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Salesforce Einstein has ushered in a new era of AI curiosity: it wasn’t the first, and others will crop up alongside it, but the buzz these past couple of weeks is a surefire indication that companies are really considering AI as a viable technology for short term gain as well as far-fetched, long-term big ideas.

It’s this precipice we have reached that is most exciting. Having cultivated our AI algorithms for nearly 5 years, we were putting our brainpower toward something – an idea, a concept, a discipline – before it was hip.

Now it’s catching on.

What should we make of it? As marketers, what does it all mean?

Putting AI into practice is closer than ever for many, well within grasp for major enterprises on down to mid-size companies gutsy enough to make big investments in their data. As AI becomes more commonplace, the effect of its implementation will vastly vary. Much like any product or innovation moving into market and gaining steam in adoption, the cream of the crop will rise to the top.

AI in practice versus AI in theory is an entirely different ball game.  We’ve seen it too often: a business unit makes an investment in a sexy new technology only to find its glaring limitations something that doesn’t future-proof the tool from becoming obsolete. Solution after solution swoops in, beating its chest, hoping to be a shiny new prize for the problem of the moment. Soon, disappointment takes its place.

What if our biggest challenge today is thinking bigger about AI? Bigger than channel champions, like CRM in the case of Salesforce?

The beautiful thing about AI is that it can be both laser focused and far-reaching. It can solve micro-problems by modeling out an optimal algorithm for scenario A given B, or it can create virtual assistants and chatbots to interact with people as if a human counterpart. AI can do things such as:

  • Power new customer service channels. With chatbots as the modern enterprise’s newest best friend, AI can gather cues from verbal or text-based communication to keep everyone out of line and back on with their lives.
  • Provide in-flight lost baggage updates and course correction. Because everyone’s trip deserves a good start, and luggage logistics can be handled without causing delays and frustrations.
  • Find new ways to show a customer you’re thinking about them. Train email, ads, social channels and mobile apps to speak to customers as if they grew up next door. Staying relevant means more than just providing coupons and convenient store locations: it’s about showing you get the customer, which begins with a Single Customer View.

A data science purist may bemoan the fact that AI can be as versatile as this, but that’s OK. Because in practice, that’s where AI magic happens: when it can start small and grow and grow, moving its way into new applications and across different channels. Sometimes, small implementations too can have big thinking behind them. What starts out small, but is fostered appropriately, can turn into a rhythmic, humming machine.

  • Like increasing conversions using Intelligent Personalization. For a low cost carrier accustomed to competing on price alone, machine learning can introduce big changes to customer engagement.
  • Or improving call center response. A customer service representative should have everything in front of them to brighten a customer’s day. Why wouldn’t that include their latest transactions and up-to-the-minute flight detail? Making a customer’s day doesn’t have to be as complicated, or require as much filling in the blanks, as it is now.

Take, for example, a global airline that saved $39 million just by reimagining the value of their emails, properly segmenting and personalizing outreach with machine learning. That’s AI in action: just getting started.

What matters is that what’s possible is always at the center of every decision made by man or by computer; what’s best for the customer is never out of focus. The best way to realize the full scope of AI is to work within a system that allows your different crop-ups of artificial intelligence to naturally expand, cross channels and inform other areas of business for improved insight.

One hand, talking to the other hand. It’s not just important, it’s essential. Introducing AI shouldn’t be short-sighted; it should open up a new world of possibility.

And because AI can have boundless interpretations and uses, it can be all things to anyone. This seems like the steepest task it’ll have to tackle yet. Where to start? Who to tag to bring your AI world to life? If the options are endless, what will restrict the modern marketer is only limits to imagination – and to budget, of course.

Seeing the big players, i.e. Microsoft, IBM, Facebook, Amazon and Google – albeit an exclusive group – coming together to announce a partnership on AI shows the industry’s collective head nod that AI is here to stay. Willing to put competitive differences aside, the group is setting up shop to tackle the question on everyone’s minds: “What’s next?”

We see you, big guys on campus.

At Boxever, we’re all in when it comes to what’s possible when reimagining the future of customer experience with AI. If our invite to the consortium got lost in the post, we understand. We won’t sit around waiting for it, but instead we’ll unofficially join you in the call to explore the possibilities, get serious about the potential for AI, and seize the moment to embrace smarter data powered by machine learning.

Our not-so-well-kept secret is out of the bag for good. Thanks, Salesforce and others, for adding voice to the industry conversation we’ve known all along and told at each crossroads along the way: with the right brains behind your data, there’s nothing companies can’t do to improve the customer experience.

And on CX Day of all days, we’re energized by the mission to show every company who will watch, listen and learn what it’ll take to get there.