Optimistic about AI’s impact on communications and company business
New York and Paris, 18 Sept. 2018: Those who lead communications functions inside companies –in PR, advertising and marketing -- are embracing Artificial Intelligence with a surprising level of confidence and optimism. According to a global study of leaders in client-side public relations, marketing and advertising by MSL and Publicis.Sapient, communicators are stepping up as evangelists and stewards for AI inside their companies. The reseach study was published as part of a jointly published report, Powered by AI: Communications and Marketing in the Algorithm Age.
An overwhelming number of respondents (83%) surveyed said they place a significant priority on acquainting themselves with AI, and more than 2 out of 3 already somewhat consider themselves experts on the subject.
According to Guillaume Herbette, CEO, MSL: “The active interest in AI among among communications leaders is a welcome development and opens up the door for creative ideas and applications of the technology as part of client work and campaigns. It provides an opportunity for agency partnes to bring fresh technology-driven ideas to the table in order to augment our ability to influence stakeholders across every category.
In many cases, communications leaders have built their expertise without the benefit of any formal company training, though communicators believe AI training for the workforce is necessary -- a staggering 84% also think AI training and education is crucial at those companies aspiring to be market leaders. But, only 29% of those surveyed said their companies are currently investing in training and educating the workforce in AI.
These communicators are not only enthusiastic about AI’s potential, they are also optimistic on the impact that artificial intelligence will have on the future of the communications field. Around the world, 55% of those surveyed feel positive overall with 38% having mixed emotions, meaning that nearly nine in ten are cautiously optimistic on the impact of AI on the future of communications. Respondents from China (78%), India (73%), Brazil (66%), the USA (65%), Italy (51%) and France (48%) feel largely positive about an AI-driven future in communications, while a majority of those from Poland (57%), Germany (52%), and the UK (47%) think the implications will be both positive and negative.
Armageddon-type worries about AI-enabled robots displacing humans in the workplace have been around for a while, but not many of those surveyed believe their jobs are in danger from the machines. Less than 20% of communication leaders cited job loss as the AI-related issue that concerns them most. However, this issue remains an important background issue of the AI transformation.
According to Rashed Haq, Global Lead for Artificial Intelligence and Group Vice President, Publicis.Sapient, communication leaders approaching AI for the first time often face the difficult task of understanding how to get started. Haq points to the need for communicators to forge an important relationship with the CIO. “Your organization’s most senior technology executive has crafted a vision (or even detailed plans) about AI’s current and future enterprise role,” Haq said. “Develop some use cases around pure and pragmatic AI that align with your own communications strategy and priorities. Share them with your CIO to get some definition around your own proofs-of-concept, then develop a communications plan about how emerging technologies build business advantage, not just for marketing and communications, but for the whole organization. AI is not another just another emerging trend, rather a general purpose technology that will transform every business, including your fiercest competitors.”
MSL and Publicis.Sapient experts believe that engagement with AI will create a gap between those who build on AI advances and those who ignore them. “The gap will grow quickly and the businesses and professional statures of those who fail to engage will suffer the consequences. Communicators at all companies need to understand and prepare for the coming AI revolution, its impact on their businesses and how the communications function they oversee will need to evolve, ” Herbette said.
Predictions for AI in Communications
According to the survey, communication leaders expect their companies to use AI capabilities to support a variety of communications and HR functions, including marketing, insights and strategy, creativity as well as employee training. Drawing from the the research, knowledge and trends tracking, MSL and Publicis.Sapient experts made 11 predictions about how AI will impact communicators’ roles in the next few years.
AI will remain a key priority for communications professionals.
AI’s role in human interactions is expanding. This will create a societal shift in how people consume information, which communications must reflect. Communications professionals already see the need for AI expertise and will prioritize it even more in the near future.
AI will transform relationships between communicators and technology experts.
Communications and IT, two groups that historically functioned separately, will come together to imagine, develop and navigate AI applications. Communicators will take the lead in establishing these relationships and the two groups will become unlikely collaborators in technology-based communications solutions.
AI will help communicators do better work.
With AI helping communicators delve deeper and more precisely into consumer and market insights, they will be equipped to develop more meaningful messages for brands and stakeholders. In an era of fragmented attention, leveraging AI will help astute communicators stay ahead of the competition.
AI will make measurement more actionable.
AI-driven capabilities will enable marketers to glean accurate insights into campaign effectiveness. As listening tools become more accurate and effective, marketers will be better able to quickly and appropriately adjust messages. They’ll identify well-performing platforms and content assets and redirect investments to leverage those that deliver.
AI will shift communicators’ tasks from the mundane to the more interesting.
AI will change the way communications professionals function day-to-day and lessen the time spent on rudimentary tasks like monitoring, reporting, news scanning and sentiment analysis. With these out of the way, communicators will focus on actionable insights, creative breakthroughs and sharper communications strategies.
AI will force brands to be more accurate and transparent.
As technology makes brand and consumer interactions more apparent, brands will pay careful attention to how they position themselves. They will build their identities to match a tech-savvy market, stakeholders and competitors who can easily point out discrepancies. It will be harder to stray from stories borne out by data.
AI will alter brand-consumer engagement.
Sophisticated machine learning will compel more brands to use AI applications like chatbots to engage with consumers. By facilitating reliable, quick, around-the-clock support, AI will take customer service to a new level. It will be incumbent on brands to find ways to quickly take complicated and nuanced issues out of the AI loop.
AI will continue to enable hyper-personalization.
Marketers will increasingly create tailored communications across the platforms where their consumers spend time. Features like individualized push notifications will make the consumer journey more appealing, seamless and relevant.
AI will change how we view ethics.
Our growing dependence on AI technology will force ethical concerns like data privacy, consumer security and yet-to-emerge issues into the spotlight. We expect communicators to quickly shape new ethics codes with guidelines for the algorithm era.
AI will transform the agency and communication team structure.
AI will replace some jobs, enhance others and revolutionize how agency teams work and interact. Work processes and team relationships will adjust as innovation becomes a key ingredient of success.
AI will not replace humans; it will augment human roles and make them smarter and more agile.
There are more positives than negatives to having AI in the workplace. AI-driven insights will help communicators understand more about their stakeholders, markets and work, saving them time and increasing efficiency and productivity.
To see the complete study, click here.