI Strategy from Berkeley, helping me understand the differences between machine learning and AI. Most companies are talking about automation or at best, machine learning, very few are doing deep AI. If you’re not using AI right now, then you should not be talking about it in your marketing. If you’re going to embrace innovation, be at the front of it. Nothing is perfect, but to operate in these areas, you can’t be at the back watching it or reading about it.”

Doug Rozen

Applying GenAI in Marketing

There are countless ways AI can be utilized in your daily life and work to enhance productivity, customer experience optimization, marketing effectiveness, and more. Ada and Doug explain how they are personally using AI tools, the ways their teams are experimenting, and how their customers are benefitting:

Examples of Using GenAI to Increase Productivity

“I’m fortunate to use AI both personally and professionally. At SAP, we use Microsoft Copilot which helps me optimize my days, providing meeting summaries and email prep, surfacing tasks which helps me focus on priorities. I also use it in my personal life for tasks like finding recipes and planning my daughter’s birthday. At SAP, we have embedded AI—via our coplot Joule—into all our business applications like SuccessFactors for HR and Concur for travel and expense management, which I use regularly. To be an effective marketer and sell AI, I need to immerse myself in these tools and understand the use cases our customers have.”

Ada Agrait

“Personally, I use AI daily. I’m an avid Siri user, and I keep a tab open for ChatGPT to help me get answers faster. The recent updates, like voice and screen sharing, are incredible. Google’s latest Gemini update in their search engine is another exciting development. I believe all marketers should use these tools regularly.”

Doug Rozen

Examples of How Marketing Teams Can Use or Experiment and Scale with GenAI

We have a lot of great use cases and are focused on rekilling to get our workforce skilled on AI. We think of it in three stages: things we are considering, things we are piloting, and things we are using. We actively use AI today for search engine optimization (SEO), for keyword research and copy generation and optimization. And we leverage it for content, creative, and campaign development, where we’ve piloted developing content and campaigns from brief to execution with our agency partners, almost entirely with AI. We’ve been able to reduce time to market by 40-50%. Lastly, we are using AI to optimize customer journeys and personalizing content to ensure we deliver relevant information. We also have our big customer event coming up, where we’re using AI to personalize several aspects of the event experience.”

Ada Agrait

“Across the company, we’re focusing on optimizing the customer experience from product selection to checkout and post-checkout. For example, we use more than a dozen proprietary models to address both classification problems (where outcomes are binary, like yes or no) and regression problems (where outcomes are continuous and not easily defined). Moreover, we find that creative content is crucial for delivering relevant commerce experiences. Improving relevance relies on diversifying messages at scale, which requires robust experimentation.We also developed an internal AI creative tool called RADS (Rokt Ads Diversity System). This tool enables our teams to generate diverse creative content at scale. The key is structured experimentation, allowing the AI system to learn and improve continuously.”

Doug Rozen

Examples of How Customers are Benefitting from GenAI

“One way we are seeing customers utilize GenAI is by scaling offers. We’re already preparing for the holiday season, exploring how AI can help predict when the best ad is an ad not shown, addressing the paradox of choice. The average campaign uses over 44,000 websites, so advertising is everywhere. We want to use AI to identify the best places for ads and eliminate less valuable opportunities.”

Doug Rozen

SAP gives customers AI capabilities embedded into SAP applications (For example,  ERP, HR, ISBN, CX) empowering their business processes with AI that’s as intuitive as it is flexible and powerful. Joule changes how our customers interact with their SAP business systems, making every touchpoint count and every task simpler.

Ada Agrait

Understanding How GenAI is Impacting the Workforce

As widespread concerns (and misconceptions) about AI’s impact on employment spread, many marketers are debating whether it will be a job creator or eliminator, which roles will be impacted most, and what roles are in greatest demand. Ada and Doug offer their perspectives:

Is GenAI a Marketing Job Creator or Job Eliminator?

“We are actually investing in headcount and reshaping our workforce. Automation and optimization allow us to reallocate headcount to areas where AI may not be the solution. In marketing, for example, we might not need as many people pushing the personalization button, but we do need more customer journey managers, channel experts, analysts and data scientists. I see AI as an opportunity to reshape the workforce rather than a threat that eliminates jobs. We’re focusing on reskilling existing employees to raise the bar for the company as we move forward.”

Ada Agrait

We are fortunate to be a hyper-growth, commerce-driven, AI-backed company, so we’re more about skilling than reskilling. We can’t hire enough machine learning and AI experts right now, so we’re not dealing with job elimination but rather a scarcity of talented engineers. Diversity is a critical area for us. There’s a lack of female and diverse engineers, so we’re working on addressing the systemic issues by promoting STEM opportunities at the grade school level to hopefully change the picture in 5, 10, or 15 years. Additionally, we make AI part of everyone’s job description. We don’t have a separate AI or ML department. Everyone contributes.

Doug Rozen

Which Marketing Roles Be Impacted Most by AI, Which Roles Will Be Created?

