For Success, Marketers Need To Embrace Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) was a key feature in many of the new products unveiled at last week's CES 2018 trade show in Las Vegas, powering everything from laundry-folding robots and smart mirrors to autonomous cars and image recognition apps for the visually impaired.

But while AI and machine learning promise to enable whole new classes of consumer products, those smart capabilities are also becoming increasingly vital for business users. That's especially true for marketers and other business professionals who spend their days working to find, connect with, and sell to customers.

Across every industry, companies are facing more pressure than ever to transform for the digital and intelligent business era. Analyst firm IDC, for example, recently predicted that a growing portion of the $1.3 trillion that businesses will spend on digital transformation technologies will focus on "innovation accelerators," such as AI, cognitive computing, and robotics. In fact, marketing in particular is undergoing "an AI revolution," according to a report released by Salesforce last year.

High Performers Using AI Most

"Artificial intelligence is the leading technology where marketers expect the most growth in the next two years," noted the "2017 Salesforce State of Marketing" report. "Internally, marketers view AI as a means of creating more efficiency in their operations. For customers, most marketers see it as a way to get more from their data and ramp up personalization without burdening their teams."

Providing personalized service is becoming a make-or-break issue for many businesses, according to Salesforce. The report cited a study of 7,000 consumers and business buyers around the world that found a majority in each case -- 52 percent of consumers and 65 percent of business buyers -- said they'd be likely to look at switching to other companies if their communications weren't personalized enough.

The Salesforce study also predicted that marketers'...

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