NEW YORK: More than half (55%) of global CMOs expect artificial intelligence (AI) to have a greater impact on marketing and communications than social media ever had, according to a new survey.

What's more, nearly six in 10 (58%) believe that, within the next five years, companies will need to compete in the AI space to succeed, and around seven in 10 (68%) say their organisations are already using or planning for business in the AI era.

These are some of the headline findings in a report, entitled "AI Ready or Not: Artificial Intelligence Here We Come", which was produced by PR agency Weber Shandwick in association with KRC Research.

The report drew its conclusions from a poll of 150 CMOs in the US, UK and China, but it also explored the consumer side with a separate online survey of 2,100 adults across five markets – the US, UK, Canada, China and Brazil.

Among its sample of CMOs, the survey also revealed that a full 85% expect AI to change their workforce by requiring new skill sets (40%) or cutting jobs (45%), CMO reported. In addition, 57% of CMOs expect these new skill sets will be required within the next two years.

"For companies to successfully compete in the new age of artificial intelligence, CMOs will be central to bringing consumers up the AI learning curve while at the same time selling in their products and services," said Patrick Chaupham, EVP of Creative Technology Strategy at Weber Shandwick.

The good news for brands looking to adopt AI as a means of engaging consumers is that consumers worldwide appear to be receptive to the new technology.

According to the survey, they are seven times more likely to expect a positive impact from AI on their personal lives rather than a negative one.

In addition, 82% of consumers have seen or read something in the media that was positive about AI, such as its potential benefits for healthcare and information, although about half (49%) also report having moderate concern around issues like cyber security.

"Consumers may seem ready for AI, but they have concerns, and therefore an artful balancing act of education and promotion will be the CMO's greatest challenge," Chaupman explained. "Marketers will need to creatively engage consumer segments on understanding AI benefits," he added.

Data sourced from Weber Shandwick, CMO; additional content by Warc staff