Last summer, Elon Musk’s comment that “artificial intelligence is the greatest risk we face as a civilization” inspired me to read up on artificial intelligence and start thinking about it. Musk tries to describe the gravity of the situation by using several examples that I find intriguing. He thinks that the use of AI should be legally regulated. I’m afraid that greed always finds a way to get around regulations. Once this genie is out of the bottle . . .
Up until now we’ve always gone on about how robotization and AI would “devour” our jobs, but what the Tesla CEO is worried about is the long-term survival of humanity, when at a given moment in time it will (sooner or later) become redundant to AI. Well, anyway, I started thinking about how AI would affect my business, shopping or forming buying decisions, sales and marketing, and product development.Who’s afraid of artificial intelligence? According to Elon Musk everyone should be. Click To Tweet
Are you thinking about the sales process or “intervening” in your customers’ decisions?
Since 2012, FrodX has been focusing on customer engagement and implementing marketing automation systems. To put it plainly, our goal is to help companies “intervene” in their customers’ buying experience more effectively. We think about what approach to take and prepare the tools that companies can use to more effectively influence their customers’ buying decisions even before they meet them in person.
Marketing communication means buying attention and trust
In addition to knowing how the mind works and how people behave, technology can be of great help here of course. Marketing automation is a tool that uses rules set in advance to help us segment people with similar interests (the area of interest and purchase readiness are the basic parameters of a specific segment) and automate personalized communication with each individual that the system identifies as a prospect. Let’s say that our project goal is to set up a kind of proactive digital turf (a combination of a website and communication via email, social media, and digital ads) that dynamically adapts to each visitor by holding their attention, building trust, and encouraging them become fond of us or sometimes even enthusiastic about us. Trust is actually the key component that makes the buying decision work to our benefit. All we must do is ensure the right communication with the right person at the right moment.
Marketing: a prisoner of unending optimization
In order to achieve all of this, we have to define the journey the customer wants to travel while making a buying decision, as well as the story along this journey that builds customer trust in the provider or customer enthusiasm. What this means in practice is that we have to clearly define the processes and business rules based on which the marketing automation system works, and prepare the content it distributes across the communication channels it manages. Let’s say that our services help turn a marketing automation system into a smart system during setup. It tries to handle the information it got from us wisely: that is, it tries to satisfy as many customers as possible of the ones it contacts during their buying process.Marketing is subjected to constant optimization: we keep adapting, but there’s no end to it. Click To Tweet
Of course we also make mistakes as consultants and system implementers. We make them considerably more often than one looking at us or our work from afar might think. But that’s nothing to be worried about. A component part of our services is using empirical measurements to find room for and provide improvement. This means we test how much sense it makes to change the business rules and processes driving how the marketing machinery operates for an individual customer. We also adapt the content that the marketing system distributes. Seeking optimal communication channels is also part of the optimization process. In truth, optimization is never fully completed. If we start by preventing childhood diseases, over time we start making optimizations primarily because the campaign’s allure faded. Because our competition may have used a similar approach and we’re losing attention.
Smart versus intelligent systems
Today’s marketing communication automation still continues to largely rely on marketing automation systems that are only smart. These systems can observe and follow our rules. They get their smarts from people. But they don’t yet have the intelligence to learn by themselves or adapt themselves based on performance analyses and ongoing testing. However, this time is unbelievably close. After becoming a SAP Hybris partner, I believe in this even more. I’m sure that by using intelligent marketing automation systems that will be able to learn by themselves and adapt their operation with the help of AI, within the next three to five years we’ll be able to use the same number of technical specialists to serve at least three times as many customers as today. We’ll most likely call them “customer engagement systems,” but in fact they’ll only represent a new technological development stage of the current marketing automation systems and CRM platforms.
AI already writes sports news today and will also write fiction and marketing messages tomorrow
Therefore, artificial intelligence will undoubtedly also take some business away from us, but not only in relation to the technical services required for system implementation and maintenance. I think something similar will also happen to content creation a little further on. Today’s sports news is already written by machines, so it would be naive to presume that fiction and marketing messages won’t also be written by robots one day. Yes, robotization and artificial intelligence will also take away jobs in the creative industries. In the long term, customer engagement will most likely no longer be FrodX’s central activity. The bulk of our business will probably include customer experience projects and the development of new products.What if artificial intelligence turns out to be so good one day that people are no longer needed? Click To Tweet
Privacy is currency: we’ll intervene in your buying decisions through your friends
Sooner or later people will no longer want to be so closely connected with companies and give their personal data away to them just like that. We’re finally starting to become aware of how important our privacy is. Here, privacy protection legislation will probably make its greatest contribution. It seems that the days when consumers will be ready to pay for making access to their privacy more difficult are not that far away at all. On the other hand, we’ll want to be even more closely connected with our friends. We’ll communicate with them even more effectively than the technology and social networks currently allow. That’s why I think that in the future our friends’ experience with a specific provider and its service or product (customer experience) will be significantly more important even than it is today. This is where I think the key opportunity lies for intervening in the prospects’ buying experience, which companies will be able to influence. People currently involved in marketing and sales will have to start thinking along considerably different lines and develop completely new skills if we want to continue to be useful. Good luck!