Getting started with Artificial Intelligence

By | September 23, 2017

Yesterday, I presented on how Artificial Intelligence (AI) was impacting customer experience. I was asked three questions which stood out to me:

1. What is the primary reason you would embark on a project using AI
2. What are the biggest inhibitors in launching an AI project and
3. How do you get started in a career with AI – asked by a delightful 11 year old coder named Nik

Let me try and break this down.

Artificial Intelligence is a way to augment human expertise. It is a way to contextualise all the unstructured data that is available to you and your organisation. It is a way to understand emotion and tone in ways not possible before. It is also very easy to get caught up in all the possible use cases. However, to be successful, there is one essential ingredient to success. There must be a clear purpose.

The typical use cases that exist today, include
i. To automate simple and low value tasks to free up your resources – enabling them to be free to focus on the high value, high impact roles
ii. To understand emotion and tone, and in doing so, improve the customer experience. This ultimately increases revenue and profit. A happy customer spends 74% more!
iii. To contextualise unstructured data like Instagram images, or silver threads in all those twitter conversations, in a way not possible before

The inhibitors meanwhile, are almost always related to two key areas
1. A lack of clear purpose – you have tried to boil the ocean
ii. Your team is just not into it. They are nay-sayers and sceptics. They do not want this to work

The clear purpose is easy to fix. Be clear and concise. Run a design thinking workshop. Do empathy mapping to clearly understand your customer – their needs and drivers. Bring in the whole team to get involved and ask lots of questions. And keep asking questions until you are all focused entirely on the goal and use case you are looking to implement.

The second – team and culture – is more difficult. This is a change management project, and there are a few key actions I have seen work. The first is story telling: share lots and lots of stories on how all types of customers are using AI today. Tell the stories yourself, or bring in an evangelist – a story teller – to entertain and capture the imagination of your team. And secondly, get your team involved. Get them actively participating in the design thinking workshops. Get them playing with the AI tools, without them even realising it. For example, if they are writers and content creators, encourage them to use a tone analyser API to improve the performance of their blogs or social posts. If they love to cook, set up a bake off, asking them to create a recipe using IBM Chef Watson. If there are on twitter, encourage them to analyse their twitter profile. Gamify this. Make it fun. The more your team use AI without being consciously aware of it, the more likely they will embrace this as a tool to augment their skills, and make their worklife easier and smarter.

And lastly, how to get started in a career in AI. All I will say on this Nik, is, you are already on your path. Stay curious. Keep learning. And don’t be afraid to get involved. Just roll up your sleeves and get started.

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Michelle Zamora is a Marketing Leader with a passion for business strategy, data, content, customer insights and engagement, and developing awesome talent. Views expressed are her personal, individual and unique perspectives, and not that of her employer.

She shares images on moments and people who inspire her on Instagram, links to articles and content recommended on Twitter, and shares her professional story on LinkedIn.