Don’t worry, marketers. A machine is not going to take your job – any time soon. But Artificial Intelligence (AI) could very likely make your job a lot easier today buy giving you tool and insights that empower you to make decisions.

Artificial Intelligence is a very broad term that describes many aspects of the field of cognitive technology. Steve Ardire is an adviser to startups involved in developing Artificial Intelligence applications, and his definition of the term Machine Intelligence seems best for the purpose of this discussion:

“I define it as Machine Intelligence= AI + Machine Learning.– Steve Ardire

Mr. Ardire’s Huffington Post interview gives excellent insight into how AI is changing traditional backward-looking, static data analysis into forward-reaching, real-time dynamic data insights that give marketers what they need to make decisions.

We’ve done a previous #SMXChat about the value of data science. Data scientists “don’t scale” though, as pointed out by Huffington Post. The vast majority of businesses can’t employ data scientists, much less the development expertise required to collect the data necessary for them to anaylze.

Enter “cognitive technology.” What’s that? Well, think of Siri, or Amazon Echo, or Spotify, Pandora, and IBM Watson.

‘Cognitive technology is there to extend and amplify human expertise, not replace it’:, says Rob High CTO of IBM Watson.

AI is already a part of our everyday lives. And on 18th September, Salesforce released Einstein for Marketing and Analytics Clouds.

Now I’m as skeptical of AI as the next person. You won’t be seeing me in an Uber autonomous vehicle anytime soon. But the reality of deep learning in machines is exciting to me in the context of marketing. It’s not machines learning to make decisions for us, it’s machines dealing with the completely unmanageable volume of data and giving humans tools to test theories, develop hypotheses, and gain predictive insights in order to be better at what we do.

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Actually the distopian image of AI seems unlikely. As Rob High puts it:

Cognitive systems have already proven to have a remarkable ability to read and analyse data in a way that conclusions become immediately obvious. Nonetheless, doing so employs relatively narrow forms of cognitive reasoning as compared to the general reasoning abilities of humans…

The wide and deep cognitive ability of the human brain will never exist in machines, including our traits of empathy, reason and soul. Those attributes make us, well, human.

Q1: How crucial is data to marketing?

Q2: Do marketers have enough or too much data?

Q3: The golden ticket to customer engagement and loyalty is data. Agree or disagree?

Q4: Focusing on data distracts us from humanising our marketing efforts. What do you think?

Q5: As a marketer, I’m interested in AI:

Now

In six months or less

In more than six months

Never

Why?

For more research and reading, there are embedded links to the articles sourced for this post, but here’s the list for greater ease:

Cognitive technology is there to extend and amplify human expertise, not replace it’  The Drum News,20th June 2016.

Cognitive Business: Inside the Mind of an AI Startup Advisor Huffington Post interview: Steve Ardire, 19th September 2016

Welcome to the World of Intelligent Marketing and Analytics with Salesforce Einstein Salesforce Blog, 18th September 2016

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