Ask the Expert: AI is going mainstream. Are you coming along for the ride?
An interview with Katie King, author of Using Artificial Intelligence in Marketing: How to Harness AI and Maintain the Competitive Edge and AI Strategy for Sales and Marketing
There are but a few guarantees in life: the sky is blue, nachos are amazing, and Katie King is the expert on AI.
She’s literally written the book (actually, two of them) on using AI in marketing. She’s on the UK’s AI task force. TEDx talks. University classes. If we listed all of her bona fides, we’d be here all day! Let’s just say, Katie puts the expert in Ask the Expert.
So how about we ask her some things? She’s got a lot to say about where we’re at and where we’re going with regard to AI, so we’ll let her take it away.
Phrasee: Many people tend to focus on the negative when it comes to AI, but you’re really passionate about the positives. Why is that?
Katie: History has shown us that with great innovation comes great resistance. We saw it with the internet, email, smartphones, and social media, yet look at how these all have completely reshaped the way we do business for the better. I’m sure even the lightbulb and printing press had their naysayers. Change makes us uncomfortable, but it needs to happen in order to keep us moving forward. I wholeheartedly believe that AI will bring more good than bad. Of course, there are drawbacks to it, but I feel as though popular science fiction and a few bad eggs have given the technology a bit of a bad reputation. The fact of the matter is that AI is here to assist us in doing things smarter and better, just as the other innovations before it. We haven’t even reached full maturity or the peak of the hype cycle yet, and AI is already creating incredible results for those who were early adopters. It is hard to be a disbeliever when you consider how much AI has already accomplished in a matter of years, especially in healthcare cases such as Covid vaccine discovery.
Phrasee: What work still needs to be done to dispel the myths and stereotypes about AI? And are there any risks where AI is concerned?
Katie: The biggest and most harmful myth is the notion that AI will somehow replace the human. In actuality, the possibility that AI could ever be intelligent enough to do that is light years away, and may never be realised. AI is a specialised technology, designed to do a certain task and do it really well. It can’t switch from one task to another the way that we can, but it can do its one task better than we ever could. We still need humans to fill the gaps that technology cannot, and to work alongside it in partnership. Once we embrace AI as an ally rather than the opposition, I think we will see the technology embraced much more readily.
There will inevitably be risk. AI is not fundamentally bad, but you will have a few players who use it that way. It’s the same with the internet, social media, and so on. The risks depend on the handling of the technology. If AI is used responsibly, the risks are minimal. If it is used recklessly, then we face issues such as privacy, bias, and so on. Many organisations are now proactively working to ensure that AI is properly governed.
“AI is actually more mainstream than we realise, and operates quietly on the backend of a lot of the business functions we carry out.”
Katie King, author of Using Artificial Intelligence in Marketing: How to Harness AI and Maintain the Competitive Edge
Phrasee: What has been the most transformative use case of AI that you’ve seen in your experience working with big businesses?
Katie: The biggest benefits I have seen are the time saving and the improvements to the overall quality of working life. AI does what I describe in my first book as the “dirty, dull, and dangerous,” or simply the tasks that are repetitive and mundane, or risk harming the human worker. Most of the businesses and individuals I have spoken to really credit AI with freeing up a lot of their time by eliminating these boring tasks, which in turn allows them to focus on more enriching activities. This benefits the business, but also makes the individual’s workday more enjoyable.
Phrasee: When do you think we’ll hit mainstream adoption of AI across sales and marketing functions?
Katie: AI is actually more mainstream than we realise, and operates quietly on the backend of a lot of the business functions we carry out. However, we have seen major growth over the past few years, especially thanks to the pandemic. I think that now that we have come this far this quickly, we are unlikely to turn back and will continue on this accelerated trajectory. Not only have our working habits changed, but the consumption habits of the customers – that we as marketers and salespeople target – have also changed. I think that is becoming abundantly clear and increasingly challenging to navigate without any sort of technological help. At this rate, I predict that AI will become commonplace in the next five years.
Phrasee: What advice would you give brands who are looking to implement AI?
Katie: Be really clear on what you want to achieve, and the role AI will play in that. This technology is not a fix-all cure. You need to have identified a clear problem that you want AI to solve. Once you have identified your problem, you can begin exploring solutions. But do not work backwards and pick a tool before assessing how it will fit into your business and the issues you need to solve.
Phrasee: Tell us a bit more about your latest book and how it can help marketers.
Katie: ‘AI Strategy for Sales and Marketing’ is my recently released second book, and it builds on a lot of the concepts that I introduced in my first book. When ‘Using Artificial Intelligence in Marketing’ was published in 2019, this was still a really new concept. Very few companies had ventured into AI with their marketing objectives, so my case studies and interviewers focused on those really early adopters who got ahead of the curve. In just two years, a lot has changed and we have seen huge uptake in this area. There are so many more amazing case studies across industries, experts, best practices, and tools available now, and AI is touching nearly every business function at this point. I wanted this book to focus in on those changes, those tools, and the insights of those experts to help provide an accurate picture of where we currently stand with this technology and where it may be going from here.
I also worked to keep it very practical so that any marketer or sales professional who reads it has clear, actionable takeaways. Each chapter ends with 10 key points that help to sum up the information and provide some of my insight into how and why it matters. There are some really salient interviews, case studies, and examples from across industries that help contextualise this technology’s capabilities and hopefully provide some inspiration. But I think the most valuable takeaway would be the STRATEGISE Framework, which essentially provides a step-by-step outline for exploring and adopting AI. Many businesses struggle with where to begin, what steps to take, and how to assess their attempts. It’s essential to have a clearly structured process for exploring, adopting, implementing, and assessing AI.
Thanks to Katie King and her latest book “AI Strategy for Sales and Marketing” is available to purchase now
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