“I believe today’s world is yesterday’s science fiction,” said Ross Simmonds, founder of Foundation Marketing, at MPI’s 2019 World Education Congress (WEC) in Toronto. “We are becoming one with our technology.”
In his session on artificial intelligence (AI), Simmonds laid out AI’s future and some tools marketers can introduce into the workplace.
How Artificial Intelligence Has Evolved and Why Marketers Should Care
“The dismissal of innovation could be your own disruption,” Simmonds said, cautioning the audience to not ignore artificial intelligence.
Citing a few examples, Simmonds illustrated how AI has evolved. He walked through the evolution of farming tractors—from being operated by horses and people to some of today’s self-driving tractors, which could eliminate the need for the farmer to be in the field completely.
AI has the potential to change how people work, which should be of concern for workers in all professions. It’s already had a huge impact on the manufacturing industry, replacing many once-human jobs.
For marketers, it’s already changing how we communicate to our customers, and it’s primed to change the marketing process—who we reach out to, how we work with them, what next steps should be. Rather than be wary of these changes, Simmonds suggested embracing some of these advancements in AI.
For example, unload some routine duties to AI tools like scheduling, for example, and redirect your energy to more creative tasks.
How Marketers Can Use AI: Chatbots, Scheduling Assistants and More
Although AI in the workplace is still new to most people, Simmonds believes it’s the future. Some tools are already available that marketers can experiment with. These include:
- Chatbots: Increasingly popular on websites, chatbots can immediately assist marketers with fielding questions about their products and services online.
- Scheduling assistants: Various tools can schedule appointments over email or phone, which could be helpful in most professions. Simmonds showed the crowd an example of Google AI calling to schedule an appointment—and it sounded real, with a human-sounding voice and “ums” sprinkled throughout the conversation.
- Dialpad Talk: This cloud-based, AI-powered business phone system uses voice intelligence to analyze conversations in real time. It can notify you if a conversation is going well or poorly and provide other insights. For example, Simmonds said it was used to analyze 10,000 conversations from conferences, and the tool found men were consistently speaking over women.
“We’re still very much in the early stages—but the people who are using AI are the people who will reap the benefits,” Simmonds said. “The time to sign up for some of these tools is now.”
The Future of AI in the Workplace
“The work that is non-routine will sustain itself in the long term,” Simmonds explained. Routine tasks, however, will continue to be easier for AI to perform, and workers should accept that fact.
“Challenge yourself to walk away from the routine tasks and really focus on the non-routine,” Simmonds said.
The Future of Jobs Report from the World Economic Forum predicts that top skills in 2020 will include, among others:
- Complex problem-solving
- Critical thinking
These are all skills that are increasingly expected of marketers as the digital age continues to shape the industry. Simmonds recommended leveraging AI to help with mundane tasks so you can focus on developing these critical skills instead.
“The future is going to look like this,” he said, revealing a picture of Ironman. “Well, not exactly like this, but we will be working with AI in a similar way,” explaining that embracing new technologies and using it to enhance your work, rather than fearing it, is how people should view AI.