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Artificial Intelligence: Steering The World Towards Smartness
By Deep Varma, VP, Trulia
When we first entered the digital era, many of us might have experienced a trade-off between more efficiency for less personalization. For industries where nuances and emotions play a central role in decision making, a tradeoff of that sort can make or break consumer experiences. By nature, humans want to feel an emotional connection when making a decision. Whether buying a home or calling a bank, we feel more confident in our decisions when we communicate and work with another human. That emotional connection, which started to fade due to the prevalence of digitization, is making a comeback, thanks to Artificial Intelligence.
I define AI as a technology for humans, but not created by humans. It is intelligence created by machines and is intended to improve our lifestyle, or help us make smarter choices. Machines are getting smarter everyday by observing our behavior. We see this happening each time a consumer engages with a Nest Thermostat or searches something on Google. We’re on an exciting path, but before we enter the futuristic world portrayed in movies with robot waitresses and flying cars, I expect we’ll see more and more companies first harnessing the power of AI to bridge emotional gaps and connect with consumers better. This is true of almost any industry – from real estate to entertainment.
Today, real estate companies are taking what was once a very emotional and cumbersome process and are applying technology, like machine learning and Big Data to personalize, streamline, and simplify the process. With continued advancements in AI technologies, like computer vision and user engagement prediction models, we expect consumers to become more confident in their search, helping them to move faster in finding their ideal home.
AI is still in its infancy and not everyone, including product managers and even some executives understand its potential
Much of today’s implementation of AI is centered around content discovery. Netflix is another example of a company tapping into AI for better content discovery. The company has built robust recommendation algorithms that highlight new, relevant content to consumers based on their preferences, and without explicit filters or the search box playing a major role. Not only has this helped Netflix surface new and different recommendations of ‘what to watch’ to consumers, it builds a connection with them. According to a paper published by Netflix, its AI-assisted recommendation system also saves the company $1 billion per year, proving that there are big potential cost-saving benefits to AI for businesses, beyond creating a trusting and loyal fan base.
These are just two real-world examples of how industries and brands can and are implementing AI, and while AI is here to stay, your company should not just implement it for the sake of it. You must first understand the possible ways you can use AI and identify how you want to use it to achieve your goals. For starters, find the pain points that are negatively impacting your business, or different groups within your business, and look at what kind of data is being collected in those areas. If you aren’t collecting any data, start. Once you have enough information, use machine learning or analytics to understand the data and to help you determine what’s causing those pain points. From there, you can explore different options for addressing them. Start small, prove that your model works, and then evangelize it for widespread adoption.
For example, if you work for an online retailer – or any website – and notice there is a high rate of abandonment from visitors after just a short time on your homepage, make small changes, and test the impact. Try personalizing the content you surface and monitor to see if consumers become more engaged with it. If there is a significant improvement, collect the data that shows the impact on the business and explore how you can use machine learning to scale it everywhere on your site.
AI is still in its infancy and not everyone, including product managers, and even some executives understand its full potential. For now, focus on finding small features that can be automated or can be built to engage consumers to show the value of AI, before defining your overarching strategy. The more wins under your belt with AI, the more your audience—no matter their level—will understand its value.
Trulia is a home shopping marketplace providing insights and unique information about properties, neighborhoods, and real estate agents that helps home buyers, sellers, and renters take informed decisions.