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Is artificial intelligence killing the job of the data analyst?

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Just this weekend, automotive company Ford made headlines for investing US$1 billion during the next five years in Argo AI, an artificial intelligence company.  Artifical intelligence, safe to say, is taking over all facets of marketing today – from streamlining process, injecting creativity, decoding the consumer behaviour and of course, decoding data.

While just a few years ago, data scientists were deemed to be the coolest kids on the block, today it seems they too are fast being replaced. Today, there are still amongst us, brands which have expended great lengths to gather data, who do not yet know what the next step is. This is because they say, there isn’t enough data analysts out there who can actually help decode data and speak the language of marketing.

Could the answer for them then be to replace the roles of data analysts with machine learning?

Unlike the horrors associated with the likes of “Ex Machina” and “I, Robot” – AI today is often a lot more subtle, explained Jason Jercinovic, head of global innovation at Havas, artificial intelligence (AI). This can be seen in search algorithms and tracking which “learns” consumer preferences and then mines the relevant kind of content an individual desires. He added that artificial intelligence (AI) is the answer to unlocking insights from data.

Possibly, it would be better equip to then translate the data in a more simplified manner than a human scientist can.

“AI enables a relationship between people and data. This makes us better humans by augmenting who we are as individuals. It will hence allow clients to create one-to-one experiences,” Jercinovic said.

Jercinovic is of the view that AI enables brands to reinvent the customer experience, in a time where marketers are in the midst of an information revolution. Currently, brands are only able to comprehend a fifth of the structured data collected, he said.

AI shines the light on dark data.“The systems in AI enables brands to gain a deeper understanding of customers and provide them with more valuable personalised experiences that demonstrate understanding of the customer and who they are,” Jercinovic said.

Not only does AI help to identify risky consumer profiles, it also takes every customer interaction with the brand and learns from what the customer likes or did not like. This is based on how they responded to various touch points in the customer journey from the simple action of tapping, swiping left or right on a screen.

“Every interaction matters. AI enables you to shorten that journey which allows clients to increase their sales or achieve their business objectives,” Jercinovic said.

David Sanderson, founder and CEO, Nugit added that AI instead is the key to personalisation at scale. He added:

Imagine if you have a marketer who knows everything about every single one of your consumers. That’s impossible to achieve with humans, but with AI you can.“You can create thousands of hyper targeted messages, instead of a one size fits all approach,” Sanderson said.

He added that this would be a win-win for brands and customers, who can get a relevant experience that’s optimised for them, and also benefit from cost savings that will be passed on from the efficiencies in marketing.

“There will be a learning curve to reach the ideal customised experience, but the future of marketing is not too far away and AI will play a key role in delivering this,” Sanderson explained.

Time savings, accuracy and scale

Sanderson explained how AI has the potential to be deployed across the entire data analytics process. In doing so it is able to deliver value for marketers in terms of time savings, turnaround time, accuracy and scale.

Sanderson explained that in terms of time savings, through successful data cleaning, processing and mapping, AI will be able to free up 50 to 80% of analysts’ time to focus on higher value analysis. Turnaround time is also shorter as AI cuts down the amount of human processes involved.

“AI has the potential to deliver instant answers instead of waiting a week for an analyst team to mine for the answers,” Sanderson said.

He added that AI provides accuracy as it does not have bias, providing more transparency when it comes to data analysis and automation. It is able to process data independently without human biases, manual errors or hidden agendas. AI is also infinite when it comes to processing data, which means analytics can be scaled up on demand.

“As AI improves, one business model we can foresee is AI being rented on a project basis, just like consultants. Today, AI is not only able to process natural language to capture customer sentiment towards your brand, but it’s even able to craft machine generated, personalised natural language messages to hold a human conversation,” Sanderson added.

This story was first published on Marketing magazine.

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