AI is here, take notice

If you think that AI is the future, I’m sorry to say, you’re wrong. 

In fact, AI and machine learning have proliferated so many areas of life that 63 per cent of people globally don’t even realise they’re already using it. For instance, the use of voice search has increased dramatically, and consumers are now comfortable buying from a bot that provides customised service (even if they still prefer human contact over automation).

AI is here and the businesses that understand how to harness it now will be ahead of the game in the next two years. Those that don’t may end up like Blockbuster.

Back in the year 2000, a man managed to talk his way into a meeting with John Antioco, the then CEO of Blockbuster, and proposed a partnership to manage their fledgeling online business. Antioco laughed the man out of the room saying he had millions of customers and thousands of successful retail stores and he really needed to just focus on those to bring in the cash.

The man that made the proposition turned out to be Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, who in 2018 turned-over $15.8b and today has a personal net worth of $3.8b. And Blockbuster, well they are among the casualties of the 88 per cent of Fortune 500 companies that existed in 1955 who are now no more.

Why? Because the CEO of Blockbuster was so focused on exploiting his already successful business model that he failed to explore what could be possible in the future.

AI is already providing marketers with superpowers – like the ability to process and analyse huge amounts of customer data in real-time and optimise accordingly. And humans, in turn, can use these insights, combined with their uniquely human ability to empathise, to create truly customer-centric brand experiences.

Imagine a world where humans and machines are regularly working side-by-side, and you’ll begin to see why experts are predicting that by 2035 AI will be able to boost workplace productivity by 40 per cent.

And if businesses recognise that AI is in the now, they can get ahead of the curve, ahead of their competitors, and ahead of customer expectations.

Yet despite the availability of this technology, marketers are still spending far too much time monitoring and programming their digital tools just to ensure they do their jobs correctly and prove ROI. Too much time justifying their existence when they could be using available autonomous cognitive technology to back them up. Until the technology is embraced, marketers will become more and more bogged down by menial tasks and therefore less likely to engage their uniquely human skills into the customer equation. 

Machine learning is reinventing the way we market, and we must not only embrace our IQ and EQ in this new reality, but also our AQ, the Adaptability Quotient. AQ is a measure of the human ability to adapt to changing circumstances, priorities, technologies and disrupt ourselves through exploration of what’s possible – not exploitation of what we already know. And it is key to thriving in this new environment. 

If turbo-charging the customer experience is truly your priority, then don’t wait to embrace the machines that free you up to be more human. Robots are already working hard to bring an additional layer of IQ at a pace that no human can or ever will be able to achieve.

As leaders, it is imperative that we explore the possibilities and harness the abilities of machines to deliver the things that will achieve the best outcomes for our customers and allow our organisations to thrive. As humans and leaders in our field, it is up to us to never lose sight of this, especially in the face of new technology and the constant of change that will forever be part of our lives.

There is no doubt that there is still much to be done in this space. And although I truly believe that machines will never be able to replace humans, especially when it involves matters that require empathy and human connection, we need to pay attention and teach the machines good habits from the get-go.