What AI does for analytics.
W ithout AI, analytics is a tool to understand what has happened based on data you have selected and questions for which you have prepared answers. There is significant effort to create the reports and dashboards, but far more effort is involved in using them. You study the data to find problems, solutions, opportunities, risks; to verify all is well; and to understand what has changed, at what rate and to what effect. You won’t find the things you don’t know that you don’t know, because your dashboards can only report what they are designed to report.
You can look at reports for months before you see an event that is truly significant. Or you can see a significant event and spend hours, days or weeks trying to determine what really happened or how to respond. Understanding why something is significant is just as critical, if not more so, than simply recognising that it happened.
For example, a basic analytics tool can send you alerts for events, such as when the number of online banking visits per hour drops below a threshold you set. As a result, you’re bombarded with alerts on Sundays, holidays, Super Bowl Sundays— any time people are not interested in banking. This trains you to ignore the alerts and when the day comes that there’s actually something you should have responded to, you’re probably in trouble. With machine learning , however, your analytics tool would recognise patterns of activity and alert you only when something was truly unusual.
Here’s another example. As a marketer, you’re making educated guesses about how to respond to what little you know about events. You notice that Californians coming to you from Facebook view your top running shoe. You could reasonably assume that any Californian directed from Facebook should be shown that running shoe. But there are certainly dozens of other contributing elements to that action and in reality, it may be that the Facebook element is actually irrelevant. Machine learning identifies the complex patterns of behaviours among all visitors and predicts what content will be most effective—whether that’s a running shoe, a video or a review of running gear.
As these examples show, machine learning and AI paired with analytics have the power to truly help marketers achieve their most ambitious goals. Research by consulting firm Capgemini bears this out as well. According to their research, three out of four organisations implementing AI and machine learning have increased their sales of new products and services by more than 10 per cent.