10 Aug What Marketers Need To Know About The World Of ‘Connected Intelligence’
Algorithms and AI are transforming data in order to power intelligent search, intelligent agents, and more — effectively changing the game for brands as consumers discover information in new ways.
AI-powered robots may not be cleaning our homes, but make no mistake: Marketing has entered the era of “connected intelligence” — an umbrella term that refers to the way algorithms, machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI) are now transforming data in order to power intelligent search, voice-activated intelligent assistants, and more. This effectively changes the way in which consumers discover information, receive structured answers, and interact with brands.
Since the mainstreaming of mobile, consumer data has proliferated and evolved in unprecedented fashion. Today, AI is increasingly capable of making it “smarter” — for uses that include powering the voice-activated interfaces like Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Microsoft Cortana, that consumers are relying on to control more and more aspects of their daily lives.
The question, then, is what do marketers truly need to know — and how are brands taking steps to engage their customers across these new interfaces?
Making Sense Of Intelligent Search, Intelligent Agents, And How They Work Together
The first step to breaking down the ecosystem of connected intelligence is to understand what the designator “intelligent” means in this context. Here, “intelligent” refers specifically to the use of algorithms or AI to make data smarter — thereby improving results, answers, and/or the user experience.
The first important (and perhaps simplest) example of this intelligent evolution for marketers is search. Mobile search — and SEO — has existed for as long as the smartphone. But search has changed since the (relatively recent) days in which a query would result in only a list of “blue links” of webpages. Informed by continually evolving algorithms, today, search is intelligent — and “when you search for things, you get direct, structured answers,” explained Howard Lerman, CEO at Yext.
For example, if a consumer searches for “new car,” they don’t simply see links in their search results: They see the knowledge card, with prices, configurations, features of cars for sale, and more, all seamlessly. Similarly, if someone Googles groceries or banks, they get maps back; Google’s algorithm now assumes that users are searching for something in the physical world.
“Intelligent search” refers broadly to this way that search has evolved across interfaces like desktop and mobile — but it also includes searches and queries addressed to intelligent assistants. Simply, the term intelligent assistant (or intelligent agent, or intelligent personal assistant) refers to software that uses AI to then perform services or tasks for a user.
Most people today are familiar with some form of intelligent assistants, even it is by another name: Siri is one example, allowing users to ask questions and make voice searches — and assisting them by returning structured, “intelligent” answers to queries from “who won the World Series in 1996?” to “where is a good bar near me?” Amazon Alexa and Okay, Google are, of course, two other popular examples.
So, we see that, in a world with more data points than ever before, algorithms and AI are being used to produce smarter, structured results for users of “old” devices like PCs and smartphones — and newer interfaces like the intelligent assistants powering smart speakers/devices from tech giants like Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft. But how are consumers actually interacting with these devices, and what’s driving that change?
The Role Of Voice
Two years after its release, most people know this about the Amazon Echo: If we’re talking about Echo and Alexa, we’re inherently talking about voice commands.
The shift to increased reliance on voice over the past year is perhaps the biggest change for marketers since the advent of the smartphone. In 2017, there will be an estimated 33 million voice-first devices in circulation, according to VoiceLabs 2017 Voice Report — and over 50 percent of Millennial (18-34) are already using voice commands once a month or more, according to research from Mindshare and J. Walter Thompson.