By: Anupam Vasudev
Tata Consultancy Services’ (TCS) global report states that 68% of companies use artificial intelligence (AI) for IT functions. However, 70% believe AI’s greatest impact by 2020 will be in functions outside of IT such as aspects of customer service and marketing. AI is transforming the media industry, using chatbots to deliver services and optimising media buying spends. In India, customers have been able to experience subtle interventions of AI in their day-to-day functions, such as during interactions with their handheld device or recommendations from e-commerce portals and news feeds on their social media. However, the business ecosystem in India is yet to incorporate the full effectiveness of AI. Artificial intelligence has the potential to turn around businesses and their functioning.
The TCS study further states that 84% of global leaders interviewed felt that AI will bring major transformations in the way they do business. The ultimate aim of AI that remains is to achieve the sophistication of the human brain to soak in data, derive outcomes and make decisions based on empirical evidences. AI can churn huge amounts of data (structured and unstructured) to identify customer motivations and barriers. With an increasing amount of customer interactions, AI systems are based on cognitive learning and will only become sharper and more intelligent in the analytics they provide. This intelligence is going to drive advertisers and marketers to focus more on creating engaging and personalised strategies. AI demands for organisations to think holistically and collaborate across functions.
The start of artificial
Marketers today are faced with greater accountability on budgets, spends and efforts made to impact a company’s market share and customer base. AI has been playing a big role in channelising these efforts by providing objectivity in their choice of actions. Currently, the industry lacks a focussed approach towards measurement and attribution — and I believe AI can play a large role in bridging this gap. As we commence this journey, I would like to point out that a large part of it is going to be self-correcting and self-directing and that’s why it is called the start of artificial. Some examples of where AI algorithms are being used effectively:
Netflix uses clustering algorithms and predictive analytics in its own recommendation engine. Based on a user’s usage history and her varying interests, Netflix gives recommendations on what to watch or what may interest the individual; just like Amazon recommends products to buy or a movie/documentary/series to watch on Amazon Prime.
American footwear brand Under Armour (UA) partnered with IBM’s ‘Watson’ to combine its records and third-party data around health and nutrition. This collaboration helped UA advice and counsel its customers on coaching, sleep cycles, fitness and nutrition. Consumer insights helped UA to differentiate in a highly cluttered marketplace and create value in the entire engagement cycle.
Dorchester Collection, a luxury hotel operator, used AI to tap into online comments, customer feedback and unstructured data around products and business services to create personalised experiences for its customers, and ditch traditional practices such as mystery shoppers that weren’t adding value to the overall customer experience.
Today’s artificial intelligence is highly equipped to have human interactions and conversations. Companies are using AI-enabled chatbots to help save time, especially in high-volume businesses. Chatbots use these volumes of data to provide recommendations on their orders. To cite an example, Way Blazer, a travel search company, partnered with Watson (IBM) to use its cognitive abilities that helped the company offer personalised recommendations to its users and maximise their travel experiences.
Being the disruptor
AI is the next big disruptor and the Indian start-up ecosystem is evolving to adapt and use these insights to sharpen business operations and strategies. As AI becomes stronger and more precise in its action, consumers and marketers have raised concerns about curating an equally strong defence system to oppose any malware or cyber threat involving a breach of people’s personal data. Another hotly debated topic is the automation of jobs. McKinsey reported that 45% of all human related work is automatable and the advancement of technology will rebalance jobs in future. Hence, those who want to stay relevant and employed need to shift their focus from low-skilled, rule-based jobs to more advanced complexity-based and higher-skilled jobs.
This is not to say that AI will replace humans; but will push for greater collaboration between human and AI that will give power to the insight. AI is set to become the most revolutionary technology in the future as it will transform organisations across all industries. To ignore this transformation is foolhardy, as it has bearing on driving a competitive edge in the marketplace. Tomorrow’s marketers will be part data scientists and part creatives who complement AI information with the knowhow to devise and apply the learnings.
The author is CMO, Aircel