A few decades ago, nobody would have believed that machines would ever work in tandem with humans, leave alone posing a threat to jobs and replacing us. However, technology has slowly surpassed our imagination and there is nothing we can’t achieve with innovation. From Autonomous Vehicles to Business forecasting, technology has crept into mainstream industries and is believed to transform the way we live in years to come. A great deal of credit to this transformation goes to developments in Artificial Intelligence. Artificial Intelligence (AI) enables machines to perform tasks just like humans, adjust to changes and perform with higher accuracy and efficiency. Today machines learn from their own experience and process huge amounts of data recognize patterns and accomplish specific tasks. If you believe the experts, AI is set to revolutionize the businesses and industries throughout the world.
AI has come a long way since 1956, the first time it was coined. AI’s stardom at present can be attributed to huge amounts of data, improved and efficient algorithms, processing, computing power, and storage. From sale forecasting to marketing campaigns AI has changed the way businesses function and offers immense potential.
AI and Businesses
Businesses today have a global reach, the world market has changed and to sustain they need to be innovative and constantly remodel their strategies. This is where AI comes into the spotlight. Technology no longer means simply automating a task. Today, machines can think and make intelligent & accurate decisions, predictions, and recommendations.
According to Christopher Steiner (Automate This), AI today is responsible for executing 60% of all trades on Wall Street with almost no human supervision or surveillance.
Business houses are getting smarter by incorporating AI-driven campaigns and projects. From smarter search to ad optimization, from sentiment analysis to customer service, AI has an array of options to offer. AI lets your imagination free and makes it a reality. It gives you a wide variety of opportunities at various phases of the product life cycle and gives you an advantage over your competitors.
It is not an exaggeration to say that moving forward AI will dominate the marketing world and way businesses function. Businesses are changing at a rapid pace and evolving into a new model with AI’s intervention. Many experts feel that even marketers must gear up for this disruption and make terms with how AI and allied technologies can be used as an advantage to improve and stay ahead in the game.
Let’s see what it means for Marketing and Marketers.
Evolution of Marketing with technology and data
Modern marketing brought a consumer to the forefront and along came a new aspect of business strategy, Sentiment Analysis, simply put, what is it that consumer wants.
Further, technology added a global platform, weaved in a wide range of consumers and markets were never the same. New businesses and products come every day and if not planned properly disappear even faster. Companies today need to be efficient, effective and constantly update themselves with the latest trends and requirements.
According to Marc Benioff, CEO, and founder of Salesforce, marketing is in an “AI spring,” and “data science will fundamentally change how we run our business because we’re going to have computers aiding us in how we’re interacting with our customers.”Today, the consumer data is huge and so is the challenge to cater to such an immense audience. As humans, we have a finite limit to how much we can assess and predict, which brings AI into the mainstream of business structure. From consumer segmentation to accurate market insights, AI processes huge amounts of data and streamlines it for future use. By taking care of these functions, marketers can actually refocus their efforts and time on matters that are important and need human intervention.
Ways in which marketers can make use of AI-driven marketing are as follows:
- Sales Forecasting: A considerable amount of time and effort goes into sales forecasting, yet, the results are never precise. Rather, sales forecasting is often flawed and imprecise. One reason is the imperfections in the weighted pipeline method, which is most used by businesses. By using AI, businesses (marketers) can address the inherent flaws of the traditional methods and heighten the accuracy of their predictions.
- Understand the Consumer: Marketers have forever struggled to discern what the consumer wants. Today, with modern technology like AI and deep learning along with natural language processing (NLP), the game has turned in favour of the marketers.
Netflix is a leading example of how technology can be used to engage the consumer and offer them a pool of options that they would surrender to. Their consumer rendering is so precise that recommendation engines drive 80% of its subscriber content. Giving Netflix higher customer retention and savings.
- Optimizing Ad Campaigns: Nestlé’s “Breakfast for Dessert” product series was purely driven by AI-led surveys and insights. It not only gave the company a unique pitch against competitors but also helped them understand their consumers better for further improvements. Power of AI is limitless. Marketers need to be versatile and understand how to engage the power at hand to obtain an edge over competitors.
