If you are looking for an answer to the question What is Artificial Intelligence? and you only have a minute, then here's the definition the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence offers on its home page: "the scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior and their embodiment in machines."
However, if you are fortunate enough to have more than a minute, then please get ready to embark upon an exciting journey exploring AI (but beware, it could last a lifetime) …
As a digital analyst or marketer, you know the importance of analytical decision making. Go to any industry conference, blog, meet up, or even just read the popular press, and you will hear and see topics like machine learning, artificial intelligence, and predictive analytics everywhere. Because many of us don't come from a technical/statistical background, this can be both a little confusing and intimidating. But don't sweat it, in this post, I will try to clear up a some of this confusion by introducing a simple, yet powerful framework – the intelligent agent – which will help link these new ideas with familiar tools and concepts like A/B Testing and Optimization. Note: the intelligent agent framework is used as the guiding principle in Russell and Norvig's excellent text Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach – it's an awesome book, and I recommend anyone who wants to learn more to go get a copy or check out their online AI course.
Marketing has reached a tipping point This year businesses and brands will spend more on digital advertising than traditional forms. Total digital ad spending in 2017 will equal $77.37 billion, or 38.4% of total ad spending, while TV ad spending will total $72.01 billion, or 35.8% of total media ad spending, according to eMarketer. The fastest growing component of internet ad spend will be social media, which will grow at an average rate of 20% a year globally to 2019 when it will hit $55 billion, according to Zenith. So although programmatic advertising on digital media sites has long been heralded the future, the smart businesses are looking to social. And together with artificial intelligence (AI) it appears set to transform how companies connect with their target markets.
Behind the scenes, artificial intelligence (AI) technology is increasingly present in sales and marketing software. And many believe that it is not just going to have an impact but that it is going to dramatically reshape how sales and marketing function in the coming years. While the phone call is an ancient phenomenon to many individuals, companies large and small still conduct a lot of their sales activity over the phone. Unfortunately, for obvious reasons, tracking, analyzing and improving the performance of salespeople on phone calls is a much more challenging task than, say, tracking, analyzing and improving the performance of email sales. But a number of companies, including Marketo, AdRoll and Qualtrics, are using "conversation intelligence" company Chorus.ai's
Artificial intelligence and business, it seems, is a marriage that is all but inevitable. Artificial intelligence is intelligence built into computing systems, or as MIT professor Marvin Minsky put it, "the science of making machines do those things that would be considered intelligent if they were done by people." In sum, this concept of extending the "intelligence" of systems is the core of how AI enables critical advantage for businesses. People use it every day in their personal and professional lives. What is new is are new business offerings thanks to two major factors: 1) a massive increase in computer processing speeds at reasonable costs, and 2) massive amounts of rich data for mining and analysis.
Determining marketing and PR's business impact is a major challenge for both B2C and B2B companies. In B2B, long customer buying journeys and extended time lag between "marketing or PR cause" and "business effect" made it all but impossible to judge what the business was getting in return for each dollar of marketing investment. Caught in the annual "planning and budgeting" competition for resources, marketing and PR often have gotten the short end of the stick. The result has been that marketing and PR's business impact has gone unrecognized and unrewarded in too many companies. From 2001 until 2016, I served as CEO of BMC Software.
The digital transformation underway at Under Armour is erasing any stale stereotypes that athletes and techies don't mix. While hardcore runners sporting the company's latest microthread singlet can't see Hadoop, Apache Hive, Apache Spark, or Presto, these technologies are teaming up to track some serious mileage. Under Armour is working on a "connected fitness" vision that connects body, apparel, activity level, and health. By combining the data from all these sources into an app, consumers will gain a better understanding of their health and fitness, and Under Armour will be able to identify and respond to customer needs more quickly with personalized services and products. The company stores and analyzes data about food and nutrition, recipes, workout activities, music, sleep patterns, purchase histories, and more.
Not long ago, reaching audiences through technologies like email was considered breakthrough. Fast forward to today, a hyper-accelerated existence in which the average human checks their smartphone over 150 times daily. This phone-fiddling translates into the average enterprise dealing with somewhere between 200 and 300 million digital signals per day, yet most can barely handle about 2 percent of that data. This implies companies attempt to make sense of around 4 million signals every single day -- which is still far too many to analyze, interpret, and respond to quickly. As for the 98 percent of the signals organizations can't handle, massive amounts of opportunity and insight are lost.
In the words of author Malcolm Gladwell, A.I. is reaching a tipping point, "that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire." According to data from CB Insights, the number of companies and the amount of funding funneling into A.I.-based companies continues to rise. International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts a 54% growth in Marketing spend on AI software over the next four years, from $360 million in 2016 to more than $2 billion in 2020. Why? Efficiency and transparency are the promise of A.I. – where a machine takes over a repetitive but vital task. A.I. is being used by Marketing both behind the scenes and on center stage.
Films dating back as far as 1927 (and perhaps beyond) predicted machine intelligence would be the future. But for as many who saw the vision, there was an equal number who believed the forecast was soundless--how could a machine possibly replicate and surpass the intelligence of the human who created it? Fast-forward to 2017, and we find two things: machine intelligence is here and rising, and it's quite capable of learning at a much faster rate than us. Look no further than search engines, which compile the digital footprints we leave behind, analyze them to better interpret our unique and changing behaviors, then use that information to tailor individual online experiences. With every search we do, the engines grow smarter about its billions of users and how to better accommodate them.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) may be out of the sci-fi closet but the adoption within MarTech industry is still very much in its nascent stage. With the advent of wireless and virtual technologies in last two decades, businesses have evolved at a breakneck pace. And now, the biggest force pushing that momentum is the refined combination of AI and Machine Learning (AI/ML). While the first half of the decade focused on leveraging Big Data, AI technology in business, especially in sales and marketing, has taken a major lead with its equitable adoption rate. The promise AI offers – intelligent software running on AI/ML algorithms would perform tasks better, faster and cheaper, is an optimistic opportunity within MarTech.