"AI is the new electricity! Electricity transformed countless industries; AI will now do the same." Andrew Ng, co-founder of Coursera, and Stanford AI Professor
This quote underpinned a significant chunk of the discussion at the Supercharged: Marketers & Machines event in London recently, with Prudential's global head of AI, Michael Natusch, featuring it in his talk. But what does it really mean in practice? It's easy to get carried away with gushing hyperbole about its transformative powers, but the truth is a lot less magical, albeit no less exciting.
To cut through the aggrandised talk that machine learning often garners, here are six genuinely beneficial things for businesses on the foreseeable horizon for AI.
1. Support Staff Become Success Staff
It's generally understood that tasks that can be solved by humans in under a second can now be taken care of by AI. For a lot of businesses, this will cover a multitude of customer support queries that eat up a lot of their staff's time. AI will either be able to solve these queries with chatbots or, via recognising the customer journey that tends to lead to them and serving them the relevant content before they contact support staff. This will lead your support staff to become even more valuable as they're able to focus their time on bigger customers and more complex issues. It's a change that will make in-depth strategic understanding take precedence over short-term troubleshooting and tactics.
2. Social Targeting Becomes Smarter
Open social media platforms (such as Twitter) are giant repositories of public data, this was demonstrated at Supercharged by IBM Watson analysing the profiles Tweeting about the event (see below). The personality insights uncovered in analysing this data can be isolated and targeted based on likelihood of response. For example, brands can target users in an audience who are 40% more likely to redeem a coupon than others in that audience.1
Continued application and fine tuning of this approach will put social marketers in a position to make far more efficient usage of their paid media budgets. For wider marketers, it also assists in building customer personas.
3. Data (and what you do with it) will decide the victor
It's clichéd to say that your artificial intelligence offering is only as good as your human intelligence allows it to be, but it's true!
Software is replicable, with top AI teams able to mimic their competitors technology in 1-2 years.2 Those who move first will have an advantage, but those who build the best data libraries and unlock valuable ways to apply them will have the victory. This is why AI isn't a mere arms race decided by who has the most super supercomputer, it's about understanding what customers really desire, and how to deliver it to them efficiently.
4. Experimenting And Executing With Purpose Will Keep You Up To Speed
As Seth Godin says, "if you wait until there's another case study in your industry, you've waited too long." The uses of AI are so various that it's your responsibility to assess areas where breakthroughs can be made, and put in place a structure where creative solutions can flourish. Hesitation or complacency with AI innovation could leave you on the back foot and playing catch-up in no time at all.
However, with so many opportunities to test and implement AI into both your internal and external activities, you need to ensure you're keeping your KPIs in mind. What metrics will each AI process move the needle on, and does it actually matter to you? This focus needs to be embedded into the DNA of your thinking when deciding which innovations to invest in and scale up on.
5. Traditional Will Be Transformed Too
A lot of the discussion around AI focuses on the implementation of it in more modern technologies, but there's ample use for it in technology that hasn't sprung up in the last decade or two. Billboards, direct mail, and broadcast media are all channels that yield a strong ROI with the right creative and CTA, they stand in line to be improved by smart utilisation of machine learning.
6. Talk The Talk For Exponential Rewards
In his talk at Supercharged, IBM's Jeremy Waite pointed out that voice is set to be the biggest disruptor of 2017. But why stop at 2017?
At Infinity, we believe that voice communication currently has the largest wealth of untapped data contained within it, unravelling the truths and lessons it holds will return substantial benefits way beyond 2018. The software to systematically make each call better than the last is something we're working diligently to build, and AI is going to play a role in ensuring you continuously reap greater revenue from your calls and boost customer retention levels.
Businesses who rely on phone calls for a portion of their inbound and outbound sales, or customer service, need to keep an eye on call intelligence software as it develops over the next few years. Its usage in identifying key touchpoints in the customer journey, improving sales processes, and driving ROI is only going to grow as AI helps bring smart conversations to Infinity customers.