Tech giants and business leaders have adopted a mantra of AI this year. Stephen Upstone, CEO of LoopMe look at why business leaders are increasingly putting AI at the forefront of their business strategies.
The last six months have produced a marked swing in the strategy of some of the world’s largest, most advanced technology companies. Until recently the idea of ‘mobile’ was front and centre for the likes of Google and Microsoft. But while mobile still plays a strong part of their businesses, a new focus has taken pride of place.
Microsoft has announced a new strategy, putting best-in-class Artificial Intelligence as a company goal in their annual report. Similarly, Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO said at the Google I/O conference there was a shift ‘from a mobile first world to an AI first world’. And while Facebook’s mobile ad revenue grew by 53% in Q3, focus was on Zuckerberg’s comments: ‘I expect AI to change the way that we do business in some important ways’.
The technology industry has led the way in artificial intelligence, pioneering the new technology because its players have the talent and budget available to invest, as well as the foresight to see the dramatic implications AI could have on society and their respective businesses. However, there are three further reasons which go some way to explaining this transformation.
Real world outcomes
Artificial Intelligence has already proved its worth at delivering real-world outcomes, although this hasn’t always been the case. While the defeat of the reigning World Chess champion, Garry Kasparov by AI powered Deep Blue was impressive, at the time it was hard to see how this would impact society.
Now we can see Artificial Intelligence at work in our day to day lives. The invention and adoption of driverless cars (which, incidentally was first seen back in 1986, reaching the dizzy speed of 55mph) is credited to AI, as well as the development of sophisticated healthcare and the wider marketing industry.
Babylon Health has raised $60 million in new funding to build its AI to offer diagnosis through AI, with support from the founders of DeepMind. Similarly, a company called Atomwise is developing an AI system which works to accelerate drug discovery for diseases through deep learning algorithms, saving both time, money and more importantly, lives.
Tangible real-world outcomes are those that will affect the general consumer, and they’re also achievable in marketing and advertising. Chatbots are improving customer service and within advertising AI is used to optimise delivery to those who are, not only most likely to view or click on an ad, but to undergo a change in opinion. Brands can use AI to increase purchase intent, brand consideration or ensure their advertising is driving foot traffic into store, improving results as the AI learns about the type of consumers it should be reaching.
Real world outcomes have encouraged development as tech companies seek to influence more than just mobile experiences, proving the results of their work.
For many companies their data is a by-product of their history in mobile, as it has become the primary point of access and purchase. As recently as 2012, most of Facebook’s users were on desktop but by Q4 2013 this had shifted and now 90% of their active daily users are from mobile.
Artificial intelligence must be fed large amounts of high quality data for it to function – AI without data is just mathematics.
Mobile offers a variety of data points which make it the perfect start point to develop an effective Artificial Intelligence system. Large data sets, taking into account elements like location history, user behaviour, online purchases, content engagement, time, date, weather and more allows for effective analysis, segmentation and learning.
Cost efficiency is one of the ways AI has helped tech companies. IBM’s Watson has reduced the cost of their advertising by 31% on average, and DSPs like The Trade Desk and Google DBM have successfully applied machine learning to drive down costs for advertisers.
But AI efficiency doesn’t just apply to costs but process too. Facebook have employed AI to check content that has been flagged by users at hate-speech because algorithms are more efficient than using employees. Even more practically, DeepMind is actually managing power usage in their data centres, resulting in a 40% reduction in electricity – saving millions of dollars.
While the benefit for customers might not always be initially obvious, AI is working behind the scenes to improve the brand experience. AI can predict which individuals will engage with a brand ad in each unique moment. This allows ads to become more effective for brands and more user-friendly for consumers, as they are not shown ads which are statistically unlikely to interest them.
The large tech corporations are racing to win at artificial intelligence, but it’s important that businesses at all ends of the spectrum, and across all industries, seriously consider how AI can enhance and drive their business forward, bringing efficiency and real world results. Companies who have already embraced AI are muscling in, delivering better products to brands and consumers, threatening to force out legacy businesses who have been.
By Stephen Upstone
Stephen co-founded LoopMe in 2012, with the aim of using AI and mobile data to close the client feedback loop and transform brand advertising. He has over 15 years’ experience in artificial intelligence and mobile advertising, having held senior positions at Touch Clarity and Velti. Stephen is currently Chairman Emeritus of the MMA and has been named one of the Drum’s top 50 influencers in mobile advertising.