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Business innovation: how AI is changing business

Artificial Intelligence is a crucial tool for many businesses today. Two experts share their insights on how you can harness its power for business innovation.

Today, business innovation and artificial intelligence (AI) seem to go hand-in-hand to improve many areas of a business. In customer service, for example, chatbots are now interacting with online customers to improve customer service. In HR, artificial intelligence is being used to speed up the recruitment process, and in marketing, AI-powered tools are increasingly used to personalize the customer experience.

A 2018 study by McKinsey Global Institute predicts that by 2030, 70 percent of companies might have adopted at least one type of AI technology. (The study was based on two independent surveys of 1,600 business executives across industries worldwide and 3,000 corporations in 14 sectors in 10 countries.)

Despite common fears surrounding the impact of artificial intelligence on employment, AI is here to stay. AI and machine learning (a subset of AI) are at the forefront of business innovation.

Is AI-Powered Business Innovation Changing Marketing?


Let’s take marketing as an example: To get some insights into how artificial intelligence can help you take your marketing strategy to the next level, I spoke to Neal Schaffer, a leading social media marketing strategist.

(Schaffer is the author of three books on social media, with his fourth book, The Age of Influence, set to be published in 2020.)

According to Schaffer, artificial intelligence isn’t changing the approach to marketing—yet.

“I think we’re seeing, in the different tools that exist for marketers, that slowly these tools are beginning to leverage AI and machine learning to give [them] better insight into their marketing activities.”

In this day and age, Schaffer adds, everyone is awash in data. Using these tools can help marketers analyse the data swirling all around them.

“I think AI is actually going to save marketers a lot of time and also make them look smarter,” he says.

AI has found its way to influencer marketing, as well.

“How do you determine who is an influencer when there are so many fake followers and so much fake engagement that exists on the Internet?” Schaffer says. “We can teach the AI engine how to spot people when they have an unnatural spike in follower increase in a limited amount of time, which could be a sign of fake followers.

“If they average 1 percent engagement,” he continues, “but all of a sudden have 5 percent engagement when they publish a sponsored post using #ad, we might suspect that they participated in an Instagram pod to boost engagement levels. These are some of the ways AI can automatically flag accounts that require further investigation when their influence should be questioned. We can teach artificial intelligence to look for these trends that might indicate that these people are fake—their influence is not authentic.”

Can Smaller Businesses Leverage AI for Marketing?

Artificial intelligence isn’t just for huge companies—small or medium-size business can also harness the power of AI to maximize the ROI of their marketing efforts. A chatbot that interacts directly with users on your website is a great entry point for “companies to first really experience what AI can do for their business,” Schaffer says.

Schaffer uses chatbot technology customized for his own use-case scenario on his website. Chatbots can increase engagement with a website visitor, Schaffer explains.

“People come to your website and not everyone engages. Not everyone goes to a contact form or buys a product,” he says. “But a lot of people are very comfortable engaging with these bots these days. So I’m getting more people engaging with my bot and having a conversation with me there versus going all the way to my contact form and filling out that form.”

There are a number of tools available right now that leverage AI and are accessible to smaller businesses. For example, there are tools that use AI and natural language processing to understand a company’s keywords and brand messaging, and basically repurpose a company’s content.

Start with the problems you most need to solve in your business, and then work backward and see if machine learning might be a good solution for them. Don’t start by assuming that you need to use machine learning and AI just because everyone else is using it.

—Adam Geitgey, software engineer and consultant


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