1dataSArtificial intelligence (AI) has found its way into our living rooms, as seen with Siri, Alexa, or Cortana, pointing out that the demand for real-time data analysis tools will heavily increase. Most IT applications will be supplemented by AI and self-learning, machine-learning (ML) -driven intelligent systems will gain the upper hand over the next three years.

AI and machine learning becomes an analyst's best friend and colleague

Further assistance in creating complex analytics and reliable predictions will be provided by the increasing use of machine learning methods and revolutionize the digital marketing industry. Static reports, created through proactive analysis, are already out of date, so the trend is moving from interactive dashboards to live dashboards. At the same time, the self-learning AI will take over more and more parts of the original "craftsmanship’ of a data analyst ", whose job becomes more efficient.

While AI is increasingly digging its own way through structured and unstructured data to derive insights from it, the data analyst has ultimately more time to ask the right questions, work on the right approach, and make the data usable for the organization. In CRM, the introduction of an AI will be mainly through the increased use and training of digital recommendation engines (DRE), which convert the available data on customer behavior into recommendations for the optimal timing, content and channel to address customers. These recommendations can then be used either for automated direct addressing of the customer via chatbot, email, letter, etc. or for support and control of internal company processes such as sales or campaign management. From styling advice, to booking flights, to solving technical problems or routing to the right customer advisor (customer routing), the use of chatbots and AI is almost limitless. For consumers, this will result in a new, unique customer experience, while companies save time in the areas of customer service resources and benefitting significantly of reduced response times.

‘Location of Things’ gives ‘CRM of Everything’ a kick-start

The Internet of Things (IoT) brings us a flood of new exploitable data as well and keeps Big Data at the top of every company’s mind. The speed with which the number of IoT devices has grown and continues to grow is breathtaking. According to a recent study by Gartner, they have already surpassed the world's population last year and are estimated to grow to 20 billion by 2020.

These intelligent "things" will be increasingly connected and use skills such as voice and image recognition, as well as deep learning. Hence, expect operational, analytical and collaborative CRM to be followed by holistic CRM, the "CRM of Everything", which focuses on the human beings and IoT devices that open countless new real-time channels to society. Initially, the so-called "Location of Things", a subcategory of the IoT, will prepare for the dawn of this new world, whereby in particular the Bluetooth-based beacon technology will be of high practical relevance in 2018.

Positioned in stores or shopping malls, at airports or exhibition centers, beacons can record movements as well as directly communicate and interact with mobile devices. As a result, target groups can be identified, and context-sensitive information can be passed on to the customer in real time, depending on the location. For data analysts and AI, this will provide a wealth of new information that helps to predict more accurately which event will occur when and where, and with what probability.

Prepare as well for blockchain technology finding its way into the global business world this year, although it will have less of an operational but high strategic relevance. Already in 2016, the Harvard Business Review said that no other technology will be able to change the economy more sustainably over the next decade than the blockchain. Originally developed as technology for cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, blockchain allows to interact directly and transparently with the customer via secure technology and store any information about it in a decentralized, highly available database structure (peer-to-peer). By means of so-called smart contracts, these interactions can also be transferred to machine-to-machine communications, so that the blockchain will become a key technology, especially regarding the further development of AI and IoT devices.

While banks are already testing the fast and secure transaction possibilities of blockchain in international money transfer, for the time being, CRM is trying to derive potential use cases from the possibilities of this technology. Particularly, the pairing of blockchain with data science techniques promises exciting and innovative business fields that will benefit both companies and customers alike.

By Daniela La Marca