THE BLOG
01/06/2017 11:27 am ET Updated Jan 07, 2018

Consumers are Open to Artificial Intelligence, but Quality Experiences are Key

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Sam Costello, Associate Director/Business Analyst, Creative Technology & Innovation, DigitasLBi

At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), dozens of companies selling all kinds of products and services are touting their use of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

AI has been hot for a year or two, and it’s only getting hotter as it becomes incorporated into increasingly novel products and services. Jetsons-style robot assistants for the home were on display on the show floor, boasting intelligence that helps discover and adapt to the layout of your home, identify your family’s habits, recognize faces, learn from conversations, and even control smart-home devices. LG was the biggest name with a new robot, but smaller companies also unveiled compelling options, including Mayfield Robotics’ ultra-cute Kuri and Yumii’s Cutii companion for the elderly. AI-powered robots that used to be the province of science fiction may soon be common in our homes.

Intelligent assistants like Amazon’s Alexa are familiar to millions of families. Alexa expanded its reach with an Echo-style speaker from Lenovo, a child-focused device from Mattel, and integration into TVs, refrigerators, and even new Ford cars. Voice interfaces are quickly gaining ground for consumers’ attention on smartphones; brands should start earmarking marketing dollars for these platforms now.

Other AI tools help computers “see” and recognize objects in real-time and make chatbots and conversational interfaces smarter than ever. AI is even being used by Tellmeplus to help forecast subscriber churn and help industrial machines understand how they can work better and schedule service before they break down.

There’s even a US$130 toothbrush that claims to have AI (spoiler: it doesn’t, really).

Growing Interest in Chatbots

With an ever-growing number of products using artificial intelligence, consumers are ready to embrace the technology. New research by DigitasLBi found that 37% of Americans would trust intelligent chatbots enough to make purchases through them, and would spend an average of $55.80 per purchase.

But while consumers are open to AI, they have a high expectation of quality: the study also revealed that almost 75% would not use a company’s chatbot again after a poor experience.

What AI Is and Isn’t

AI will continue to expand into new products and markets over the next few years. Along with powerful and useful applications, many products and services will grab for the buzzword without really delivering intelligence (remember that toothbrush?).

Artificial Intelligence is much more than a recommendation algorithm or voice interface that can understand a small set of phrases. AI is machine learning that evolves on its own, based on its experiences.

In this transitional stage, when consumers and brands are just starting to truly encounter AI, and because it will be used so much, the average consumer may struggle to separate products that claim to use AI from those that truly deliver on its promise and its value. While AI will continue to be a buzzword and a differentiator, brands that want to use it—and many should—have to ensure they deliver quality intelligent experiences, or risk consumers seeking smarter options elsewhere.