From marketing, IT and HR to customer experience and even finance, artificial intelligence (AI) seems destined to profoundly affect all aspects of business.
Its promise: less human error and more time for creativity due to the elimination of mundane tasks and endless virtual assistance. While there are certainly some fine examples of AI at work today today—Alexa, Nest and Amazon.com itself—the technology’s overall impact won’t be full realised for another three to five years, a time frame during which some predict machines will approach human abilities.
For this week’s “CMO.com Wants to Know,” we kept in touch to experts and perused some of our recent AI-related content to provide a better understanding of what might await.
Simon Morris, Senior Director, Campaign Marketing, Consumer And SMB, Adobe:
A study late last year by Weber Shandwick revealed that 55% of CMOs across five global markets think AI will transform the marketing landscape even more than social media has and nearly six in 10 believe that companies will need to compete in the AI space to succeed. From my personal perspective, I am incredibly excited about the possibilities AI brings and there are two areas that particularly excite me.
The first is around personalisation. The demands from customers for a more personalised relationship are ever-increasing, which means marketers are under intense pressure to produce quality and relevant content, at scale, in a consistent manner. AI should speed this up considerably by making connections between certain events and how people react to them. AI will be able to help marketers learn what a customer wants when a certain action takes place and recommend a personalised reaction or piece of content, engaging them at the right place and the right time.
The second area is around data and business alignment. I doubt you would find anyone who would say that aligning the business—particularly sales and marketing in a B2B environment—is not important. But getting multiple business areas to work together is easier said than done. This is where AI could help. By analysing data from across the whole business, it could, say, recommend actions that the sales team should take based on what the marketing team has already done and what the business goals are. It will be able to constantly adapt and react to what separate areas of the business are doing and continuously provide personalised feedback.
Tod Loofbourrow, CEO, ViralGains:
Artificial intelligence has an unprecedented impact on every digital leader’s ability to drive measurable results in moving consumers on the journey from brand discovery, to interest, to emotional connection, to action. For instance, CMOs previously had to reach consumers by advertising in broad publications—online and off-line—hoping to reach certain audiences. Now with AI, CMOs have the ability to target individuals at each stage of the consumer’s journey with a brand, with precision and at scale. AI has been transformational in driving measurable results across all aspects of the business led by CTOs, CDOs, CXOs and more—it has changed the game.
Matte Lieberman, Director, PwC:
Business executives are eager to see AI in the C-suite and feel the need to incorporate this technology in order to thrive. Per our recent study on AI, 72% of executives believe it will be the business advantage of the future, with huge potential to optimise business efficiency and labour productivity (67%), automate proactive communications (70%) and improve big data analytics (59%). In the immediate future, execs are looking for AI to alleviate repetitive, menial tasks, such as paperwork (82%), scheduling (79%) and timesheets (78%). It is critical that the C-suite shape the company’s AI experience, identifying the appropriate data, guiding the training process and refining the outputs to ultimately make life easier for employees while increasing productivity and competitive edge.
Mark Asher, Head Of Market Intelligence And Strategy, Adobe:
There’s no question that we’ve set ourselves on a path toward technologies that will alter many of the tasks and activities that require our human brains today. We already live comfortably with AI experiences that include Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, iRobot’s Roomba, adaptive cruise control in our vehicles and voice-enabled customer services systems.
Whether the next wave of AI further enhances or outright replaces tasks—and possibly ourselves—is still to be determined. But a few data points to consider. Almost every major car manufacturer is working on autonomous or self-driving technology. An Uber self-driving truck completed the first cargo delivery of 150 miles in October. Companies including Google, Facebook and Adobe are all investing heavily in technologies that predict, automate and anticipate business and household activities.
Both creative activities and customer experiences have the potential to be affected by artificial intelligence and machine learning. More mundane creative activities might become increasingly automated, enabling faster content development and campaign delivery. At the same time, customer, social and data graphs could be ingested by AI to provide better customer experiences across digital touch points.
Alastair Cole, CIO, Partners Andrew Aldridge:
Innovation and AI have a naturally symbiotic relationship. The impact AI has on my role and in business is making us stronger. We’re using the power of machine learning to solve intractable problems and surface new opportunities. We collect and process an increasing volume of first- and third-party data—and the technology we’ve developed enables us to identify patterns and make predictions in real time. This unlocks next-level insights that give us a unique understanding of customers and help us to generate better ideas.
[It’s making us] faster. We’re saving ourselves time by building intelligence into our systems that streamline tasks. We're experimenting with voice commands to automate dev-ops and playing with smart personal assistants like Amy@x.ai. And customers are benefitting as we offer them decision support that predicts next actions and speeds up checkout by pre-empting payment choices.
[It’s also making us] better. The most important outcome is the improvement of people’s lives. Progressive Web Apps are poised to revolutionise mobile customer experiences, thanks to the predictive nature of their enhanced caching and data management methods. The exploding medium of voice is powered by AI and will be a key element in our quest to measure emotional engagement and tailor experiences in previously unthinkable ways.
These benefits can’t be realised unless customers are prepared to relinquish control over some of their actions. However, our research indicates the above enhancements will be adopted—as long as they feel part of the natural evolution of an interface.