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Dipstick: Are Indian brands using Artificial Intelligence to its true potential?

Artificial intelligence has been the talk of the town for quite some time now but most experts say brands are yet to leverage it fully in India

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is all the rage now-a-days. No conclave, no talks, no discussion is complete without a mulling-over on AI and where India stands when it comes to adapting technology to reach out to its audience.

But with the all the talk, BestMediaInfo.com tries to find out if Indian brands are catching up with artificial intelligence to enhance customer experience? Where do they stand when it comes to adopting artificial intelligence?

MA Parthasarathy

MA Parthasarathy, Chief Product Officer, South Asia, Mindshare

I think it is still at a very nascent stage and we are just scratching the surface but the intent is there. I think the important question is that is it the latest shinny object or is it solving a brand problem? Artificial Intelligence just for the sake of it is not going to do anything. But if that AI is actually helping in targeting the right consumers or if it is helping consumers experience brands in better ways, then it is a good solution and brands that look at it from that lens will start adopting it much faster. People who do it just as gimmick will not sustain.

Hareesh Tibrewala

Hareesh Tibrewala, Joint CEO, Mirum India

No. Indian brands are not using Artificial Intelligence to its true potential. The conversation seems to stop around use of chat bots or intelligent chat bots.

Over the past few years, the digital conversation has moved from “getting engagement” (likes, views, re-tweets), to how digital can actually be a "business driver" (branding and lead generation). I think one more step is required to evolve the conversation to a level where businesses believe that “Business is Digital”. It will require an order-of-magnitude shift in the leadership thinking to be able to reconstruct a business model that leverages the power of data for real-time decision making. At that point of time, the full potential of AI will get exploited.

After all what is AI? It is the ability to create algorithms (rules) that crunch vast amounts of data, to make decisions in real time. The use of AI will not be an incremental leap for businesses, it will have to be an exponential leap.

Latish Nair

Latish Nair, National Director, MediaCom Interaction

If you look at machine learning, which is a subset of AI, from an agency side it has been deployed effectively. Most of the brands have started using data intelligently to target their consumers. If you look from a client side when it comes to using AI for a product or a service-related thing for consumers, the best example are Chatbots, which doesn’t look like it has been scaled up in India minus categories such as banking. I have been told that banks are using it in a big way but personally when I have interacted with brands I have not seen it. So, that is a debatable point. But from an agency side, be it media planning or distribution or inventory or using it for digital media, the machine learning part has taken off in a big way.

Gautam Mehra

Gautam Mehra, Chief Data Officer, Dentsu Aegis Network

The short answer: No

In fact, I would say most marketers across the world aren't yet using AI as effectively as one could. And to be honest, no one will be for the foreseeable future because AI is growing so rapidly. The science and techniques are evolving almost on a daily basis. The data that is being made available to them is ever-increasing and the application of AI is ever-expanding. In such a scenario, to effectively use AI itself is such a tall task. The question we need to ask is, are we as a brand taking the correct first steps? Do we have a ready business problem that we can use AI to solve? And then can we set clear test parameters for success and then expand the use case? Currently, AI is more of a buzzword for many marketers where they want to know more and explore it but are not sure what it can do for them specifically and hence we have a chicken-and-egg situation. We need to break out of it. Have a clear use case, set expectations and act on the results.

Ashish Limaye

Ashish Limaye, CEO APAC, Happy Finish

When it comes to Indian brands we would still have to wait some time before they would want to use it. While, there is no dearth of available data but I think meaningful interpretation of that data merging with intelligence, which is machine learning, is something that is not a very proven skill right now in India. So there aren’t many use cases to the best of my knowledge. So, whatever is built in, people are using that. But to create something specifically, I think we are still scratching the surface on that. Also, brands are very comfortable with the existing ways of reaching out to their consumers, which is using conventional medium like television. TV and print is still very big in India and they are not necessarily linked to do anything with AI.

AI would primarily be a desktop or a mobile-based application which would mean that the consumer data is there with the brand and hence, they can interpret things. That is where I believe we are a little too early or rather we are scratching the surface on that part.

Arnav Ghosh

Arnav Ghosh, Managing Director, Blippar India

AI, generally, is what you embedded in an AR or VR experience. From that level a lot of work has been done but there is still a lot of work happening at the beta level where a lot of start-ups and a lot of platforms are talking to brands saying “What can we do?” There is a lot of work that is happening at the enterprise level and even it is a part of the return on investment (ROI). When you speak about innovations, on a direct consumer level, I think we are still about six months away from doing an innovation which is feasible and will have an impact. What we are doing and what others are doing is pretty much behind the scene. At the end of the day AI has to tick certain boxes for the brand. Some form of AI already works in the system. Most customer care service across all categories which automated through bots, they are technically AI because at the end of the day your machines are responding to human queries. I think all brands want to jump in but they are trying to figure out how relevant it is for the brand at this point in time.

Venugopal Ganganna

Venugopal Ganganna, CEO, Langoor

There are really only three use cases of Artificial Intelligence that we have seen so far:

The first one and the most meaningful one is where we’re applying attribution of revenue against media spend through extensive data modelling. While we’re still in our early days, we are getting to a stage of using intelligent models to come up with future media recommendations based on past learning. We’re also applying some smart logic through marketing automation where we are tying customer data to marketing activities for future learning.

The second one is the flooding and development of chat bots and intelligent assistants to help users. Intelligent assistants like Amazon Echo or Voice haven’t really flooded India to be taken advantage of but you see chat bots on a few sites to handle customer support through automated responses. This also sometimes extends to use of ‘recommendation’ engines on websites which provide intelligent improvements.

The last usage is a lot more ‘image’ led where certain brands are advertising about their use of AI without really meaningfully using it day to day. It’s about being associated with innovation rather than actually applying it in their business meaningfully.


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