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How AI Can Enable Innovation In Sales

How AI Can Enable Innovation In Sales

It is no secret that artificial intelligence is one of the most widely discussed, transformative innovations right now. It is impossible not to notice the considerable and fast surge of highly advanced technologies that deploy deep machine learning solutions and take the digital revolution many steps further.

As the co-founder of an AI platform, I know companies are racing to implement AI solutions that they believe will open new doors for corporate growth. Consumers seem increasingly eager to incorporate AI tools in their daily lives and interact with their devices more often. We speak to our smartphones; they listen and respond. We give commands to our computers and other smart devices, and they are ready, like faithful companions and assistants, to answer any question we might have or complete any task we put in front of them. And in the midst of this sudden rise in AI solutions and the possibilities that come with them, the ways in which the presence of AI has been shifting the business landscape and how it will impact the corporate world in the near future are of great interest to me.

But what is artificial intelligence, the so-often-used buzzword that can be heard in any high-rise building or at any conference today?

To be able to understand AI’s true impact on the corporate landscape, there is one thing we have to keep in mind: “Artificial intelligence” is a powerful umbrella term used to describe a wide range of technologies, such as traditional logic and rules-based systems that allow computers and robots to “think” or perform what resembles the human ability to reflect, as well as solve various problems. And it is a very specific family of such AI techniques — the deep machine learning techniques — that have made things such as speaking to personal assistants possible.

People develop neural networks from deep learning, provide them with algorithms and feed them large amounts of data to train on, kickstarting a self-learning and self-improvement process that enables the systems to develop the ability to recognize specific objects, words, characters and, most importantly, behavioral patterns.

In other words, computers now know how to teach themselves. And, consequently, they can transform corporate innovation and individual users’ daily lives. For example, I’ve noticed that the rise of AI technologies has completely transformed the relationship between companies and consumers. Thanks to the systems’ ability to understand consumers’ behavioral patterns, companies can develop a more profound understanding of their customers’ preferences and expectations, which gives them a competitive advantage in the market and allows them to develop better targeted, more efficient sales and marketing strategies.

For example, machine learning technologies like Amazon’s recommendation engine now allow companies to create customer experiences uniquely tailored to each customer’s interests and lifestyle and add more value to the content, products and services that companies offer. Applications like these are possible due to the neural networks’ ability to recognize patterns and identify the highest-value prospects based on customer data. The system can define a set of attributes and characteristics that describe the customers with the highest potential, which it can then compare to real-life consumer profiles. 
The ability of neural networks to revolutionize the sales sector doesn’t just stop there; with the ability to learn fast and efficiently, AI can replace the early stages of the sales funnel and fortify the pipeline, allowing sales representatives to steer away from time-consuming and repetitive processes and focus on top-quality opportunities and meaningful interactions. Some of the brightest examples I’ve seen in this area are Salesforce Einstein and HubSpot’s marketing automation solutions.

According to one Harvard Business Review article (paywall), 40% of time spent on sales activities — which could include collecting customer information to identify customer needs and processing sales or other transactions — can be automated with AI technologies.

Meanwhile, I believe AI technologies will redefine the responsibilities of sales employees to focus on meaningful functions such as handling exceptional cases, managing ambiguous situations, using judgment to make decisions, identifying the questions that automation will answer and controlling the network of relationships with employees, vendors, partners and customers.

At the same time, AI has substantially changed customer expectations; according to “The AI Revolution” report from Salesforce, 55% of consumers and 75% of business buyers expect personalized offers. Whether it’s their personal Amazon page offering ideas for what to buy next based on their previous orders or the social media ads that show products and services that could be of interest to them, consumers have higher expectations when they’re interacting with their favorite brands and companies.

In the current climate of innovation, automation will likely come to replace certain functions in corporate development processes in the next few years and lead to major changes in the traditional paths companies have followed. Employees will be able to focus on more complex issues and trust the neural network systems to take care of the mundane, time-consuming and lower-involvement tasks. Instead, employees will define the purpose of the innovation; while the technology can allow corporations to dramatically increase productivity and success rates, human judgment from executives and employees alike is still necessary to determine what questions the technology should answer and which cases would benefit the most from human innovation.

At the same time, AI innovations can help define customers’ expectations and needs that corporations so desperately want to know and predict. While artificial intelligence solutions allow people to create uniquely personalized experiences tailored to each of their customers’ needs, people may get used to the newer, higher levels of personalization in the content they interact with daily. And although AI innovations open up new possibilities for companies to build stronger relationships with their customer base, over the next few years, companies will have to face the new challenge of keeping up with the increasing expectations of users.

Artificial intelligence is, no doubt, the future of corporate innovation, and while I don’t question its transformative impact, I believe it will present new challenges to consider when we’re implementing innovations.


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