Once upon a time, in the not-to-distant past, the term “artificial intelligence” or AI was seen as the stuff of science fiction. It conjured images of robots and aliens and supercomputers and the like, and the idea that artificial intelligence would come to be entwined in our daily lives seemed very far-fetched.
Fast-forward to 2019 and that is, in fact, exactly where we find ourselves. The world we live in, and the technology within it, has developed at such a rapid rate and in directions never before thought of, that AI is now a much more commonly understood and everyday term. Although at times it might still feel a little otherworldly, artificial intelligence is certainly no longer a science fiction fantasy. It has become part of so many aspects of our lives, some of which you may not even be aware of as actually being a form of AI, but have just come to accept. The applications and functions of AI extend to the realms of business and marketing too, both as a consumer and a business owner.
AI for Business and Marketing
Artificial intelligence has already, and will very much continue to, completely change the way that we operate as businesses, consumers and marketers. Don’t let the term “artificial intelligence” overwhelm you, or have you thinking that it is not something that is relevant or appropriate for your business. It is quite the opposite in fact.
AI has many, many benefits and uses when it comes to improving marketing strategies and ultimately, business performance. It can provide much-needed resources for many aspects of business functions such as virtual assistants, customer service and automating routine and repetitive tasks. This might include sending confirmation emails or replies to confirm purchases or advising the recipient on the next required steps. AI is also a valuable tool for more complex undertakings such as collating, analysing and reporting on customer behaviour and other relevant business data and there is no reason why its scope won’t continue to push into even more areas in the future.
The kind of information that AI can generate is critical for businesses to be able to make informed decisions about what is working and what needs to be done differently. Whilst extremely important, data gathering, analysis, and repetitive administrative tasks can be incredibly time-consuming. This makes them quite prohibitive for most businesses, and yet they carry on as they have done in the past. Meanwhile, those that have already introduced AI, or are at least starting to consider it, forge ahead. AI offers a practical and feasible solution for businesses to be able to access and act upon this critical information.
Consumer Behaviour Drives Business Investment
As consumers become more familiar and comfortable with what AI applications can bring to their user experience, their attitude has changed from one of apprehension and hesitation to one of confidence and acceptance. As consumers continue to embrace and positively interact with AI applications it is a noticeable jolt to their experience when they encounter a business that does not offer the same type of user experience that they have become accustomed to expect.
Consumer uptake and confidence in this type of interaction has in turn seen business confidence grow. This is evident in the fact that companies have tripled their investment in artificial intelligence since 2013. Whilst the well-known tech companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Google obviously lead the way, the many options and functions for introducing AI into any business mean that even those with seemingly minimal funds to allocate to this endeavor can still very much reaps considerable benefits.
Voice Search and AI Assistants
The advancement of voice search is a great example of how AI technology is changing the way we do things. As smart-speaker devices, such as Siri and Alexa, and search engines get better at receiving, analysing and responding to voice search queries this will continue to generate a different, and more conversational, user experience.
Instead of typing “best Italian restaurant Sydney” into a search bar, consumers will ask a device a properly structured question, much like speaking to a friend. They might say “Where is the best Italian restaurant in Sydney?” and the response will be like a conversation too. A spoken reply that directly and specifically addresses the question, not a list of websites and/or reviews to scroll through and click on.
This has a huge impact on businesses that may be working hard to get their website ranking well for internet search engine results. Of course, that remains an important part of any comprehensive marketing strategy. But as more and more searches will be done via voice search functions in the future, it would be detrimental to not include this in your approach in order to remain current and relevant alongside your competitors.
Chatbots provide yet another way for consumers to interact with your business and the beauty is that they are available anytime, anywhere. The traditional business model of only being available to attend to customer enquiries from 9 am – 5 pm, Monday to Friday is now a significant disadvantage. Using chatbots, businesses and consumers are seamlessly interacting at all hours of the day and night. Consumers not only enjoy the fact that they can get in touch with you at a time that suits them but they also often prefer to engage with chatbots as they offer an amazing customer service experience – responsive, accurate and patient. Like many other forms of AI, chatbots are a great tool for automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks. More and more businesses, around 80% of all businesses in fact, either currently use chatbots, or plan to start using them in their business by 2020.
Like all technology, chatbots come in many shapes and sizes. Not every business needs the Rolls Royce of chatbots. It can be as simple as generating automated responses to a list of commonly asked questions or letting someone know that their request has been received and someone will respond soon, or as complex as the complete process of booking, tracking and paying for an Uber ride.
Artificial Intelligence is not another “marketing fad”
It is pretty clear that AI is not just another gimmick or fad that will have its day and then soon fade into the background to be replaced by the next interesting thing.
In all its forms, artificial intelligence is quickly becoming a critical business survival tool. Whilst its specific applications and benefits will obviously vary from one industry to the next, and each business to the next, there is no denying that businesses who do not seek to introduce artificial intelligence in some way, will inevitably find themselves at a distinct disadvantage. In a highly competitive business landscape, where everyone is striving for the illusive competitive edge or point of difference, you simply cannot afford not to embrace and move forward with artificial intelligence in your business.
Contact us at Clarity Marketing and Communication to find out more about how you can improve your business processes and customer experience with the help of artificial intelligence.