Do you speak AI?

Sharing some basic findings on artificial intelligence, an overview of the market and opportunities for marketing.

During the last weeks I had the chance to spent some time exploring and talking to a couple of people in the AI world – as a newcomer. From the beginning I found it quite hard to connect to this world. Sometimes full of hyper-excitement, sometimes reaching mythic levels. On the one side I have this protective stand whenever a market feels like overpraising the arrival of the ultimate saviour. On the other side because the AI market is so fragmented and most of the players are still in the early stage of prototyping and trying what is really possible or not – today.

Yet what fascinated me was taking a step deeper into the opportunities lying ahead of us. Machine learning has made a huge step forward during the last five years: computer vision (understanding objects and scenes), natural language (comprehend language and the ability to translate) and speech recognition (realise audio and transcribe) are impacting the way our society works and vice versa the way we do marketing. By the way AI is one of the hot topics during SXSW 2017 (“SXSW Interactive 2017: Artificial intelligence, smart cities will be major themes this year“)

Is AI the fourth industrial revolution? The new electricity? Will it make jobs obsolet? Should it pay taxes? … It is raising fascination and fear at the same time.

Here I would like to share with you how I organised my journey into this new world and what I have learned so far.

Starting to understand the market I had three questions I wanted to answer.

  • What can AI offer marketing?
  • How can we stay in touch with the development?
  • Which are the two or three projects to work on?

Way in …

First of all I tried to understand, what artificial intelligence covers today. It is difficult to find a clear answer. There are a lot of startups translating any automated processes into AI. A seal for raising expectations and value of their product.

The best definition I could find was on WikipediaWiki describes AI as any device, that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximise its chance of success.

However the lingo of this business is much more techy (deep learning, supervised or unsupervised, etc.) but I recommend you to understand at least the top 10 AI technologies shaping the market.


What can AI offer marketing?

If AI holds promise, 10 years form now we will not ask, what it can do, but what it can (or should) not do. And there will not be a lot. The best bet for marketing is using AI for the creation and analysis of content.
It is already used to create stunning images in apps like Prisma. Indico lets AI explore images and text to understand the main topics. Forevery supports photo discovery. And more …
Besides AI can create content to give you advice. We will see an increasing number of bots analysing the web to give you answers to any of your questions. Or sometimes even creating new content if not writing their own blogs.
Be prepared AI to take over your social media accounts and hotlines soon. Very likely AI will have a big impact on retail, too. It will affect everything from chatbots to virtual shopping assistants.

Consumers will gain time through faster orientation and advice. They will get more relevant shopping recommendations and offers. A personalised dialogue which will lead to an increase of loyalty and engagement.

You can get a taste of AI-powered retail solutions by taking a look at Amazon’s Alexa. Amazon created a whole ecosystem around its assistant. This will inform future AI innovations all across the retail sector.
Besides there have been many more solutions hitting the sector last year. Like eBay’s use of AI to create curated marketplaces or MasterCard to deploy AI to fight fraud.
The AI opportunity for marketing has been excellently described by retailer Target, who created an Alexa-like assistant. “One of the great things about the technology is it works with customers the way they naturally talk and the way they search for things. Anything we can use to create a better experience for our guests, that’s what is most appealing to us.” (Chicago Tribune).

How can we stay in touch with the development?

Diving deeper into the market, behind Amazon’s Alexa, IBM Watson and Goolge’s Vision, you will find many companies putting a different focus on AI.

For example these are the TOP 50 AI companies by industry worldwide, selected by research company CB Insights using their Mosaic algorithm, based on factors like financing history, investor quality, business category, and momentum.

rap_ai_web

The enclosed map offers another interesting overview about AI companies, their location in the US and their focus.

united_states_of_ai_4-featured

cbinsights.com, January 20th, 2017
To get the vibes of the industry I would recommend signing up to on of the AI magazines on Flipboard (e. g.  AIR – artificial intelligence and robotics or artificial-intelligence) and you might consider to sign up to the weekly newsletter of city.ai (a global community with a lot of local groups who organise regular workshops), too.

Which are the two or three projects to work on?

Well, you will have to answer this for yourself. You can take a lot of inspiration from the above mentioned sources. Or you take a short cut and review McKinsey’s 120 machine learning business ideas here.

My bet will be using AI in the fields of learning, researching and consulting. Most likely these will be projects around

  • enabling better retail processes and services as well as
  • new services; www-sourced.

Retail

One of the most important task we have to solve in retail is building the ultimate seamless shopping experience. A great example of this is Amazon’s new supermarket concept, where amongst others the annoying cueing at the counter has been made obsolete (while Amazon gains a great amount of new and detailed information about their customers).

Using AI through smartphone devices in the retail space can take over the whole CRM process and management of big data. It will do a much better job for you by immediately understand the specific needs of each single visitor entering the shop and give them a personalised shop experience. It can partially compensate and reduced consulting hours of the shop assistants.

The AI will not only guide customers through the shop, offering their support picking the right products. It will know the ultimate moment, when it is a good time to offer a special deal which will drive cross-selling and take over the after-selling of products based on the interest of the visitors, too. Furthermore AI will permanently optimise the space design based on visitor journeys and interests.

New Services

Be ready for AI being a predator to apps (Gartner study) as they can takeover information services easily. It can analyse almost anything and create new content from it. It can understand the context of a written text – if it es friendly, ironic, funny, …-, understand what it is seeing or build on common sense to identify if someone is hot or not. The next step will be AI creating new services by searching the internet and online communities to ‘learn’ and build new knowledge out of what it has learned. Be prepared to meet the super smart descendants of today’s chat bots very soon, making it easy to consult and service almost any request. AI will be the driver of improved solution rate of service cases.


 

 

I hope I have been able to share with you some inspiration and valuable, new information. Feel free to share your thoughts and findings with me. Hope you enjoy your AI discoveries.

 

 

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