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February 23, 2017

AI boosts better user experiences

Posted by Luc Malcorps

Emakina Group CEO Brice Le Blévennec shares some ideas on the impact of AI.

We live in a world where idiocracy seems unstoppable. It is on a conquest of the minds and hearts of people, frightened by just about everything and its opposite. At the same time, artificial intelligence keeps on progressing, entirely unconcerned about these mundane human ideas and fears. Our emotions simply have no say in the matter. For better or for worse, artificial intelligence is gaining ground, claiming its place in our daily lives.

So what position will artificial intelligence really occupy
tomorrow – and even tonight – in our lives
and in the world of agencies like Emakina?

When talking about artificial intelligence, we tend to mix up a series of topics. The term actually covers a whole range of fascinating and promising concepts.

Natural Language Processing is one of these exciting new domains.
Advanced systems are learning to understand the subtleties of the human language, in all its nuances and other rich subtleties. The machines’ achievements in understanding ambiguous sentences with multiple semantic potential meanings are mindboggling, especially if you realize that even people sharing the same language and culture often fail to fully understand each other.

Of course, some practical applications of artificial intelligence seem closer to what we expect from machines, considered primarily as tools for computing data.

Expert systems may seem less spectacular, yet they are able to perform spectacular feats. Today’s architectural software for instance integrates countless parameters into its calculations. This facilitates the task of architects to no end. They see their designs transformed almost in real time into detailed plans. Not only that, these designs take into account the resistance of materials and other complex factors. Perhaps that sounds not all that impressive, but these tools carry out tasks that only a few years ago required architects weeks of hard work.

Another form of artificial intelligence is better known to the general public, thanks to its appearance in science fiction: self-learning mechanisms. They allow machines to make choices, take decisions, and learn from their mistakes, to continuously improve their cognitive abilities.

In everyday life, we also find more and more speech and visual recognition systems. These are no longer computer programs that simply understand the meaning of what they “hear” or “see”. Far beyond that, they now are able to interpret that information.

Progress in this area largely depends on the amount of data provided to these systems. They feed on them to be able to understand, for example, the same sentence pronounced in very different accents. Through systems organized as neural networks, they recognize not only an object as round, for example, but also the difference between a wheel and an eye.

But let’s return to our initial question: what are the benefits of artificial intelligence for agencies, who are not focusing on basic research? It is in their interest to integrate these technologies and their exponential progress, to improve user experiences?

When you feed truckloads of relevant data
to existing tools, you can improve their effectiveness.

It’s not by accident that big data have become big business.

Besides using information to play Big Brother, intelligence accelerates the progress of virtual neural networks – algorithms without powerful databases are no more useful than bicycles without pedals!

In the field of Marketing Automation, for example, the use of AI makes it possible to segment users much more efficiently. Systems now match people’s interests with how they behave on websites, in social networks and during e-mail interactions. By leveraging these data, we can fully customize the content each contact receives, even meeting individual expectations before you express them. It goes without saying this significantly improves the user experience…

By implementing similar links between data, this approach can easily be transferred to the domain of e-commerce. We can anticipate what products and services each user will want to buy, by analysing his previous online behaviour. This brings us far beyond Amazon’s technique to propose the most popular products bought by other users, who also added your item to their shopping cart.

Of course, like e-commerce platforms, “classic” websites can also be doped with the power of AI, to ​​create personalized experiences for each user.

They adapt their content according to the data available for each profile, as well as to the behaviour of the visitor in real time. Instead of resorting to time-consuming and a posteriori AB testing, the user experience is interpreted and modified ‘on the fly’.

Last but not least, conversational agents increasingly will contribute to the comfort of users and better customer support. They are more discreet than voice synthesis tools and therefore more effective. Real interaction with an interface will gradually replace the role of customer services, before, during and after the acquisition of goods and services.

The giants of the Web fully understand
the importance of AI based technologies.

They now share the fruit of their labour via open source, to help researchers progress. A logical move: they are well aware that without a collaborative approach their efforts will drag out longer than they want.

It is therefore essential for our sector to be able to reinvent itself each day. We need to constantly develop our range of tools that make user experiences richer, more personal and to the point. It is a matter of knowing before they do what digital consumers want, or at least knowing it before they ask for it.

Tomorrow’s user experiences will not only be richer:
they will also be smarter.

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