AI has been around a while. Mostly behind the scenes in systems where the reduction of human error is crucial. Think weapon guidance systems. It is only in the last few years that AI has been thrust into the public consciousness through consumer goods such as self-driving cars and virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa.
In using modern software which is able to learn and improve itself, the line between automation and true artificial intelligence is becoming better defined. Take a fleet of delivery trucks managed by AI for example: the routes are continually refined and journey times reduced as the AI learns about local driving conditions. This is what we humans might just call ‘common sense’: “When the local team is playing a home game, avoid the route that goes past the football stadium!” Well, duh...
So how do we get from here to an AI end game? When are the machines taking over the planet and enslaving humans? Not any time soon, but there is no doubt that the computers of the future will be very different to the ones we are used to. IBM has said that its first quantum computers will be available to buy in the next five to 10 years. Computers are always getting faster, but we are talking about a quantum leap in performance here.
For marketers trying to build a Digital Experience Platform (DXP), it seems that all the pieces of the puzzle are finally falling into place. Intelligent automaton, the end of data silos and processing speeds faster than ever before. But, what to do we do with this new set of super tools? And where exactly do we humans fit into the picture?
Big companies may have millions of customer interactions every day across multiple channels. So much noise but also patterns which AI can easily see. There will be people researching new purchases, looking for product help and probably a few looking for social links to have a rant. AI can identify these personas quickly and provide an appropriate personalized experience. That experience can be refined and improved over time as more behavioural data is captured - AB testing on steroids, if you like.
Think of a funnel. AI takes care of the wide end – millions of low value interactions, manged 24/7 with no human interaction needed. Further down, more sophisticated processes kick in as prospects are moved through a set of customer journeys. Then at the end of the funnel, would you trust a machine to close a high value deal? Some customers will always prefer to deal with a human.
Our customers are other human beings. You can capture and analyse all the behavioural data available, AI can help you segment and understand your customers like never before. But at the end of the process you have to be able to deliver a message which resonates with each person emotionally. Luckily for marketers, emotion is what sets us apart from machines.
So AI is going to be a fantastic tool, but we’ll always have a seat at the table. For more insight into AI, its relationship with business and with us as private individuals, check out this talk from censhare CEO, Dieter Reichert , presented at the Digital Innovator’s Summit (DIS) 2018. In it, he waxes lyrical about self-driving cars, climate change, economic disparity, and a new world order for human interaction. Not bad for just over nine minutes.