Women In AI: Julie Choi Focuses On Customer Obsession In Research and Technology

Image of Julie Choi, Vice President and General Manager of Products and Research Marketing for Intel’s Artificial Intelligence Products Group standing in front of Intel Headquarters
Source: Intel

When you ask a person to name a career in the artificial intelligence (AI) industry, the first thing that comes to mind is a data scientist. However, the AI field offers a wide diversity of career opportunities, including marketing. Recently I had the chance to interview Intel’s Julie Choi about working in AI. Choi is the Vice President and General Manager of Products and Research Marketing for Intel’s Artificial Intelligence Products Group. Choi has a rich history of marketing to developers and technical users. This domain expertise has allowed her to seamlessly transition into the AI field. 

 

Choi stated that the AI field is ripe with opportunity because every company, whether a consumer of technology or a creator of technology, is on an AI transformation path. As an industry analyst following the AI space, I echo this sentiment. Almost every technology company has a strategy for how AI will improve its products. In fact, many technology vendor marketing pitches claim AI is what delivers product differentiation. However, to Choi's point, every organization seeks to understand how AI will impact their company's bottom line. Smart apps are a great example of this. Choi discussed the evolution of app development where we started with the web, then moved to mobile and AI at its simplest, is just the latest interest area for app development. I hadn't considered this, but it makes sense given software vendors want to create applications that are contextual, adaptive, learning and predictive. I call these applications right-time experiences because they deliver the right information to the right person at the precise moment of need. 

According to Choi, one area that has changed since she started is that AI isn't considered such a new thing as compared to when she started in the field almost 5 years ago. She shared a personal anecdote of how her child is studying machine learning in grade school. She's been a judge for the school's AI hackathon that included robotics, machine learning, and programming. AI may not be mainstream, but it's time for everyone to evaluate how AI will impact their careers going forward. 

 

What does it take to be a successful marketer in the AI space? 

To work in the field, Choi says you need to be curious, interested in problem-solving and open to taking multiple paths towards solutions. AI is a rapidly evolving field. Choi noted that one of the challenges individuals face working in AI is balancing the art of practicing the craft versus keeping up with the latest research. Choi said she'd love to spend half of her time pouring over the latest research documents in arXiv.org, but it's simply not possible. arXiv is an open archive of scholarly articles in AI, math, physics, quantitative biology, etc.  Yet, given AI's strong tie to research, you have to make time to understand the nuances of the space and what's coming next. Choi stated that as a storyteller of the domain, you must help buyers understand what's real, what's hype and where the field is going.  

 Choi says "Customer obsession is a core value. It's about the user. My technical audience is composed of AI infrastructure engineers, application developers and data scientists. To be successful as a marketer to these people who are generally skeptical about marketing, you need to build a relationship with two-way dialogue. You must listen (and respond) to the good and the bad. This dialogue is what feeds the marketing engine." 

AI developers and data scientists want to understand how and why tools were designed in a certain way. These groups also want to hear the vision of how AI software and hardware will evolve. Choi said her billboard phrase would be "Insane level of customer obsession". 

Given that AI is a rapidly developing field and we're trying to encourage more people to select the field, I asked Ms. Choi what role evangelizing played in her work. She said the most effective way to attract people to the field is to offer tutorials and opportunities for training. Choi and the Intel team are wrapping up a 17-city Intel Artificial Intelligence Developer Conference (AIDC) tour which provided smaller gatherings for education, insight and networking. According to Choi, nothing takes the place of real-world experience with the technologies. I couldn't agree more. She also wants to share that education and enthusiasm within every Intel employee so they can become AI evangelists.

Choi represents a new generation of marketers that focus on how to make information about in-depth technical topics accessible to both technologists and the average enterprise buyer.

Moving forward, Choi says she's focused on driving AI relevance and understanding throughout her company and the world. As we look several years down the road, Choi says we also need to focus on "helping people build AI in a successful, fast and responsible way. Human goodness matters. We have to be transparent in our design and use of AI. Intent matters. As marketers and communicators, we have to be selective in what words we use and conscious of how AI will interpret these words. A marketer's product is the message. AI will amplify the message. Be thoughtful about the content. Slow down and think about your audience and the message they need. This will help minimize the risk of being misconstrued.

Marketing in the age of AI is mostly about word economy, selection and intentionality." She called this "marketing with a conscience." I'll pick up on this idea in my next "Women in AI" post, where I focus on AI ethics and responsibility.  

