2whatMCustomer satisfaction and more ROI for the company, due to more opportunities for personalized real-time campaigns and automated workflows, are just some of the goals marketers want to achieve when using artificial intelligence, according to the recent Forrester and Emarsys study ‘Building Trust and Confidence: AI Marketing Readiness in Retail and E-Commerce’. Around half of the retailers surveyed are nevertheless still missing out on leveraging AI marketing to personalize the customer journey and better understand customer behaviors, the report states.

Fundamental changes

Especially, retail corporations are hoping for a lot of AI-powered marketing that supports their strategic work (79%) and brings more efficiency (86%) to their marketing teams. Thanks to AI automates workflows, marketers also hope to have more time to focus on value-generating tasks and reinventing their work.

However, the study also identified that 70% of business decision makers believe that their marketing team lacks the technical skills to leverage AI marketing technology and don’t necessarily understand AI marketing, which are both potential barriers to mainstream adoption of AI marketing technology.

And although the use of AI in the marketing industry could enable retail companies to succeed alongside industry giants, such as Amazon, the majority is currently still struggling with the implementation and has no proper strategy in place. The reason could be that a hug percentage believes AI technologies are primarily made for analysts and scientists, still just hoping that they will be able to work efficiently and effectively with it one fine day, too. Three quarters admit that it is in general difficult for them to keep up with the digital transformation.

“For retailers to harness the value of AI marketing and combat competitive threats, such as Amazon’s growth into adjacent markets, requires a clear understanding of how AI can change the marketer’s role, as well them challenging the misconception that adopting such technology requires technical skills,” Allen Nance, CMO at Emarsys, explains. “We believe that an easy-to-use AI marketing user experience that is based on tangible business and marketing outcomes and delivers true personalization at scale, is fundamental to successful mainstream adoption. Also, business decision makers who realize the low-risk, high-return nature of AI marketing, as well as how to prepare their organizations for it, will be leaps and bounds ahead of the competition.”

Intelligent marketing tools

Without doubt, AI will change many things in the business world, especially CRM.

The new IDC study ‘Economic Impact of AI on CRM’ by Salesforce expects as well that AI will bring more efficiency and revenue growth. In fact, IDC believes that the year 2018 will mark a milestone in the use of AI technologies, as a large proportion of the surveyed companies intends to implement AI solutions in the next two years. The global market intelligence firm even predicts that by the end of 2018, approximately 75% of all enterprises will use AI or machine-learning functionalities in at least one application. AI-based CRM activities will cover a wide range of applications, addressing virtually all facets of a business, including accelerating sales cycles, improving lead generation and quality, marketing campaigns and reducing costs for support calls.

Exploring new shores

In a nutshell, AI is clearly no longer just a matter for the IT department, as AI-based solutions will make their way into all departments. Infosys's international study ‘Amplifying Human Potential: Towards Purposeful Artificial Intelligence’ substantiates that the automation of big-data processes and predictive and prescriptive analytics are currently the most frequently used AI applications in companies and are also increasingly used in marketing, sales and service. However, AI is still much more used in the IT department, followed by operations and business development and only then used by marketing and customer service (around 30%).

Interestingly, Infosys’s study revealed a clear link between the turnover of a company and its degree of AI. Organizations that have been able to show greater growth over the last three years usually also had a higher AI degree. hence, AI could also be seen as a long-term strategic priority for innovation: For 76% of the interviewees, AI has been fundamental to the success of its corporate strategy and 64% are convinced that the future of their company depends on a large-scale adaptation of the AI technology.

However, only one out of ten respondents already using AI technologies believes their company exploits the full available capacity of AI. A majority of 90% reported that their employees are faced with challenges or concerns when it comes to using AI. Approximately four in ten respondents also believe that implementation, ease-of-use and interoperability with other systems and platforms must be improved before AI technology can be used effectively.

By Daniela La Marca