Why marketers need to be obsessed with AI and machine learning in 2020 – and what can be done

Why marketers need to be obsessed with AI and machine learning in 2020 – and what can be done Phill Midwinter is the chief technology officer of AI and ML brand Third Foundation. The enterprise focuses on helping organisations to achieve commercial advantage and improve their marketing performance by utilising savvy automation. With nearly two decades of experience working with technology to drive the strategic use of data within business, Phill is determined to increase the level of real-time information available to clients – and their marketing departments – in order to liberate them so they truly understand data insight.

As we edge ever closer towards the beginning of a new year, the next 12 months are set to provide an extraordinarily challenging time for marketers – but it’s certainly not ‘doom and gloom’ by any means.

Not only will they be expected to seamlessly tackle the increasing volatility, data regulation and apathy towards traditional marketing methods, but they must do it all alongside having a clear, robust and forward-thinking strategy, in order to thrive.

At the heart of such a strategy – and any business' plans – needs to be a serious commitment to data and digital via machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI).

ML and AI can already provide organisations with extraordinary insight into their competitive landscape, current performance and resource allocation. And, in turn, marketers can leverage these insights – along with many others – to radically improve performance.

Microsoft has reported that early adopters of AI for business in the UK have already seen a 5% improvement in productivity, performance and enterprise outcomes, compared with those that have not explored its growing range of capabilities. For those reasons alone, marketers ought to be obsessed with AI and ML in 2020.

But there is more. AI and ML are improving and expanding at unimaginable rates, and soon enough enterprises with the requisite infrastructure will be able to utilise them for a whole range of creative and practical tasks they might not even realise. This means anything from top-line conceptual ideation to writing long, often laborious, emails will be made easier and more effective with the help of robust data – and some very intelligent machinery.

Marketers’ ability to do the parts of their jobs they most enjoy will be enhanced, because the tech will be able to take care of the rest. In fact, roles across the entire business will become more focused on the specific skills that humans possess – meaning work-life should be more ‘pleasant’ for everyone. AI and ML should become the nucleus to the kinds of large-scale transformations most marketing departments secretly dream of implementing.

While such radical change might still be a few years away in 2020, it’s important to understand that the fruits of such evolution will only be available to those who invest early – and well.

To function at full capacity, AI has a whole host of requirements – almost a ‘hierarchy’ of needs – which must be invested in and nurtured. This includes everything from data engineering and optimisation to training employees, in order to understand how they can make use of all the new tools.

Most marketers should now be used to working with data – it’s a part of their daily lives and will only become more engrained into everything they do. Therefore, understanding exactly how essential infrastructure will be imperative towards the successful implementation and utilisation of AI and ML.

In addition, these savvy professionals understand people and therefore know exactly how and why the necessary investments might not be made. The role of a modern-day marketer now is to understand the ever-evolving industry – and that means living and breathing how AI and ML can transform their marketing performance.  

The next 12 months offers marketers a unique opportunity to deliver a new kind of value across their entire business. However, despite the abundant evidence that AI produces unassailable results, Microsoft claims that 51% of organisational leaders say their enterprises still doesn’t have an AI strategy in place. And worse still, PwC reports that only 4% of executives have successfully implemented it into their businesses.

So, what does this all mean for marketers? Simply put, they’re in an extremely powerful position to become the voices of innovation and creativity. Not only that, they will be able to perfectly position themselves as advocates within their organisations who are regarded as pivotal players – all of whom make real meaningful change occur.

Why? Because with technology as powerful as this, it really is a first-past-the-post situation – so what are marketing departments waiting for?  

While they will face resistance, scepticism, and weary reservations about the difficulties involved, data-driven professionals should be obsessed because they understand better than anyone exactly what AI and ML could mean for their organisation. Not only that, they must be making it their business to ensure everyone is enthused as they are.

ML and AI is here to stay. It’s now up to enterprises to truly understand exactly how it can make everyone in their organisation’s jobs more enjoyable – and their lives better. And for marketers? Now is the time to not just believe the hype but hype the belief.

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person?

Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.  

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