The Stevie Awards Blog

Marketing in the Age of AI

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Wed, Feb 12, 2020 @ 11:05 AM

In an age where AI is changing the business landscape, agencies like Digital Resource are stepping up to help organizations gain online traction. Adopting AI can mean creating personal connections between businesses and clients.

Hollywood’s dire predictions of artificial intelligence (AI) taking over the world might not be coming true any time soon, but there’s no denying that AI’s capabilities are revolutionizing many industries. With newfound access to big data, machine learning, and in-depth insight into consumer behavior, the marketing industry, for one, is undergoing a complete overhaul.

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Most businesses today have the wrong idea about online marketing. It is not so much about the tools and platforms you use as it is about understanding human behavior and motivation. The deeper your knowledge of your target audience, the more impactful your marketing efforts will be. To that end, AI is a powerful ally for marketers who are willing to accept and to adapt to its capabilities.

AI for Your Marketing Team

Businesses across the world are using AI and machine learning insights to sharpen their marketing focus and to increase personalization. For instance, AI can help create ads that convert better by enabling deeper keyword searches, social profiling, and exhaustive online data research—all of which are not scalable efforts when done manually.

Intelligent analysis of search patterns, conversational chatbots to increase retention, individual-level user analytics, and several other marketing use cases of AI are all emerging globally.

“Marketing initially scared me because you couldn’t measure it,” said Susan Johnson, CMO of SunTrust Bank, in a conversation on AI with John Koetsier of Inc.

“I never thought we'd be here, where technology and marketing are completely intertwined,” said Johnson, who trained as an engineer and worked at Apple before making the shift to marketing. “Now, with technology, we have some degree of certainty about what is happening and why.”

This sentiment echoes the thoughts of savvy marketers everywhere.

AI Adoption and Marketing Impact in Numbers

Recent research and survey reports reveal the pace at which AI is changing the marketing landscape. For example, according to the Digital Intelligence Briefing, 2018 by Adobe, top-performing companies are more than twice as likely to be using AI for marketing (28 percent versus 12 percent) and Marketers' adoption of AI has grown at a rate of 44 percent since 2017 from the State of Marketing, 5th Edition, Salesforce Research.

Change Is Good

Digital_Resource_logoStevie-winner Digital Resource, which is based in West Palm Beach, Florida, United States, is a full-service Internet marketing agency that works with businesses looking to gain online traction. Started in 2014 by Shay Berman, who was twenty-two at the time, the agency aims to go beyond vanity metrics and to give businesses unfiltered, measurable results. With that goal in mind, they have been quick to explore and to implement AI in their marketing campaigns for clients.

“We're very interested in the introduction of artificial intelligence. While many are afraid AI will take jobs, we're exploring ways we can use it to complement and to optimize our employees,” says Emily Crieghton, a multimedia specialist at Digital Resource. “We're going to see a big uptick in the use of AI. On the flip side, though, we're also going to see companies striving to create more personal connections between businesses, influencers, and online users. So, we'll be working to find a balance between the two.”

Whatever the eventual specifics of AI’s incorporation into business marketing strategies, one thing is clear. Artificial intelligence has arrived, and marketers need to adapt quickly and to harness its potential in order to meet customer expectations and to drive business growth.

This year, Berman won the Silver Stevie® Award in the Entrepreneur of the Year - Advertising, Marketing, & Public Relations category at The seventeenth annual American Business Awards®.

Interested in entering the next American Business Awards?

Request the entry kit here.

Tags: The American Business Awards, American business awards, artificial intelligence

Moving to the Cloud Is Imperative for Customer Experience Success

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Wed, Jan 29, 2020 @ 03:04 PM

Customer experience (CX) has undergone a huge transformation over the last few years, and that’s largely because technology has led to rapid advances in the way consumers are engaged and served. CXOne, a platform created by NICE inContact, enables brands to adopt new innovations and improve overall operations.

Virtual chatbots, artificial intelligence, cloud-based contact centers, and data-driven personalizations are no longer novelties. Businesses are working overtime to make their processes agile enough to serve customers’ demands for multichannel, real-time service. Does this mean the beginning of the end of legacy customer service systems?

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NICE_inContact_logo“It’s no secret that customer satisfaction leads to customer advocacy and loyalty,” says Heather Hughes, senior corporate communications manager of Stevie-winner NICE inContact, a customer experience company based in Sandy, Utah, United States. “As companies strive to provide excellent CX, we’re seeing advanced technology play a big role in the experience.”

Moving CX to the Cloud: Need and Adoption

Not so long ago, customers needing to resolve issues could only call up business call centers and wait to be assigned to representatives. Today, customers reach out to businesses via a variety of channels, including, but not limited to, social media, voice calls, e-mails, chat, SMS, and video. They’re not happy waiting around either. According to a 2018 Hubspot study, 90 percent of consumers rated an “immediate” response as important or very important when they have customer service queries.

Supporting this multichannel, real-time customer experience demand calls for the quick implementation and seamless integration of new technologies, strategies, and processes into organizations’ existing customer service systems. This entails significant ongoing expenditure and is hardly sustainable, which is why businesses find the alternative of migrating contact centers and their entire CX management to the cloud way more palatable.

