Is artificial intelligence ready for the big takeover?

Artificial intelligence. AI. Yes, again. So much has been written about the phenomenon, that we can no longer see the forest for the trees. So we dove straight into the matter to dig out some facts and figures. Now let’s clear the path for you.

AI refers to building machines with a human brain. Those machines react to impulses that surround them, which they use as fuel for making decisions. With every action, it’s no longer the human being who programmed the machine who decides what the reaction will be. The machine decides for itself how it should engage.

One method that teaches the machine how to react is the so-called machine learning. This is the ability of machines to pick up knowledge and experience, without being explicitly programmed to do so. Add the power of emotions to this characteristic and we speak of deep learning.

Hello Siri & co

Even though we don’t give it a second thought, AI is already deeply interwoven in our everyday life. Suggestions in Netflix are a striking example of AI-driven predictions. When you log into your account, you are immediately welcomed with a customised overview of your preferences.

Another playing field of AI are the so-called virtual assistants. Say hello to Siri, Alexa, Google Now and Cortana! Nowadays, virtual assistants help us on a basic level. They can add tasks to a calendar, check the status of smart home devices, create text messages, get you the local weather report or play the music that perfectly fits your mood.

The more we invest in speech recognition, the more virtual assistants will serve our needs. They will grow steadily in knowing our habits and they will get better at understanding and performing our requests. This will not only come in handy in our personal lives. It will also serve business purposes. Just think how predictive technology could optimise support functions such as HR-flows, legal issues or supply chain technology.

We expect that in 2019, the use of virtual assistants, both in our personal lives, will spread and become globally established.

Hug the robot

With GDPR in full swing, privacy issues inevitably arise. Artificial intelligence only works if technology has access to a gigantic data feed. The question is: do we really want it to use all of our valuable data? Do we want our virtual assistant to become ‘big brother’? And isn’t it a bit scary that it listens to everything we say, so it can respond to our commands?

If we want to take full advantage of AI, we need to trust what it’s doing. That’s why companies using AI should be open about what AI is doing, how it works and why they’re using it. More than ever, transparency is key.

Since the industrial revolution, machines have taken over a lot of mankind’s physical work. With AI, machines can also intervene in brainwork. But we shouldn’t see that as a threat. On the contrary, it’s up to us to take advantage of it. There’s no way AI will take over the human pursuits. In fact, we’re complementary.

In 2019, we should aim for more transparency and focus strongly on that complementary aspect, where AI can enhance and facilitate human processes.

From big data to customer-centric marketing

2018 was all about big data. Collecting and organizing data in order to create more insights in our leads and customers. Now that we have all this data, we want to manage it, so we can use it properly. We want to target the right group and send our customers personalised content. That’s where AI comes in.

AI is a powerful and versatile tool for marketing automation. It helps us optimize analysis processes. That knowledge has been put into practice by the Antwerp-based company Selma. They have created a marketing hub, for which AI lays out the base for segmentation and attribution.

More commonly, but still facing a few difficulties, AI is already functional within customer interactions. Chatbots are perhaps the trendiest example of AI at present. By expanding its game area, we will be able to improve the overall user experience.

The most promising future for AI will most probably lie in e-commerce. Thanks to machine learning, the buying behaviour of online shoppers can be translated into analysable algorithms that uncover patterns. These patterns are the raw material AI needs to make predictions for the choice behaviour of the current shopper, and for the activity of people with a similar interest field. Just like the Netflix-example above, e-shops can promote products that the customer is likely to find interesting. With further advanced AI capacities, we can broaden this data and make predictions based on the real-life situation of the customer. That way, you’ll surprised with offers that you didn’t know you were interested in.

As AI further develops, the need for relevant and personalised marketing communication will grow. In 2019, companies are predicted to integrate more aspects of the marketing chain in one overviewing platform. Thanks to this unification, we can record a shift from reactive to proactive marketing. With the help of AI and its improved automated flows, the right person will be approached with the right message, through the right channel, at exactly the right moment in the customer journey.


The next few years will see the rise of AI-driven technology, machine learning and automation. But we’re not there yet. Developing AI is a long-term process, based on trial and error. And we should all be aware that our expectations could be too high. Some programs claim they can already produce AI-written content. But research shows that the outcome is not-yet-perfect. Big steps in AI-development have already been taken, but let’s keep in mind that not all AI-based technology is ready for action yet.

New call-to-action