Dunja Riehemann, CMO of ProGlove: “AI in its current form is not a magic wand”

We firmly believe that humans will soon evolve to the point where scanners are part of our skeletal structure, but in the meantime companies like ProGlove must fill the gap. Its wearable scanner has numerous uses in industry, and the person in charge of ProGlove’s marketing is CMO Dunja Riehemann.

Although we joke — honestly — about the cyborg future of humankind, the balance between technology and people is clearly something that Dunja thinks about. Her enthusiasm for AI and other cutting-edge developments shines through this interview, but ultimately it’s about the humans. “As marketers, we need to be able to relate to and understand what drives other people,” she says, “so I find empathy to be extremely important.”

Read on to discover why Dunja is so looking forward to 2024, and the role she sees for technology in her work.

Why Dust or Magic? That stems from a quote by legendary American advertising creative director, William Bernbach: “An idea can turn to dust or magic, depending on the talent that rubs against it.” (And if you’re wondering where you’ve heard the name, Bernbach was the inspiration behind Don Draper of Mad Men fame.)

Could you please introduce yourself to our audience? What motivated you to pursue a career in marketing, and how did you embark on your journey in this field?

I’m Dunja Riehemann, CMO of ProGlove, a leading provider of industrial wearables for warehousing and logistics.

I have always been fascinated by how marketing can influence people’s perceptions, behaviours and decisions. I believe marketing is a powerful tool for creating value, communicating benefits, and building relationships with customers.

That’s why, after studying economics at the University of Trier, I decided to pursue a career in marketing. I joined ProGlove because I was impressed by their vision and mission to optimise warehouse operations and empower workers with industrial wearables.

Related reading: Can these AR glasses replace screens?

What are your thoughts on the escalating integration of AI in digital marketing and its potential influence on the future of marketing, Martech, and social media?

I think this process is only natural. The advancement of AI presents us marketers with opportunities that we don’t want to miss. However, I think we must approach it based on facts, not wishful thinking. Change is inevitable, so it makes sense to embrace it. But that means we need to remain sober when it comes to analysing what AI can and cannot do.

As with most things in life, we need to strike the right balance. AI in its current form is not a magic wand, but a very helpful set of tools that can make our lives a lot easier.

How do you ready yourself for an AI-driven landscape as a marketing leader? What new skills do you need?

I think it is important that we remain in control of what happens on the marketing front. In other words, we need to run the show, not AI.

AI can collect data, recognise patterns, and suggest appropriate next steps and content creation. At the same time, we need to recognise that AI calculates probabilities. Sometimes those probabilities are based on incorrect AI assumptions to begin with.

At ProGlove, we continue to monitor the market and have our subject matter experts evaluate key developments. Ultimately, all of our initiatives are about people, even if we have to deal with machine gatekeepers. That is why we need humans in control to identify and validate human needs.

AI can and will help accelerate and enhance our initiatives, and that is what is driving our approach to it.

The advent of data privacy regulations has created a paradigm shift in the digital advertising landscape, forcing the industry to rethink its strategies. As privacy regulations reshape the way marketers engage with audiences, the popularity of contextual targeting will skyrocket.

In addition, I believe the importance of video content will continue to grow as it provides a more efficient and faster means for companies to better communicate their brand messages.

Artificial intelligence will also play an increasingly important role, enabling advertisers to improve the precision of their targeting and publishers to optimise the monetisation of their ad space.

Dunja Riehemann CMO
Dunja studied economics at the University of Trier

Do you anticipate any significant disruptions in Marketing and Sales Technology for 2024? If so, what?

Frankly, I do not see disruptions. What I see are trends.

Some of them are a continuation of what we have been seeing, such as data-driven initiatives, and some are new. But even the advancement of generative AI and ChatGPT are not disruptions, and they won’t be in 2024. We will work with them, perhaps even at an increasing pace, but they will not disrupt everything. I strongly believe that we need to identify the right trends and go with the flow.

Related reading: What will the digital landscape look like in 2028?

How do you think AI might evolve B2B Marketing and/or ABM strategies in 2024?

AI will definitely help us to be more focused, deliver better initiatives, and run our campaigns with more success. But AI requires data. So, we need to make sure that we allocate resources to generating the data points we need. We also should not indulge in some of the frenzy that we are seeing and hearing in the public debates right now.

Another critical factor is how we integrate and orchestrate the AI tools we rely on. This goes far beyond technology. AI will not do the job for us, certainly not in 2024. And I, for one, doubt that it will in the foreseeable future.

What core values have played a pivotal role in shaping your approach to marketing and communication?

Empathy, positivity and a desire to learn are the cadence that is critical to me. As marketers, we need to be able to relate to and understand what drives other people, so I find empathy to be extremely important.

Positivity is a must because it allows you to build propositions that will encourage, convince and reassure your target audience to trust what you have to offer. This doesn’t mean you have to take an all-is-great approach. It does mean that you design initiatives that pave the way forward for your audience.

Finally, the desire to learn is what keeps us going. We have to want to understand our markets, evolve and develop. An emotional connection to all three is a prerequisite for me.

I connect because I believe it’s what helps you stay in touch with what matters. For me this includes connecting with peers and interesting people on social media, but there is certainly more to it. I love connecting with folks at industry events or randomly arranging for get-to-know meet-ups. But I think these human exchanges are extremely important to discover, learn and master relevant trends.

What piece of advice would you offer to fellow Marketing leaders that has been particularly beneficial to you personally?

Look beyond the obvious! I find it especially important to analyse WHY things happen. We all have a WHY that drives us to do what we do. But that WHY can sometimes be obscured by other factors brought on by circumstances or priorities. When this happens, it’s worth digging deeper to understand the root cause. Anything you want to get done becomes much easier when you get to the core of your motivations.

What Martech technology has your company recently embraced and what difference has it made to your business?

Our recent projects have delved into the dynamic realm of marketing technology (Martech) to evaluate the effectiveness of content support tools such as Murf AI and ChatGPT, as well as purchase intent software such as Leadinfo. These efforts were designed to uncover the potential of leveraging advanced technologies in content creation and audience engagement.

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Tim Danton

Tim has worked in IT publishing since the days when all PCs were beige, and is editor-in-chief of the UK's PC Pro magazine. He has been writing about hardware for TechFinitive since 2023.