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AI will be absolute table stakes for all by 2020

As customer experience becomes the dominant parameter for companies to compete on, several factors will play a key role in impacting it. The role of technology will be among the most important in that. Emerging or reasonably newer forms of tech such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality, voice, machine learning, bots, micro services and the broad spectrum of artificial intelligence (AI) will all be areas that will dominate the ‘experience makers’ agenda in the year ahead.

Maximising human performance
AI in this backdrop is going of internet of things and quantum computing is going to maximise human performance. And by 2020, it would be table stakes for any company. This was among one the top takeaways in an Adobe Think Tank discussion hosted in Las Vegas, preceding the Adobe Summit 2018.

The conversation at the Adobe Think Tank this year established that AI’s ability to take away the mundane will allow people to focus on creative or strategy. Wendy Steinle, Head of Digital Experience & Web Strategy, Adobe, advises to look at AI as one would look at a team – the best person to do a job should do that job the best. The implication is to remove the routine or the manual part of the task that does not require a higher or specific skill level.

However, she also poses the question – how much automation do consumers really want in a business that is becoming AI dominant, at least in its conversations and intentions to adopt. “Let us take customer care for instance,” she said, elaborating, “If AI can sense, synthesise and coach the customer care representative before the person speaks to the consumer, then that can translate into something good for both the consumer and the brand. It is the combination of AI and human execution that will raise the bar.”

The constantly changing technology landscape in fact leads to several situations. The combination of voice, AI and the ability to interface with applications can change the very meaning of a work day by doing anything from automating PowerPoint decks to educating large scale teams in a company.

Choose your identity flavour
At the same time, it can create newer requirements, an interesting one in that being identity management. Giles Richardson, VP of digital journeys at T-Mobile argued of a possibility where the “bot version” of a human being interacts and engages with the virtual world to curate what he calls the “controlled version” of the individual.

Mr Richardson’s viewpoint, simply put, is whether online identity management can be outsourced. Can an individual choose the broader flavour of what he wants his online presence to be, and then the bot version decides what data to share or not to share.

“Can people have their own pre-conceived bots that execute their wishes? They can pick their flavour which could be anonymity or it can be immediacy to get an experience or a reaction out there to cease an opportunity, which in turn helps them interact with brands in the way they prefer and can control,” he said.

If such a situation was to manifest into reality, AI would be the technology to make it happen. However, this is among the examples that still rest in the discussion stage. The conversation does however re-assert the inherent question of regulation.

The right regulation balance
The panel at large was convinced that regulation in newer forms of technology will kick in sooner than later. Their advice was to strike a balance between self regulation and third party regulation for an ideal situation. This however does come with a caveat.

Malthe Sigurdsson, Head of Design at Stripe warned, “Be careful what you wish for. With regulation, the incremental burden imposed on people building the next platforms would be immense, and can lead to a slowdown in innovating.”

The Adobe Think Tank panel advised that experience makers need to give simple controls for people to state how much they want to be known or want to share online.

AI’s potential to make the right difference is massive in this context but it is important for business makers to understand the ethics of AI, to be transparent and easily understood, and to be human led.


The journalist was invited by Adobe for the Adobe Digital Summit 2018.

Noor Fathima Warsia

A veteran journalist in the Indian marketing, media and advertising fraternity, Noor Fathima Warsia took on the role of Group Editor -– APAC for Digital Market Asia in May 2013. Noor has focussed on tracking trends and developments in the Indian media industry.