Walking down the streets of Ameerpet, a cramped neighbourhood in Hyderabad late in the evening, one cannot but help notice the multitude of neon signs, banners and billboards advertising an extensive range of IT courses. Today, a large proportion of them talk about Machine learning, Python, Lisp, and of course, Artificial Intelligence(AI). Ameerpet is famously known as ‘India’s unofficial IT training hub’ and has more than 100,000 students enrolled in the 500 odd institutes there. India and the world are gearing up for a massive revolution! Welcome to the 4th Industrial Revolution!

While the term AI, which is one of the foundations of the 4th Industrial Revolution, seems to imply that we are facing autonomous intelligence, the reality is that we still have a long way to go. Reactions to AI can be broadly classified into two distinct categories -The Hawkingsian and the Euphoric.

The late Stephen Hawking, formerly Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge and one of the world’s most eminent scientists, had said that the development of full potential of AI could spell the demise of mankind. Ironically, he could speak in spite of his motor neuron disease through a system developed by Intel, which involved machine learning specialties (read AI). The other school, which we have termed Euphoric, look upon AI as a panacea to cure all global ills and make our world a better place, to paraphrase Michael Jackson, ‘for you and for me and the entire human race.”

The truth of course lies somewhere in the middle, but yet leaning away from the gloomy, dystopian scenarios being discussed. Essentially, we view AI as simulation of human intelligence behaviour by computer systems encompassing reasoning, learning and self-correction.

As we know, AI is impacting multiple fields. Arnav Kapur of the MIT media lab and his team have developed AlterEgo which goes well beyond today’s smart assistants. AlterEgo is a wearable device which predicts what you are going to say and converts it into action! This is the nearest we have reached to reading minds. AlterEgo is a non-invasive, wearable, peripheral neural interface that allows humans to converse in natural language with machines, artificial intelligence assistants, services, and other people without using any voice—without opening our mouths, or any other externally observable movements, simply by articulating words internally.

From medical diagnostics to mortgage and moneylending, AI use cases have cut across a swathe of sectors. AI has become a powerful marketing driver. Companies have found robust methods to turn specific sets of information into human comprehensible articles or videos, which can be targeted in a personalised manner.

Conversational Mobile commerce is another key application where Amazon Echo, Baidus Duer and other similar gadgets have shown promising potential. We envisage this trend to spread to many other players globally and not necessarily just the giants. On account of the high volume and quantifiable nature of marketing data, strong algorithm-based models are emerging to enhance marketing forecasting. Forrestor’s 2018 research predictions state that 51% of companies invested in AI capabilities in 2017.

There is no reason why AI’s power cannot be harnessed to enhance marketing capabilities from interpreting trends, optimising touch points across the customer journey, to enhancing experiences or crafting and deploying robust retention tools. AI has today become an integral part of customers’ lives and it is up to us marketers to realise and employ its full potential.