Artificial Intelligence - a friend or foe?
For those of you unfamiliar with C2 Montreal, it is a 3-day conference which addresses current trends and major opportunities in business and creativity. For those of you who were lucky enough to attend this conference a couple of weeks ago, you know that technological forces underpin many discussion topics as it is a disruptor and consequently, an opportunity to explore.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an example of that, and it is having a profound effect on how we do business. AI is not nearly as new as you might think. In fact, research into AI type functionality is as old as computers themselves. [i] Over the years, it’s evolved and really seen exponential growth, particularly since the beginning of the 21st century due to large amounts of data which is being collected (called big data) and advanced machine learning techniques. All this recent chatter around C2 made us want to dig deeper into AI and we thought we would share with you what we learned on the topic and its effect on marketing, specifically within financial services.
Why AI matters
The holy grail of marketing is to create client engagement and retention. Creating this means you need to reach your clients on a more personal and deeper level which is increasingly more possible with AI.[ii] How so? Technological advancements have allowed companies to understand the innerworkings of a client’s shopping habits, tastes, interests and dislikes such that, they interact with that client to create a meaningful relationship.
How AI is applied
In more ways than you can imagine. From the autocorrect search function, suggested shopping items you may like or even your next choice in Netflix binge is entirely based on AI technology. This ultimately means that you, the consumer, have a better overall experience searching or shopping. We, as consumers, are being targeted at the right time with the right product and often, at the right price hitting all major marketing/sales objectives efficiently and effectively.
Here are some other ways AI is changing the face of marketing:
Surprising to some, even those of us in the industry that such a high-touch marketing approach like content marketing can be entirely created by AI. It appears the financial services industry specifically is a big user of AI for content creation. This industry is numbers focused, so having technology handle many of the quarterly reporting and newsletters clients receive is actually a great fit.[iii] More and more companies are using AI technology to put together many of the content pieces they prepare that address market/portfolio performance, specific stats and even interpretation of some of these data points.
Marketers know that ad placement is important and rely on key metrics like cost-per-click to determine success. AI in this space is using algorithms which analyses several metrics from users to detect specific trends i.e. what are they searching for on-line, on social sites, etc., and strategically places ads based on user preferences to create a more targeted approach and ultimately, conversion.[iii] Gone are the days where an ad is placed on the web to an audience at large.
Companies are wanting to streamline their customer service approach across all business divisions and product lines and this can be done very effectively using AI. Engaging with customer support online is almost always done through a bot.[ii] This can ensure consistent service levels to all customers. AI can also follow chatter online, through social forums and relay that information back so that consumers can be better serviced. Companies can engage online and speak directly and quickly with those clients to efficiently meet their needs. AI also allows them to follow trends and jump-in at precise moments when customers may need their attention.
This barely scratches the surface of how AI is having an impact on how we conduct business and live our lives. Day to day, some of us speak to Amazon Alexa and Google Home to get news and weather updates or to order our groceries. In financial services, AI is being used for fraud detection, regulatory compliance and investment management (Robo-advisors). Robo-advisors are having a significant impact on this very “relationship-driven” business, not to mention the large sums of money the likes of Royal Bank of Canada and TD have invested in hiring/buying AI expertise to ensure their competitiveness going forward.[iv]
The point of all this is to say that we are in exciting times where access to a customer and their needs and wants are even more available, but also easily accessible to all. What you do with this infinite amount of data is where your value comes through.
[i] Potts, Andy. (2015, May 9). Rise of the machines. https://www.economist.com/briefing/2015/05/09/rise-of-the-machines
[ii] Ismail, Nick. (2017, March 13). Artificial Intelligence. http://www.information-age.com/artificial-intelligence-transforming-financial-services-today-123464987/
[iii] Manthei, Lisa. 4 Examples of Artificial Intelligence in Marketing. https://www.emarsys.com/en/resources/blog/ai-marketing-examples/
[iv] Ligaya, Armina. (2018, January 9). TD buys startup Layer 6 AI in banking’s race for Artificial Intelligence. http://business.financialpost.com/news/fp-street/td-bank-acquires-toronto-based-artificial-intelligence-startup-layer-6-ai