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Revolutionising Personalised Experiences with AI

AI marketing use cases are firming up

By CBR Staff Writer

The word ‘revolution’ is often overlooked due to the associated over-hype and sheer frequency in which it is used. However, when it comes to the impact of AI in marketing, ‘revolution’, may for once be an appropriate way to describe the transformation that will happen in the industry. AI will enable marketers to design and deliver campaigns in entirely new ways, along with delivering a com­plete change for how the industry has traditionally ideated and operated.

Adobe’s Jamie Brighton

Demys­ti­fy­ing AI

It is well known that today’s narrative around AI is broad.

Therefore, the industry is at a point where simple definitions and tangible examples are required to really understand how AI will transform the industry.

In simple terms, for mar­keters, AI should be understood as Machine Learn­ing (ML) and AI appli­ca­tions.

ML refers to algo­rithms that are pro­grammed to learn from data, where­as AI refers to appli­ca­tions that mim­ic human cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties, for exam­ple apps that can recog­nise images or respond to cus­tomer queries.

The ‘rev­o­lu­tion­ary’ bit comes when these two tech­nolo­gies com­bine. ML is like the great rev­o­lu­tion­ary thinker: it comes up with insights and real-time knowl­edge, and ways for the AI sys­tem to keep improv­ing and grow­ing in sophis­ti­ca­tion. ML feeds into the AI application—the agent of change—whether that’s a chat­bot vir­tu­al assis­tant or a pro­gram­mat­ic algo­rithm.

AI in mar­ket­ing

If ML and AI are indeed the ‘agent of change’ then what precisely are they changing? One of the most excit­ing ways that AI will trans­form mar­ket­ing is its abil­i­ty to deliver personalised experiences. Per­son­al­i­sa­tion holds the key to cus­tomer loy­al­ty, enabling brands to build real, long-last­ing rela­tion­ships with cus­tomers as indi­vid­u­als. Until AI how­ev­er, true per­son­al­i­sa­tion hasn’t real­ly been pos­si­ble, because per­son­al­i­sa­tion at scale has been impos­si­ble to achieve with­out rack­ing up the sort of costs that make even the hardi­est CFO burst into tears. Per­son­al­i­sa­tion requires sift­ing through vast amounts of data in real-time—a func­tion that the human brain can­not per­form and is executed more efficiently and accurately by an automated system.

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This is where AI tech­nol­o­gy proves its worth. As it’s based on high-pow­ered com­pute capa­bil­i­ties, AI is a lot smarter than us at cer­tain tasks and can make even the most complex and time consuming jobs seem effortless as it flexes its virtual muscles. Com­pa­nies are build­ing AI sys­tems that can mim­ic human con­ver­sa­tion and “work” with cus­tomers to resolve issues, triage com­plaints and queries, and pro­vide high­ly per­son­alised rec­om­men­da­tions. Often resulting in the discovery of trends, patterns, and habits that otherwise would have gone unnoticed.

Fear not – it is not about replacing humans and you won’t be losing your job, a narrative we have all heard one too many times in the last 12 -18 months.  AI will actually help us do our jobs bet­ter. One great exam­ple of this is Cog­i­to. Cogito’s tech­nol­o­gy per­forms in-call voice analy­sis, pro­vid­ing real-time behav­iour­al insights to help agents bet­ter engage with cus­tomers. It’s pret­ty cool to be able to read how your cus­tomers are feel­ing to help ensure you’re giv­ing them the best ser­vice pos­si­ble and is an extension of the huge popularity in AI such as Alexa and Siri. It’s the sort of change that deserves to be called truly rev­o­lu­tion­ary.

The cur­rent state of play

In order to evaluate the current state of AI there are two questions that need to be considered: what’s possible and what people are actually doing. With the former it’s evident of the popularity in AI applications and the various forms it comes in; from integrated surround sound systems in the home to simply the smartphone you have in your pocket.

These applications can draw on mas­sive vol­umes of con­tent and data assets to gain deep cus­tomer insights and deliv­er high­ly per­son­alised expe­ri­ences for cus­tomers that are totally unique. HSBC, for exam­ple, now has the abil­i­ty to per­son­alise the order of prod­ucts shown on a web­site to draw in traf­fic based on indi­vid­ual cus­tomer pref­er­ences. In its tri­al, HSBC used the tech­nol­o­gy to boost a prod­uct that per­formed well on its web­site, lead­ing to a 109 per­cent increase in cus­tomers reach­ing that prod­uct.

Else­where in the world of mar­ket­ing, AI is hav­ing one of its great­est impacts in the rise of voice-enabled per­son­al assis­tants. These “chat­bots” demon­strate the pow­er of AI to con­nect cus­tomers with auto­mat­ed per­sonas that use AI-derived insights to make per­son­alised rec­om­men­da­tions. Take Pefin’s new AI finan­cial advi­sor, which was pre­viewed at SXSW 2018. This chat­bot is so sophis­ti­cat­ed it can help users nav­i­gate life’s key finan­cial decisions—everything from get­ting a mort­gage to sav­ing for retire­ment. This is the sort of high­ly-per­son­alised expe­ri­ence that once would only have been pos­si­ble through a (very expen­sive) human agent, and high­lights the pow­er of AI to pro­vide bespoke expe­ri­ences at scale. Even though it sounds quite intimidating to have a virtual assistant advising on often very important decisions, the simple fact is that this virtual assistant takes the “leg work” out of the process.

To what extent are busi­ness­es embrac­ing AI appli­ca­tions? The answer depends on who you ask. Accord­ing to For­rester,  just 11 per­cent of brands can be con­sid­ered AI experts, while more than half fall into the “novice” or “lag­gard” cat­e­go­ry. But is that real­ly sur­pris­ing? The tech­nol­o­gy is still very new, and with such a big change most busi­ness­es would be wise to con­sid­er exact­ly how to deploy the tech­nol­o­gy to get the most val­ue.

What does this mean?

It was after all only a few years ago where the debate raged on whether customer loyalty has had its day. The argu­ment ran that mod­ern cus­tomers are too empow­ered and have too much choice. We’re fick­le and won’t hes­i­tate to switch brands. The true pow­er of AI in mar­ket­ing is that it revers­es this trend, mak­ing cus­tomer loy­al­ty a real­is­tic goal once more. AI allows brands to know their cus­tomers as peo­ple, and inter­act with them with the sort of insight you would expect from a best friend. If that doesn’t build loy­al­ty, I don’t know what will.

It therefore can be said that we are at a crit­i­cal junc­ture with the deploy­ment of AI. The use cas­es are firm­ing up and the ben­e­fits of the tech­nol­o­gy are clear to see, but many firms have yet to make a play. My advice is sim­ple: act now and don’t be left behind. Busi­ness­es that mas­ter AI-enabled mar­ket­ing first will be at a sig­nif­i­cant com­pet­i­tive advan­tage – something that we’ll be exploring at Adobe Summit 2018.  Much like a revolution, AI will grow at an accelerated rate and branch out into areas at different speeds. It is up to marketers to keep up – so let’s get busy rebuilding marketing with AI at the forefront.

 

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