One of the overarching themes at this year’s Festival of Marketing was the AI (Artificial Intelligence) revolution. Opening speaker, author and TV personality Stephen Fry warned, “If we sleepwalk into AI, we’re in great danger.”

Reminding us of the unforeseen success of the internet, Fry advised that it would be no good scrambling to catch-up, we need to stay ahead and keep up-to-date on any new technology. Interviewed by Ashely Friedlein of Econsultancy, Stephen Fry described AI as the “great Tsunami that is facing all of us”, with the power to shape the future.  He pointed out that “we are going to have to prepare for a world where people are free to do whatever they want, if AI has a place it’s to do the dull things.”

Fry talked about robots and declared, “boredom causes a lack of productivity and given robots don’t get bored, it makes perfect sense for them to take on these tasks, allowing us to focus on being creative.”

AI is already in our lives whether we like it or not, and we are engaging with it more than we realise. Some of the most innovative brands are tapping in, and from a marketing perspective it is already very much in use; SEO, PPC, social media content creation and email marketing are all forms of AI. Brands such as Netflix and Amazon are using AI to keep customers engaged and continuing to subscribe. Apple use AI to improve their apps, and strengthen their users connection to iPhone. Google’s use of AI can be seen throughout its products, Google photo animation, suggested filters and Gmail rapid replies to emails. We might still be getting used to AI but the possibilities are endless.

In another session ‘B2B Marketers listen up, AI isn’t here to steal your job, it’s going to provide you with the perfect toolkit’, Steffan Aquarone helped to reassure marketers that AI is here to not only make our marketing lives easier, but also to help us to be better at our jobs. Processes made more efficient by technology, enable more time to be spent on analysis and strategy planning. The advice was not to think of AI like a robot trying to steal your job, but to think of it as technology that will make your job easier. AI will take over certain aspects of marketing, however it is more about supplementing existing roles and processes to make them more insightful.

Overall, the advice from a b2b perspective was to embrace AI for marketing automation, and to use AI to help with customer insights and automatically updating CRM systems. Generally, the better AI gets, the better personalisation we can offer in the form of more targeted and relevant messages.

It is important to keep some perspective and to remember that no matter how sophisticated AI becomes, there will always be the need for human interaction to supplement the technology.