The impatient consumer opens the door for AI adoption

Accenture has released new research which indicates the impatient and increasingly demanding digital consumer is driving artificial intelligence adoption.

The ‘2017 Accenture Digital Consumer Survey’ has set out a number of bold claims, however the team has hit the nail on the head with the growing importance of artificial intelligence. Over the last couple of months ‘sexy’ technology breakthroughs such as virtual reality and ultrafast broadband have grabbed the headlines, though AI has slowly been creeping more and more into the day-to-day lives of consumers. These incremental introductions have been chipping away at AI resistance, and it would seem AI is beginning to penetrate mass market.

If 2016 was the year for XXX, then 2017 could be the breakthrough year for AI. We’re only one week in and evidence of this is already prominent. Over the Christmas period, IBM’s Watson has been claiming menial white-collar insurance jobs in Japan, and the autonomous vehicle has been at the forefront of CES in Las Vegas with dozens of new products and concept cars being announced. Accenture’s research backs up the idea of 2017 as the year of AI.

The Accenture team claim 84% of 14-17 year olds are currently using, or interested in using an AI-driven personal assistant, as well as 70% of the 18-34 year olds category as well. While there are some pretty impressive use cases and practical implementations of AI right now, the technology is still in its early stages of development; the real innovations are yet to come. Considering the high adoption rates in two categories, those seen as highly attractive demographics for many brands, AI is in a very strong position at this early stage.

Another side point is the digital awareness of these two demographics. Both could be considered digital native, or at least digitally driven, with social media playing a central role in their lives, whereas older demographics are linked to the ‘analogue’ age.

These are consumers who are much more likely to engage with the rest of the world through social media, meaning AI could be offer a strong springboard through social media advocacy from these demographics. It’s a small point, but one which could speed up the mass market acceptance of a potentially controversial technology.

The research also highlighted one of the main drivers for the adoption of artificial intelligence is the impatience and demanding-nature of the digitally orientated consumer.

The rise of the internet has created many opportunities for entrepreneurs and small businesses, but it has also changed the dynamic of the customer relationship. Customers were previously controlled by simple parameters such as location, time and social standing. For example, to be a customer of bank in ‘the good old days’ you realistically had to be in the right geography. A meeting with a member of staff was not unusual (to open a bank account for instance), so you had to be local. The internet has removed the necessity for locality as many interactions can take place online, at any time of the day; the power is now in the hands of the demanding and impatient consumer.

This has now created a consumer which expects to be able to search for, enquire about and ‘purchase’ services and goods at anytime anywhere. It doesn’t matter if you are in Kuala Lumpur at 3am, the customer expects to be able to contact his bank. Businesses need to respond to this demand, otherwise the door opens up for a disruptive challenger brand to make a move; AI could be one of the most cost effective solutions.

The Accenture research states 52% of respondents interact through AI-powered live chats or mobile apps on a monthly basis now, with 85% feeling it’s easier to get in touch with AI, and 62% stating they are already comfortable with an AI application responding to their query. The perceived benefits of AI over human advisors is as follows. 82% say it’s available anytime, 68% say it’s less biased and 68% say they will experience faster engagement.

In the business world, the automation of simple and repetitive tasks is driving the adoption of AI, but the ‘right here, right now’ attitudes of the consumer the opening the door as well. 2017 certainly could be a good year for AI, just as long as we don’t learn the virtue of patience.

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