Accelerate Digital Transformation With Artificial Intelligence in APAC

As customer expectations continue to intensify in an increasingly competitive environment, companies can stay ahead of the curve only by adopting the latest and best that digitalization has to offer. For those frenziedly pursuing a digital transformation agenda, artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to positively impact the way they do business.

A new commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Appier shows that AI has a critical role to play in accelerating digital transformation in Asia Pacific (APAC). Companies are well aware of the powerful insights that AI can generate. More importantly, they are testing how they can use AI to transform their business models and enhance experience across the entire customer life cycle.

The June 2018 study surveyed 260 business and IT leaders across eight markets (Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, China, India, Australia and Indonesia) who are directly responsible for technology purchasing decisions.

Covering the key industries of telecom, insurance, banking, IT and retail, the study threw up some interesting insights on how companies perceive AI’s role within their businesses.

Some of the key benefits that companies are expecting by using AI tools are:

  • Easily discover relevant prospects, and boost chances of conversion
  • Improve customer interaction using deep insights into customer behavior
  • Maximize customer value, offer an enhanced user experience and improve customer loyalty
  • Optimize the marketing mix to improve ROI
  • Personalize digital experiences

Streamline Operations and Offer an Enhanced Customer Experience With AI

In a customer-obsessed world, 71 percent of respondents were surprisingly clear that AI would primarily help them improve efficiency of operations, while 59 percent spoke of improved scalability.

Respondents also expect that AI will improve the digital customer experience by helping companies deliver smarter and more personalized service. More than half of them expect that AI will help better predict customer behavior better and 45 percent are convinced of the deep consumer insights they can gain.

Investment in AI is Still Nascent

Yet, the study found that when it comes to investing in AI technologies, companies in the region are still in the nascent stage. Most respondents are investing in data management technologies and platforms in a bid to first build a strong base for future digital growth and their AI journeys.

For instance, 61 percent of respondents are investing in enhancing their data security and privacy capabilities while 57 percent are investing in data cataloguing solutions for analytics. Only around half of the surveyed companies are investing in AI solutions that improve customer view across digital channels and even less are using insights to build data-driven AI applications.

The reason for this seems to be the challenges APAC firms face around gathering and integrating big data, as well as building the right predictive analytics platform for their needs. While these challenges demand that firms invest in data management technologies, an insufficient focus on core-AI technologies such as computer vision and natural language processing could cause AI adoption to slow down.

Prioritizing Business Objectives to Build Relevant AI Journeys

Investment may be slow in coming but companies are already building their business plans based on what they hope to achieve using AI. The IT and telecom industry, for example, are prioritizing AI solutions that will allow them to predict market changes better while the FSI segment is looking to improve the accuracy of customer behavior prediction. Retail firms want to use insights gathered through AI to develop new products and services.

The Forrester study points to the immense potential that AI holds for APAC companies, which can use this technology to address core business objectives of streamlining operations and enhancing the customer experience.

Companies in the region are also expected to leverage AI to deliver business value at every stage of the customer lifecycle, from prospecting to upselling and retaining loyal customers.

For a more in-depth analysis of how companies in the region are using AI, download the complete study here.

4 Technologies That Are Transforming Customer Engagement Online

Consumers engaging with brands, seeking customer services and making purchases through social media is fast becoming the norm. Businesses need to constantly adjust their approach to reach out and respond to consumers with relevant and personalized messages.

Take advantage of these four technologies that will help your online engagement with your customers reach a whole new level.

Chatbots: Manage the Volume of Online Messages, and Speed up Customer Service

Chatbots are seeing a surge in uptake and are helping marketers connect with their audience in new ways. According to Gartner, by 2020, 25 percent of customer service operations will use chatbots across engagement channels, and Facebook reports that its Messenger has more than 300,000 active bots.

Brands are increasingly using chatbots to manage the large volume of customer messages generated across social media, and respond to them in a human-like fashion. Powered by artificial intelligence (AI), bots become smarter over multiple interactions, and can be used to personalize marketers’ messages over time. They also help streamline and speed up customer service, allowing businesses to focus on bigger issues likes complaint resolution by taking care of routine customer queries.

AI-powered Prediction Engines: Access Granular Insights to Better Target Consumers and Boost Conversion

The use of AI in online engagement goes beyond just chatbots. Businesses are turning to AI to make sense of the huge volume of online data, access granular insights, predict audience behavior and boost user engagement. LinkedIn’s sophisticated machine learning algorithms, for instance, score candidates on the basis of location, work experience and other information, and use this to improve job-candidate matches.

On the marketing side of things, data-driven insights allow businesses to identify audiences more likely to convert and target them with relevant and customized messaging. For example, marketers can use Appier’s Aixon, a data intelligence platform, to discover new consumers, predict their behavior, and increase conversions by delivering targeted advertising.

Aixon’s recent integration with messaging app LINE extends these capabilities by allowing businesses to access powerful AI-driven insights into consumer behavior on LINE and push out highly targeted messages to them. For instance, a user visited an ecommerce site and added a dress to the shopping cart. A few seconds later, she would receive a push notification for an ad related this dress on her LINE app.

Augmented Reality: Offer Consumers Useful and Relevant Experiences that Increase Sales

In 2017, augmented reality (AR) moved beyond gaming and entertainment into business, with brands increasingly offering their customers useful AR experiences across social media channels. By 2020, 100 million consumers will shop in AR, and Apple’s launch of iPhone X, which offers users new AR capabilities and facial recognition, will only push more social platforms to integrate AR technology.  

