Artificial intelligence has, all of a sudden, become the next big thing. It is not so much sweeping across our world as seeping into it, with a combination of enormous computing power and the latest ‘deep learning’ techniques promising to reshape our lives. But can we use this extensively to deliver something that people actually “do” want?
2016 was the year of AI awareness, introducing consumers to the idea of AI in a more mass-market way, while 2017 will be the dawn of the AI era or “the autonomous era” (as we call it).
Whether sophisticated AI turns out to be friend or foe, we must come to grips with the possibility that as we move further into 2017, the greatest intelligence on the planet may be silicon-based.
This year will see people-machine relationships become more pronounced, nuanced, fluid and yet deeply personalized. AI systems will learn to adapt to individual personalities and goals and strive to address the demand of putting smart products and services into their pockets, homes, inboxes and more.
A superintelligent AI could solve problems that even the brightest humans are unable to solve, but being made of a different substrate, would it have conscious experience?
Moving Towards Complete Automation
If AI was so strong, could it feel the burning of curiosity, or the pangs of grief? There are so many unanswered questions for us to explore. For a starter, market reports state that by 2018 more than 60% of enterprises worldwide will use AI-driven technology to automate semi-sophisticated redundant tasks.
Even if very few consumers can name a brand leader in AI, they are well aware that AI plays a pivotal role in their lives. These dynamic digital consumers routinely use AI-driven features like digital voice assistants across channels. Remarkably, this interest is not limited to the younger generation, for research found about one-third of every age group are interested in using AI driven capabilities. This was different from a few years back when consumers were resistant towards AI-enabled chatbots and other computerized customer service features. Today, more than 62% of consumers are okay with AI-enabled products responding to their query, even if they still conjure up an image of a robot every time the word “AI” pops up.
Digital consumers trust AI with multiple tasks, from handling medication reminders, to managing itinerary, targeted news and manual labor and mechanics. In fact, 50% of consumers trust AI to provide elder care, health advice, financial guidance and content creation among others. This trustworthiness on the system has allowed consumers to depend on AI’s ability to take on dangerous tasks, save time and provide better access to information and offer products that provide convenience.
This growing popularity was mainly because these AI enabled products and services were easily available, less biased and faster to engage. In fact, their pervasive usage and enthusiastic adoption were seen by enterprises as a positive sign to release newer and more advanced AI-enabled products.
Brands, Marketing, and AI
The current customer landscape does not have any room for generic ads, messages or even press releases. Today, you need to have all the data at your fingertips, data about what people do on your website, data about their behavior and interactions, etc. to be able to leverage user experience and yield a more personal brand relationship. If personalized marketing were to rely only on the manual workforce, it would reach a breaking point as soon as it starts scaling. Only with the intervention of machine driven AI-applications, can marketers crunch, analyze and interpret data, which can then be used to provide personalized customer experience across all cycles of the customer journey.
The premise of AI is such that it is not surprising to see new AI powered platforms surfacing every day. This complicated market landscape, fueled by AI-enabled applications are allowing brands to drive interactions and improving discoverability of assets.
But there are some gaps that exist between the consumers’ expectations from AI’s advantage to what these brands assume to be consumer’s advantage. This means that marketers need to be careful of the features they leverage in marketing. Either the marketers need to avoid overselling on payoffs that are not feasible, or they need to change their perception. However, what they must not do is miss an opportunity that would leverage an advantage that consumers expect and that the product can deliver on.
Additionally, personalization is only relevant when it accurately meets the demands/desires of the customer and this is highly dependent on the personal data shared by customers. However, in spite of the overall acceptance of the technology, there is a large chunk that still expresses concern even if at a moderate level. These fears generate from a multitude of AI-related negative events, loss of jobs, cyber threats and erosion of privacy. Therefore, to gain the confidence of the consumers, the key is to remain transparent on how customer data is collected, used and shared. With customer optimism being high volatile, there is a need for marketers to accentuate the positives and dissuade the negatives of AI.
What’s next: Capturing the dynamic digital consumers
Companies need to tap into AI and machine learning to hyper-personalize their services that would deliver on today’s digital consumers’ expectations. As consumers seek heightened experiences and their intrigue with AI/VR enabled products remain, it would become imperative for organizations to find new ways that nurture customer relationship by leveraging new technologies. However, there is a need to maintain an artful balance between the art of education and promotion.
While the benefits of AI enabled applications include time saving, ease, convenience and ability to do tasks that are considered risky for humans, have clearly built some amount of trust, marketers have to be careful while they leverage AI for personalization. They cannot risk setting off alarm bells that the tech is in some way harming them or be the death knell of society.
AI to be welcomed, not feared
Ever since the industrial revolution, man had harboured skepticism for every technology that came his way. But, even if the internet is chock-a-block with debates on the gloomy possibilities of AI, it still has the power to dramatically change the world for the better. Here are three major examples that would help restore your faith in the technology and it’s capabilities:
- AI is all set to transform transport – self driven vehicles are already being test-driven as we speak
- Conversations would improve
- And lastly, AI can make a huge difference by turbocharging scientific and medical research.
What we must do is agree that AI provides widespread innovation opportunities across sectors, which can be used to benefit both the brand and their consumers. But here’s the real secret, using AI you can serve all the expectations of your customer. That’s anyways the real purpose, right?