Part 1 of 2: Marketing and Media Execs Face Big Challenges… But AI Has Big Answers
Companies adopting core AI capabilities and applications over the next five years will be positioned for significant gains in productivity, efficiency, innovation, and competitive advantage by 2030.
The frothy buzz and bandwagon riding around Artificial Intelligence (AI) these days has the effect of making a multibillion-dollar technology segment seem nebulous. Many of the applications, indeed, are nascent — excitingly so. But in fact, AI is becoming a recognizable change maker in many enterprise settings. Marketing is chief among them.
I feel strongly that marketing, sales, and media executives cannot afford to wait for more clarity before launching serious AI adoption efforts. I see marketing data management and operations as a crucial starting point.
Why You Should Jump in Now
A new report from McKinsey backs me up with some stark predictions. Notes from the AI frontier: Modeling the impact of AI on the world economy points out that companies adopting core AI capabilities and applications over the next five years will be positioned for significant gains in productivity, efficiency, innovation, and competitive advantage by 2030.
Conversely, late adopters may quickly find themselves too far behind and trying to achieve AI competency after faster-moving competitors have captured the best opportunities, talent, and markets. AI is hard enough without the added pressure of playing high-stakes catchup. Once the adoption is in full swing, the work necessary to adapt to AI’s disruptive effects on everything from employee roles to the global economy will be all-encompassing in and of itself.
The report highlights that “front-runners are likely to benefit disproportionately” — with the potential to double cash flow by 2030. Laggards, on the other hand, could experience a 20 percent decline in cash flow (based on the company’s current cost and revenue model).
Competency in AI Applications and Data Management
Competency in AI applications and data management will be essential to staying relevant and competitive as emerging and converging technologies give rise to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. For the report, McKinsey researchers assessed five categories of AI: Computer Vision, Natural Language, Virtual Assistants, Robotic Process Automation, and Advanced Machine Learning. All of these have potential applications in marketing and sales and will be adopted and absorbed by marketers, advertising agencies, and media companies to varying degrees over the next ten years.
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By optimizing their operations through smart data ingestion and unification, big data analytics, and accessible reporting tools, brands, agencies and media companies of all sizes will be empowered to maximize results for themselves and their clients in unprecedented ways — streamlining everything from order entry to campaign and workflow management and increasing visibility, actionable insights, and collaboration.
Where to Start
The success of AI deployments will depend on many factors, including the degree to which intelligent automation is integrated across marketing and sales operations and the extended enterprise. I see the challenges marketers face as they move from mass marketing towards true personalization and targeting. I believe an AI-centric approach is critical to moving away from the volume-centric methods we’ve relied on for so long.
While many existing CRM and marketing automation vendors are bolting-on AI components to their big suites, often through acquisition, I think the transformative potential of AI-first solutions should be closely considered. These solutions are built to center around the individual customer and have AI in their DNA. They can still plug-and-play with the big suites, but will deliver a more unified and integrated experience than piecemeal platform solutions.
AI and Data-Driven Marketing Keys to Moving Ahead in The Competition
Marketing intelligence platforms have to be easy to implement, and easy to use across operations— from customer management and order entry to campaign and workflow management, all the way through to reporting to make a full loop back to the improving customer engagement. Smart connectivity for internal and external data ingestion, access to global datasets for machine learning, and a highly automated set-up process are vital capabilities for companies moving confidently into AI and data-driven marketing.
Successful implementations will maximize ROI for marketing, advertising, and content initiatives, lower cost-per-acquisition, accelerate revenues, enhance brand currency, and boost creativity.
Successful implementations will maximize ROI for marketing, advertising, and content initiatives, lower cost-per-acquisition, accelerate revenues, enhance brand currency, and boost creativity. CMOs, marketing teams, creative agencies, and media companies who proactively embrace AI will boost their influence in the C-suite and attract top talent with their cutting-edge tools and approach to digital transformation. Most importantly, a person-centered, intelligence-driven approach to marketing is much more likely to earn customer delight and trust for brands than the spray-and-pray method that currently predominates.
In the second part of this two-part series, I’ll dive into several specific ways that AI is turning marketing challenges on their head, transforming the customer experience and catalyzing step changes in how we advertise, target customers, create content, and leverage marketing data analytics.