These 3 Businesses Are Already (and Creatively) Using AI to Automate Key Operational Tasks
Entrepreneur's New Year’s Guide
Artificial intelligence: Since the term was first coined in 1955 by the late Stanford computer scientist John McCarthy, AI has steadily moved out of the realm of science fiction and now has significant impact on our everyday lives.
Voice assistants such as Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant utilize voice recognition to transform the way we search for information and interact with our devices. Innovations such as self-driving cars and wearable tech are positioned to transform transportation and healthcare in the foreseeable future. And that's just the beginning.
The Harvard Business Review has predicted that AI will affect the economy and our lives on a magnitude similar to that of the steam engine, electricity and the industrial combustion engine. While this seismic shift may still be some years away, entrepreneurs and businesses are already finding creative ways to utilize AI.
Imagine that your business had a salesperson available 24/7, 365 days a year, to actively engage with visitors to your website. Now imagine the potential boon to your conversion rate if this salesperson could answer questions about your company, qualify visitors as leads and even book sales calls -- all in real time. This is the power of automated conversational marketing, and Drift puts it within reach.
Drift builds intelligent chatbots, powered by AI technology, which communicate directly with your potential customers, using instant messaging. Drift's chatbots can both answer and ask questions of visitors to your site, in many cases eliminating the need for tedious qualifying forms and dramatically decreasing the duration of your sales cycle.
Traditionally, visitors to B2B sites have been expected to fill out forms that "qualify" them as valuable leads. The problem? People don't like to fill out forms. Evidence suggests that businesses don't like responding to them either.
In a survey of 433 B2B SaaS businesses, Drift found that after customers filled out a qualifying form, virtually all companies involved took days to respond, and most didn't follow up at all.
Take a minute to quantify the resources expended by your marketing team in driving traffic to your website. Next, consider how much of that effort is squandered if your visitors fail to convert. Employing Drift's conversational marketing AI technology can almost instantly provide you with an additional sales channel, all without your having to hire a single additional employee.
Businesses today are creating more content than ever before. In one survey, Adobe found that 47 percent of marketers polled cited "producing content at scale as one of their biggest challenges."
Adobe's Creative Suite and Creative Cloud -- which includes applications such as Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign -- has long been the creative professional's go-to platform. Adobe is now incorporating the power of AI, machine learning and deep learning into these products and others under the banner of Adobe Sensei. Adobe Sensei eliminates much of the tedious, time-consuming work of image manipulation and image creation, freeing up your designers to work on projects that require real, human creativity.
Content-driven businesses often have vast repositories of proprietary images, and they expend significant resources creating new ones all the time. These massive image libraries quickly become unwieldy, meaning that images seldom get reused because they are just too hard to find. Adobe Sensei tackles this problem by utilizing AI to recognize very particular elements in a photograph and "auto-tag" them.
This significantly enhances a user's ability to search an extensive database of photos and find one with the attributes needed. Reusing existing images means realizing a higher ROI from the resources spent on their creation.
One of Adobe Sensei's most exciting features lies in its ability to deliver truly personalized content. It's part of an initiative called Adobe Experience Cloud, which leverages data on individual customers from across all your platforms, online and off, to deliver a truly unique brand experience to each of your clients. More and more, what defines a successful relationship with your customer is the overall experience. Adobe Experience Cloud utilizes AI and machine-learning to help you deliver the best experience possible.
Not only are businesses creating more visual content than ever before, but they're also producing more written content. In the not so distant past, the quality of written content was usually of little concern, as its primary function was to drive search engine traffic through keyword stuffing.
Thanks in large part, however, to advances in AI and machine learning, Google has become much better at sniffing out keyword stuffing and other black-hat SEO techniques, punishing websites that employ them. Google has also become better at recognizing quality content and rewarding it with higher SERP rankings.
All of this means an ever-increasing emphasis on high-quality, long-form online content. I spoke with Karl Kangur, entrepreneur of several successfully-acquired online content businesses, an SEO expert and managing director of marketing agency MRR Media. According to Kangur, "There are no longer any shortcuts for driving organic traffic. Creating quality, informative content that resonates with your audience is the only way to develop an effective digital marketing strategy."
Grammarly is one way to make creating quality content less of a burden, and content marketers and writers have been quick to adopt it: Think of it as a post-graduate-level spell-check. Grammarly uses the power of AI to evaluate your writing for grammar, punctuation, and wordiness; it even identifies instances where a sentence is in the passive voice and asks that you rewrite it to make it active.
These details, it turns out, are important. A study from the BBC showed that a single spelling mistake could cut online sales by half. Think of your written content as the equivalent of making a good first impression. Consider what effect poor spelling and grammar have on your brand's credibility.
Grammarly already does much more than help writers mind their P's and Q's and is consistently rolling out new AI-based features to improve content further. Proper grammar is also big business. According to Medium, Grammarly had nearly seven million active daily users in 2017 and annually doubles its users and revenue.
While AI has yet to have as transformative an effect on our lives as electricity and the internal combustion engine, experts agree that it's only a matter of time. Like any major technological advancement, AI is bound to be disruptive -- especially in the short term. While this is cause for concern for some (notably, Elon Musk) a more optimistic viewpoint sees AI as eliminating repetitive work and drudgery in many professions, allowing humans to focus on doing what machines cannot.
These are still the early days of the AI revolution, but creative businesspeople are already finding ways to put the power of AI to work for them. What are you doing?