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Enterprise AI to target attention deficit-addled customers

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AI will define the next 12 months, says consultant Brent Leary, because it can help capture the consideration of attention-taxed customers, and can put companies a cut above their competition.

Artificial intelligence is the buzz phrase on everyone's lips. But for sales and marketing, enterprise AI is becoming integral to capturing customers in an increasingly fast-paced environment.

Without new tools like artificial intelligence (AI), experts say, companies may lose customers to more nimble players. With the web and the democratization of information access, capturing customer attention needs to happen faster.

"[Companies] have to quickly make the case, and don't have a lot of time to do it," said Brent Leary, a partner at CRM Essentials. "If you don't connect with that customer at the optimal time on the website, on the mobile app, how much are you missing? You may not just be missing out on that one transaction; you may be missing out on the full customer lifecycle."

According to Leary, enterprise AI and machine learning are mature enough to shed light on customers and products in ways that companies can use to acquire and retain prospects in an increasingly cutthroat environment.

Leary predicted that artificial intelligence will be the defining trend during the next 12 months, with technologies such as chatbots and the internet of things (IoT) affecting the customer experience.

"Over the next year or so, it's going to be pretty much all about AI, machine learning and deep learning," Leary said.

He also predicted that AI could breathe life into the IoT market, which has matured more slowly than the initial hype suggested.

Leary described a maintenance scenario with a lawnmower: If the machinery has an installed IoT device, it can provide information about maintenance needs for the machinery, even before the customer or the company is aware that service is needed.

"Where IoT hasn't moved as fast, it will move a little faster as AI [and] machine learning get baked into the platforms and people start understanding what they have and what they can do with it," Leary said.

Leary also noted the importance of what have been dubbed conversational interfaces -- a user interface that is computer-generated, but that mimics a human being. These interfaces, including Amazon Echo, Amazon's Alexa, Microsoft Cortana, Apple's Siri and so forth, are poised to make an impact in the coming year. These digital assistants can help us access information more quickly, order products and complete other tasks.

"[The Echo] has created a phenomenon. It will be interesting to see how the enterprise adopts it … for B2B companies," Leary said.

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