Part 1 – Reality

“Artificial intelligence” are buzzwords this year surrounding the customer experience. From transportation, commerce, and entertainment, marketers are captivated by the potential of the technology. Although the experts are far from achieving true artificial intelligence (they characterize the abilities of current AI as “narrow”) we are interfacing with AI more often than ever. Voice-enabled smart speaker sales more than tripled in 2017 and every social media platform relies on a machine-learning algorithm to tailor our feeds.

AI may seem like a black box that magically can execute a task on demand but it requires the right data. Luckily, the consumer of today is willing to offer that data every day. According to Salesforce Research a majority of Millennials and Gen Xers are willing to exchange personal data for easier communications with companies. In exchange they receive personalized offers or discounts, personalized in-store or online shopping experience, and product recommendations that match their needs. Similarly, it is already well known this demographic gives a trove of data to social media platforms, which allows for targeted and personalized online ad buying.

The consumer is already comfortable with AI in many ways. Joe Stanhope of Forrester opines, “But when you look at the way it [was] being applied in 2017, you get very specific things like the best time to send an email, or what the right product recommendation is. And those seem very practical and frankly, almost boring.” This seemingly slow roll out of AI actually reflects its fullest capabilities at the moment. Per Stanhope “it gives us a way to adapt to marketing department processes, budgeting and resource allocation so we can adopt these technologies.” In some ways the marketer is also becoming comfortable with interfacing with AI. Salesforce’s Einstein assists in categorizing and prioritizing prospects in its CRM and many are all too familiar with the ad buying game on Facebook and Twitter. (LinkedIn also has made a recent entrée into the field.)

The adoption of AI by consumers and the wealth of data to be had make AI ripe for adoption by marketers. From accessing intelligent CRM’s to anticipating opportunities with voice-enabled devices, the ways to exploit AI seem endless.

Our next blog post will describe the shortfalls of AI and why not to rely on it to transform every marketing process at once or expect an easier return on your marketing endeavors.