AI at Home and in the Office


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It will be no surprise to regular readers of this column that I can be a bit of a skeptic when it comes to new technology. I don’t stand in line for the new iPhone. In fact, I’m usually a few generations behind, preferring to wait until the reviews are in on new features. I like to know exactly what I want and need in a device before I buy one—and I keep the gadgets to a minimum. But lately, I’ve been thinking about bringing a robot into my house.

I have a dog and a cat. I devote more of my life than I’d like to admit to cleaning up tumbleweeds of fur. In fact, I have to vacuum—or Swiffer—every day if I want to truly stay on top of the mess. It goes without saying that I rarely achieve that goal. So I recently decided it’s time to invest in a robotic vacuum. I’ll be able to cancel the daily reminders to vacuum that pop up on my phone and instead schedule the robot to do the work for me. Some of you might be realizing that I’m more than a little late to this party. Robot vacuums started making their way into homes a decade or so ago. Meanwhile, an entirely different kind of artificial intelligence (AI) is infiltrating homes.

Sure, many people invited AI into their homes this past holiday season with the purchase of an Amazon Echo or Google Home. Not me, though. I found my boyfriend browsing the web in search of one of these voice-activated assistants, and I quickly pointed him to the story of an Arkansas murder trial in which Echo recordings were being used as evidence. Call me crazy, but no amount of convenience is worth having a device in my house that is always recording.

I won’t deny that the convenience of these devices appeals to me. I listen to NPR and podcasts all day while I toil away in my home office. Having my own assistant to bark demands at—that can also give me news updates and other content—would be a hoot, and it might save me some time. Maybe someday someone will convince me these benefits are worth the potential loss of privacy.

There are plenty of people out there who don’t need to be convinced that AI is for them—and many of them are in your company. They may even be in your department—especially if you work in digital marketing. Over the past few months, I’ve been inundated with pitches and news stories about the rise of AI. Here’s just a sample of the kinds of AI-related topics we’ve covered recently:

  • “Report Reveals the Future of Content Must Adapt to AI, Voice Search, and Hyper-Local”
  • “Machine Learning in Your Marketing Mix”
  • “How AI Is Impacting Content Marketing”
  • “The Year AI-First Will Become the New Mobile-First”

Yes, it’s safe to say that it’s time to get on the AI bandwagon—at least in the office. The fact is, most marketers know that their industry is being changed by machine learning and AI. But they aren’t all preparing for that future. According to a BrightEdge survey, 32% of respondents believe AI is the next big thing, but 57% are not likely to implement any element of it this year. On a related note, 66% of marketers have no plans to begin preparing for voice search, even though 31% of them believe it is the next big thing. Add to that the knowledge that more than 20% of all mobile searches are done using voice capabilities, and it seems like many marketers are risking falling behind the curve. Not only do you risk becoming obsolete in your organization if you don’t stay on top of emerging trends and technologies—you risk disappointing potential customers.

Forget about all the Echo Dots sold last Prime Day—there are millions of people with smartphones in their pockets who are performing voice searches. Now is no time to take a page out of my playbook and hang back skeptically. Stand out from your competitors by being on the cutting edge of AI.   


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