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Retailers are ready for AI marketing, but technical skills remain a barrier

Blog
2nd November 2017

The way that retailers interact with their customers is changing faster than ever before. Customers are demanding an increasingly personal service that effectively means that marketing teams are trying to develop messaging from the brand to a single customer. It helps that there is now so much customer data around, but can Artificial Intelligence play a role in helping retailers get the right message in front of their customers?

Experts believe so and it’s possible to already see some specific areas where AI can change the way that brands position themselves.

  • Analytics on analytics: we have more data on customer history, customer preferences, and customer behaviour, but it can be difficult to cut through the noise. By applying intelligent systems to the data you have on your customers it can be possible to identify trends and opportunities that regular analysis performed by a human might miss.
  • Learning from all experience: by capturing all customer interactions and applying Machine Learning the system can build a picture of how every customer interacts with the retailer. This can be immensely powerful in trying to locate key points in the customer journey when a choice was made.
  • Customer preference: customers are themselves getting used to using their own intelligent systems. Look at how many people are now comfortable asking systems such as Amazon Alexa or Apple Siri for help. Customers will soon feel more comfortable handing over tasks to AI agents that act on their behalf – finding a hotel for example. Why spend hours searching when you could teach a virtual assistant what you value in a hotel and then allow it to find something good?

All these changes are coming fast. The final point will mean that your company needs to allow automated agents running with AI to make enquiries and purchase decisions. Are you ready for those interactions? All of these ideas require an ability to understand some quite complex concepts and analytic systems – it’s highly likely that anyone working on a marketing system using this technology requires the ability to code software.

But I work in marketing. I’m not a computer programmer might be your initial response, but look around. Every professional job where tools like AI can act as virtual assistants will soon have humans controlling systems that allow them to be more productive. One person controlling an AI system could perform the work of many.

So it’s not just marketing. Accountants and HR professionals will also be seen that coding and data analysis are requirements for jobs in their field soon. This is going to be a problem for marketing professionals with long experience in the industry, but increasingly we will find that marketing graduates are trained in coding and AI skills.

I think there is a danger that customer expectations may change so fast that marketing professionals with the right skills will be in short supply, but that’s also an opportunity for marketing professionals. If you have marketing skills then why not explore how you can improve your technical skills? In 2018, and beyond, you will never be short of employment opportunities! Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment here, or get in touch on LinkedIn.


Helen Murray
Article by: Helen Murray

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