In this special conversation on Artificial Intelligence and its impact on Marketing, Anton Buchner talks with Brad Bennett who is the Executive Strategy Director at MercerBell – Australia’s leading Customer Experience Agency™. Hailing from the USA, Brad talks about his tech background and how it is helping him shape customer focussed marketing solutions for the new wild west arena of Artificial Intelligence.

Brad Bennett is the Executive Strategy & Analytics Director at Mercer Bell, Australia’s leading CX agency. Brad has the common thread of technology throughout his career. Having been a developer at tech consulting agencies as well as having worked in crisis communications and developing tech products. He leapt into marketing over a decade ago moving from New York to Sydney. And is now focussed on the strategic side of connecting clients’ products and services with customers.

Brad makes the key point that CMOs now have far greater control over technology budgets and decisions around tech investments. And when it comes to AI one of the key challenges is demystifying what AI actually means.

Brad says, “it’s hard enough for tech people, let alone marketing leaders who may not be grounded in a development background, to be able to cut through the complexity of the space. The lack of detailed technical knowledge behind AI solutions makes it hard to determine how to fully deploy AI solutions, which can lead to unrealised potential or unrealised business value in solutions.”

However, whilst it’s a complex space there are some great first steps being taken by many marketers.

Especially utilising machine learning for deeper customer profiling to identify better patterns in structured data that the human eye may not be able to identify.

There have also been some good quick wins in the more production-based space of automating optimisation tasks. For example knowing a range of messages and scaling the targeting to the right person at the right time.

One of the big opportunities is in the predictive space. Predictive modelling theory and practice has been around for years, however, it’s wildly complex and challenging.

Next-best actions and next-best product recommendations over longer time frames is a great battleground for marketers. Especially when understanding that most consumer decision-making is made using a ‘system 1’ irrational & emotionally biased mind.

Given how irrational consumer behaviour can be, then discovering logical patterns is confusing. Brad sees that one of the exciting areas is trying to trust the outcome of machines with patterns that don’t really make sense. Patterns that are more likely be the real truth behind how consumers are behaving and therefore need to be focused on and optimised accordingly.

His final word of warning for Australian marketers is the unrealised value of AI applications due to a capability gap. Given the complexity and deep skillset required for AI development, tech architecture and data integration, it’s not a simple conversation. And as the tech-solution companies tend to be leading the way, then marketers are often being over sold when it comes to AI solutions.

So Brad sees that being careful not to over invest in a tech stack with AI tools and solutions built in, as critical. Value-based and general business use cases need to be established first, which helps better define a successful way for moving down the early days of the wild west AI path.