Marketers discuss the future of smart data collection and interpretation


Sometimes you just want a Diet Coke. Sure, it’s made with artificial sweetener, but it’s still a soda. Plus, you can enjoy it guilt-free. In the same way, advances in AI marketing trends may be artificial, but they’re no less effective. You’ve already heard me introduce some ideas about the ways AI will be used for marketing purposes in this blog, and now a new study details the reasons marketers are so excited for what’s ahead.

Here, I’ll break down some of the key points of the study, and give you my analysis on the ways AI will soon change the way we interact with data.

What: “Doing More With Data: Discovering Data-Accelerated Revenue Traction,” a study based on a survey conducted in partnership by IBM and the CMO Council in June, 2018

Who: The survey polled 165 executives in marketing, supply chain and commerce roles at a number of large companies like Samsonite, REI, The Body Shop, AT&T and many others.

The Findings

People First: The study showed that customer engagement is a 24/7 gig, with social media and advances in technology meaning that data is available round the clock.

Lagging Efforts: Only seven percent of respondents felt they were exceeding expectations in meeting the needs of their customers. Nearly 40 percent of CMOs thought their current customer engagement strategies were a mixed bag, not yielding consistently positive results.

Barriers: Across silos, all respondents agreed that the biggest barriers to more effective data collection, interpretation and implementation were the “Three Ts”: tools, talent and time. Many companies were struggling to find the right technology to optimize their data management, while others felt they didn’t have the resources to hire or train their people to operate more effectively. Still, others said it all boiled down to not having enough time to dig into the data and create action steps based on the findings.

The AI Angle

Mundane in the Membrane: According to respondents, their staff spends a majority of work hours completing mundane tasks like manipulating spreadsheet data – tasks that could be taken care of by an AI program, leaving valuable time for analysts to actually analyze and create strategies based on the data.

Real-Time Rewards: The biggest upside to AI as it relates to data is that it can collect, process, analyze and make recommendations, all in real-time. This will empower marketers to make decisions and respond to crises quickly, efficiently and effectively, as well as help lay the foundation for long-term marketing strategies and communications plans.

The Future is Here: Out of the survey respondents, 77 percent say they plan to implement AI data systems within the next year.

Case Study

Rick Bingle is the senior vice president of supply chain at outdoor retailer REI. He says the company has been significantly impacted by its use of AI technology. The automated service doesn’t replace the job of analysts. Rather, Bingle says it empowers them. He says, “AI enables us to address many more issues each day, and it accelerates the ability for our analysts to extract, communicate and potentially change strategies. Analysts now have tools to visualize data and bring it all together in one queue, thereby facilitating cross-functional collaboration.”

My Take

AI is here, and it’s time to get ready for it. AI is going to be key throughout the rest of 2018 and into 2019, especially in helping companies ingest and analyze data on-demand. It has the ability to free up manpower and man hours to do the real dirty work of marketing – creating impactful and effective strategies to build and strengthen brands. Companies utilizing AI can expect to see more meaningful customer engagement, smoother operations, and more powerful ROI from their campaigns. So, sit back, crack open that Diet Coke, and do a little research on why artificial is the new natural.

And as always, all of us at Willow Marketing are here to help you navigate these new marketing trends. AI is not only for Fortune 500 companies. It can be an incredible asset to your business or organization, and we can help introduce you to some tools and techniques that will help launch you into the world of AI. Give us a call or send an email to set up a time to chat.

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Written by Brad Gillum

"We’re business consultants who happen to specialize in marketing. We help people and have fun doing it."