Today, just about every business that has some online activity benefits from artificial intelligence. Whether that’s how they appear in search engines or their social media reach, for example, AI is practically everywhere.
Generally, it works in the background and requires little input from the business, while offering some valuable internal benefits, including greater efficiency, fewer administrative tasks and more successful campaigns and services.
But with it increasingly being integrated into just about every digital tool, it’s no longer the case that AI can be used as a differentiator or a way to stand out from the competition. However, that’s not to say it can’t be.
In order to really reap the rewards of AI and place your business leaps and bounds ahead of the crowd, it’s time to start taking a more proactive approach.
Now, this might sound counterintuitive. After all, AI is supposed to relieve some of the effort and input required from you. And while that isn’t entirely wrong, no matter how much technology advances, we are all still human. And humans require some element of emotional connection with brands in order for them to create successful engagement and interactions.
Ultimately, businesses need to find the perfect balance between artificial and emotional intelligence. Activities and decisions should be supported by both technology to make life easier, and human judgement, in order for output to be received well by customers.
And this has never been more important than in the current market.
The Multichannel Model
Online business is thriving. The number of digitally transformed companies, online sales, e-commerce channels and engagement platforms are increasing, and businesses and consumers are adapting.
The pandemic has encouraged more to embrace the shift. But as physical retail and face-to-face business opens back up, the multichannel model will no doubt become the new normal. However, as well as increasing workloads for management, challenges will also exist in creating cohesive and high-quality customer experiences.
But AI integration does offer a remedy. For instance, commerce solutions provide retailers with a single, centralized platform on which they can combine activity across all sales and logistics channels, both digital and offline.
Data from all areas of the business, including supply chain, sales channels and end user experience is then available in one place. This rich data is often much more valuable due to its quality and quantity, and by leveraging AI’s ability to analyze such data, you can turn it into invaluable business insight. When translated into digestible reports, such as trends and benchmarks, you can really optimize both the business’s potential and your customers’ experiences.
This takes a lot of the guess work out of the equation, ensuring the output is just as high quality as the input, and providing an informed basis in order to justify decisions.
But your business is yours for a reason. It’s likely you have knowledge, expertise and experience in your industry, things that AI can’t, and shouldn’t, replace. Put simply, if you don’t maintain your core data, such as product attributes and tracking information, in a timely and accurate manner, then you can’t expect AI to make sense of your mess.
Artificial vs. Emotional Intelligence
Although data driven trends and patterns are important when making business decisions, consumers cannot be simplified to a mere statistic. Rather, their emotions and intrinsic behaviors are better understood by humans.
Therefore, business owners and employees play a vital role in interpreting such data and trends, applying their sense and experiences to really comprehend what their customers want and why. And then using this to make better business decisions.
It comes down to striking a balance between the benefits offered by AI and our own emotional judgements. This way, we can create more personal and positive brand experiences that encourage engagement.
For instance, over recent months this might have involved digital marketing campaigns that are sensitive to the current global situation, yet delivered at a time and place the data has shown you your customers will receive it.
Or, perhaps a chatbot service that utilizes AI to collect basic information from a user, then passes them onto a real customer service representative who can help resolve the issue in a more friendly and sensitive manner. While the business benefits from greater efficiency, wasting fewer human resources in the initial stages of the interaction, the customer still gets the personable service they so often need and prefer.
AI is advancing at an incredible rate. It might not be long before the technology begins to understand more complex human behaviors through verbal or written cues for example, and it will be time to readjust our practices again. However, until then, human judgement remains pivotal, even in an increasingly digital world.
Nate Burke is CEO of Diginius, which he founded in 2011.
Lowe’s is optimizing its operations by allowing store associates to interact with its store’s digital data through a digital twin: a completely virtual replica of the physical home improvement store. Learn more.