How AI is Changing Business & How VR will Change the World

How AI is changing business and how VR will change the world were among many topics of conversation at the 2017 Integrated Live Marketing Summit the Blend Media marketing team attended.

There was a diverse range of talks and a number of fantastic speakers. The aim of the event was to educate businesses across all sectors about the rapidly evolving marketing landscape due to technological advances and new digital trends.

I aim to touch on some interesting points and observations made at the Integrated Live Marketing Summit.

How AI is Changing Business

A significant takeaway from the Integrated Live Marketing Summit was how AI is changing business and more specifically how AI is streamlining marketing and sales. Marketing consultant, P.R. Smith, gave the first talk of the event and he was quick to set the tone for the day:

“AI will keep growing and become more and more integrated in our lives”

So what is AI or Artificial Intelligence? Aaron McGrath, presented us with Microsoft’s definition: ‘Human ingenuity amplified by intelligent technology’.

The rise of artificial intelligence may seem daunting to some. ‘Aren’t robots going to take over the world…we’re all going to be left jobless’, some may anxiously ponder. However, this is very unlikely. We shouldn’t see AI as a threat; we should see it as a blessing.

“An estimated 80-90% of data in any organisation is unstructured”

There are many ways AI is changing business and will continue to do so. AI is ultimately the answer to the ‘big data’ problem where there is too much complex data to be processed effectively. Without AI, businesses are missing out on enormous opportunities. According to Aaron McGrath, ‘an estimated 80-90% of data in any organisation is unstructured’.

Already, gradually, AI is streamlining marketing and sales as it’s able to digest complex data and translate it into valuable insights which in turn lead to increased revenue. As computer power and powerful algorithms increase exponentially, brands will also be able to benefit from stronger audience engagements which will ultimately increase the longevity of brands that take advantage of artificial intelligence.

There will be more of a balanced conversation with heavy data sets and AI, which means brands will actually be more creative with responses. A clear message from the event was data and creativity go hand in hand and this will be increasingly amplified with the integration of artificial intelligence systems.

“85% of companies currently report that marketing automation is effective”

Many speakers at the Integrated Live Marketing Summit encouraged businesses to adopt AI in the form of automated email marketing in order to increase efficiency, build a trusting relationship and increase the number of conversions. Automated email marketing systems reduce manual processes and human errors, as well as using the data incredibly effectively to create relevantly targeted and personalised content.

To get a real sense of how AI is streamlining marketing, 85% of companies currently report that marketing automation is effective according to Act-On. 80% of marketing automation adopters also saw their leads increase and 77% saw an increase in conversions.

Many speakers encouraged companies to consider integrating artificial intelligent chat bots into their business. This is another way AI is streamlining marketing and sales as they are able to increase leads and conversions time effectively. The AI chat bots are able to do this thanks to complex algorithms which enable them to provide incredibly humanised and realistically personalised responses to website visitors. As a result, your business will be able to provide better customer service and carry out hassle-free transactions. Check out Microsoft’s intelligent bot which takes only 10 minutes to set up according to Aaron McGrath.

“Microsoft predict that 50% of search will come from voice by 2020”

Another interesting takeaway from the Integrated Live Marketing Summit was how AI integrated voice activation devices will become even more mainstream and integrated into day-to-day life. They will allow users and consumers to efficiently carry out search in the most natural way possible, while multi-tasking. The buying experience will be shorter and the customer journey, more personable.

Microsoft predict that 50% of search will come from voice by 2020 and Jessica Williams, co-founder and CEO of Opearlo, forecasts that there will be 970 million voice assistant users by 2019. Voice recognition devices such as the Amazon Alexa and Google Home are also becoming increasingly accurate; Microsoft’s Cortana device understands an impressive 96% of voice requests. Eye-opening figures indeed.

How VR will Change the World

Jeremy Dalton, VR/AR lead at PwC, enthusiastically gave a talk about how VR will change the world; in the workplace and in everyday life. He also categorised virtual reality and augmented reality as the fourth wave of technology ahead of mobile.

