Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on Forbes as part of the Forbes Agency Council.
The phrase artificial intelligence carries as much heft as any in our marketing lexicon in 2019. Innovation surrounding AI and machine learning has flourished over the past decade. There is seemingly no limit to the opportunities and potential for AI to impact and improve the customer experience.
Despite how far we have come in this area—especially as it pertains to marketing and advertising—we have still only scratched the surface. Consumers can only adopt so much change at one time. Move too slowly and your competition will begin to capitalize on the wealth of data available. Move too quickly and you risk coming across as ignorant to consumers’ needs, and in turn alienating your audiences.
At the moment, AI is a supporting piece to marketers’ overall strategy. Yet it already cannot be overlooked for its role in three key areas: personalizing customer experiences, making the most of mundane interactions, and allowing humans to do what they do best.
Personalizing customer experiences
Consumers willingly provide a wealth of information on a daily basis. They actively and passively tell the brands with whom they engage their content preferences, shopping habits, and even their location. In return, they expect a relevant experience that offers an answer to their personal needs in the moment and makes interacting with the brand as streamlined as possible.
AI and machine learning technologies regularly work in the background to handle billions of data points and interactions in a way that feels frictionless. — DEG CEO Neal Sharma
The power of personalization is not found in the first message a brand delivers. The power lies in the ability to learn from the customers’ reaction and behavior in order to inform the next message and message after that. It is in this continuous learning that marketers can close the gap between brand and consumer.
This is what AI and machine learning bring to the table. By constantly analyzing customers’ interests and behaviors in real time, brands can weed through a mass of knowledge to cater messaging specifically to the consumers’ individual needs. Further, and more lucratively, brands are able to influence the next best action they desire the consumer to take.
Making the most of mundane interactions
Consider the ways you interact with your voice assistant on a daily basis. Likely, the majority of your conversations revolve around having Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant offer up knowledge or help you coordinate daily tasks. Increasingly, you rely on those virtual assistants to help you handle the most basic of your personal chores.
In fact, most of the use cases of AI in the enterprise are not flashy and will not be. AI and machine learning technologies regularly work in the background to handle billions of data points and interactions in a way that feels frictionless. The future will only involve further expansion to the scope of this background learning and processing, from comparing variances in medical scans to predicting consumer behavior.
Removing humans from performing these efforts does not remove humans from the equation. Instead, it frees people to focus more intently on what they do best: think through how to strategically utilize the information.
What people do best
Right now, tens of thousands of servers are processing copious amounts of information, segmenting it, and answering questions to get common needs out of the way. What remains is the aspect only humans can offer. At this time, we cannot manufacture artificial empathy. We build solutions to feign empathy, but it cannot replace the true human emotion. People are the only ones who can consider the human condition and develop a nuanced strategy based on what we see. While AI can scan a face, only you or I can respond with a smile, a handshake, or a hug that is right for the moment and impacts behavior.
The end game is not for AI to take the reins. It is for computers to handle the most common cases, while also prioritizing the more important cases for humans to intervene and address. Only humans can provide the level of nuanced strategy and context to truly create the right interaction. With AI systems in place, humans should have more time to focus on this crucial aspect.
AI will continue to evolve, opening up new doors in the way marketers engage with consumers to meet their needs. But no matter where we go from here, AI and machine learning will undoubtedly always provide value and allow humans to do what we do best.