Building AI to help marketers, not replace them

Founder of AI offering, Albert, says systems are supposed to augment human intelligence, not replace it

Discussion of the use of artificial intelligence in the workplace today inevitably leads to questions about the role it will play – and what might happen to those people who previously performed those roles.

While technology pundits point to technology historically generating more jobs than it destroys, with humans moving on to new or higher value tasks, there is nothing to say that trend will continue indefinitely.

But according to Or Shani, in the AI workplace revolution, the early signs are looking good that humans will remain in high demand.

As the founder and CEO of artificial intelligence marketing platform, Albert, Shani and his team have created an AI that augments the role of a marketer by taking on the tasks marketers really don’t want to do.

Or Shani
Or Shani


“I still think there is a lot of fear, and it usually comes from a lack of knowledge,” Shani tells CMO. “People need to understand these types of AI systems are supposed to augment their intelligence.”

At a basic level Albert is a response to the Lumascape charts, which plots the thousands of different technology providers now servicing the advertising and marketing industry – and has rapidly grown to more than 5000.

Shani sees the Lumascape chart as symbolising the technological complexity of marketing today, as many of the tools require humans to perform specialised tasks to operate them. And he rejects the call for a modern marketer to be a de facto CIO.

“That means you’ve forgotten what marketing is,” he says. “The CMO is not a tech person. If he needs a BA in mathematics or to be a software engineer just to run the marketing department, that doesn’t make any sense.

“We think marketers are storytellers. And you buy Nike, or you buy Adidas or different products, not because of their tech stack, you buy them because they have a great story.”

Hence Albert has been designed to let marketers get back to marketing, by taking on many of the processes that new technology has forced marketing team members to do themselves, such as booking AdWords campaigns or managing programmatic bidding. While the tech stack remains important, Shani says the goal is to let Albert worry about how it runs.

“I came from marketing, so I know what’s it like,” he continues. “And as much as I took a lot of pride in what I did at the end of the day nobody wants to deal with that.

“Albert helps you to do what you need to do. It helps you do better bidding or attribution. You can tell him what you want him to do and he does it. He would do what a human would do, so he is pretty much like a team member.”

Shani says the key to success in marketing is to understand humans play a huge role in terms of strategy and creative and guidance.

“And the ones that understand that, and how to operate Albert in that way, gain the most success,” Shani says. “Today, Albert can help you do the execution, but it needs to get some kind of a strategy, and you need to know how to work around that.

“People will use Albert instead of using these unbelievably complex tech stacks that cause more problems than helps.

Shani says in most instances, marketing team members have been willing to accept Albert as one of their own.

“Most of our clients refer to Albert as ‘he’,” Shani says. “And we actually have some clients in Latin America who call him Alberto. So it is very personalised, and he is a member of your team.”

While Albert may not yet have earned a spot on the marketing org chart, Shani does see the potential for AI to lead to new roles within organisations for people who manage the AI. He says these roles will be very different to the specialised skills that tools such as programmatic bidding have demanded.

“We are not going to make people prisoners of the technology,” Shani says. “We are going to do it with the other way around. We want to make it fun and easy and enjoyable.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu   

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