For some digital leaders in APAC, the “AI” acronym looms large and daunting, but shy away from artificial intelligence at your own risk. This is the technology that allows agile organizations to make sense of vast stores of digital data, to reveal and act on resulting insights, and, ultimately, to reshape their customer engagement strategies.
Every interaction, every nuance of audience experience, and every step of the customer journey is a moment of promise for aspiring experience businesses, which typically have no shortage of potential data points but need to harness and make sense of them. (Adobe Symposium 2017, in Sydney on 23 to 24 May, will see marketing leaders from across the world come together and explore the best data-driven solutions.)
To this end, organizations including Adobe (CMO.com’s parent company) and Google are already incorporating cognitive features into their products. And this trend is only set to continue.
“Investment in artificial intelligence will triple as firms look to tap into complex systems, advanced analytics, and machine-learning technology,” according to a 2017 Forrester research report on the “Age of the Customer.”
Power Of Change
Digital businesses are diverse, often complex, and built on an array of technologies that offers interactions among suppliers and partners.
The typical customer journey can be equally as complex. Seldom contained in one neat environment, that journey is often fragmented across several platforms. More systems mean more data, and more data means more analysis required. To be sure, an organisation’s data analysis needs can be considerable, but it is imperative to becoming an experience business.
This is where AI can shine.
“[This] will be the year the big data floodgates open, driven by a voracious appetite for deeper contextual insights that drive customer engagement via mobile, wearables, and IoT,” the Forrester report states.
Several APAC businesses, local and global, are already taking advantage of AI technology to mine through fields of data automatically; no amount of manpower could ever achieve its scope.
“Web analytics and programmatic media buying are a couple of good examples of areas that have seen improvements as a result of algorithms and predictive capabilities,” said Krish Raja, head of data and programmatic product sales at Sydney-based Nine Entertainment.
Marketers have a pertinent role to play alongside AI, which, in turn, can help them define strategy, Raja explained.
“Nine uses analytics to visualise data to help us understand what content to create and who our audiences are,” Raja said. “Now that we are authenticating users, the next stage is to stitch it all together to enable true personalisation in our content and advertising offerings so we can push in to that experience space.”
While its transformative potential is clear, and despite Forrester’s optimistic forecast, the reality is that, in APAC, AI is in its infancy.
“We have seen businesses [in the region] start to plug in digital data to power content management systems and connect with their customers in more intelligent ways, but we’re still in the early stages of being able to change entire businesses,” Raja said.
However, Michael Buckley, managing director of Accenture Interactive in Australia and New Zealand, cautioned brands against making excuses for slow AI adoption.
“Instead of focusing on particular industries that have not discovered the full potential of AI, we encourage all businesses to push ahead,” he said. “According to our research, 85% of executives we surveyed report they will invest extensively in AI-related technologies over the next three years.”
Buckley suggested organisations would be foolish to wait three years in such a competitive market. “As more and more brands implement AI, those that do not risk falling behind,” he added.
Careers In Jeopardy?
Another facet of AI is to what extent the technology could put people out of jobs.
Forrester’s report predicts a notable change: “CEOs will exit at least 30% of their CMOs for not mustering the blended skill set needed to drive digital business transformation, design exceptional personalised experiences, and propel growth.”
Accenture Interactive’s Buckley advice? Brands in the region should be “prepared for the changes as they emerge,” he said.
Indeed, marketers will be expected to work efficiently with AI to improve business outcomes and processes. Current digital leaders are incorporating AI to source talent, jump-start new projects, and respond to market changes, Buckley said.
“We need to take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves,” he added. “Take the surging number of on-demand labour platforms and online work management, for example. These AI-powered platforms enable organisations to supplement their workforce and capabilities with a pool of freelance talent.”
Added Nine Entertainment’s Raja: “Every business with a digital footprint should get a data management platform and centralise its data assets. A data asset of reliable quality will be the foundation for AI to have a valuable output to businesses and not just be a buzzword.”
Accenture, Nine Entertainment, and other brands will share their AI experiences at Adobe Sydney Symposium 2017. Click here to register.