The use of AR can be a win-win for both customers and businesses. For example, when Ikea’s Place allows users to preview how an armchair will look in their homes before buying it, not only is the customer making a better-informed decision, but the brand is also demonstrating how it fits into the customer’s home and life, boosting conversion and sales.

L’Oréal, which has bought the ModiFace AR beauty app, believes that this will boost online sales. Using facial recognition and AR technology, users can try out make-up on the app to see how it looks on their faces before actually buying the products. Even simple face filters like those that Snapchat offers are fast becoming a hot new way to advertise.  

Social Listening Tools: Listen to Consumer Conversations and Better Customize your Content

The popularity of social listening tools is growing as more businesses realize the importance of tapping into customer and peer-to-peer conversations online. Social listening tools will allow you to keep an ear to the ground and be involved in consumer conversations across different social channels. The zillions of gigabytes of data generated from these are a goldmine of insights into consumer needs and preferences.

Marketers can then leverage AI’s capabilities to identify keywords and phrases, and generate insights around demographics, trending topics of interest and sentiment, which will help them better understand customer intent throughout the journey. Marketers can use these insights to be relevant in consumers’ lives, by creating content that resonates with their consumers and offering them solutions that they need.

Technologies such as those mentioned above are helping businesses make informed decisions, reach consumers more effectively, and target them better. Adopt and embrace those technologies to stay visible and relevant in the age of customized marketing.

The Role of AI-driven Insights in Delivering Superior Customer Experience

The Role of AI-driven Insights in Delivering Superior Customer Experience

 

By Magic Tu, VP of Product Management, Appier

Customers are inundated with more choices than ever, while the convenience of digital makes it easy for them to switch to competing services through the web or mobile apps. As businesses come under pressure to gain new customers and retain existing ones in this fluid digital economy, many see improving customer experience as the key to coming out ahead. In order to do so, they need to understand their customers a lot better.

Understanding customers better

Defined as the sum of interaction between an organization and a customer, the customer experience isn’t solely determined by capabilities or pricing, but by consistently addressing what matters most to customers. For instance, a frequent guest disgruntled about a slow hotel check-in is likely to leave with a negative experience despite the hotel’s top-notch pool and gym. Yet a fellow traveller with family in tow may retain fond memories after being offered a complimentary bed for his young children to sleep in, even after that same slow check-in.

Over time, the sum of their experiences accrues to a tipping point that can result in one of them leaving for a competing hotel – or staying on as a highly loyal customer. Delivering exceptional customer experience therefore boils down to achieving a deep understanding of what individual customers want and delivering it.

But while the barista at the coffee shop around the corner can be expected to remember a regular’s preference and greet him or her by name, this isn’t scalable for most businesses. The only realistic way for brands to understand their customers better is to analyse customer records and transaction data for insights about individual preferences and general trends. They can leverage these insights to better tune existing services, develop new capabilities, or to create customised promotions that cater to individual customers.

Unfortunately, obtaining a unified view of customer behaviour is a challenge that most organizations struggle to overcome, and the multiple channels through which consumers communicate with brands today further complicate attempts to correlate them.

The power of AI

This is where artificial intelligence (AI) comes in. With the ability to tirelessly and accurately analyze huge volumes of data, AI can help businesses gain a competitive advantage by giving them insights they would not otherwise have. With AI, organizations can move away from a “gut-driven” marketing approach, where a marketer or product manager rely on their instincts, towards a data-driven strategy.

By cross-referencing customer data from a multitude of sources, AI can help build a highly accurate model of your customer base and determine the best ways to reach them.

AI can even take it a step further with predictive insights into the future behavior of your customers. One of the most exciting tools available today to marketers is predictive audience segmentation powered by AI. As part of the larger category of predictive analytics, predictive audience segmentation has the power to help companies identify a target audience with the highest potential for conversion to a sale or click or install, whatever your KPIs (key performance indicators) are.

The most advanced predictive audience segmentation tools look at behavioural patterns, collected from customer databases as well as from the internet, and combine them with demographic data to identify trends to single out the most promising leads. It goes even further in segmenting customers. It analyzes data to make recommendations that help you find and grow your target audience.

Commonwealth Magazine, a leading media group in Taiwan, used the predictive audience segmentation capabilities in Appier’s Aixon platform to discover new customers, increasing subscribers and purchases on their website by over 400 per cent.

A data-driven world

There is no question that AI is a vital technology for our data-driven economy. Many traditional marketing promotions are either conceived from past assumptions that are no longer be valid, or which cannot be scaled due to an over-dependence on experienced employees. On the other hand, the judicious use of AI can reveal pertinent insights that can be leveraged to craft more relevant promotions.

Of course, it is important to note that AI is not magic and cannot be expected to solve every business problem. There is also a structured process that that must be adhered to for successful AI application, starting from the gathering of the requisite data. Yet there is also no question that properly implemented, AI with its ability to deliver tireless analysis is a crucial building block to drive innovation and deliver tangible benefits to businesses.

About the author:

Magic Tu talks about the role of AI in driving superior customer experienceMagic Tu is VP of Product Management at Appier. He is responsible for streamlining the process of product development, from product ideation to product launch, collaborating with various teams including R&D, product management, marketing, and business development. Aixon, the AI audience prediction and analysis platform, is the first product that his team has launched.

Prior to joining Appier, Tu was the director of software product management at HTC, a smartphone and virtual reality device company, leading the overall software experience planning for the HTC Sense smartphone and accessories. He also led the program management team that took care of third party vendors and partners including Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Nokia for cross-company projects. Before HTC, Tu was the lead developer in Springsoft (now Synopsys), an electronic design automation company based in Taiwan. Tu has BS/MS degrees in computer science from National Taiwan University.