Business Insights

Business Insights

Will Robots rule the digital world?


With our world becoming increasingly automated and decisions and tasks being implemented by machines through the advent of artificial intelligence, marketers and consumers alike are left wondering at what stage will robots take over the digital world?


The investment in AI has been significant – $1.5 billion to be exact – so it is safe to say that AI can no longer be viewed as just a fad. Projections by Gartner show that at least 85% of customer interactions will be managed without human involvement by 2020; while at least 16% of American jobs are set to be replaced by AI at the end of the decade (Forrester). While some consider this scary, a large faction of marketers are looking to embrace this technology to harness the absolute power that comes with it.

There’s a lot of data; and then there’s Big Data

As numerous marketers have learnt, having lots of data does not necessarily provide you with the power associated with big data. And as consumers are becoming increasingly demanding in terms of their online experiences, marketers will need to have a keen understanding of harnessing big data to effectively engage with the ever-increasing fickle consumer.

With recent developments in artificial intelligence and machine learning, marketers will for the first time have assistance in making sense of all this data. As an example, Chatbots implement technologies that monitor consumer purchasing history’s and behaviours, and as such can pre-empt content and offers that would be more applicable to them through real-time data analysis. Time previously spent on developing unique and personalised content will now be done by AI, freeing marketers up to build brand affinity and loyalty at a much lower cost.

Instant gratification will become the norm

The challenge that brands are facing in terms of reaching Millennials has now been compounded by the fact that consumers are spending less time researching websites and navigating apps than they used to. According to Adobe Research, app downloads have decreased by at least 38% in the U.S, while the use of Chatbots has risen. Consumers are simply expecting instant answers, and furthermore, a consistent brand experience at a time and place when they want to engage with the brand. Gone are the days when consumers need to fit in with brand office hours – Chatbots will facilitate consumer acquisition optimisation as many individuals interact on the digital platform during times where marketers are out of the office. Consumer feedback and data is instant, and more importantly, 24/7.

Adapting in real-time 

Marketers have long been challenged with being able to adapt campaigns timeously based on real-time analysis of data. Digital marketing has shortened the time span somewhat, however, unpacking the data post campaign remains challenging. Through the harnessing of AI, marketers will decrease the time it takes to adjust campaigns based on post analysis of campaign results – real time changes will become the norm, based on new trends and consumer inputs and feedback.  Coupled with this is the fact that the more AI is used, the more efficient it becomes, as it learns constantly and adapts to new environments, being able to anticipate changes as they happen. This ultimately results in better targeted and focused campaigns, with granular understanding of how to increase conversions and ROI.

It’s not all sunshine and roses 

Marketers find AI confusing and intimidating. A Demandbase survey indicated that there is a lack of general understanding around AI and how these technologies need to be implemented within the marketing sector. Coupled with the lack of privacy that consumers feel that they may experience with the onset of AI technologies, the scope for failure is large. The ultimate success of AI will be the impact it has on the bottom line, and whether top line revenue targets are increased. Marketers therefore need to be mindful of the use cases they foresee for AI and ensure implementations are done in conjunction with current systems and processes.

With all the hype around AI, Aviva’s CFO put it best – “the idea is not to replace people with robots, but to remove the robot from the person”. Implemented correctly, AI will assist marketers to remove themselves from mechanical, administrative tasks, and to focus their creative energies on developing human to human interactions. And with consumers demanding more personalised experiences, the value of developing those human to human interactions can’t be underestimated.

Written by Este Pretorius

Marketing Director with The Marketing Centre

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