Jeremy then went on to state that, ‘AR is all about information’ while ‘VR is all about immersion…it is the most immersive medium to date’. Virtual reality, of course, has the immense capacity to transport someone into another world and truly effect their brain in a visceral and incredibly positive way. Compared to standard 2D formats which offer no true form of interaction, with VR, Jeremy promotes that ‘we are no longer the spectator…in VR you are in that environment, you are the protagonist, you are experiencing things in the first hand view’.

There are currently many benefits of virtual reality available to people however the main issue is that VR hasn’t been fully adopted and integrated into mainstream society yet. Although there are VR headsets such as Oculus Rift or HTC Vive on the market, people haven’t yet realised the full potential of VR, haven’t even tried it, and are therefore not willing to spend the money on these devices.

“It is quite possible virtual reality will be adopted in the mainstream in as little as five years time”

Having said this, Jeremy believes that it is quite possible virtual reality will be adopted in the mainstream in as little as five years time. This is based on studying previous technological trends, the evident benefits of virtual reality, the medium’s empathetic nature and the fact that eight of the top ten tech companies are already invested in VR and AR.

So, how will VR change the world once it has been adopted into the mainstream? There will be a large number of immersive events open to the public; people will be able to enjoy an overseas sports match or a ‘sold out’ music concert from the comfort of their own home. We all know that face-to-face meetings are the most effective meetings, however when this isn’t possible, immersive meetings will be an effective alternative; people will be able to discuss business opportunities in a virtual meeting room even though they are actually located at opposite corners of the globe. See below for a live VR chat demonstrated by Mark Zuckerberg; this technology is only just getting started, imagine what the future entails.

Other benefits of virtual reality include immersive moments and immersive art. We will be able to step into a memory and experience a moment that no video or photo could ever imitate. Similarly, people will be able to experience art from a completely new perspective; we will be able to interact with it and become part of it. Already Google’s Tilt Brush is pushing boundaries.

Another way VR will change the world, and is beginning to do so, is in the education sector. From virtually exploring the human body to flying a plane, there are a vast number of benefits of virtual reality in education.

The Science of Reading in the Digital Age

Finally, I want to bring to light a few insights from a fascinating talk the director and founder of Turtl, Nick Mason, gave about the science of reading in the digital age. He explained how imagery speaks to our primitive brain and how our brains are hardwired to understand images.

It all dates back to the caveman period 40,000 years ago, where those who understood cave paintings would have an evolutionary advantage because they would be able to identify dangerous predators for example. This evolution of image and symbol exposure has taken the development from cave paintings to ideograms to alphabet to printing press and now digital. Nick explains that we are highly visual creatures therefore it makes sense that we engage more with images: ‘10% retention becomes 65% with an image’. Additionally, combining images and text has a profound impact on engagement too.

Having highlighted that understanding images is deeply ingrained within us as human beings, Nick encouraged us to spend more time focusing on the medium rather than the message itself. He believes that the medium is being neglected and that if more focus is spent on it, the medium will in turn become the message; a powerful and more engaging one at that.

When finding the most effective medium we need to be intrinsically motivated, rather than carrying out an action extrinsically. Intrinsic, active motivations are driven by internal and personal rewards, whereas extrinsic, passive motivations are fuelled by pressures or external rewards such as money.

Nick therefore explained how interactive content is considerably more engaging and is more intrinsically driven. This is therefore the reason why immersive 360˚ videos have much higher engagement rates than standard 2D videos, which are being passively consumed. When people engage with 360˚ videos, they are actively and intrinsically motivated, and their brains are being rewarded with the feel good hormone, dopamine.

Immerse yourself in the 360˚ video below, by Blend Media creator, Project360.

Explore Blend Media’s diverse library of 360˚ video content which can be licensed out for powerful marketing and advertising campaigns.