Jennifer Cantero, Sensiba San Filippo LLP
In the last 20 years, to say the art and science of marketing has changed would be an understatement. First it was the internet, then social media, the internet of things, and big data; however, this is all old news. If you want to remain relevant as a marketer, your future includes artificial intelligence (AI). Marketers will need to provide personalized experiences at speed and scale in ways that are not humanly possible…until now
When the World Wide Web went live to the world in August 1991, there was no fanfare in the global press. In fact, most people around the world did not even know what the Internet was. AI has been developing much in the same way, right under our noses.
Many experts have stated that within the next three to five years, marketing professionals at all levels will see their careers disrupted and greatly impacted by AI. The University of Oxford did a study on the computerization of industries, and while a few job tasks will go away, marketers as a whole will not fade away into the darkness. This is good news!
Oxford predicted that telemarketing through humans is becoming obsolete and soon search engine optimization (SEO) will become archaic in its current human-powered form. Experts also say that content strategists, website content managers, and market researchers are likely to be impacted too, although they are not yet clear on how.
One thing is absolute – we all will have to shift how we do our jobs. AI is not meant to replace humans, it is meant to enhance our capabilities, help us work more effectively, and give us greater performance. It allows you to leverage all the data you have to tell intriguing stories and create better narratives.
Now that all our fears of the job snatching robot invasion are assuaged, let’s talk about what AI can do and what you can do now to leverage it. We will begin with what AI really is. AI is the overarching term of the tools and technologies designed to make machines smarter. There are different types of learning a machine can do including: machine learning, deep learning, image recognition learning, cognitive learning, and augmented learning.
Companies like Tesla are using deep learning to teach cars to drive. Siri and Alexa are using deep learning to understand your habits and make suggestions. The same goes for Netflix and Facebook. You are already teaching the robots of the future whether you know it or not.
A great example is how The Associated Press has changed how they create their earnings reports. Before using AI, they produced 300 earnings reports per quarter by hand; they now publish 3,000 each quarter written by machines.
Imagine your drip marketing campaigns building themselves, newsletters publishing themselves with extremely targeted content, and SEO adjusting itself to stay relevant. Go head, calculate how much time that would save you…pretty cool, huh?
Here are three things you can start doing today to embrace the AI revolution:
- Make a list of your daily tasks. Everyday marketing tasks like creating the perfect blog title, sending emails, and scheduling social media posts have the potential to be automated through AI. Build a list of these functions to see what kind of AI tools are available to automate it intelligently. It can be small stuff, but you will gain back a good amount of time.
- Look at your data. Think about the data you have – the stories you have to tell and the data you have sitting there untouched – that you could do something with. Then search for tools using Natural Language Generation (NLG) to turn the data into narratives and stories. NLG software turns structured data (like reports, descriptions, and memos) into written narrative. The quality of the writing is like a human being, but at the speed of thousands of pages per second. You will have to teach the machine a bit upfront, but from there, it can easily conduct your reporting and storytelling more efficiently, faster, and to scale.
- Look at the systems you already have and how they are evolving to AI. Interview the technology vendors you are already using and find out how they are implementing AI in their systems. If they are not in the realm already, you better find a new vendor, as they will become quickly irrelevant in the marketplace.
AI is going to be baked into everything within the next two to three years. It is getting smarter, faster, and cheaper, bringing the disruptive power of machine learning and cognitive computing to the marketing industry…and to accounting marketers who can harness the power of AI will be able to do more with less, run personalized campaigns of unprecedented complexity, and transform business as usual through new methods of machine-intelligent marketing.