Artificial intelligence has left the laboratory (and the movie lot) and is in your building. It’s in your home. It’s in your office. From Alexa to Nest to Siri to Uber to Waze, we are surrounded by smart machines running on incredibly powerful and self-learning software platforms.
What to Do When Machines Do Everything: How to Get Ahead in a World of AI, Big Data, Algorithms, Bots and Big Data by Malcolm Frank, Paul Roehrig, and Ben Pring is an insightful playbook for surviving in a world changing faster than ever due to the power of robots and machine learning.
For marketers it offers deep insights of where we are headed, not in terms of marketing, but rather in terms of markets. The authors are convinced that the world is moving into a new economic era, one that will “change the very nature of work and the basis of competition in every industry.” The book describes our brave new age of “machines that seem to think” as “systems of intelligence” – where the new machines are always on, always learning, and constantly thinking.
To understand how the new machines and business models will change our lives, let’s start by asking the obvious question: will robots eat my job?
The authors say it depends on what you do now to prepare. For the vast majority of professions, the new machine will actually enhance employment. Just as one wouldn’t think of driving across London today without an AI-based GPS, or researching a subject without referring to Google and Wikipedia, most workers in the coming years would not consider approaching their daily tasks without a “bot” at their side.
The authors argue that new professions will be created, driving employment in fields we can’t currently envision – as long as we are prepared.
What will be Automated?
The tasks that will be automated will be:
- Highly repetitive tasks: tasks that are highly repetitive but occur at great scale within your organization. These are activities that lots of people do every day.
- Tasks with low demand for human judgment: Jobs that lean heavily on decision trees (as opposed to ambiguity, intuition, insight, complex judgment) are strong candidates for automation.
- Tasks requiring low levels of empathy: Order entry, claims adjudication, and invoice reconciliation are examples of processes that require accuracy, consistency, and speed, but not high levels of empathy.
- Tasks generating and handling high volumes of data: Any process with the potential for generating lots of data, particularly customer data, should be automated.
Businesses Model Transformation
The authors explain that there are five forms of business model transformation:
- Automate: What next level of automation can you apply to an existing human-based process? Can you deploy Al-infused chatbots or kiosks into a service center or registration desk? Can you build an automated process machine that speeds a process in the way that the ATM sped up dispensing cash? If your company is typical, you probably have half a dozen processes ripe for Robotic Process Automation (RPA). These will include areas such as claims processing, accounts payable and receivable, legal discovery, service desk incident resolution, network security management, and large portions of customer service and support.
- Halo: What products can you put a digital “halo” around with instrumentation, thus creating new commercial models? What”dumb” objects can become “smart ?” What data can you generate that can help you “see” things that were previously invisible, such as the performance of a rotor blade in a turbine? By 2020, “any product costing more than $5 that you couldn’t eat” will be instrumented.
- Enhance: Which human efforts can be enhanced by the new machine to drive new levels of employee productivity?
- Abundance: How can you leverage the new machine to drive down the price point of your products or services to be able to compete and win in low-cost, high-volume markets – markets of abundance? With the new machine, which of your products or services could be sold for 10 times less?
- Discovery: What areas of true invention are now available to you? How much of your focus and budget is devoted to initiatives that won’t pay off this year but have enormous potential in the years ahead?
How can you leverage the new machine to revolutionize your R&D process?
Implications for Marketers
How does marketing change? We are asked to:
- Automate everything we can
- Instrument everything we can
- Enhance every person we can
- Drive the price point of our products and services as low as we can
- Discover and invent all the possible futures we can
AI and Big Data, working together, will give us real-time customer-centricity at long last.
Jenny Cheung is a freelance marketer and project manager based in Texas.