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AI in companies: Definitely a matter for top management

Personalization is the most important task for artificial intelligence, but it’s just the beginning.
By Falk Hedemann November 7, 2018
AI in companies: Definitely a matter for top management

Personalization is without a doubt one of the greatest challenges facing company marketing managers today, and they can only master it with the help of artificial intelligence (AI). The pressure not only comes from the market, but increasingly from consumers. Game changers like Spotify or Netflix have made the advantages of personalization tangible for their customers and thus raised the bar for other brands. In an Accenture study, for example, three quarters of the customers surveyed wanted what are known as “living profiles”, which enable consumers to intervene in the personalization process themselves via various interactions.

 

AI study shows the status of German brands

The need for personalization has now reached almost all German brands. This was found by a recent Adobe study, which pools the results of a survey of European decision-makers in large corporations with more than 5,000 employees. The main result:

  • 89 percent of German brands rate personalization as crucial to their business success.

What is important here is the direct influence of personalization on the success of the company. It is therefore not a “soft” factor, but a critical factor for the company. Another study result further increases the pressure on brand managers:

  • “Despite the importance of personalization, the majority of brands in each of the markets studied stated that they are currently unable to offer the degree of personalization required from them.

In short, this means: the task has been recognized, but the solution is still missing. And there are many different reasons for this, as the study shows. When asked about the main obstacles on the path to the desired personalization, the decision-makers answered:

  • We collect too much data from too many sources (60 percent)
  • We can’t process data fast enough to respond in time (56 percent)
  • We struggle to collect, structure and integrate data logically (51 percent)
  • We lack the skills or potential to effectively manage our data (48 percent)
  • Data are stored in too many different systems (48 percent)

 

AI requirements create acute need for action

To remove these obstacles, companies need to invest in AI at different levels. On the one hand, they must create the technological prerequisites. This means, for example, that data processing has to be accelerated, structured and pooled so that data can be analyzed meaningfully and almost in real time using AI.

On the other hand, brands also have to invest in their own personnel. To get from the insight “personalization is an important factor for the success of a company” to the successful implementation of customer-oriented personalization of the customer experience, they need a deep understanding of the possibilities, requirements and limits of AI. Those surveyed in the Adobe study want to build up the necessary know-how for a meaningful use of AI using two different approaches:

  • Recruiting: 65 percent of the companies surveyed are hiring new employees who have the required AI skills.
  • Enabling: 69 percent of the companies surveyed are training their current employees with AI skills.

 

Where is AI already used?

Know-how is not only needed for AI-based personalization of marketing. The vast majority also see great potential in the general improvement of data analysis: 52 percent are in the test phase here, while 18 percent are in the implementation phase and 8 percent are already reporting successful use.

AI will also be increasingly used to identify new business opportunities and offers. 46 percent are testing, 23 percent are implementing and 9 percent are already successfully using AI for this purpose. By the end of 2020, 93 percent of the German brands surveyed plan to introduce AI for extended customer and/or business analyses.

 

The bottom line: AI as a component of corporate culture

The AI hype is currently facing a major change. The wait-and-see phase is long over because of increased customer expectations and companies have to invest in AI in the long term. The finding that the use of AI is considered critical for business success is particularly important. This not only lends the topic new dynamism, it also requires a different strategic approach: AI is not a matter for marketing or IT, but for top management. It will not be enough to break open the internal data silos, because AI knows no department boundaries. Brands will only be able to exploit their full potential if AI becomes an elementary component of corporate culture.

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