Why Every Business Needs AI: Key Insights From CogX
"Artificial intelligence [AI] is a business opportunity, not a technology matter," said Akshaya Bhargava, executive chairman of investment insights firm Bridgeweave, at the CogX Festival in London (June 11-12). Speakers throughout the event were keen to prove him right, and highlight the need for every brand to be working with AI to supercharge their processes.
How AI Can Turn Your Brand into a Media Platform
"Increasingly, you can't separate out AI and digital," commented Alex Willis, head of communications at the All England Lawn Tennis Association. "AI is becoming a layer that underpins all of [our work], not just a single activation." Willis described the way the Wimbledon tennis championships have embraced AI to transform the brand into "a data-driven media organisation" more than simply a sports event. "We're being judged on technology being launched last week, not last year – how do we adapt to that? We need to think about audience, experience and content," Willis added.
The Wimbledon audience is being served this year by hyper-personalised tools and services, including two chatbots, on-site augmented reality experiences, and SlamTracker, a scoring and insights app that's tailored to the type of fan engaging with it. "You now think of innovation when you think of Wimbledon," said Willis.
This is the kind of transformation – from brand to media platform – that we're tracking in every industry, from fashion (see the Kate Spade example in SXSW 2018: Take Back Control of Your Brand) to automotive (see the BMW example in State of Media: The Fan-First Revolution).
AI Won’t Take Your Job, It’ll Improve Your Job
According to Dr Karen Croxson, head of research at the UK's Financial Conduct Authority, "the Silicon Valley view is thinking about [AI] as an engineering problem: how do I get an AI to do what you do? They've set themselves a very high bar. Better to think about how can AI improve what I do."
AI as a job enhancer was exemplified by the work AI solutions firm Satalia has been engaged in with British furniture brand DFS. Satalia helped DFS optimise delivery routes to ensure greater efficiency, replacing a cumbersome non-automated system with one underpinned by machine-learning algorithms that could adapt in under 500 milliseconds to offer the most optimal time windows to customers in real time. "Adaptive is key," commented Satalia's chief executive Daniel Hulme. "If your system is not adapting itself then it's not AI."
Allaying fears that AI could replace roles like delivery drivers, DFS's head of technology Russell Harte explained that using Satalia's technology has improved employee engagement ("drivers consistently get [home] on time now", whereas before they might have no idea when their shift would finish), as well as customer satisfaction.
Can AI Save Advertising?
One of the most intriguing presentations at CogX came from Ben Livshits, chief scientist at web browser firm Brave Software. Brave is a blockchain-driven browser that seeks to offer users high levels of privacy and a faster experience by blocking ads by default.
So where does that leave advertisers in this Brave new world? "Digital advertising is broken," said Livshits. "There are too many middlemen, there's too much fraud – an estimated $16bn in fraud in 2017, rising to $50bn by 2025." Brave's solution is to offer "blockchain-based digital advertising" to brands. Brave users are rewarded for their attention with a Brave cryptocurrency called a BAT (Basic Attention Token). "User attention is privately monitored on-device in the Brave browser," said Livshits. "Advertisers achieve higher ROI, better targeting and reduced fraud, and publishers receive BAT based on user attention."
It seems like a neat solution, although Brave has a long way to go to challenge Chrome's dominance as the leading web browser – Brave currently boasts only 2.2 million monthly active users.
See Cryptocurrency's Journey into Mainstream Culture for more on the potential of blockchain technology.