AI Possibilities, Potentials and Pitfalls

Artificial Intelligence, in its various guises, has surfaced as one of the primary topics of conversation this year. To date it has been framed as an exciting future technology full of space age pontification but this year we really started to focus on the practical real life applications and implications of this technology. Numerous talk at the Palais focused on the role of voice in brand communication or how people are actually utilising personal assistant devices such as Google Home or more specialised emotional robots such as Olly.

The OMD Oasis agenda had a wide range of panels focused on different aspects of the unfolding AI revolution. One is a focus on the use of AI technology across the marketing value chain; how we utilise neural networks to drive more sophisticated market mix modelling solutions, or Bayesian inference to better identify individuals in a privacy friendly way or how support vector machines are used to categorise and train large sets of data into manageable categories to help gain deeper insight about emerging consumer behaviour. One particularly exciting announcement came from our colleagues at Annalect who have built a chat bot called AUBI to facilitate everyone at OMD to access new data sets and analytical tools

As AI moves from the lab and the homes of the very earliest adopters into the lives of mainstream life and culture we need to consider not just how the technology works but also the outlook and feelings of consumers about AI. OMD has spent the past 6 months focusing on this topic with specific reference to the use of AI in and around the point of sale in a study called ReAIl Revolution. The final element of this project, a 12 market quantitative study was released at Cannes and discussed in the AI possibilities Potentials and Pitfalls panel at the OMD Oasis.

The conversation was framed around the topics that most concern consumers; data collection and security, the use cases and value propositions we can create today and the impact on their shopping experience. Rupert Elwood, CMO, Waitrose also illustrated how as an employee owned organisation Waitrose is very much focused on how technology can empower employee partners to deliver a better, more human notion of intelligence augmentation rather that replacing human intelligence with the artificial.

The Retail Revolution outputs discussed included the finding that it is Southern European consumers who are most excited and open to AI solutions with both Spain and Italy leading in many categories, whilst markets such as Germany are more concerned with resolving Data privacy issues before they fully commit to this new technology. An interesting , perhaps surprising observation came from the reasons why comsumers are not yet using AI technology and disctinct pattern aroise between younger and older consumer. Consumers over 35 primarily felt they did not have the skills to use AI yet but would need to learn, whilst those under 35 felt that they did not need AI.  Over 35s have been here before seeing several technology revolutions in their adult lives and this is just another, that they will need to cope with. Those under 35 grew up with much of this technology around them and this is the first time as adults that the world has fundamentally. We believe therefore that today’s Digital Natives will be tomorrow’s AI Immigrant. It will todays Gen Z children who will be the first to truly intuitively understand the impact of this technology over coming decades

The implications for brand and commerce strategy are numerous and we will be exploring in detail with our clients over coming months exactly what this can mean in terms of practical real life implementation.

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Jean-Paul Edwards

Jean-Paul has been with OMD for 20 years. He founded Manning Gottlieb OMD’s Digital team in 1997 and then led the agency Media Futures offering. He now works at OMD EMEA to drive development of the network’s offering in a digitally led, data-centric media environment. Outside of work Jean-Paul is kept busy by three children, he is a keen skier and reader across a wide range of embarrassingly geeky topics.

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