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by Alex Low | @Alexander_Low

There is much hype around AI in Sales & Marketing. Having witnessed this in the Legal Sector for the last 2 years where every headline, practically every week talks about another law firm embracing AI for Legal Service delivery. Law firms have in fact been using AI for the last decade. E-Discovery, dictating their emails for their PAs to send and so on. Yet we are now at the top of the hype cycle on how AI is going to revolutionise Law. Now Sales & Marketing, and I fear that we are now entering the same phase as legal did. 

Let’s get one thing clear, unless you work for any of the major cloud providers , Facebook or WeChat or Tesla etc, you are not really using AI in the sense that they are. You are using a computer programme to execute on a set of commands (algorithms) pre-determined by a human “expert” – would you call it AI when your car lights come on when it’s dark? Or the Wipers start when it rains? Or street lights illuminate when it’s dark? Probably not, it’s just a software programme executing a predetermined command. In other words, it is just doing what it is meant to do. We don’t even give it a 2nd thought. Not that sophisticated. 

Even self driving cars, whilst technically very complex in terms of the algorithms, are very narrow, or narrow AI in what they do, powered by a computer programme to execute the commands. Clever indeed, but not really that different from your lights turning on automatically. 

So AI in Sales and Marketing is actually nothing to do with AI, in fact AI generally is nothing to do with the computer programme, it is all about the data that it needs to process to generate the output created. So what we need to be thinking about is the data, not the AI. Every AI programme starts as an empty box which you need to feed and teach constantly. 

What this means for Sales & Marketing is where is their current data and can they extract it. And they probably have it in CRM, Marketing Databases, spreadsheets and so on. It then comes down to design led thinking, what output are you trying achieve, what questions are being asked and why. You are now moving into a world of data led insight. 

“I think” no longer cuts. It needs to be “I know” and based on this we now need to do this. This is based on your human intuition based on what was previously untameable data which  is now being made available, the question is what do you now do with it? How do react to it? What does this output mean and how will it infer your next decision? Red pill or the Blue pill. 

What is evident is, unlike in legal, which primarily relies on precedent data, which is now being processed in a different way, Sales & Marketing Data is now social data. Intent and Sentiment Data. Which can be processed in real time. Right down to the actual person who is tweeting, commenting, sharing. You will teach it on what intent means to you, what sentiment is important. Remember all it is, is a computer programme (AI) following a set of rules (algorithms) written by Humans (you).

So the next time you hear someone talking about AI, or your hear yourself talk about AI, pose this question. Are you talking about a computer programme or are you actually referring to data led insight which is the output of a computer programme executing a predetermined set of rules. 

I would suggest it is the latter. So let’s stop talking about AI and focus on the data. 

Inspired by following Alex Smith  / @alexgsmith

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