According to the State of Customer Experience study, by West Corporation, 39 percent of call centers they surveyed had already migrated to the cloud (as of 2017), and another 53 percent were planning to do so within the next three years (by 2020).

“The speed at which organizations need to perform and to transform continues to accelerate. The ability to adjust course in real time to best serve internal and external audiences is paramount, and it’s best enabled with open cloud platforms,” says Hughes.

CX platforms like CXOne from NICE inContact enable brands to adopt new innovations (e.g., AI and embedded analytics), to deploy service changes quickly, and to consolidate routing and reporting across global operations.

Marrying Technological Innovations and the Human Touch

When businesses think of moving CX to the cloud, investing in virtual chatbots, or personalizing customer interactions, the assumption is the need for human interaction then decreases drastically. That, however, is not true. Technology is simply a suite of tools, and it can’t replace the value and impact of the human touch.

For instance, a January 2019 Forrester study revealed 63 percent of customers are OK with getting service from a chatbot, provided they have the choice to move the conversation to a human if required.

“We believe one-on-one customer interactions have a real and lasting impact on people’s lives,” says Hughes. “It’s a belief that inspires us to relentlessly innovate in the cloud and to find smarter ways to transform one-on-one experiences in order to help contact centers achieve their goals.”

This approach toward customer experience makes CXone from NICE inContact a global leader in cloud contact center software, and it led to a Silver Stevie® win in Product Management & New Products Awards in the Cloud Platform category at the 17th Annual American Business Awards® in 2019.

Interested in entering The American Business Awards this year? The entry deadline is February 12, 2020. 

Request the entry kit here.

Tags: The American Business Awards, American business awards, Customer Service, artificial intelligence

Does the Rise of Artificial Intelligence Spell Doom for Young Workers?

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Tue, Dec 24, 2019 @ 09:00 AM

When it comes to the job landscape of the future, much speculation exists about how emerging technologies will affect those just entering the job market. When people ask the specific question of whether artificial intelligence (AI) is going to be a jobs killer, though, it’s important for young people to realize the answer isn’t a simple yes or no. The latest statistics and studies show it’s less about killing or eliminating jobs and more about evolving them.

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How AI Could Affect the Future Job Market

When Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne, two Oxford academics, came out with a prediction in 2013 that a staggering 47 percent of US jobs were at risk of automation by the middle of the 2030s, this issue of AI as a jobs killer became a hot topic of discussion. Studies, surveys, and op-eds began pouring in on the topic, and the subsequent findings were significant.

For example, McKinsey Global Institute found that anywhere between 40 million and 160 million women across the globe would potentially need to change jobs by 2030. Why? The clerical work done by secretaries, bookkeepers, and schedulers—jobs which are done by women 72 percent of the time—are especially susceptible to automation.

The salient part of the study, however, was not that these women would need to change jobs; it was that they would likely be transitioning into higher-skilled roles. In this way, AI wasn’t depriving them of jobs. Instead, it was pushing them into more advanced roles—positions that require the expertise, understanding, and skills only humans possess.

Similarly, the World Economic Forum estimates that automation is on pace to displace 75 million jobs by 2022, but it’s also set to create 133 million new ones by that date. In another study, Gartner predicts 2 million AI-related net new jobs by 2025.

With such a complicated issue, however, many potential factors come into play, and just as many studies predict an overall net loss in jobs. Forrester, for one, estimates a 29 percent loss of jobs by 2030 and only a 13 percent job increase to compensate.

While there isn’t general agreement about the potential number of jobs displaced and then created by AI, one thing does seem to be clear: AI will push people away from largely automated jobs into more advanced positions, and this transition will require the new job force to be increasingly agile and able to learn core skills and adapt to new working models.

The Company-Level Response to These Changes

Just as young people entering the job market should be cognizant of the changes technology will likely have on the professional landscape, companies should understand this dynamic as well. To stay relevant, businesses within the technology industry not only need to embrace AI and its potential but invest in training their workforces (established and incoming) to adapt to these new technologies.

“IT is a highly innovative and changing industry, and because of this, we’re reinventing education for the era of AI,” says Andrea Knoche, a first-line analytics leader for a subgroup of International Business Machines (IBM) that’s based in Ehningen, Germany. “We’re making it a priority to prepare young people around the world for the jobs of tomorrow.”

IBM_logoAs IBM illustrates, success in a changing technology-based landscape is about balancing the adoption of new technology. A company can’t ignore or dismiss new innovations, but it also must prepare its workers to properly harness the power of those tools.

“Our subgroup of IBM is most interested in moving to a cloud-based environment and utilizing big data technologies and analytics strategies,” says Knoche, “but we understand our workers must be trained and prepared to implement those tools into their jobs. When trained properly, employees can make the available technology work for them to increase their efficiency and effectiveness.”

IBM earned a Bronze Stevie Award in the Information Technology Team of the Year category at The 2020 American Business Awards®. They also won several awards at The 2020 International Business Awards®, including a Gold Stevie for Company of the Year - Business or Professional Services - Large.

Interested in winning a Stevie Award in 2020?

Request the entry kit here.

Tags: The American Business Awards, American business awards, company of the year, The International Business Awards, artificial intelligence

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