Reinventing experiences with AI

More than ever before, marketers are expected to be smarter in their campaign strategies and faster in their executions. They're expected to know how to mine, analyse and decode their customer data to derive actionable insights that deliver memorable and high-impact customer experiences.

The problem? According to a recent Gartner marketing analytics study, many marketers are spending too much time (up to 20-30 hours per week) trying to manage and corral their customer data, leaving them with less than ideal time and resources to put their findings and insights from that data to work.

Another study by the IBM Institute of Business Value found that CMOs are turning to AI to combat this potential loss of productivity, while at the same time delivering greater personalised client experiences and making more informed decisions. In fact, nearly 40% of CMOs are planning to reinvent customer experiences with AI, the study found.

At the recent IBM Marketing Pop Up Studio: Reinventing Experiences with AI Workshop created in collaboration with Marketing, Deon Newman, CMO and VP strategy, IBM Asia Pacific, put the issue into context. "Digital transformation isn't just a buzzword.  It's really happening, and it centres around data. AI has given us the tools to use our data better."

AI is already impacting several industries in very tangible ways. Deon cited music producer, Alex Da Kid, who leveraged AI to compile a database of powerful sentiments about love that became a Grammy award-winning hit song, and shared how food company, Knorr used the technology as the backbone of their “Love At First Taste” campaign, which used a survey of more than 12,000 individuals to find that 78% were more likely to be attracted to people who liked the same flavours as them. The campaign garnered massive publicity and response, and was credited with repositioning the brand and driving emotional engagement with Millenials.

Adapting to change

Several businesses in Asia have already begun their digital transformation journey. During the morning's panel session, Anindya Dasgupta, global chief marketing and sales officer at Fonterra, recounted how the team's efforts to transform digitally required a whole new perspective on manpower.

For example, involving digitally native 18 and 19 year olds in key projects, working hand-in-hand with top functional experts,allowed them to find disruptive solutions they might have missed otherwise. "That's a complete change in our approach and how we do things." He also noted that more and more CMOs, like himself, are responsible for P&Ls (profit and loss). "It's great, because it forces you to break down silos and adopt a more commercial approach while ensuring that you're doing everything you can to understand your customers."

Other pointers shared by the panel included the need to 'self-disrupt' in order to evolve and adapt to today's pace of change, collaborating across departments to expose real insights, and looking at AI as a collaborative force that could aggregate a lot of ideas in a short amount of time, and help marketers take some of the guesswork out of the equation.

Becoming the chief experience officer

The tools are becoming available for marketers to hone in on the customer experience with newfound precision. From visual-recognition software that can find you the perfect image for your campaign in seconds, to platforms that help you have the right products in the right place with hyper-local data, to infusing machine learning into marketing innovation to better predict what new products will sell, AI is redefining the marketing function.

As Anthony Lee, associate partner for cognitive process transformation at IBM ASEAN noted, " You're not just the CMO anymore, you're now in the position to be the CEO - chief experience officer."

AI might be the new science, but the speakers at the IBM Marketing Pop Up Studio: Reinventing Experiences with AI Workshop, all agreed that the Art still had its place.

"Enterprises who are adopting AI with a design-led approach are the ones succeeding. And it’s the CMOs who are instilling a customer-centric mindset across the enterprise through cross-functional collaboration to drive purposeful application of AI and machine learning to deliver personalized customer experiences and business model innovation," said Charu Mahajan, partner and sector lead - Consumer Goods, Retail, and Travel & Transport, IBM Services ASEAN.

When asked for practical advice, one of the speakers reminded the audience about the importance of being inclusive and leading from the middle, adding that there was enough sunlight out there for everyone to shine. Anindya echoed those sentiments and added, "Don't pretend you know everything. Keep learning and asking questions."