It's the phrase of the moment, but brace yourself. If you work with data, it's coming your way.

Artificial Intelligence (or, simply AI).

I recently attended a user group for a well-known marketing automation system. We use this nifty system to automatically manage various project management tasks within our own CRM. Its use has freed up the PMs from many time-consuming and repetitive tasks; allowing them to concentrate more closely on the more personal connections with our clients. We can already feel the benefit. It's fabulous.

But intelligent, I guess it's not.

At the UG, I was blown away by the quite magnificent use cases from guest speakers demonstrating how they wield this tool with remarkable skill to craft astonishing lead nurturing campaigns of huge complexity. This allowed them to transition swiftly towards a dynamic, intelligent way of connecting with (and selling to) their customers. The proof was in the sales figures. They had previously identified a change in buying habits, following some in-depth market research, and were able to tailor their marketing campaign with as much precision as if they had a real person watching over that consumer, observing and assisting with their decision process. They were trying to answer the question "how do we connect—in more personal way—and meet the changing expectations of our paying customers?"

I agree, that this is blueprint-led analytics at play here, not true AI; but it still made decisions and routed the—tailored accordingly—response. Increasingly cognitive AI tools are being developed which make decisions based on active learning on data behaviour, feeding back insights and re-calibrating and optimising where necessary as new data flows in. How much time could be saved in adjusting campaigns and reacting to changes in the market? The potential is both amazing and a little scary.

There's much debate over whether we want or need this level of scrutiny over our buying thought-processes, or our behaviours on and offline. But there's no denying that it's a siren's call if you are marketing your product to a fickle and well informed consumer with the world at their fingertips.