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10 things marketers need to know about AI

James A. Martin | Feb. 24, 2017
AI-enabled marketing isn't just about cute chatbots. Here's what CMOs, CIOs and others need to know to make the most of AI in their marketing initiatives in 2017 and beyond.

8. CIOs will face their own challenges with AI

CIOs have been grappling with some significant changes over the past decade, to put it mildly. That includes the emergence of sophisticated new mobile devices and the galaxy of apps they support, cloud computing and the internet of things, to name a few.

Marketing automation technologies have proliferated over the past few years, as well. So while marketers have had to become more tech-savvy, CIOs have had to become savvier about marketing.

Adding AI to the marketing mix requires CIOs to face some new challenges. "CIOs have dealt with smart automation before, but not much beyond call center bots," See says. Now, a company's CIO "needs to understand what all the customer touch-points are, what the role of the marketer is, and how they can be supported by great data, great analytics and integrated AI." Figuring all that out will likely take a few years, he says.

Getting one "single customer view" pulled from a variety of sources, such as CRM and customer acquisition databases, "will be essential but also fairly difficult" to achieve, adds Lippincott's Marshall.

"One of the biggest challenges for CMOs and CIOs will be tackling the data challenge," says Shah of Hubspot. "In order to get the most value out of machine learning, organizations must first get a rich variety of data into a common platform that can then feed the AI algorithms. Often, this data is sitting in disparate data silos across the organization."

In addition, "there are very few AI use cases that prove the technology's ROI for marketers," notes Marketo's Pattabhiram. "This can be a non-starter for CMOs and CIOs who must ensure that any new technology is worth the investment of time, money and IT resources."

What's more, 42 percent of American marketers cited reporting and analytics as critical needs when proving ROI, according to a recent Marketo Future Tech survey. As a result, "it's crucial that executives understand how best to measure the success of their AI programs in order to justify their spend," Pattabhiram says.

Ultimately, CIOs must "have the right IT infrastructure in place to make sure AI applications have access to the data they need to deliver personalized experiences, wherever that data may live," he says. "This may mean simplifying an existing tech stack, rather than tacking on disparate technologies that don't effectively integrate with one another."

9. AI could change the nature of marketing

Some believe AI will ultimately fundamentally change the nature of marketing and thus, the job of the marketer.

In the near future, AI will routinely make buying decisions for consumers based on what's known about them, Marshall predicts. For example, consider a task as simple as checking the weather. Not long ago, you'd likely have watched The Weather Channel for your local forecast, where you'd see an ad for a product that may or may not be of relevance to you, he says.


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