Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the hottest topics right now across a range of industries. The trouble with a hot topic is that it’s often accompanied by a lot of hot air. We look at the current state of Artificial Intelligence; specifically, what it is, how it’s being used by marketers to impact customer experience and where it’s going.
What is AI?
As conversations around AI continue to grow, so do the links it has to automation and algorithms. The important distinction between these terms is that AI is engineered to learn from its previous actions, often changing the way it works to maximise its chance or improve the way it completes a certain objective.
In comparison, an algorithm is designed to complete a single, precise task in a specific way. They can be incredibly powerful tools, but there is nothing artificial about the intelligence behind them. AI is about getting machines to interpret the data they collect, learn from it, change and improve how they perform by themselves without any human intervention.
How is AI impacting customer experience?
Today’s ‘always on’ consumer culture means that brands have had to address how they can communicate with their customers in the quickest and most convenient ways possible. The use of chatbots presents the first major opportunity for AI technology to satisfy this need by being able to handle their enquiries automatically, regardless of the time or day. Delegating this work to machines gives brand agents more time and resource to consider the strategic work that can add further value to their products and services.
One of the most interesting features of a chatbot is its ability to learn from previous conversations to inform its future ones. This means the more they are used, the better they get at being able to “talk” to customers. Additionally, the same data used to improve how a chatbot performs can also provide valuable insights for brands, helping them identify trends and themes in customer service issues.
AI is also helping to change the way we search online by being able to interpret the context and intent of a user’s query, understand their previous search behaviour and predict related search queries that users may find useful.
Similarly, the growth of digital voice assistants in our smartphones and standalone devices, like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, use AI to interpret our colloquialisms and speech errors to provide the most relevant results possible. As these technologies continue to develop, along with the increased amount of data they can collect, it will not be long before AI technologies can serve the most relevant product, complete an action or answer questions before we have even searched for them.
What skills, technology and resources are needed to develop AI?
AI is an incredibly advanced field that requires the work of mathematicians, computer and data scientists to take full advantage of its potential. Some of the most important work they carry out is to understand how we can enable machines to carry out the same cognitive functions the human brain does. These include replicating how humans interpret and remember information, make decisions and learn from their environment.
On the technology side, significantly improved data processing has come from clever engineering of our current computer technologies to create digital neural networks. However, there are also current technology projects, such as Google’s Tensor Processing Units, that could be key breakthroughs in the development of AI technology.
As a self-learning platform, the more data that AI has, the better it can perform. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that the big tech-giants like Google, Facebook and Microsoft are working heavily in this field currently; making big money acquisitions on AI startups and letting them loose on the giant amounts of data they have collected through their products and services.
AI is helping us: Think ‘augment not replace’; ‘think not do’ – it will no doubt take time to adjust but it’s not the first time humans have been replaced by machines – we usually find better things to do with our brains.
AI is revolutionary: Imagine all of those smart things the machines can help us to do and all of the time we’ll have to dream up new smart things. And how much more enriched we’ll feel having ditched the repetitive and monotonous tasks (that we’re actually a bit rubbish at).
AI is not just clever algorithms: Learn when to spot real AI (as opposed to just I) and tell it apart from algorithms or clever marketing. Clever algorithms are great (and not to be sniffed at) but it’s good to know when you have the real deal – remember it requires some pretty hairy maths and fantastic processing power to get close – the A is the important part of the acronym and we’re nowhere near its potential yet.
AI is happening, everywhere: AI development is happening organically across the world. This includes within Jaywing, which is why we believe AI absolutely must be inclusive – ideas can and do come from anywhere.
AI is being badged as the fourth industrial revolution and its potential is limited only by our own imaginations. Like it or not, it is here to stay. We’re positive about the change that AI will bring and believe it can help us become free to further invention, have better work-life balance, richer experiences and better relationships.
Martin Benson is director of artificial intelligence strategy at Jaywing.