Since a group of scientists coined the term at Dartmouth College (my alma mater) in 1956, artificial intelligence (AI) has taken the world by storm, with a market expected to be valued at $152 billion by 2020. While over 80% of executives believe this pioneering technology improves worker performance and creates jobs, others aren’t convinced. Any disruptive technology introduces new pros and cons, but the fear lies in the potential AI has to eliminate jobs across various industries, from manufacturing to telecom to retail.
AI is defined as “intelligence exhibited by machines.” Its potential for disruption is limitless. For marketers, AI technology represents an opportunity to harness and analyze data with speed, depth, and breadth that were previously unimaginable. But the benefits can only be seized if marketers have the full confidence of their superiors. Today, the role of the CMO has shifted and they have more money to spend and greater impact on the bottom line than ever before. CIOs are no longer the only members of the C-suite investing in tech. As we speak, marketers are embracing the potential of AI-driven data analytics to enhance brand reputation while still relying on their human instinct to reap the full rewards.
Increasing data visibility and use
One of the biggest priorities for marketers is gaining visibility into the customer journey beginning with uncovering a problem to executing on a solution and all of the steps in between. Using artificial intelligence, CMOs can identify patterns and better understand who is converting, why, and how to optimize each interaction based on this insight. AI offers the ability to process data with unprecedented speed; even Stephen Hawking couldn’t come close to sifting through the amounts of data that AI can process in mere seconds. Combined with the ability to adapt quickly and drive more velocity in the sales funnel, the end result is everybody’s ultimate goal: generating more revenue.
To fully capitalize on AI tools, marketers shift their thinking to work more like analysts in order to process data effectively. The combination of the left brain to work with data and the right brain to imagine what comes next is key to taking full advantage of this technology. CMOs especially need to be aware of all of the AI-powered tools out there, like just-in-time A/B testing and personalization that optimizes for customer acquisition and retention. That real-time learning and feedback is an incredible advantage when addressing fickle, distracted buyers and test-driving new tactics.
The shifting role of the CMO
Understanding the critical combination of today’s technology and human instinct, the question still remains: how many marketers will actually embrace AI in 2017? Historically, the CMO’s role relied minimally on technology, with greater emphasis on traditional forms of marketing and advertising and data processing. This is a pivotal time for technology, and for the first time in the history of marketing, analysts predict that CMOs will outspend CIOs on technology this year.
While the power of AI technology is pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in marketing, human instinct remains as critical as ever to ensure that customer interaction is still tailored to meet brand and customer standards. To stay relevant, CMOs must invest in AI technology ensuring that the data used to make key decisions is generated and maintained in the most efficient way possible. It is imperative that the friendship between marketers and their AI-powered analytical capabilities remains in balance. Without AI, today’s CMOs and their brands are at risk of falling behind competitors who are willing to take the leap and embrace this monumental change.