By Marc Keating, chief innovation officer at Stein IAS
Artificial intelligence (AI) may bring to mind sci-fi images of earth-dominating robots, but it's a term that's set to shape the future of B-to-B marketing.
Surprising? Consider this: AI may already be selecting your next film on Netflix, your next song on Spotify, or helping to choose your next meal out, based on recommendations by Apple's Siri.
Over the past decade, B-to-B brands and agencies have widely adopted modern marketing — a paradigm of inbound marketing programs where data analysis is king. But as this becomes ubiquitous, and we move into marketing's post-modern phase, it's increasingly evident that AI has the potential to become the next major step forward in the marketing stack.
So what exactly is AI? In a nutshell, it's a type of deep learning that allows computers and machines the capability to show human-like, intelligent behavior. A step above normal machine learning, it also allows marketers to anticipate a customer's needs better than ever before, leaving them feeling valued as individuals, and improving engagement and brand loyalty as a result. In these regards, AI embodies post-modern marketing in that this technology can actually make marketing more human.
AI is also happening much faster than expected. A report from Narrative Science found that 62 percent of enterprises will use AI technologies by 2018, while 38 percent are already doing so. In fact, many B-to-B marketers have unknowingly embraced AI already, using marketing tech platforms with dynamic content and predictive applications to achieve more accurate insights into customer needs.
Today, B-to-B marketing campaigns are only as effective as the technology that powers them and the experience they deliver. AI may well be a force that moves us into the post-modern era. It seems the question is not whether B-to-B marketing will be affected by artificial intelligence, but how far exactly these machines can go.
Marc Keating is the chief innovation officer at Stein IAS (@SteinIAS), a global B-to-B agency.