Today’s most highly valued companies are digital-first. Amazon, Uber, and others have grown up fast because they built their businesses on data and artificial intelligence (AI). And their growth has led incumbent companies in every sector to realize that they need to adapt – quickly.
Avoiding adoption of modern technology is an existential threat. Just compare Uber and Hertz. Uber is now valued at more than $50 billion. Hertz is only valued at $1.3 billion.
This sea change is causing great anxiety among CMOs and others. But AI fear of missing out (FOMO) shouldn’t cause you to give up or act with undue haste. There is a way forward, and you are already in a better position than you might think. To get started, just follow these steps.
Harness Your Data
You are already sitting on so much data, you just need to harness it.
That starts with tapping into data that is obviously meaningful to your business, such as who your customers are and what they have bought. You can use this knowledge to remarket to customers, boost experiences and drive retention. It costs nine times more to acquire a new customer than to sell to an existing one. So use what you know about who you know.
Next, tap into the more obscure interactional data in your dataset. This includes what people looked at and clicked on and other signals about their level of interest. When considered together, these signals are gold for any brand, retailer or other consumer-facing organization.
There is so much information available about customer journeys and what data people consume on their quests to buy something, watch something, download something. These collections can show exactly what helped customers buy – and what got in their way.
This is not just online data; it’s offline as well. With location-based geo-targeting, you can understand where your customers are. Merging that data with your operational warehouse data, you can make sure the products you recommend are actually in stock where customers are most likely to buy. With beacon-based data, you know where customers are in your place of business, to potentially offer in-store specials while customers are there. Plus, merging that data with your operational warehouse data, you can make sure the products they are most likely to buy, are in stock.
However, it is impossible for humans to make sense of that data. That’s why the next step to successfully becoming a digital-first organization is to unlock those insights using AI.
AI can analyze and allow you to act on that data. It does that by generating insights from behavioral patterns.
That helps you better serve both your current and future customers. By understanding the customers you already have, you can better understand others like them. AI also can help you tailor unique experiences to draw in customers as soon as they arrive. For example, pairing beacon technology and/or geofencing with AI can enable you to personalize their in-store experience as well.
Partner With Experts
Your AI FOMO may lead you to think you need to take the same developmental path as the tech behemoths and build your AI systems from scratch. But building an AI platform from the ground up is daunting – and unnecessary.
The better, and faster, way is to partner with vendors that provide experience intelligence platforms (EIPs). These suppliers and solutions remove the burden of making sense out of your data. An EIP allows you to connect disparate data sources; make sense of that data; and inject the most relevant information, recommendations and products into each user experience.
Choose an Architecture of Innovation
Using AI in real time to surface the most relevant product or information at the right time requires massive computing power. That calls for cloud capacity and vendors that operate within multi-tenant cloud environments. This approach allows for constant improvements and innovations that are easily made available to all clients.
That’s very different from running an application alone on a single-tenant cloud server. That just moves on-premises software into a single hosted environment for each customer in turn.
It is effectively the same software, running in isolation, locked into the same version. This means someone must constantly fix, patch and update the software. And the vendors of that software must focus their engineering efforts on addressing bugs and fixes customer by customer rather than innovating.
Meanwhile, businesses that select true cloud-based providers can deliver exceptional experiences at scale to compete, survive, and thrive in today’s competitive business market. This is possible because these providers can release software updates multiple times a day to all of their clients – allowing for rapid innovation and deployment.
Make the Intelligent Choice
If this sounds techie that’s because it is. That’s why it’s important for you, as a CMO, to partner with your CIO. Together you can, and should, review and select the partners and technology that will help you to accomplish your goals.
Remember, technology has a direct bearing on you as a CMO and your success in the markets you serve. You can’t move fast if your software provider is holding you back. And if that’s the end result, what’s the point of digital transformation in the first place.
Mark Floisand is the SVP of Product and Industry Marketing at Coveo. He has over 20 years of marketing, sales and general management experience in the technology industry, spanning blue-chip and start-up companies across three continents, including Apple, Adobe, BusinessObjects, SAP, Total Defense, Untangle and WeVideo. Mark was most recently with Sitecore, a Coveo technology partner, where he led product marketing. Mark holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa; and an MBA from the University of Durham in the UK.