Too often, the artificial intelligence marketing machine centers on “what the technology does” instead of “what your customers demand.”
Look at this robot! Look at this voice recognition! Okay, great. But what will that mean for me?
Gartner says AI “will be in every piece of software by 2020,” but we keep seeing articles with pictures of terminator robots (seriously, Google image search it) and speculation about the artificial intelligence world-takeover. None of that really applies to our everyday lives right now, but AI really is changing the world already. We’re so consumed by curiosity that we forget to talk about the practical functions to which AI is currently contributing.
Here are a couple ideas to put the narrative back on track:
What it does > What it is
Typical product users might not even notice the “smart” technology that helps them fall in love with a product, but all that matters is that they fall in love. That’s the practical value. It’s not about the technology itself; it’s the personal experience (made possible by the technology).
If you survey the users of Uber and Lyft as to why they prefer these ride sharing apps over a traditional taxi service, they won’t say it’s because these apps use AI. They might say it’s because of the convenient and efficient pickup points. They might say it’s because they always get the fastest route. They might trust the pricing and prefer the payment methods. It’s not the technology itself; it’s the user experiences that make them love these products.
Want proof that people appreciate the experience over the technology? Put an AI-powered bot on the other end of a help line where customers expect to speak with a human, and see if they’re impressed.
Our team spent last week at Dreamforce, the largest tech conference in the world, hosted by Salesforce. Last year, Salesforce introduced its AI platform called Einstein, but they knew the technology itself was just the beginning. Last week, the CRM giant unleashed myEinstein, which allows customers to build custom AI applications across Salesforce using point-and-click methods instead of manual coding. It’s custom design for specific business functions.
What resonates with customers? It’s the ability to use this technology to build simple, practical features that enhance the Salesforce experience. Build some custom features with myEinstein to predict churn risks, and your team will appreciate the prediction, even if they can’t tell Einstein from Alexa.
If it’s going to be in every piece of software within a few years, “artificial intelligence” itself will not be so special. But the functionality to which it contributes can still be very special (i.e. self-driving cars). We just need to remember that solutions to problems are worth far more than cutting-edge technology. It just so happens, in this case, that technology is our means to the solutions.
Some of the most effective companies selling AI today aren’t selling you the gadget; they’re selling you the solution to a problem.
It’s helping my job, not taking it
Chances are, your job includes some everyday tasks that anyone can do. You were hired for the other things — the things in which you specialize and perform at a unique level, but you still have to do these everyday tasks. That’s where AI will start helping in the workplace.
Much like the Uber app will suggest destinations and pickup points — saving you steps — business tools will leverage AI to do the same. The immediate goal is for technology to perform the everyday, mundane tasks so that people can focus on the work that applies their differentiating skills.
To tie it all back to Dreamforce, that’s the point of myEinstein. Developers can use these Salesforce AI capabilities to create practical uses for their organizations. Machine learning can analyze data for a customer success team and alert them of churn risks. Sure, people can do that themselves, but not nearly as fast. Plus, those people weren’t hired to sort through data spreadsheets. They were hired to get on the phone or get on a plane, and make sure customers are getting the best possible experience. Properly deployed AI functionality will help create more time for them to do that.
While it might make for the juiciest story, the most powerful use for AI (right now) is simple problem solving. The businesses using it most effectively are doing what they’ve always done, but working more efficiently with the help of new technology. Long term speculation is interesting and worth covering, but it’s important to remember that there are simple, practical, and exciting ways to start using it now.
To learn some simple ways new technology is improving the internal service experience, check out our webinar on-demand.