When it comes to the convergence of artificial intelligence and the future of customer experience, Dr Catriona Wallace is one of the most cited experts within the field. Her accolades are numerous and impressive, and speak volumes to her expertise within the industry of AI.
Very recently Dr Wallace was invited by the Australian Government to participate in a forthcoming focused discussion on the shaping of Australia's global reputation - an honour where she will join a carefully selected number of industry leaders and experts to provide a unifying representation of Australia with the purpose of developing strategies to strengthen the country's global position.
The project, known as "Australia's Nation Brand" will market the full breadth of the nation's capabilities internationally and support Australia's economic growth by improving the nation's global reputation and competitiveness across all industry sectors.
In a world where disruption has become the norm, super-intelligent computers have the potential to revolutionize how we both govern and conduct business - yet it is not always immediately obvious how the science of artificial intelligence can help shape image and brand identity.
Dr Catriona Wallace takes a moment to help us identify the challenges of AI and marketing, and where they intersect.
Can you tell us how AI is used in the world of branding?
AI is starting to appear in the branding of companies however it is more at the macro brand level. For example Microsoft, Amazon and IBM all position with an AI-first strategy which has taken over from the Mobile-first strategy of the last 10 years. In the industry we call this the 'AI Wars' where the big brands will fight it out for market share as the AI leaders. We see less brand association with AI at the micro level as organisations are still unsure how to position around AI and how consumers will regard it. It is still early days.
Are consumers still a bit wary of AI? If so how can we overcome this?
Yes, consumers are still wary of AI as it is still regarded as 'black box' which means it is difficult for the average person to understand and difficult for vendors or companies to explain. Rightly so - it is complex. However what we do know is that 75% of consumers are open to using AI to navigate their interactions with businesses if the AI can demonstrate that it can either help them, provide more information to them or make things easier.
Branding is successful when it engages moments of empathy and connection when it matters most. How can AI play a role in this?
Hmmm.... this is an interesting question as AI doesn't yet have the capacity to show empathy or deep human connection - because it is not human. However what it can do is massively power personalisation and individualisation of brands and products and services which will then support the brand itself being more connected to people.
What will future brand experiences look like when we as consumers become used to (and expect) incredible simplicity, fewer interfaces to interact with and an incredible amount of personalisation?
This is where AI will come into its own. It will be able to simplify, speed up, and personalise multi channel interactions for customers. Hence brands will be able to compete based on an AI powered product, service, marketing and communications propositions. Done right it will be very powerful.
How can brands think beyond creating experiences they want people to adhere to and start creating behaviors they want people to adopt by using AI?
I think that Personal Virtual Assistants will play a big part in this. Virtual Assistants will replace apps and be used by consumers to assist them with the journeys they want to take with brands. The Virtual Assistant will either act for the consumer or augment the consumer's experience.
Can you speak on the transparency of AI? Will consumers be aware that their options are being tailored by AI, and how might that impact their choices?
Currently there is little transparency in AI. It is usually a dark mystery. This year the Australian Government invested $29m into establishing a Human Rights and Ethics Framework for AI. I have been one of the advisors to the process. Hence we will soon see guidelines released that focus on the following principles: Do not harm; security, privacy, fairness, absence of bias, transparency, accountability and contestability.