Artificial Intelligence (AI), the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages, has become a buzzword over the last decade. You’ve heard of it, you might use it, you might fear it, but you can’t run from it. It’s time to understand it.
What is AI?
AI, in today’s world, has led to better customer engagement, more efficient processes, and more reliable data. What people don’t know is, it’s been around for over 60 years. It only started gaining real recognition when the infamous Siri, Apple’s voice assistant, was born in 2011. All AI really is, is a way for machines to “learn” human behavior and operate in such a way to make life easier, better, and faster (sound familiar? Hint hint, it’s our motto). Almost every industry is using AI capabilities.
The one industry consumers don’t associate artificial intelligence with is marketing. Marketers might not discuss their use of AI out of fear of depersonalizing their field, but I can assure you they’re leveraging it.
AI can do wonders for your branding efforts. The reason people shy away from it is that of what I previously mentioned- depersonalization. The foundation of branding is to make a company human, so by using Artificial Intelligence, companies fear they’ll lose consumer trust. Here are a few misconceptions about AI:
Common Misconceptions about AI
- “The Black Box.” This is defined as “[a] system for automated decision making, often based on machine learning over big data, map a user’s features into a class predicting the behavioral traits of individuals, such as credit risk, health status, etc. without exposing the reasons why.” It describes the reason people shy away from AI, because they don’t understand how it comes up with the data that it does. It’s simple, really. One knows exactly what data goes into the machine, and can assess the outputs it provides, so it’s up to us as humans to figure out the path of completion. It’s not all that ambiguous, it just takes some problem solving. This leads me to my next point:
- “Machines are going to replace humans.” Well, not really. We will always need human intellect, sentiment, and opinions in order to come up with accurate data. Machines only know what you’ve told them, and can only create data based on its repository, which again, is provided by humans. The only way to combat this issue is to ensure the right team of people are responsible for the input.
The reason the black box becomes an issue is due to a lack of transparency with the consumer and because of possible implicit biases by the humans involved, which may lead to inaccurate or unfair data, and ultimately wrong decision making in training, organization structure, targeting, etc. By allowing the consumer to tweak the outcome and “peek inside” the box a little bit, you’re maintaining that sense of trust and camaraderie, instead of keeping everything opaque and putting all of the power in the person inputting the information.
How can it enhance your branding efforts?
Now that I’ve shed some light on the misconceptions and ways to combat issues associated with AI, how can it enhance your branding efforts? Here’s an example: as a consumer, have you ever been online shopping and a retailer’s website presents you with “here’s something similar you might like” or “complete this outfit with these pieces”? Most likely, you have. You’re more likely to either A) buy additional items from that shop or B) feel like they know you. This is AI, and this is great branding! It doesn’t revoke the personalization and consumer trust, but enhances it.
According to Blake Morgan on Forbes.com, the future of customer experience lies in using artificial intelligence. She estimates that by the year 2025, AI will support 95% of customer interactions.
Supported is the operative word here. By leveraging AI capabilities, it’ll be possible to:
- Emphasize your brand’s human factor
- Improve upon customer service (think: chat bots, workflow funneled answers to maximize efficiency, 24/7 support)
- More targeted approaches- customers will have a better idea about your company if they are only receiving material from you that pertains to their interests and likeness. Being spammed by a company with things that are irrelevant is far more detrimental to consumer trust than being spammed by a company with things you enjoy.
Brand and marketing strategies have had to adapt to technologies since they became the powerhouse they are. First, it was the releases of Windows and Apple operating systems in 1995, then came mobile smartphones like the iPhone in 2007, shortly followed by Siri in 2011, and we’re now in the new age of emerging technologies such as mixed realities and voice.
Avoiding these incremental changes will do nothing but leave your company in the dust. Leverage them, introduce them, and flourish by using them. Being progressive and innovative will undoubtedly lead to consumer trust. You know what they say, you’re only as good as your last customer.
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