The Impact of AI: Yi Zhang of

Yi Zhang is co-founder and CTO of Rulai, creator of intelligent virtual assistants for the enterprise. 

What are the main ways AI/machine learning will impact marketers and their work in the next year or two?

Marketers talk about engaging in a “conversation” with their audiences. A conversation denotes a two way back and forth dialogue where the each party considers the needs of the other. Social media has certainly enabled this to happen, but the sheer scale of the audience presents significant obstacles with regard to “always on” timely engagement. Expectations of the customer and prospective customer have been raised, AI offers the ability to scale up to match expectations.

True AI, an approach that is based on deep learning of natural language understanding with dialog management systems will allow marketers (and the enterprise in general) to automate their interactions with audiences, engaging in multi-round conversations via chat bots that can take on the brand personality, discern the intent of audience through their questions or concerns and even respond with personalized recommendations (in the case of customers where first party customer data exists) or aspirational product or service messaging to prospective customers.

The goal of a truly personalized one to one engagement with audiences at scale comes into view.

In summary, what will be the long-term impact of AI/machine learning on marketing?

Zhang: The long term impact will come from adaptive learning across the various elements of the inverted marketing funnel, from awareness to consideration to purchase to ongoing customer support, cross sell and upsell. The ability of true AI to self-learn in real time is transformational; from observing the interactions of chatbots or virtual assistants with customers and prospective customers throughout the customer journey will enable both the virtual assistants and marketers to optimize the funnel, increasing contextual awareness, sales, customer satisfaction ratings, the full gambit of desired outcomes.

How is AI/machine learning incorporated in the work you’re doing?

Rulai is shaping the future of the customer experience through next generation self-service solutions that enablemany people who are not trained researchers or engineers, such as CX managers, to easily build and control their own virtual assistants with true AI, deep learning based natural language understanding and dialog management systems.

We are very focused on a specific business use case, customer support. Our AI platform ingest an enterprises’ first party data (FAQs, knowledge base, training materials, live chat transcripts, email communications, voice transcripts) then categorizes the data in a structured UI that allows a business user to configure, launch and manage their brand’s virtual assistance in a controlled, transparent manner in real time. Adaptive learning from all interactions ensures that the AI knowledge base gets smarter over time, while the ability to ingest structured and unstructured data enables the AI to scale to any use case based on the data it learns from.

In your experience, is AI/machine learning already affecting what brands do, or are.

From a marketing standpoint, AI is having an impact but is subtle behind the scenes ways that aren’t transparently exposed to a marketer, per se. Much of the true AI in today’s market is being harnessed in the major tech companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon or Baidu. They are using it to refine and optimize their ad targeting platforms via adaptive learning, whether in search, e-commerce, social, etc., so in that sense it benefits marketers by increasing their advertising KPIs. Where brands are beginning to engage with AI directly is in their customer support arena, where they have the first party data and ongoing engagement to make a real impact resolving their customers’ issues via virtual assistant-enabled self-service and/or escalated live customer support agent assistance.

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