It is hard to stop revolutions, and we are most certainly in an AI revolution. Data this. Analytics that… function over emotion, process not prose, economies of scale, cost savings over creativity, and of course, guaranteed success needed immediately. We are well on our way to becoming a ‘Robots welcome only’ era. So what are the implications for B2B marketing despite its best efforts to make it H2H (Human 2 Human), and even more crucially, for mankind itself?
Replacing EI with AI in the sales process
A key player in this battle is the CIO/CTO. A few years ago we spoke to 10 CTOs from major UK institutions on behalf of a SaaS client on how they envisioned their decision making process and partner relationship/comms to be in the future. The overwhelming response was that the human relationship remains crucial – even though the ability to transact with minimum human interaction was – and remains – very possible. The fundamental reason they gave was to make any large procurement decision it was crucial to have a human you know/like/trust who is supporting and on ‘your’ side in the process. Our reliance on each other for our very survival is 1.5million years old, so AI will perhaps need more than a few years to usurp that.
Who really cares?
As an unemotive AI interface might say who does actually really care? But one suspects the CEOs of TSB and Sainsburys’ most certainly do. Creating more efficient businesses where cost savings can be made via ever more AI-enabled systems, is good modern day business thinking by both TSB and Sainsburys. Good for business, good for customers and good for shareholders. But whatever the enormous benefits these CEOs envisioned, forget EI at your peril. Both CEOs didn’t use their EI in their own behaviour and it could (will?) cost them and their businesses dearly. And the lesson here is a reminder that AI remains answerable to us living breathing humans. At least, for now anyway.
EI v AI = EAI?
As the workforce will inevitably become ever more AI-dependant we see AI and EI integrating. With sample workforces already having their movements monitored by sensory devices in trials what then happens, when for example, your work’s interface reports back that you have spent too long talking to men/woman/the kitchen staff that working day? Will you adjust your behaviour accordingly as your performance review/bonus depends on it? Does this ‘Emotional-Artificial-Intelligence’ (EAI) driven behaviour make feelings-driven EI something of the past? The last remnant of pre-historic human behaviour left only for romantics and poets? Has the automation of the human begun? And if so, as a marketeer how do you construct messaging and win tenders with this new form of EAI hu-bot in existence? How will you establish their key motivations without knowing who and what is really driving them?
AVA, Autodesk’s virtual agent, is a “digital human” that answers customers’ most common questions, directs people to content and completes transactions. AVA is able to read and respond interactively to emotional signals, with the ultimate goal of providing a more natural and familiar user experience.
And the winner is…
We are all scrabbling to make sense of the future. We can only look and search for signs. Large corporations are in an AI-arms race to deliver what they perceive their customers want. But simple incidents serve to remind us that you underrate EI at your peril. TSB’s Paul Pester and Sainsbury’s Mike Coupe ultimately want to make more profit whilst delivering a better service to their customers – and they may well do so. However arguably their biggest current threat comes from EI not AI, because when appearing flippant to a commons committee and singing ‘I am in the money’ accidentally on TV… not even AI can protect you from the wrath of EI.
JPC are a strategic communications agency who ‘Make the complex, compellingly simple.’ We specialise in Building Brands, Winning Bids, ABM, Sales Enablement and Creating Experiences. Please contact Nick Pearce for more information; firstname.lastname@example.org