Business must engage with consumers to boost AI

Artificial intelligence is set to become a core part of business, but to get the most from it, enterprises need to engage with consumers to focus personalisation

A study by the University of London and Vanson Bourne for WP Engine has concluded that transparency, trust and humanness are key drivers to unlock value in artificial intelligence (AI). 

The study, which surveyed consumers and enterprise companies with 1,000 employees or more in the US, the UK and Australia, found a large proportion of businesses are already well on their way towards widespread AI implementation.

Chris Brauer, director of innovation at Goldsmiths, University of London, said: “Our research shows enterprises investing in AI are already seeing astounding return on investment and performance outcomes. Consumers are demanding that innovating with AI in digital experiences clearly prioritises and expresses values around privacy, trust, and transparency.

“Only by laying a solid foundation of ethics and values that guide the implementation of all facets of an AI solution will companies truly be able to fully harness the value of AI.”

The study reported that 85.5% of businesses surveyed in the UK said they plan to increase their use of AI in the coming year. Some 32% of UK businesses plan to increase their AI budgets significantly (by 32%), while 63% of those organisations are already investing more than £1m a year in AI.

Creating digital experiences personalised to each user is perhaps the most important element for today’s online audiences. The study reported that a growing number of digital users are now mindful and aware of the “value exchange” that occurs with a brand when they participate in a digital experience.

The willingness to share personal information in exchange for a better service was highest among millennials, with older generations less willing to trade their personal information for a better, more personalised service, it said.

In the UK, both consumers and enterprises attached a high degree of importance to values issues, such as the protection of data privacy and security, the expectation of organisations being able to explain transparently what they are using data for, the degree of personalisation, and a clear and direct value for the exchange of data.

The study reported that more than 92% of UK consumers rated proper privacy protections as a high priority, yet only 82% of enterprises indicated this was important, indicating a serious gap that needs to be bridged for enterprises to truly gain UK consumers’ trust. 

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Along with personalisation, the study urged enterprises to deploy AI-driven tools to bolster the relationship under which data is exchanged between businesses and customers. The study recommended that this relationship should be built on optimisation and efficiency to generate data that is collected, analysed, treated and shared in an honest, ethical and trustworthy manner.

The researchers also urged enterprises to use AI in a way that is fiercely customer-centric to create products and services that are emotionally responsive and engaging.

Fabio Torlini, managing director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at WP Engine, said: “The degree of long-term benefits AI will bring to an enterprise’s digital initiatives is deeply linked with the importance of aligning brand values with a core set of ethical decision-making values.

“The brands that successfully integrate the revenue-driving power of AI with the trust, safety and values that customers expect will be successful in creating winning, powerful digital experiences.”

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