Artificial intelligence (AI) is designed to operate self-driving cars. It is developed to steer robo-journalists who create local news stories based on municipal data or generate short reports on European soccer matches, like the robo reporter of China´s leading news app Toutiao. AI also replaces thousands of financial analysts and forex traders on Wall Street by cutting deals in nanoseconds. And it runs chatbots to influence the public debate on Twitter by multiplying political messages thousands of times for a targeted audience.
Artificial intelligence is invading our private and corporate lives at a speed that was inconceivable just a few years ago. It gives machines the ability to look and act like they have human intelligence. More than that, it even allows them to learn and improve. No wonder this transformation is starting to revolutionize the world of marketing.
In the corporate world AI helps to make automated offers or personalized recommendations in order to improve the customer journey. It allows the automation of sales and it can predict consumer behavior. And that´s by far not all AI is designed to do. In marketing it already has so many useful and effective applications that it “becomes the new face of your brand.” That´s how the Harvard Business Review (HBR) put it in a June 27, 2017 article on the new trend of giving brand symbols people-like characteristics to better connect with their customers.
The HBR predicts that advanced chatbots like Apple´s “Siri”, Amazon´s “Alexa” and Microsoft´s “Cortana” will become so sophisticated, “customers will spend increasingly more time engaged with a company´s AI than with any other interface, including the firm´s own employees.” Microsoft has assembled a whole team, including a poet, a novelist and a playwright in order to improve Cortana´s “personality.”
The euphoria is justified
AI helps marketers and sales departments to better harvest available data, reduce customer acquisition costs, make the creative process more efficient and spot consumer patterns, to name just a few benefits. Analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch are forecasting the artificial intelligence market to grow to 153 billion dollars by the end of the decade. The prediction is based on a simple but convincing fact, as Forbes magazine recently put it: “In a world where disruption has become the norm, super-intelligent machines have the potential to revolutionize businesses while benefiting users and society in general.”
The corporate world is full of examples for this ongoing revolution: Tex-Mex fast food giant Taco Bell created the TacoBot for customers to place orders via instant messaging. The offer will generate useful data for the company to improve customer services and enhance the precision of its marketing. Video streamer Netflix developed an algorithm that analyzes engagement data in order to recommend movies a returning customer is likely to watch. Taxi business disruptor Uber is automating the maintenance of its equipment. Companies like Groupon and Credit Suisse are using the open source editor Quill to translate available data into written narratives.
CaliberMind, a software built for operations professionals in marketing and sales, is used by brands to leverage customer data for new insights about their behavior. Brands like MAN, SAP and Bosch are using a content creation solution called Acrolinx to better predict content success. Meanwhile, conversational AI platforms are automating contacts in order to reduce customer efforts since this is essential to customer loyalty.
There seems to be no limit for additional AI applications that are designed to make marketing efforts more effective and deliver better brand experiences. HBR surveyed more than 1,000 global companies to find out if and how those firms are already using AI in order to “orchestrate the brand experience across a number of business processes.” The results are conclusive: 39 percent of the surveyed companies want to improve customer service, 35 percent intend to make marketing and sales more efficient. And 28 percent strive to better manage noncustomer external relationships. They aim to expand their brand power and attract more talent “into the organization´s recruiting pipeline.”