By Lindsay McEwan, VP and Managing Director - EMEA, Tealium.
The fourth industrial revolution is upon us. Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Virtual Reality (VR) and the Internet of Things (IoT) are revolutionising just about every industry known to man, and marketing is no exception.
However, to keep up with this digital evolution, marketers need to do more than simply invest in the latest technology. Innovations are only as good as the raw materials they’re working with, and it’s data that’s fuelling businesses as they enter the next digital era.
With enterprises collecting masses of consumer data on a daily basis – and this volume only set to grow, expected to reach 163 zettabytes by 2025 – marketers can be more informed of consumer behaviour than ever before. But, this also means there is the potential for businesses to become entirely overwhelmed and lost in consumer insights – particularly if there isn’t a clear data strategy from the outset.
Indeed, marketers will soon find themselves facing the quality vs. quantity conundrum – so what’s the best way to navigate this data minefield?
Step one: connect the data dots
Consumers operate across multiple devices and platforms, resulting in data being stored in separate silos – one for online, one for social, one for email, and so on. As a result, businesses might take two separate interactions to mean two separate customers – when it is in fact the same individual but on a different device.
This misunderstanding can lead to wasted marketing efforts and irrelevant messaging. So, to actually gain any useful insight into consumer behaviour, marketers need to map the consumer journey, connecting the data dots to build a single, holistic customer view.
Detailed customer profiles can be created by taking a unified approach to customer-facing systems. Using technology to build bridges between fragmented touchpoints will help marketers deliver more relevant and engaging campaigns, leading to a better customer experience and boosting loyalty.
Step two: use the single view to build an AI strategy
AI is no longer a futuristic concept. In fact, AI has been steadily evolving in recent years to become a highly useful tool for marketers.
These systems can be used to find patterns within data and make recommendations as to how to interact and engage with a customer.
When applied in conjunction with a robust and detailed customer profile, AI can help manage and deliver customer preferences. For example, by analysing data patterns of previous purchases, AI can be used to generate dynamic product incentives for customers to consider.
And there are other areas where marketers can use AI to provide a seamless customer experience from advertising to sales. AI powers many chatbots that are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for instance.
And, although these chatbots may only initially be able to answer the most basic, straightforward queries, the more they are used, the more they will learn, so eventually they might even be able to handle increasingly complex customer interactions, such as non-scripted questions.
Step 3: Quantum computing and beyond
While great leaps are being made in terms of what is achievable with AI and ML, forward-thinking marketers should also be considering their approach to technologies that are likely to soon make a big breakthrough. Quantum computing is a concept that revolves around machines that are much more powerful and energy efficient than ever before.
They are already being developed by well known technology organisations, and are capable of performing calculations that would take modern-day computers hundreds of years, in a mere matter of seconds.
Quantum computing will give marketers the potential to collate the masses of data consumers produce, link it together and extract the maximum value. What’s more, it will use fewer resources and boost efficiency.
We are living in exciting times, and marketers are excellently placed to lead the charge towards digital transformation. Sophisticated technologies can, with the right approach, help businesses to reach the right people, with the right message, at the right time.
Marketers should not shy away from new technologies but also need to take a considered approach, rather than getting swept up with the latest innovations.
By recognising the power of data and ensuring it is in optimal state will they be fully able to harness the potential that the era of digital transformation promises to bring.