At Google’s recent annual developer conference, CEO Sundar Pichai demonstrated the new capabilities of their AI, Google Duplex and Google Assistant and how it can handle your calls.
The conversation between Google Assistant and a hair salon receptionist was met with audible wonderment from the audience within the room. Google Assistant’s lifelike voice and responses (the computer was able to mimic the ‘mmmhmm’ and pauses of a real person) represented yet another breakthrough for AI and naturally, people were impressed.
Here’s the snippet from Google’s I/O Conference:
It’s the end of the world?
But it also didn’t take long for critics to come down hard on the tech giant – calling it out for its ethics and what that meant for the future of humans. According to many, it was bleak: job redundancies, an increasing reliance on computers and dare I say it… Skynet?
So here’s my take. We’re already living in an era where it’s not an anomaly to have a conversation with a brand (chatbots anyone?) where it’s a computer answering you. Like it or not, interactive technology is prevalent in our daily lives. It’s only a matter of time before most of our interactions for mundane tasks will be powered by AI capability.
It’s now or never
Instead of jumping onto the ‘for’ or ‘against’ ship, I see this as an opportunity for marketers to make AI work for them. Remember, everything about brand communication. Even the technology you choose to have interact with your customers.
More so than ever, marketers need to create a tone of voice that is theirs to own. This then needs to be applied to not just marketing collateral but also across every customer service channel – even if it’s a computer. As long as it’s customer-facing, what you say and how you say it have to be consistent.
Be a marketer of the future
Today, Google Assistant can be programmed to sound and converse like a real person. Tomorrow, Google Assistant and all other AI-operated assistants will probably be able to react like humans do too.
While that future does indeed sound scary, we need to stay ahead of the curve. As marketers of the future, we can’t control the delivery channels, but we still are able to manage delivery methods and the outcomes.
Don’t forget that AI does empower marketers with better personalisation capabilities. In this date and age, personalisation is key for nailing customer experience.
Consumers of the AI revolution
That being said, it’s also important that we recognise the impact AI and new technologies have on the shift in power. Consumers now have more control over their interactions with brands and can easily customise how they want to be engaged. If you recall one episode from Black Mirror where the characters were able to block a person out completely – know that as drastic as it sounds, consumers already have the ability to mentally block your brand and brand strategy out if they don’t agree with your messaging or they had a negative interaction with you.
So when it comes to AI, resistance is futile. Marketers need to be able to embrace technology and what’s to come. We also need to approach campaigns with a big picture view, and not bank on just one tactic. Living in a world of rapid rate of change, marketing tactics easily lose their relevance and you need to be able to minimise risks and budget blowouts.
Plan but not too far ahead
It’s always good to be planning ahead in light of the AI revolution, but no one can predict the future. Five to 10 year business plans no longer work, so you’ll need to be fluid in navigating the AI waters.
Stick to what you know but always be prepared for upheaval with slight improvements. Whatever brand strategy you employ, it needs to work for you now before it stands any chance of working down the road.
With the tragic 2019/2020 bushfire season raging on mercilessly, it’s clear (to most) that the climate is changing and we need to change in turn. And with the help of Greta Thunberg, more conversations are being had, as more consumers do their best to make more sustainable choices. Yet with a coal-loving Scott Morrison behind the wheel, it doesn’t look like the big change our country really needs will come from government.