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A.I Deployments Integral to Digital Transformation of Modeling Industry

AI and Machine Learning can positively influence customer experiences management in the Modeling Industry

In recent years, the ‘digital imperative’ has been consistently emphasized for the business community from a competitive standpoint, a sentiment that has been double-underlined since the onset of the pandemic. Now, after 18 months of economic uncertainty, complacency around digital transformation is perceived as an existential threat to enterprises across a litany of industry verticals. Given the high stakes, enterprises are becoming more explorative with tech innovations to ensure they are digitally equipped to address today’s challenges and embrace tomorrow’s opportunities with vigor. 

As an optimist in the modeling industry, my attention turns to the opportunities presented by a proactive phase of tech-led innovation. A recent survey carried out by ManageEngine, the IT arm of Zoho, gives expression to this expedition of digital exploration at enterprise level. Quizzing 1,200 tech executives regarding their organization’s use of A.I, 80% of respondents in the U.S. attested to the fact that they had accelerated their A.I adoption over the past two years. The survey also underscored the intrinsic link between improving customer experience and A.I deployments, with 59% in the U.S. saying that they’re leveraging A.I to enhance customer services currently.

This last statistic stuck out for me, and got me thinking about the types of customer experiences that are being refined by A.I innovations, or better yet, what A.I innovations are on the horizon?

On reflection, there still seems to be a limited appreciation for the tangible advantages of A.I for the end-user, for the individual, even as the far-reaching benefits of A.I for cross-sectoral businesses are becoming more pronounced. Moreover, the use of A.I, as it pertains to logistics, finance, IT, and HR spheres, continues to be heavily promoted and understood, but the narrative regarding A.I breakthroughs for more niche sectors is still nascent. Sectors like the multi-billion dollar modeling industry, which I’ve proudly been immersed in for the past 20 years, have yet to take a seat at the A.I table, until now.

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Being a tech enthusiast with deep industry roots, I have always been fascinated by the potential innovations that lie around the corner. I have made a concerted effort to put our industry on the tech map, so to speak, creating what I see as the ‘Airbnb’ of the modeling industry — making it easy for brands and models to match and execute an engagement seamlessly. Acutely aware of the inherent challenges confronting brands and marketers when it comes to identifying the right model candidate for a shoot or campaign, I have long championed the use of A.I to facilitate advanced customization of online image searches to cover granular level details, enabling brands to connect with the perfect model for their project in a timely and efficient manner, no matter how narrow their search criteria.

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For example, say a brand is looking for a man in his mid-forties with a ponytail, shaved sides, tattoos and specific type of facial hair, in a specific city.

With increased A.I adoption, the parameters of model image searches will expand greatly, allowing more models to be discovered, and more types of models to be presented to the world. Additionally, the use of bespoke search algorithms based on user activity as well as popularity levels will provide a conveyor belt of high quality, relevant content for brands seeking original visuals to imbue personality across campaigns, advertising collateral or website landing pages. 

Every industry is undergoing a phase of digital transformation and A.I present some unique opportunities to also introduce a new breed of digital models to the market. The prospect of CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) or A.I-powered models — often a point of contention within our community — should also be viewed through the lens of diversity. The trend of brands celebrating individuality and diversity in their campaigns is set to endure, prioritising unique, distinctive looks over more ‘traditional’ styles.

The arrival of A.I-generated models means brands can always use models that represent their vision and ideology, even when a human model that meets the designated criteria set isn’t readily available or identifiable. It can also help better showcase under-represented communities, which in turn may inspire new cohorts of models to chart their own path forward in the industry. 

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As a sector, I believe we have to accommodate this new reality, and I estimate that in time, 10-15% of the models you see in advertisements and brochures will be A.I-generated, offering a cost-effective and time-efficient option for budding start-ups, e-commerce platforms and production teams around the world. This is a vision I support wholeheartedly, as part of a more diverse, inclusive, and vibrant industry landscape. However, the large majority of opportunities will, and should remain reserved for everyday individuals who have something unique to offer the world. 

The above examples provide just a flavor of how the future modeling landscape can be redefined by dynamic deployments of A.I. However, to bring this vision to fruition, the scope of innovation will need to be widened, and siloed mindsets broadened. I firmly believe that the digital transformation of our sector will be a beautiful journey, one that empowers individuals, drives the diversity agenda forward, while making it easier for brands and marketers to tap into our industry’s rich pipeline of talent — a huge net positive by any standards.

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