- Create Detailed Consumer Profiles: From delivering personalized product recommendations to ads consumers are interested in, companies today are exploiting the cutting-edge tech offered by AI. Marketers today just need to know what exactly they must do and AI has all the answers and permutations to make it happen for them.
How AI works across functions of marketing?
There is no denying that AI’s impact will change the way marketing works across industries. AI has the capability to work interchangeably across various marketing functions. Let’s see how the major marketing functions align with AI:
- Finding the Best Distribution Channel: AI today is working alongside humans and fetching unmatched level of innovation and profits. AI not only helps automate the decision making processes but also generate meaningful feedback and learn from them. Brands like Amazon are making huge investments in AI and connecting them to the marketplace in order to capture market share. Today the consumers have become smart and distributors must catch up with the pace and make use of technological advancements. A great deal of technology vendors provides both retail & B2B solutions for distributors to enhance their capabilities.
- Finance: It is amazing how AI can easily gather, process huge chunks of data and build meaningful projections. It can pick up historical financial records, determine trends and map them against the current sources of information to build meaningful insights and help teams manage their finances. It comes in handy, especially when dealing with several geographies and versatile clientele.
- Market Research: AI is a disruptive technology and set to make an innovative transformation in the market research domain. With progress in NLP (Natural Language Processing) & NLG (Natural Language Generation), AI is growing multifold to understand the data (both qualitative & quantitative) fed to it. It saves a lot of time spent on surveys, interviews and report generation. Apart from accurate reports and saving time, investing in AI saves cost for the users.
- Setting Prices: Also known as, ‘dynamic pricing’, AI analyses various historical data, consumer patterns, and make predictions. An AI-led market research projects trends, consumer sentiments that in return helps marketing teams to align what products must be developed, and how much the consumer is willing to pay. This saves material costs and helps determine competitive pricing.
- Product & Service Management: With newer developments and innovations, AI is becoming increasingly affordable and reaching common households. The consumers today are smart and know how to make use of the latest techs and gadgets. Today automated customer services are available 24×7, assist and help reduce costs of maintaining human counterparts. Whether AI will independently handle all these operations is still a question. However, the human representatives would definitely require a good hold on their subject and the technology as well.
- Promotions: Promotion is like creating an art piece, it is a marketer’s pitch and their story. Against the common belief that machines are no match for human sensitivity & imagination, and that creativity is a human skill, AI today provides you with a plethora of channels to exploit. Data-driven automated marketing is based on 3 dimensions:
- Data: Collecting, Sorting, Analyzing and Processing key consumer data.
- Behavioural Analytics: Derive inclination, preferences, generate meaningful market tendency and build segments.
- Channel & Time Optimization: Determining the right channel and medium for promotions.
In a recent study by the Boston Consulting Group of more than 3000 executives, 61% of those surveyed see developing a strategy for AI as urgent.
We need to understand the very fact that, no matter how clever, humans can’t keep up with increasing pressures and amount of processing that’s required for conducting these marketing practices.
Today, we need more and more data-driven people, ones who understand that data is forever changing and how to use the latest technology and blend it meaningfully. These latest skills might look difficult but are totally achievable through guidance and training. By mapping one’s objectives to the latest market needs, and through a willingness to learn one can definitely earn the skills to sustain in the future.
Here’s a list of skills the modern marketers need today:
- Analytical Thinking
- Data Visualization
- Adaptability to new Techniques and Tools
- Data Structure Fundamentals
- Thorough knowledge of Statistical Concepts
- A Growth Mindset
While ‘Growth Mindset’ appears at the bottom of the list, it is the most important aspect of acquiring new skills. Without the zeal to learn and constantly upskilling with the latest skillset, the life span of careers will shorten and at a very rapid pace. The roles of marketers are drastically changing and one needs to be flexible to keep up with the market.
Today there are various platforms that help you gain momentum in this regard and help you gain skills that not only are beneficial for sustaining in the market but also offer long term assistance through job crafting, mentoring and career designing. One such certification program is developed by Wiley in association with Clevered to create NextGen AI Marketeers. The program can help you leverage AI in the marketing arena and help you grow as a marketer.