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When you ask a person to name a career in the artificial intelligence (AI) industry, the first thing that comes to mind is a data scientist. However, the AI field offers a wide diversity of career opportunities, including marketing. Recently I had the chance to interview Intel’s Julie Choi about working in AI. Choi is the Vice President and General Manager of Products and Research Marketing for Intel’s Artificial Intelligence Products Group. Choi has a rich history of marketing to developers and technical users. This domain expertise has allowed her to seamlessly transition into the AI field. 

 

Choi stated that the AI field is ripe with opportunity because every company, whether a consumer of technology or a creator of technology, is on an AI transformation path. As an industry analyst following the AI space, I echo this sentiment. Almost every technology company has a strategy for how AI will improve its products. In fact, many technology vendor marketing pitches claim AI is what delivers product differentiation. However, to Choi's point, every organization seeks to understand how AI will impact their company's bottom line. Smart apps are a great example of this. Choi discussed the evolution of app development where we started with the web, then moved to mobile and AI at its simplest, is just the latest interest area for app development. I hadn't considered this, but it makes sense given software vendors want to create applications that are contextual, adaptive, learning and predictive. I call these applications right-time experiences because they deliver the right information to the right person at the precise moment of need. 

According to Choi, one area that has changed since she started is that AI isn't considered such a new thing as compared to when she started in the field almost 5 years ago. She shared a personal anecdote of how her child is studying machine learning in grade school. She's been a judge for the school's AI hackathon that included robotics, machine learning, and programming. AI may not be mainstream, but it's time for everyone to evaluate how AI will impact their careers going forward. 

 

What does it take to be a successful marketer in the AI space? 

To work in the field, Choi says you need to be curious, interested in problem-solving and open to taking multiple paths towards solutions. AI is a rapidly evolving field. Choi noted that one of the challenges individuals face working in AI is balancing the art of practicing the craft versus keeping up with the latest research. Choi said she'd love to spend half of her time pouring over the latest research documents in arXiv.org, but it's simply not possible. arXiv is an open archive of scholarly articles in AI, math, physics, quantitative biology, etc.  Yet, given AI's strong tie to research, you have to make time to understand the nuances of the space and what's coming next. Choi stated that as a storyteller of the domain, you must help buyers understand what's real, what's hype and where the field is going.  

 Choi says "Customer obsession is a core value. It's about the user. My technical audience is composed of AI infrastructure engineers, application developers and data scientists. To be successful as a marketer to these people who are generally skeptical about marketing, you need to build a relationship with two-way dialogue. You must listen (and respond) to the good and the bad. This dialogue is what feeds the marketing engine." 

AI developers and data scientists want to understand how and why tools were designed in a certain way. These groups also want to hear the vision of how AI software and hardware will evolve. Choi said her billboard phrase would be "Insane level of customer obsession". 

Given that AI is a rapidly developing field and we're trying to encourage more people to select the field, I asked Ms. Choi what role evangelizing played in her work. She said the most effective way to attract people to the field is to offer tutorials and opportunities for training. Choi and the Intel team are wrapping up a 17-city Intel Artificial Intelligence Developer Conference (AIDC) tour which provided smaller gatherings for education, insight and networking. According to Choi, nothing takes the place of real-world experience with the technologies. I couldn't agree more. She also wants to share that education and enthusiasm within every Intel employee so they can become AI evangelists.

Choi represents a new generation of marketers that focus on how to make information about in-depth technical topics accessible to both technologists and the average enterprise buyer.

Moving forward, Choi says she's focused on driving AI relevance and understanding throughout her company and the world. As we look several years down the road, Choi says we also need to focus on "helping people build AI in a successful, fast and responsible way. Human goodness matters. We have to be transparent in our design and use of AI. Intent matters. As marketers and communicators, we have to be selective in what words we use and conscious of how AI will interpret these words. A marketer's product is the message. AI will amplify the message. Be thoughtful about the content. Slow down and think about your audience and the message they need. This will help minimize the risk of being misconstrued.

Marketing in the age of AI is mostly about word economy, selection and intentionality." She called this "marketing with a conscience." I'll pick up on this idea in my next "Women in AI" post, where I focus on AI ethics and responsibility.  

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I'm a technology industry analyst and strategic advisor at Lopez Research. I'm the author of "Right-Time Experiences: Driving Revenue with Mobile and Big Data" publishe

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