The work of B2B marketing team members will be replaced, at least in part, by artificial intelligence tools within the next three years as enterprises focus on things like personalized experiences for their customers, according to a research study from Episerver.
In the Nashua, N.H.-based firm’s B2B Digital Experiences Report 2019: How Companies Are Meeting Rising Expectations, Episerver asked 700 professionals around the world about their key priorities and challenges.
Besides marketing-related functions, 81 per cent of those surveyed said tools like machine learning could assist with product research and development, while 89 per cent saw the potential for AI to simply help make better decisions.
“One organizational function typically absent from ‘the robots are taking over’ conversations is marketing,” the report’s authors noted. “What is needed is a drastic shift in the AI storyline . . . It would benefit business-to-business organizations to consider how employees across job functions can learn the skills needed to work with AI-based technology more closely.”
AI and automation of more routine marketing tasks might be winning over senior executives because they’re bogged down in other areas. For example, 84 per cent said increasing digital expectations of customers and partners is the top threat to their business, with things like personalization (beyond having a customer’s name appear upon login, for instance), a priority for 36 per cent.
There was a disconnect, however, between those in the marketing and those in IT departments over resources and capabilities. While 57 per cent of B2B marketers said they know their digital experience needs improving, only 31 per cent of IT said the same thing. Thirty three per cent of marketers also blamed the issue on disjointed or disparate technology, while only 18 per cent of IT agreed. (Episerver makes content management software, among other products.)
Of course, in many respects the movement towards AI in B2B marketing is already well underway. Earlier this year Demandbase released its own study that said 18 per cent of B2B marketers and sales professionals are currently using the technology, with 66 per cent planning, evaluating or implementing an AI system, and 84 per cent expect to see value from their implementations within a year or less.
Analyst firms such as IDC, meanwhile, have predicted at least 30 per cent of B2B firms globally will use AI to suggest innovative customer experience actions that deliver value from a segment, persona, or individual customer perspective by 2021.