“I believe AI will impact every function of marketing. There isn’t an area I can think of that will not be touched by AI. While driving automation and process efficiency, I can’t pinpoint a function that AI will make obsolete right now. Instead, I’m investing more in people who can help us build great experiences for customers.”

Ada Agrait

“Every area of marketing should be touched by AI, but it’s about human-machine collaboration. I believe there will be obsolescence around biddable media. As algorithms and AI improve, there’s less need for manual intervention. Roles will evolve, perhaps into positions like AI engineers.”

Doug Rozen

Building a Career in GenAI-Based Marketing

Marketing careers are not one-size-fits-all. However, Ada and Doug carved their own paths and found their way into GenAI-based work with a willingness to embrace new frontiers from the beginning. Below, they share their stories and their best career advice for marketing leaders looking to thrive in this new way of working:

“I started my career as a copywriter in 1994 in NYC after studying public relations and advertising at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School. I fell in love with the intersection of technology and marketing doing PR for tech companies. This led me to Ernst & Young, where I helped set up their digital marketing team, capabilities and infrastructure, including websites, paid media, and CRM systems. I then joined Microsoft, where I led integrated marketing for the commercial businesses. I loved all my roles at Microsoft, but particularly helping build and scale our cloud businesses like Azure, M365 and Power Platform. After 18 years, I joined SAP to help our marketing transformation and transition to a digital-first, cloud-first approach. I’ve been here for two years, and I love how we can unlock value for customers every day.”

Ada Agrait

My career has been built on a series of pivots. I played college sports as a goalkeeper, but after getting injured, I took a marketing job in the athletic department and had a “wow” moment. I realized the power of combining creativity, cultural relevance, data, and tech. I started client-side as a product marketing designer, then moved to J. Walter Thompson as one of the first digital marketers in the ’90s. From there, I pivoted to loyalty marketing at Carlson, where I learned about decision sciences and predictive analytics. My next pivot was to the publisher side, appreciating the power of messaging and content. Then I returned to the agency world, leading digital at OMD during a critical industry moment. Before joining Rokt, I was the CEO at Dentsu Media, driving business change. I joined Rokt five months ago, seeking a fast-paced, founder-led, product-driven environment, focusing on commerce as the next frontier.” 

Doug Rozen

Career “Ad-vice” for Modern Marketing Leaders

“Check your ego at the door, be honorable and willing to learn. I am later in my career, and I am leaning on people half my age to help me be a better leader. I’ve learned more in the last five months than I’ve learned in the last five years. In order to be in that mindset, you have to be willing to get advice from people no matter their level or their career.”

Doug Rozen

“You need to find something you’re passionate about. Figure out what you love to do, and what you don’t love to do. Your career is not linear. There will be ups and downs, so expect them and build a personal development plan. The one thing you can control is how you show up and how you develop your skills. Focus on how you’re growing and make sure you have a network of support to help maintain your growth focus.”

Ada Agrait

So, how will GenAI change the way we work? It’s already transforming the marketing landscape, offering unprecedented opportunities for efficiency and innovation. But as demonstrated by the insights shared by Ada and Doug, marketing leaders who embrace a learner mentality and integrate AI into their daily lives and work processes are well-positioned to thrive in this new era. As the marketing and tech worlds continue to evolve rapidly, it’s crucial to stay curious, adaptable, and open to learning new skills. By doing so, you can keep up with AI advancements and help shape the marketing industry’s future.

About the Visionaries

Ada Agrait, EVP and Global Head of Corporate Marketing at SAP Bio:

As SVP and Global Head of Corporate Marketing, Ada is responsible for leading SAP’s global corporate marketing function inclusive of all digital marketing, events, brand, and demand center to enable the company’s digital-first and cloud customer growth. Agrait joined SAP in 2022 after more than 17 years at Microsoft, most recently as Vice President of Commercial Marketing, responsible for driving all integrated marketing inclusive of brand, digital marketing, acquisition, social, and events for Microsoft’s commercial portfolio.

Doug Rozen, CMO at Rokt Bio:

As CMO, Doug leads strategy and execution for all of Rokt’s global marketing efforts, including brand, performance, employee, product, and sales marketing functions. Prior to joining Rokt, Doug served as CEO of Dentsu Media. He is known for seamlessly exploiting the intersections of creativity, technology, and data, Doug has been recognized globally for leading business through change and has been fortunate to be part of many major industry firsts.  

Hosted By Lisa Hufford, Strategic Advisor and Founder, Simplicity Consultinga 24 Seven Company
Recognized as a visionary and thought leader, Lisa Hufford, is on a mission to help everyone thrive in the new world of work. With a passion for driving transformative business strategies, Lisa brings a wealth of insight as an author, entrepreneur, and advocate for helping companies and professionals adapt and thrive.

Visionaries airs live on Zoom every month and is brought to you in partnership with The Wall Street Journal. In each episode, two new Visionaries share their game plan and how that impacts today’s teams, talent, and you.  

Marketers That Matter® is a community of top marketing executives coming together to pioneer the future of marketing, sharing real-time experiences, and solving current challenges. 

Our parent company, 24 Seven, specializes in helping you find exceptional marketing and creative talent for your teams.