Artificial intelligence – automated engagement
A couple of years ago, marketing automation was the in vogue topic of discussion. For Engage Hub, that was about having automated systems in place that might, for example, automatically send a customer an SMS if they’d already been sent an email but hadn’t opened it, or clicked on the appropriate link. But when Facebook launched its Messenger Platform developer chatbot API in April, it pushed a whole different kind of automation into the mainstream.
We are of course talking about artificial intelligence (AI), and the process of machine learning to enable ‘bots’ to assume a customer engagement function in a variety of different circumstances. AI will help businesses recognise patterns, learn from them and enable better decision making in ways, faster than we have ever known. Thanks to improvements in big data technology that enable real time decision making, it will become increasingly difficult for even the most discerning consumer to identify whether or not they are in communication with a real person, or a machine.
In September, Google, Facebook, Amazon, IBM and Microsoft joined forces to create a new AI partnership to improve the public’s understanding of what AI is and the development of appropriate standards to ensure its proper use. Alongside all these altruistic endeavours, you can be sure that they’ll be looking to beat each other to the punch in delivering new AI technology to the market place, by throwing large sums of money at R&D and the acquisition of exciting new companies at the cutting edge of developments in this field.
With such heavyweights jockeying for early mover advantage this year, expect the arms race to kick into overdrive in 2017 as marketers say goodbye to manually segmenting lists to target categories of customers. They will instead rely on cloud-based customer engagement solutions to select the most appropriate communication channel and message to reach their customers in more targeted ways than ever before. Over the next 12 months, consumer experiences with brands will be transformed, as organisations and marketers use this technology to better understand their customer’s preferences, engage in deeper interactions and communicate to them in more contextually relevant ways – ultimately improving the overall customer experience.