Exploring the Myriad Possibilities of AI in Marketing: Panel Discussion

At the exchange4media Conclave, held on November 16 in Mumbai, our esteemed panel of speakers discussed the topic, 'Human Insight vs AI in Marketing'

by exchange4media Staff
Published - Nov 20, 2018 8:28 AM Updated: Nov 20, 2018 8:28 AM
conclave panel discussion

Artifiical Intelligence, the new technology that is giving wings to marketers, is also making the marketing fraternity wonder about how humans would work alongside AI and what possibilities maketers can explore with the aid of AI. At the exchange4media Conclave, held on November 16 in Mumbai, our esteemed panel of speakers discussed the topic, 'Human Insight vs AI in Marketing'.

Watch the video here or read the article below:

Moderator of the panel, Bindu Sethi, Chief Strategy Officer, JWT India opened the discussion by asking the panel how they have grappled with machine learning and AI in their particular organisation; what AI means to them, how they are using it, what are some of the challenges they face? Also, if they had more time and money, how would they begin to use AI and machine learning?

Juzer Tambawalla, Head of Marketing, Franklin Templeton began the discussion by saying, “To me, it is essentially about looking at what humans can do. Humans can acquire and capture data, they can process it, they can reason with it and take corrective actions. This is typically what an AI tool should be doing, and is doing right now. The only thing that today AI can't do is bring in the emotional aspect which humans actually have.”

He explained that from a business perspective, considering the shrinking attention span of customers, one of the biggest challenges in the financial services business is to remain one step ahead of the customer, saying “We are really building and investing a fair amount of time, money, energy and people resources in trying to build that platform for the firm to make sure that we can get in line with the customer, and hopefully in future get ahead of him.”

Pradeep Hejmadi, CEO, Aidem Ventures Pvt. Ltd., pointed out that, “AI has to be taught first, it has to learn and even before that, there is the process where we bring in things that it can learn on and that clearly is a hugely human effort. In my view, both of these will need to co-exist, otherwise, there will be businesses looking like one another if you use a regression based modeling. Innovation will work absolutely in the opposite way.”

He added “Technology and Artificial Intelligence will the reason why many innovations would never see the light of day, so I really believe that we can constantly see how human capital creates wonders, and I am a firm believer that cannot be completely substituted, but the computing-based strength which humans will struggle with, or to which humans will find a bias or ignore, that is something that a machine can pick up”.

Navneet Narula, Head of Watson Consumer Engagement, India and South Asia, IBM India opined that Artificial Intelligence helps save time and plays various roles. He also believes AI will improve in the future.

Another question the panel delved into was what should the next ambitions of marketing organisations be, and how would agencies evolve in the age of AI?

Narula began by saying, "I believe while people will keep learning as they take this journey, there are 3 effective ways we see people are trying to address it- a mid-market organisation that doesn't have a lot of money to spend on data science can get those apps and start delivering on some results. I also see in the marketplace people who do end-to-end marketing, including the data work, and finally, the technology, the agency and the brand work together in a collaborative way, where technology is extended to an agency and they work together on the same platform to deliver results. That is where I see a lot of customers succeeding in working with the brands”.

Arvind Chintamani, VP of Marketing, Colgate Palmolive India, explained that “We need to understand the potential for what is possible.” He added “The business problems are the obvious starting points, communication is the solver of a business problem. Now that we know what our business problem is, can we imaginatively ask the question that can drive influence? I think this is where we will have to find a way to organise”.

Mayank Shah, Category Head, Parle Products opined that “It is not only the advertising or the marketing we are talking about but also the purchase.” He explained that there is a lot of data available for retailers about consumers and their purchase journey and that there is vast scope for AI in this area to better understand the customer requirements. Saying, “While we as marketers are more skewed towards advertising, we are talking about pieces of communication, or how to target consumers, or probably influence them, I think down the funnel, when we talk about the actual purchase act, we need to look at the data which is already there."

He added, “I would not restrict the use of AI to just communication or advertising, but go a full 360 degree of marketing, where you're also talking about the purchase, advocacy, and other things.”

Anirudh Pandharkar, Head of Marketing, VIP Industries, added that ”I don't think there would be any great change in the marketing structure, because ultimately the brand teams and the marketing teams have a problem to solve, and that business problem can now be very well defined by the amount of data we have and the inferences from the data which can be drawn. Ultimately that is what the job of a marketer is- to solve a problem on the business front or a consumer front.”

He also said that “The basic structure of marketing in the next three to four years, will probably have adjuncts of analytics to it, but the core of marketing will remain the same”.

Hejmadi remarked, “People say very often, data is the new oil. I just have one perspective on it, oil has many properties, one of the biggest ones is that it's combustible and it's really slippery. That is what we should watch out for with data. The thing that alters the viscosity and the explosive element is humans. If we put it in the right place, like a gasoline tank, it can help the person do wonders”.

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