A few days ago, I had a conversation with the marketing director of a large company that I am working with on digital transformation. We talked in particular about how artificial intelligence would change the interactions between brands and their customers, and the parallels with how we use GPS.
GPS: from toy to essential tool
When GPS was first available, it was a bit of fun for many people, and a way to manage if you didn’t have a map. Now, most, if not all, new cars have GPS fitted, and nobody even considers going anywhere by car without using GPS. It has also become far more than simply a map, thanks to its real-time connectivity.
We rely on it not just to choose the most appropriate route in absolute terms, but to help identify the route that will work best under the current traffic conditions. That’s why we use it to get home from the office: it’s not that we don’t know the route or the possible options, but the GPS knows about the conditions too. It will take into account the amount of traffic, congestion, and any roadworks on your usual route, and all the alternatives. It will therefore help you make the right decisions. At each intersection, it will recommend the fastest route (although it is not always infallible).
I think we are likely to see a similar transformation in customer experience as artificial intelligence (AI) becomes more routine. I am not talking here about solutions exploiting AI such as robots, that might take the place of people. Instead, I am thinking more about an intelligence capable of understanding the consumer as an individual. This type of system would instantly know each customer as a result of all the data they have already provided. As the service to the customer becomes more valuable, they will be more prepared to provide more data, and therefore help the system to help the customer even more.
Acceptance and value
As we have seen with GPS, customers are ready to accept AI, but only if it provides real value and improves their brand experience. If we’re honest, that’s pretty much the approach that everyone takes to digital transformation: it is a trade-off. The increasing level of digitization of customer journeys makes it possible to collect more and more information. These data are exploited by mathematical algorithms. Adoption is determined by the quality of the results: if GPS had not provided sufficient value, we can be sure that it would long since have been abandoned like so many other technologies. Without data, there can be no individualized path, no behavioral analysis, no customization in real time. The addition of data means that we can say goodbye to mass marketing, and hello to individualized customer experience.As we have seen with GPS, customers are ready to accept #AI, but only if it provides real value and improves their brand experience. #CustomerIntelligence Click To Tweet
This transformation of the customer relationship also has an impact on the company and changes its main functions. As Daniel Newman sets out in his paper Digital Intelligence: The Heart Of Successful Digital Transformation, it follows that the CMO will focus more on customer experience, but the CFO will also be forced to understand the new situation, with technology supporting timely investments.
Daniel Newman's other important point is that the digital transformation of a company is based on a “digital intelligence platform”. There are a number of mechanisms of artificial intelligence, including machine and deep learning (recommendations and risk analysis, for example), the treatment of natural language and speech (chatbots, voice recognition and analysis) or image processing (such as recognition of shapes or faces). To exploit them requires infrastructure that can manage four essential steps. These steps start with data management, including historical, offline, external, and contextual data, and then require an analytical layer to process, understand and transform data to make them relevant and exploitable by the AI. Finally, the infrastructure must be able to communicate this decision in real time.
A simple rule
This sounds complex, but the underlying principle is not. As soon as the value proposition of any given technology makes sense to us as consumers, then we adopt it. As adoption spreads, new services will flourish in everyday life, including reading or film viewing recommendations, sports or financial coaching, smart houses, or even automated shopping.
We can therefore predict that as the value grows, AI will gradually take over our everyday life, just as we use GPS even on familiar roads.