It isn't just the searches anymore, we are having conversations with AI

Himani Agrawal, Country Head, Azure and Microsoft, urges marketers to focus on the transforming journey led by not the basic searches but the conversational nature of GenAI

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Delhi: We're witnessing a shift from simply selling products to fostering genuine connections; a new breed of "evangelists" is emerging, said Himani Agrawal, Country Head of Azure and Microsoft. 

“These evangelists are passionate not just about their brands but also about understanding and connecting with customer values. This transformation is fueled by a powerful combination of analytical thinking, creative spark, and the ever-evolving power of AI,” she added.

Agrawal led a thought-provoking session titled "Marketing in the Age of AI: Inspire, Innovate, Integrate" at the 13th edition of the MMA IMPACT India conference at the Taj City Centre, Gurugram on Tuesday. 

Agrawal’s emphasis on how AI can be leveraged to move beyond traditional marketing tactics and create a more meaningful connection with today's purpose-driven consumers isn't something the industry wasn't pondering. But the difference her session made was that it gave clarity to the viewers on where to begin. 

The rise of purpose-driven consumers

The marketing industry has moved past the stages of marketing with a focus on just brand recognition and catchy slogans. Consumers today are increasingly drawn to brands that stand for something bigger – a commitment to social good, environmental responsibility, or creating a positive impact on the world. This necessitates a move beyond self-serving marketing tactics towards a more purpose-driven approach.

AI: The tool for building meaningful connections

This is where AI steps in and becomes a powerful tool for marketers seeking to embrace collective care, highlighted Himani Agrawal in her presentation with CoPilot as a standing example. 

AI can analyse vast amounts of data to understand customer demographics, interests, and values. This allows marketers to personalise messages and outreach efforts, fostering a sense of connection with a wider audience who share the brand's purpose.

Data-driven marketing and community building

However, standing out in this crowded conversation requires more than just enthusiasm. Marketers need to leverage data effectively, converting touchpoints into actionable insights. Personalisation is no longer a luxury, it's a necessity. 

As the BCG report highlights, 70% of CMOs are already utilising AI to personalise customer journeys and maximise impact. AI can not only personalise messages but also track the effectiveness of marketing campaigns in achieving not just sales goals but also social impact objectives. This empowers brands to measure their real-world difference and refine strategies for maximum positive influence. 

“AI can be used to identify and nurture brand advocates within the customer base”, she added. 

The future of marketing: A co-pilot conversation

The question of return on investment (ROI) for AI-powered strategies is a valid one. The answer lies in embracing a proactive approach. Delaying implementation could mean losing your competitive edge. As the presentation emphasised, the true cost lies in inaction – the cost of being left behind in an evolving marketplace.

The future of marketing holds exciting possibilities. We can expect AI-powered conversations between agents and virtual assistants, ushering in a new way of doing business, one that retains the core principles of marketing while adapting to a more interactive landscape. 

A great example that stood out was how easy generating marketing jingles using Azure OpenAI has become, Agrawal said adding that it hints at the creative potential of AI. 

“It is all about Multimodality – the ability to integrate different forms of communication. It is becoming a reality, opening doors for richer and more engaging experiences,” Agrawal said.

Moving ahead from how AI is serving in grabbing consumer eyeballs, Agrawal spoke about "granular" data – the insights gleaned from a deep understanding of customer behaviour. This data, along with the consolidation of existing information sources, forms the bedrock of personalisation. It empowers marketers to create valuable features and experiences tailored to individual needs.

But data management need not be a laborious process, she reiterated. 

Through her session, she emphasised the power of user-friendly dashboards that streamline analysis and offer marketers a "shortcut" to actionable insights. Imagine a single source of truth, where data receives context and becomes a co-pilot in marketing conversations.

Agrawal painted a picture of a future where AI empowers marketers to move beyond recognition and forge genuine connections with consumers. 

By leveraging AI for data-driven personalisation, social impact measurement, and community building, brands can not only thrive in the evolving marketing landscape but also contribute to a positive future. 

The era of conversation is here, and cohesively agreed upon by a room full of bright minds looking at innovation and AI - one could say that AI is the potential co-pilot to help marketers navigate the industry landscape successfully.