Intelligent CIO Africa Issue 21 - Page 35

////////////////////////// A I-powered personalisation seems to offer the prospect of fulfilling – at the level of the individual – the very definition of marketing: creating, communicating and delivering offerings that have value for customers. Marketing and merchandising professionals could be forgiven for wondering where this development leaves them. The answer is that AI reaffirms their place in the driver’s seat, fully in control, adding value where AI cannot. That’s not to deny the likelihood that AI will prompt a significant and undoubtedly large- scale realignment of roles and responsibilities in many organisations. AI drastically reduces the resources required to interpret data, build and manage static segments, deploy and manage internal campaigns or devise content and product permutations. Conversely there’s a greater role for AI- trained data scientists – whether in-house or third party – who can use their technical skills and curiosity to push the boundaries of what AI can do. Taking a broader view, successful marketing is heavily dependent on context. Applied AI is, by definition, less successful at analysing context. Empathy, creativity and even broader problem-solving skills are missing. The capacity to synthesise business goals, devise strategies, select KPIs and orchestrate tactical marketing efforts – this is all the domain of humans. Ultimately, the algorithms at the heart of AI- led personalisation are computer programs, written by humans. Determining the right algorithms to use, the desired output and determining their role in the purchase process is a job that only a marketer or merchandiser can do. When you combine the expertise of marketers with the algorithms of AI, however, you can present relevant, engaging experiences at a level that was never possible. Content and campaigns can now be personalised at the individual level. This is important because engagement and conversions are increasingly linked to the quality of your digital experiences. For commerce companies, great experiences are often what sets them apart from Nick Durrant, Managing Director at Bluegrass Digital competitors. With AI you can present intelligent campaigns and individualised content that lead to big results. Companies with a large and growing inventory are particularly well-suited to AI- powered marketing. Near-endless product permutations are possible, far beyond the capabilities of any team. Whereas merchandisers might previously have matched categories against audiences, for example, a Machine Learning algorithm will match at the most granular level available: individual against product, informed by every data point held. With the right technology, ingesting new SKUs is immediate, with Machine Learning driving revenue from day one. But Average Order Value and other financial metrics aren’t the only KPIs that matter. Marketers and merchandisers bring the insight and knowledge to tailor the presentation of these algorithmically-driven product selections so that other objectives can be met, for example the need to respect commercial agreements around product presentation (don’t show product X against product Y). The desire to pursue long-term brand equity at the expense of short-term revenue (don’t surface final reductions at the same time as the debut of a new collection). This is INTELLIGENTCIO 35