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Pre-emptive potential

by Nicola Macdonald

Rommon Thompson, marketing manager at UBM and EN 30 Under Thirty member, on how AI could enable organisers to deliver a truly personalised experience.

When you hear the term AI, I bet that you (like me) think of the 2001 film directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Haley Joel Osment. Or perhaps you think of Terminator, Minority Report, or even I, Robot – clearly, I could go on. But, putting Hollywood aside, what is the reality of AI?

Essentially, Artificial Intelligence is the intelligence displayed by machines. In the world of computer science, experts might argue that it’s the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans.

In the world of marketing, however, AI has become a buzzword; thrown around too frivolously and for far too long. The term is a shiny penny, paraded in front of board members to say, “We’ll be able to deliver better results with fewer overheads for a nominal upfront fee.”

Now, if you listen to Parry Malm, CEO of Phrasee, AI is more than machine learning, it is both the understanding of language and the response. Parry once stated that marketers should actually think of AI as ‘IA’, an Intelligent Assistant that allows you to do things better.

Funnily enough, Eddie Choi, managing director of Mills Design, alludes to something similar; AI is the technology that allows us to bring together the vast volumes of data we hold into data models, which help us to provide a better product or service to our customers.

It seems both perspectives share a similar vision; AI is used to understand our customers through behaviour, not preference centres and surveys. Leading us to analyse this data to understand our customers’ needs more. Why? Put simply, it’s so that we can deliver on our customers’ needs before they have them, or alternatively, ‘create’ a need that we can fulfil.

I know that the art of using actions and habits to predict needs sounds a little too much like Minority Report, but it might not be so far-fetched. Compare it to the advent of smart fridges that order milk when they’re running low, or smart washing machines that order liquid tablets based on the number of times you’ve washed your clothes.

But what does this mean within the marketing exhibition arena? It means delivering a better experience for our customers, whether that’s visitors, delegates or exhibitors. Did you know that ‘allegedly’ more than 30 per cent of subject lines are said to be AI generated?

But I’m not just talking about email automation, or intuitive supplier-finder touch screens or even interactive floor plan boards which are used to rebook future event iterations. I’m talking about using ‘IA’ to make sense of the landfill of customer data we all hold. To identify patterns or develop accurate predictive CTA algorithms. To serve the correct messages to our audience at the right time based on their behaviour and engagement.

Yes, that’s right. I’m talking about utilising artificial intelligence to put exhibition organisers on the same playing field as Amazon. Sceptical? Then I suggest you sit down with one of your frustrated data analysts and ask them what information you have on your audience. Don’t worry about the look of utter contempt that you’ll receive, just reassure them that you really want to know.

Ask them about the analytics you have on website usage, the insight on social media engagement, the data on email responsiveness and click-through rates, the statistics from your sales CRM system, and the conversion patterns from your registration platform. Then ask them what they could do if these data outputs spoke to each other intelligently and filled the correct data fields in your data warehouse.

Finally, ask them what they could do if they had an infinite amount of time to analyse everything in said data warehouse. You might get one of three options; a lost, “I have no idea,” a cynical, “That’s not possible,” or a sobbing data analyst who imagines nirvana because it’s something they’ve only dreamed about.

Now, I’m not saying there’s an off-the-shelf solution – because there isn’t. And even if there is, Google has probably already bought it.

I’m simply saying that, with the use of properly implemented, fully integrated AI, you should be able to reach the Holy Grail of delivering a truly personalised experience on an individual level.

Take, for example, the capability of a trigger message which reads, “Aaron, we noticed that you’ve just finished reading another one of our latest articles on aviation routes, and you have previously downloaded a few case studies on ‘Utilising Exhibitions to Put Your Brand in Front of Airlines like Emirates and British Airways.’ Would you like to discuss how we could work together to deliver on your objectives for 2018?”

And you know what? That’s at the most basic level. The lead-scored, predictive trigger messaging and engagement possibilities are endless. For marketing purposes, the potential is transformative. So, if it’s right for your business, AI could put your audiences’ experience with you in a different dimension.

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