What does it take to make AI accessible to non-tech professionals, and to leverage AI for better customer experience?

Recent predictions for 2022 have pointed towards a growing demand for more convenient, seamless cross-channel experiences. Analyst firm Forrester predicted that 80% of consumers see the world as digital and expectations for successful digital experiences continue to rise. 

As Taiwan’s first digital unicorn, Appier is seeing phenomenal growth and a huge demand for AI solutions as a result of this disruption.

Appier’s proprietary AI technologies process close to 30 billion predictions daily, unifying data from various fragmented sources and helping companies better predict consumer behavior and actions. 

DigiconAsia discusses the democratization of AI with Hong-Chia How, Vice President, Enterprise Solutions, Appier:

Hong-Chia How, Vice President, Enterprise Solutions, Appier

How can AI help redefine customer experience and how do you see AI being deployed in APAC’s key industry sectors?

How: Consumers around the world have formed new living habits and behaviors, all driven by the impact of the pandemic. Given the advancement of technology and the speed at which they are consuming content online, customers are expecting instant gratification from companies regardless of sector. The ability to learn and meet their needs immediately will be what sets a company apart.

At Appier, we believe that AI is the key to helping brands succeed in this new era of customers. Helping companies navigate through the complex customer journey will require data-driven insights. This is where AI plays an essential role in processing and understanding data to help predict customer behavior. The machine learning and deep-learning technologies built into our AI solutions become more intelligent over time, as they process large volumes of data daily.

Apart from the ability to unify fragmented first-party data, enriching and applying predictive analytics to better predict customer behaviors, AI’s decision-making applications have the potential to be deployed within other industries. For example, AI can be used to help modify school curriculum and lesson plans to meet the learning needs of individual students. In other instances, AI technology can help pinpoint defects in manufacturing and supply chain monitoring that the human eye might miss.

How have chatbots evolved, and how do you expect conversational marketing to transform commerce in APAC in the coming years?

How: The pandemic has seen many consumers spending more of their lives online and through digital channels. One of the areas that we have seen contributing significantly to retailers and e-commerce brands is conversational commerce.

A recent study by Juniper Research shows that total spend over conversational commerce channels will reach $290 billion by 2025 globally. Everything from product discovery to checkout can be handled by chatbots and is something that is becoming more common. Chatbots allow brands and businesses to connect with consumers without the physical interaction and replicate the type of personalized services they would have received in traditional stores.

Customers in the region are mobile-first, so the ability to optimize mobile user experiences is a necessity for brands who want to thrive and stay ahead of the curve in this environment. Conversational marketing can better understand customer trends and enable more robust predictions of customer behavior at every touchpoint, offering the personalization that consumers are looking for. This will continue to be a key growth area for Appier in the coming years. 

Appier’s acquisition of chatbot platform BotBonnie will allow us to extend our capabilities and help companies leverage this trend to stay on top of customer expectations for instantaneous services. Gartner’s research has shown that better customer service directly leads to customer loyalty. In challenging times driven by the pandemic, customer loyalty can go a long way.

Why is it important to democratize AI, and making it accessible and usable for those without the technical expertise?

How: For many companies, AI is an add-on. Appier’s vision is to democratize AI because we see it as one of the most important developments in human history.

We’ve all seen how AI has changed the world in many ways, from search and recommendation algorithms to digital assistants and e-payments, proving to be a useful tool across all industries.

Expectations for AI are high, with many expecting AI to transform the world. However, the complexity behind AI means that it is still mainly being used by individuals with the knowledge and technical skills gained through specific training.

Although the shift to greater user-friendliness will be gradual, democratizing AI will allow people with little to no experience the ability to extract value from data and make accurate predictions.

As AI becomes more accessible, we will see the potential of this technology go far beyond just tech companies. A broader diversity of organizations, governments agencies and users will have the opportunity to employ AI and change their strategies and operations accordingly.

What will it take for AI to become a mainstream technology in business, and the hurdles organizations need to overcome to get there?

How: Benchmarks vary by industry. The challenges in retail are often different to those in finance, for instance, and the pain points of a marketer are likely to be distinct from those of an ecommerce platform owner. It is important to work with clients to define their goals and expectations and explain what resources we may need from their side to achieve those results.

The first step towards AI becoming a mainstream technology in all businesses is setting realistic expectations. Of course, there are still barriers to adoption when talking about the wider business world. Many people assume that once AI can work well in one area, it will be easily transferable to other aspects and can achieve the same level of success. However, it is important for organizations to not only understand how AI can help us but also its limitations.

Another key factor mentioned previously is the democratization of AI – simplifying the technology and making it easier for the wider community to use.

We’ve seen some fantastic success stories, and we love helping our clients overcome challenges such as predicting when customers are likely to churn or convert; find ‘lookalike’ customers similar to existing VIP customers to widen the audience base; identify new customer segments; and figure out which products to present to customers, when and via which device.