In a data-driven world, the implications of AI are far-reaching. In this article, Ashley Kramer, Chief Product & Marketing Officer for Sisense shares her views on AI, its challenges and opportunities and what women can do to lead the way.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in AI and data analytics?
I was a computer science major who doubled as an athlete, playing soccer in college. Earlier in my career I was a software engineer at NASA and Oracle. I quickly realised that I am better suited talking to people rather than computers, so I pivoted into a product-focused role with Amazon. What was really impactful during my time at Amazon was the focus on the customer and using data to drive the business. That really built a solid foundation of using analytics to drive better outcomes as an emerging product leader – a foundation that I’ve used throughout my career.
From there, I moved to Tableau because I had experienced for myself how analytics can be utilised to save time and money for companies. I was fortunate to be a part of the early cloud movement and led the move of Tableau to the cloud (Tableau Online) which was a pivotal part of my career journey.
I knew there was more to analytics than descriptive analytics, so I joined Alteryx to usher in the next era towards data science with predictive and prescriptive modeling within their platform. I am now excited to be part of the Sisense team because we’re on the cusp of entering a new generation of cloud analytics that blends descriptive, predictive and prescriptive analytics together in a unique way. The Sisense AI-driven analytics platform goes beyond the dashboard to infuse analytics everywhere. We empower people with actionable intelligence to drive better outcomes – that’s at the core of everything we do.
What lessons would you like others to learn from your story?
Throughout my career, I never hesitated to make bold career decisions and as a result, I feel like I ended up in the perfect role. I always tell people, don’t be afraid to try something new. Just because I was a computer science major didn’t mean I had to write code for the rest of my life.
Writing code wasn’t my passion, but there were elements of building a product that led me to speak to people in different types of roles – from product to marketing to sales. I concluded I was a product person at heart. Taking the time to step outside of your comfort zone and network to hear other people’s experiences is an invaluable part of any career journey.
Can you tell our readers about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
We’re currently in the midst of a huge company evolution with a focus to help organisations around the world move into a new era of analytics. We’re planting a stake in the ground as the leader in AI-driven analytics with a mission to infuse analytics everywhere – whether that is to drive more value to their customers, optimise their businesses or innovate new products and create revenue streams.
We do this by going beyond the dashboard with custom analytic experiences and embedding them in their customer and employee-facing apps and workflows. Businesses can now infuse actionable intelligence wherever people spend their time rather than requiring them to go track down the data needed to make a decision. And we have some incredible customers in the ANZ region, like Baker’s Delight, Profectus, Game Day and LiveHire.
What are some of the things that excite you about the AI industry?
In many ways, AI can really transform the way we live for the better. First, AI is particularly good at automating mundane processes and tasks out of our life, saving valuable time that we can spend on more important things. AI can extend our own human capabilities to allow someone with limited knowledge about data to make robust predictions about the future.
While I do not see AI replacing humans as intuition is a big part of the decision-making process, it also helps people of all skill levels make more intelligent decisions by automatically highlighting what is happening and giving guidance on next best actions to take.
Finally, one of the most exciting things about AI is the expansive use cases from manufacturing to healthcare to financial services – every corner of the world can use AI to be more efficient and productive.
Is there anything that concerns you about the AI industry?
The major concern is making sure we are all following ethical and responsible AI practices. This is broad and ever evolving as AI continues to expand and become part of our daily lives. We’ve seen examples in the past few years where AI has gone rogue or highlights biases we may not be able to fix overnight.
We also want to be careful not to remove human intuition and creativity from too many places; we shouldn’t underestimate the power of the human brain. Not everything that can be replaced with AI should be, so we need to ensure there is balance because there will always be a need for human connection. We must remember, AI is far from perfect so we must still have humans overseeing it, validating and keeping it in check for safer outcomes.
I also think it is important to educate the public about what AI actually is and share the use cases demonstrating how AI can help drive better outcomes. I’ve met a lot of people that hear AI and immediately think about The Terminator – so there is a lot of work to change perceptions! As I mentioned above, building and following ethical, responsible AI practices will be critical.
What advice can you offer to other women in the AI space to thrive?
I would say, be fearless in your pursuit and don’t get discouraged if you’re the only woman in the room. Reach out to other leaders in the industry and seek out a mentor to be a sounding board based on their experience.
Finally, never stop learning as it can be tough to thrive in a fast-paced industry. By keeping your skills sharp, not only will you strengthen your confidence, but it can increase your credibility with others too.
What should be done to engage more women into the AI industry?
One of the first things is to ensure exposure to opportunities within the industry early – even as early as elementary or high school. There are some cool things going on within AI but too often women don’t think they are qualified because they discovered it later on.
Training programs are important but visibility and supporting passion for this industry is a required first step. I’m living proof that pivoting your career is possible but would’ve loved to have discovered some of the opportunities earlier. It also goes back to women supporting other women and not letting our background, experience or even gender define us.
About Ashley Kramer
Ashley Kramer is the Chief Product & Marketing Officer for Sisense. She leads the company’s product and marketing organisations, setting product and go-to-market strategy and vision to drive the value of Sisense’s analytics platform. Previously, as SVP of Product at Alteryx, Kramer led the transformation to a data science and analytics platform and as Head of Cloud at Tableau led the transition to a SaaS, cloud-first company. She has held various technical, product and marketing leadership roles at Amazon, Oracle and NASA. Kramer uses a customer-first mindset to scale product and marketing teams to meet the growing needs of Sisense customers and the rapidly evolving market.
Sisense goes beyond traditional business intelligence by providing organizations with the ability to infuse analytics everywhere, embedded in both customer and employee applications and workflows. Sisense customers are breaking through the barriers of analytics adoption by going beyond the dashboard with Sisense Fusion – the highly customizable, AI-driven analytics cloud platform, that infuses intelligence at the right place and the right time, every time. More than 2,000 global companies rely on Sisense to innovate, disrupt markets and drive meaningful change in the world. Ranked as the No. 1 Business Intelligence company in terms of customer success, Sisense has also been named one of the Forbes’ Cloud 100, The World’s Best Cloud Companies, five years in a row. Visit us at www.sisense.com and connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
This article was published in association with Sisense.