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@BigDataTO: Five AI trends CMOs need to know
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@BigDataTO: Five AI trends CMOs need to know 

Let’s see…the Gutenberg printing press, the radio, TV, email.

“Well, MarTech is really just a buzzword,” says Stanleigh, who was at the Big Data Toronto 2017 convention this week. “We always have this need to label something, because we need hashtags to distribute them.”

Stanleigh should know, he’s the editor of the Globe and Mail’s Globe Edge Content Studio – the newspaper’s award-winning content marketing arm. The group is responsible for crafting consumer experiences using a wide variety of digital platform for the Globe’s clients.

Sean Stanleigh

Stanleigh’s talk at the conference was titled Embracing the MarTech Revolution.

It’s a journey, which the Globe and Mail itself had undertaken. Since I started writing about technology some 10 years ago, the demise of Canada’s national paper had been predicted by countless media watchers, countless times. Yes, there have been a number of cutbacks and layoffs, but the paper remains – partly due to its adoption of digital technologies.

According to Stanleigh, a recent survey of organizations using marketing technologies found that while 51 per cent of such companies use AI technologies, 59 per cent are still using some form of text messaging tool and that email is an essential marketing tool for companies because it remains the “biggest conversion tech.”

However, the martech landscape is rapidly transforming and here are five of some of the most important martech trends that chief marketing officers should closely watch:

Recommendation engines – They’ve been around for some time. These are systems that predict the rating or preference that a user would accord to an item. These systems use artificial intelligence to determine what other products or services a consumer might want to purchase based on their previous choices. Think about Amazon’s Web site which recommends to a user, products that they might be interested in based on that user’s online searches on the site.

The majority of movies viewed on Netflix are based on recommendations based on the viewer’s previous choice.

Data visualization – As much as 90 per cent of Internet data is not being used, according to Stanleigh. In order to be useful, data needs to be digested and analyzed, he says. And one great way of doing this is top render it in a visual form that is appealing, interesting, engaging, manageable, and informative.

For instance, music streaming service Spotify has a unique way of using data. It released an audiograph which show the most listened in cities around the world. The app is popular with Spotify users because it allows people to recognize music trends in different areas, opens them up to various artists and it easy and fun to use.

When ride-sharing service Uber was promoting it Uber Pool service, the company developed an app which enabled customers to view Uber Pool traffic. It showed people just how much lighter road traffic was when people pooled rides.

Augmented reality – By superimposing computer-generated images and data on a user’s view of the real world, augmented reality enhances our perception of reality. By contrast, VR or virtual reality replaces our vision of the real world. Stanleigh believes AR has wider possibilities than VR.

Some three years ago, build-it-yourself furniture company Ikea rolled out an AR-enabled mobile app that showed customers how certain Ikea products would look like in their rooms. It was a hit because all the customers needed was their phones to determine if the furniture was a right fit for their space.

Hardware chain Lowe’s came up with an in-store navigation mobile app. The customer’s loved the tool helped Lowe’s customer quickly find the products they were looking for without having to look for store personnel first. The app also freed up staff for other value-added tasks.

Chatbots – These are computer messaging programs that use AI to be able to conduct conversations with humans via text or audio. If you have an iPhone, you’ve probably spoken with Siri. They’re also called digital assistants – there’s Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, and Microsoft’s Cortana.

The technology is relatively new and still buggy, says Stanleigh.

Clothing store H&M uses Kik for its messaging app. The tool incorporates gamification elements in that it provides users the option to build they outfit and recommend H&M items along the way.

The Globe and Mail started out using Facebook Messenger, according to Stanleigh. After a while, the company developed its own messaging tool and switched to that.

Content generation – Around the world, there are a number companies are experimenting with AI-powered robots to help them create content. So far, for simpler projects, some organizations are finding that robots can effectively create content cobbled from text, images, and videos already in the company’s database.

Beer brewer Heineken has used this method in some of its marketing projects and found that it cut marketing material production time considerably.

Last year, the news service Associated Press began using an automated writing service to cover more than 10,000 minor league baseball games. Actually, the company has been using some form of automated writing service since 2014 when it began using Automated Insights to produce stories out of company earnings reports.

Now, more than ever, companies need to experiment and find out how they can integrate emerging technologies such as AI, data analytics, and machine learning into their business. That way they can cut cost, streamline operations, and develop services and experiences that their customers want.

“Enterprise organizations can no longer afford to sit on their hands on this,” Stanleigh says.

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