Consumer interest in artificial intelligence-powered agents is high, but at least one agency executive says there might be more opportunity on the brand side.
Nearly half (45%) of U.S. consumers currently use intelligent agents, such as Google’s Assistant, Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa, according to a new Forrester report.
The study did not focus on the voice aspects of digital assistants.
The intelligent agent market also is growing, with consumer usage of virtual assistants projected to reach 2 billion by 2021, according to recent research from Tractica.
Forrester defines such agents as ‘personal digital concierges that know the user and her data and are discerning enough to interpret her needs and make decisions on her behalf.’
When these capabilities act on behalf of a brand instead of an individual, a new dynamic will arise, along with great opportunity for richer brand experiences, according to Haydn Sweterlitsch, global chief creative officer at HackerAgency.
“People are going to be having more experiences with brands, on the individual level,” Sweterlitsch told the IoT Daily.
“I really do see us coming to this golden era where machines that learn about you can interact with you on a one-to-one basis and deliver brand promises to you, in every area of your life.”
The idea is to leverage the power of artificial intelligence, combined with user data already being stored by brands and other readily-available data across the internet or other connected devices from the consumer, to create an automated chatbot that can interact with the consumer in real time.
Ultimately, all of those capabilities together will enable the automated chatbots to establish human-like relationships with individual consumers on behalf of brands, according to Sweterlitsch.
When this automated approach becomes standardized, Sweterlitsch says consumers will not only hold the power in purchasing products, but will actively make those decisions based on brand experiences unrelated to the products themselves.
“People talk about customer-centricity in marketing and I think they’re completely wrong. I think we’re well beyond that, we’re in an era of customer-directed marketing,” Sweterlitsch said. “The targets have the rifles now. It’s not about the product’s performance, it’s my experience with that brand.”
Brands need to be careful in how they use these capabilities, however, and that responsibility will be in the hands of those designing the experiences, according to Sweterlitsch.
“The danger is if you don’t design these things well. Let’s face it, it’s going to be an automated conversation, but it has to be intelligent and non-intrusive,” he said.
Moving forward, Sweterlitsch says technology will become a central part of the marketing industry as a whole.
“Marketing agencies that thrive and really make saves in the next 5 to 10 years are not going to be marketing agencies with technology capabilities, they’re going to be technology agencies with marketing capabilities,” Sweterlitsch said.