Year Ahead: Technologies to drive human engagement

Robin Collyer2017 was the year that personalisation, big data, IoT and the use of chatbots really came to the fore in marketing technology, whether they will continue to rise or be superseded by new technology remains to be seen, however. But this is my own take on the five to watch this year…
Don’t let artificial intelligence take your eye off the ball: Last year, AI was the buzzword that plagued the martech industry, and rightly so. Its capabilities are truly transforming the world of marketing as we know it. However, companies must be realistic of how appropriate this technology is for each business case. Over the next 12 months, we shall see more businesses (and their regulators with legislation such as GDPR) questioning whether they really know what their AI is doing. This will inevitably lead to firms opting for more transparent AI (as opposed to opaque), which will allow marketers to have full visibility of how AI produces results.
Merging of martech and adtech: Although we have already begun to see the blurring of the lines between the two, we will see more disruption of the paid media market – the status quo of how paid media has been commissioned in the past will change. Companies will have an even greater ability to engage and connect directly with prospects and customers in paid channels.
Augmented Intelligence is the real AI: The concept of augmented Intelligence has crept into martech conversations in the past few months and is being referred to more and more when people talk about the impact of AI on the human role in the workplace. We are yet to reach the point of complete ‘artificial’ intelligence, however, new technologies expected in 2018 will enable CRM systems to apply augmented intelligence to any customer interaction. This technology will allow firms to analyse that interaction, and quickly recommend the next best action to take with that individual customer – ironically empowering customer facing staff to be more ‘human’.
Don’t be hamstrung by the data: Although big data was flagged this time last year – and the year before that, too – as a trend to watch out for, next year will see businesses putting more effort into extracting value from that data – specifically, working out how to access the right data at the right time. By addressing the challenges of customer engagement from the customer’s perspective – empathising with the experience you would like them to have and designing backwards –  businesses will be able to naturally focus on the data that matters. Adaptive models (machine learning) then learn from each interaction to continually improve your outcomes – automatically augmenting the value of your data.
Truly chatty chatbots: Emerging conversational interfaces with advanced natural language processing (NLP) capabilities will allow customers as well as customer-facing employees to engage – and even continue a conversation – across channels, such as web chat, phone, Amazon Alexa, and more. Using techniques such as NLP, AI interprets these interactions, so each party can understand and communicate with a proper response in the moment
The good news is that all of the above are redressing the balance between a business’ objectives and the needs of each individual customer – at every interaction. Technology is facilitating ‘human’ engagement that is relevant, contextual and coherent across channels – at scale.

Robin Collyer is a marketing and decisioning specialist at Pegasystems

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