Then you find yourself stranded in a city looking for a hotel room, you need a mobile app that tells you current availabilities for that day, not the best deals in three months. Artificial intelligence (AI) is making this far easier, sifting through and making sense of reams of data to get you the information you need right when you need it.

SwissCognitive“We leverage AI to find a much faster way of coming to data-driven decisions to improve the experience for our customer,” says Ben Harrell, chief marketing officer of Priceline. “We are able to dig through so much data and provide our customers with the best travel deals, and machine learning and AI give us a better way to tailor the results to meet each customer’s needs.”

AI is becoming the X factor for marketers today, and many companies, like Priceline, are already embracing it. Case in point: Priceline just promoted one of its data analysts to be the company’s CMO. Harrell, who started out on the financial analytics team leveraging data to find actionable insights, has made the shift to the marketing side. He now uses his analytical skills to drive business strategy and develop marketing campaigns.

Forbes Insights research confirms that marketers recognize the key role of AI: 84% of those surveyed say AI is important to the future of their company and that it’s five times more important than other technology solutions such as the Internet of Things and cloud computing. Their thinking reflects what IDC is seeing in the market worldwide – it estimates that by 2019, 40% of all digital transformation initiatives will use AI, and that by 2021, 75% of all enterprise initiatives will.

Here we take a look at how AI is impacting marketing today and the role AI can play in increasing productivity, improving speed to market and creating stronger relationships with customers.

State Of Play

Despite the majority of marketers recognizing the importance of AI, these are still the early days. Less than a third of marketing executives consider AI a significant part of their business or say that AI is fully deployed. The majority are either in discussion, experimenting or in pilot project stages.

Why this lack of progress? Companies appear to be challenged by two major issues: talent and data. Three out of five marketing executives in the Forbes Insights survey say that the availability of personnel with the needed expertise is a moderate to severe challenge in fully implementing AI solutions. This aligns with Gartner’s 2018 CIO survey, which found that the lack of specialized skills in AI is a significant pain point for many companies. Given these trends, it’s easy to see why talent may become one of the biggest barriers to the widespread adoption of AI.

Some companies have found creative ways to attract talent. Stitch Fix, an online subscription and personal shopping service, relies on AI to run its business. To attract data scientists, the company has created a state-of-the-art algorithms tour on its website, which not only describes how the company uses algorithms but also displays its sophistication with AI. […]

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