For the past couple of years, there’s not a week that’s gone by that someone hasn’t told me that we’re living in unprecedented times.
Unprecedented means “never known or done before” so the comment was legit. Stale but accurate, nonetheless.
I thought that as the pandemic waned, people would stop talking about this and move on to something new and exciting but alas… This year has been a real sucker-punch for businesses in all shapes and sizes. So, the hope that we’ll return to something “precedented” is fair. Maybe, at some point, there’s a chance we will return to something more normal-ish in our personal lives. (.00000000000001% is still a chance.)
In business, though? We’re at Level Snowball Chance in Hell.
It’s. Not. Going. To. Happen. (Yes, even if we figure in climate change calculations.)
We could go over all the reasons, things like companies making UNPRECEDENTED (and insane) amounts of money, world politics, supply chain issues (shoot me now), decreasing attention spans, mobile transference and adoption, the greatest love of my career (Voice), and all sorts of other things. However, even if every single one of those things went back to EXACTLY the way it was before, we’d still never be able to go back to the way we were before. Why? One very important reason.
People like to define Artificial Intelligence in all sorts of ways, but it’s basically just an Intelligent Machine that’s fantastic at making predictions and even better at gruntwork. A machine/system that is programmed to think like humans, mimics our actions, and works 24/7/365, processing and analyzing data in real-time and at scale.
AI’s HUGE (and equally terrifying) benefit is that it learns and grows. This loosely translates to the fact that AI continuously changes/alters itself (sometimes it improves, other times not.so.much) based on the data/information it collects. And in the past couple of years, its learning and growth has skyrocketed. (AI has been around since the 1950s, but it has evolved dramatically in the past decade. This is primarily due to advances in machine learning, natural language processing, and computer vision.)
As AI has gotten more robust, it’s also taken a stronger directional position in all the main traffic drivers, especially search engines and social networks. Couple that with Voice becoming more and more pervasive and the fact that all the giants are fighting for a top spot in the new, one-ask, one-answer world, and you have a race to the top that’s frankly, er, unprecedented.
What will happen at the end? Right now, nobody knows for sure. Lots of predictions. Some boomy and bloomy and others doomy and gloomy.
What we do know is what you can do to prepare.
One of the first things?
Get your data in order.
Your data is the key to surviving in the new world. It’s one of the reasons why old-school, traditional/legacy companies have a great shot at repositioning themselves in their marketplaces. Why? Easy. They have ALL the data.
Identify what you’re already doing with AI. Make a comprehensive list of all the places you have it. ALL the places, not just in Marketing. Keep this list updated with a start date (when you first started using it), an end date (when you stopped using it, if applicable), and what you use it for. I’d recommend that you list the primary purpose you are using something separately from any additional reasons. So, if you’re using an AI-powered internal search package, the primary purpose is “internal text search,” and the secondary purpose might be to “gather words/data/insights for your traffic building efforts and navigational improvements.”
Create a test plan of 3-5 areas you’d like to try AI. Map them out. Pick one (it’s ok if it’s the easiest), implement it, read the results, and react to them. Reacting loosely translates to taking what you’ve learned and optimizing/readjusting your program(s) to improve them. With AI projects, you may have to rejigger a few times before getting everything just the way you want. After you’ve built a foundation, build an evaluation schedule. This is key.
Despite what your vendors tell you, AI is not set-it-and-forget-it. You need to check in on it frequently to ensure things haven’t run amok. And yes, before you ask, you need to do this indefinitely till we reach Singularity anyway.
Rinse and repeat.
And yes, it’s really that easy.
Like the early days of what we used to call THE WORLD-WIDE WEB, AI’s extreme utility for marketers is new-ish, so the language hasn’t sorted itself out yet. (There are approximately eleventy bazillion things you can call Voice Analytics, for example.) The case studies that people share tend to be the clickbait-y types or the ones that are so unique that you can’t even begin to relate to them. Plus, there are an unfortunate number of smarmy-AF vendors who are like the Wizard of Oz. Instead of hiding behind a curtain, they hide behind a Google Doc filled with if/then statements and say that it’s AI magic. It’s all good, however. The juice is still worth the squeeze.
Already using AI in your company, and have a tip you’d like to share? Have a question you’d like answered? Tweet @amyafrica or write email@example.com