Key Speaker: Ms. Victoria Petrock (Principal Analyst- Industries, e-Marketer)


The word Artificial Intelligence (AI) fills people up with a sense of suspicion or even fear. Images of spaceships, robots and a world run by machines conjure up. However, contrary to such opinion, AI has been there for a long time and is now ubiquitous with everyday objects. It is no longer a product of sci-fi films alone. This write-up will explore the various facets and how the industry has grown as detailed in this webinar.

Existing Trends

In the present day, AI is used across different products, though often under differing names. People got an introduction to this concept through Hollywood themes in films such as Terminator or Samaritan. There is also no particular definition of AI universally accepted due to the vast capabilities of the same. As per business research conducted by Narrative Science, to the maximum of people, AI represents technology that acts or thinks like humans. To the next largest segment, it means technology that can self-improvise over time. To others it is something that understands language, or answers questions automatically or even anything that clears the Turing Test. As the name suggests, the Turing Test was developed by famous mathematician Alan Turing. It tests the ability of machines to exhibit human-like intelligence. A human is asked to evaluate the conversation between a human and a machine. In case he cannot distinguish then the machine has human level artificial intelligence.

What exactly is AI?

Definitions of AI abound but few are concise enough. Due to the suspicion generated regarding the term in its early stages, several developers have shied away from using the term, and instead developed related ones which ultimately mean the same. The terms used include machine learning, deep learning, cognitive computing, intelligence amplification, neural networks, computer vision, machine translation, predictive analytics or algorithmic assistance. Ultimately, AI is nothing but the processing of huge quantities of data to extract enough information to predict future events or enabling machines to understand human conversation. Once new technologies started becoming mainstream, these terms started getting used instead of using the term AI, due to the mystery surrounding the same. Even experts have shied away from using the same. A study conducted has revealed that only 37% of people admit to using such technologies at work. On closer inspection, it turns out that 88% of those same places surveyed may not actually know but are using technologies run on AI. Instead organizations openly admit using 3-D Printing, Drones, Virtual Reality (VR), Internet-of-Things (IoT) and robotics more so than AI. All these technologies use AI to great extent.

Related Terms

Machine learning is the branch of AI which tracks conducts extensive data warehousing from historical data and uses existing algorithms to perform multiple tasks. Deep learning is an advanced form of the same. Neural networks are connected to various specific data points and guess answers to queries. These are extensively used for CRM functions. These are not implemented until they become as error-free as possible which only takes place after substantial trial-and-error.

AI Usage

AI is already being used extensively in functions such as fraud detection, self- driving cars or as digital assistants. As per a study commissioned by marketing research firm Tractica, the AI market will be worth a whopping US$ 37 billion by the year 2025. While for long AI was either hidden, mysterious or only the preserve of techno-geeks, now it has suddenly come back to the forefront. The primary reason for that is today, computing power is more accessible due to the presence of smartphones. Also the computing power has gone up tremendously while the average price has evened out. Lots of startups have flooded into the market launching their own innovations, many of which make extensive use of AI based technologies. Besides startups, even existing tech giants have entered this market greatly trying to leverage the renewed interest in the industry. Some important acquisitions have also taken place. Tech giants already deep into this field include Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Google, IBM, Baidu, Samsung, Alibaba, Apple and Oracle. Industry-academia interface has also risen with greater interest on marketing automation from the academic community. Big Data has revolutionized the way work is going on. The enormous data now available has provided fillip to organizations which can now process granular bits of information leveraging AI. Another related technology which uses such tools is IoT which has also developed at around the same period. AI has now stamped its presence across industries and throughout the value chain.

AI for Marketing & Advertising

Artificial Intelligence is being used for several different facets of marketing. It includes lead generation, campaign optimization, content creation, brand building and marketing intelligence. Turner Broadcasting uses IBM’s Watson supercomputer to extract business intelligence about the market for their various offerings in order to optimize delivery. This has proven to be a blessing in disguise for IBM as AI allows its Watson system to be used year-round. Adgorithm’s Albert is another similar supercomputer with high level capabilities. BBC does something similar for its global content and matches its audience base with appropriate programmes depending on their honed tastes.

AI for Lead Generation

AI is also used for lead generation and eventual customer acquisition. A startup Mariana uses business analytics capabilities to filter data in its funnel. All the marketing or advertising channels are squeezed across using those capabilities to finally come up with only the most relevant leads. This filtering process helps reach the most interested potential customer. Another firm Conversica not only captures customers but also nurtures them using AI based tools. The Weather Company even does precision advertising for its major client- Campbell Soup- after analysis user trends.

AI for Marketing Optimization

Several players such as Adgorithms, Amplero, Rocket Fuel, Affectiva, Nielsen, IBM and Amazon use AI to measure the effectiveness of various marketing campaigns. Ads are delivered by Rocket Fuel depending on understanding of demographics, contexts or behaviours. Even the iconic Harley Davidson motorbike company has used AI to optimize feedback. Recommendation or referral systems have also grown in their capabilities. Stitch Fix for example uses machine learning chatbots for matching apparel or accessory to preferences or budgets. When Kia was one of the brand partners for the Super Bowl, it optimized data using AI. It was able to extract data from across social media giants such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to optimize its marketing platform for the mega event. It even ran contests for fans and was able to amplify that the Denver Broncos NFL outfit was the best supported on social media.

Smarter Search Interfaces

Google, which is the largest search engine operator in the world has been using AI for quite some time now. It uses its own developed Rank-Brain to optimize search engine queries. In fact, Rank-Brain is already its third largest source for the same. LHW which is a hotel room aggregator is the first within the travel and tourism industry using the Watson system. This is to ease up search on the interface. Unique searches can be performed using concepts or keywords such as ‘couple’ or ‘adventure’.

Content Development

Of all business innovations, this is possibly the most challenging and revolutionary. Media houses such as the Washington Post, Facebook, Arria and Narrative Science are increasingly using robots to actually create content. In fact Wordsmith creates more than a billion and a half pieces of content for more than forty industries globally.

Bots or Assistants

Unfortunately, bots and digital assistants have by and large not been optimized to any great extent. Apple’s Siri still makes errors of judgment. Microsoft went red-faced recently when its Chatbot Tay was launched specifically for Twitter. It extracted racist language from users and started such abuse. Tay became such an embarrassment that it had to be taken off air in less than a full day before it got launched. Swedbank used in the Scandinavian countries has fortunately been a far better success. Facebook’s native Messenger service is used up by 1-800-Flowers and Health-Tap to connect with potential customers using chatbots which work as human reps.

Future of AI

Fears exist about the future of AI and not without reason. A study conducted by Forrester claims that a sixth of existing jobs in the US will get defunct in a decade’s time. However, that same study also suggests that nearly nine million jobs will be created during that same time which will be dependent on AI. It is also considered by some experts that AI will free up a lot of mundane jobs so that humans can concentrate on more creative pursuits.


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