Brands Expect to Spend More On AI And ML Despite Challenges, Study Finds

Business leaders expect to spend more on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technology -- and most feel it will help them make decisions, according to The 2023 State Of Social Media, a study from Sprout Social, conducted by the Harris Poll.  

Of the companies surveyed, 30% predict they will significantly increase their investments in AI and ML, and 56% say they will increase them somewhat.

The most useful marketing applications are: 

  • Behavioral segmentation to identify and trigger specific customer segments based on behavior patterns — 49%
  • Predict analytics to forecast future customer behavior — 45%
  • Dynamic pricing to optimize pricing based on real-time data and demand — 45% 
  • Sentiment analysis to understand customer feedback and respond to issues in real-time — 44% 
  • Content recommendation engines to personalize content and improvement engagement — 44% 
  • Image recognition to identify and analyze visual content — 43% 
  • Natural language processing to improve customer interactions with chatbots — 41% 
  • Voice search optimization to improve search rankings and customer experiences for voice search — 40%

In addition, 97% agree that AI and ML will enable companies to more efficiently analyze social media data, 49% strongly so. But there are challenges, including: 

  • Insufficient training and development for business leaders to acquire the necessary skills to effectively implement AI and ML — 39% 
  • Limited organizational experience with AI and ML — 37% 
  • Lack of understanding among business leaders about how AI and ML work — 36% 
  • Resistance to change among business leaders who are not yet ready to embrace the use of AI and ML — 35% 
  • Lack of the right talent to facilitate the adoption/implementation of AI and ML — 32%
  • Lack of quality data to feed into AI and ML algorithms — 32% 
  • Limited financial resources available to support the implementation of AI and ML — 31% 
  • Not having the appropriate infrastructure to implement AI and ML — 25%  

Despite those issues, 94% are confident that their company could successfully adopt AI and ML technology for marketing, and 94% are comfortable in integrating it into day-to-day work. Moreover, 93% claim familiarity with applications in non-marketing functions. 

And. 86% agree that these technologies are critical for long-term business success.

Meanwhile, 80% of businesses expect to increase their social media budgets over the next three years, while 79% will boost their marketing budgets in that period of time.  

Social media helps companies with these tasks:

  • Building brand reputation and loyalty — 94% 
  • Improving competitive positioning — 92% 
  • Gaining a better understanding of our customers — 91%
  • Practicing future trends — 89% 
  • Moving business forward with reduced budgets — 76%  

The Harris Poll surveyed 778 social media marketing, customer care and communications professionals in U.S. and UK businesses from March 13 to March 27, 2023. 

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