Thought Leadership

February 23, 2018

Optimizing Artificial Intelligence in B2B Communications

Alexandra Huber

This is part of a three-part series on Emerging Technologies’ impact on public relations and marketing. Sign up for the CooperKatz newsletter to get relevant insights and updates directly to your inbox.


No matter your industry, chances are your current or immediate future will be impacted by artificial intelligence. And when you touch as many sectors as we do as a PR agency, it’s clear just how greatly this rapidly developing area of technology is impacting businesses across the spectrum.


While Artificial Intelligence is primarily understood based on major consumer applications (think Waze, customer service chat bots or Alexa voice command), its implications are becoming both notable and increasingly significant in the sphere of business-to-business.


Across such B2B sectors as professional services, financial services and more, our clients are engaging with AI from multiple perspectives – including internally with their employees and externally with their clients and partners. For those of you working in similar fields, we break down just a few of the components of how AI is impacting B2B – as well as how to optimize its impact on communications strategy.


Understanding the Implications of artificial intelligence on the Workforce


A recent report from Gartner predicts that Artificial Intelligence will be a top-five investment priority for more than 30 percent of CIOs by 2020. That investment is going to take many forms – and will extend well beyond the purview of the CIO. But when considering AI’s impact, one of the most critical trends to watch is how B2B companies are facing the challenges of adopting AI internally and preparing their workforce for an AI-enabled future.


To date, most of the discussion around AI in B2B has revolved around visions of “impending doom” that it will eliminate the jobs of thousands if not millions of Americans. From language translators to accountants, many roles have been framed as being in some kind of stare-down with AI for their livelihoods.


The reality is there’s a more immediate and realistic issue at hand. And that is how companies can best prepare their workforces to work with Artificial Intelligence, rather than fear it and the hyped idea that they could be outright replaced by it. This is why some technology experts use the phrase “Augmented Intelligence” as a companion (or alternative) to “Artificial Intelligence.” The goal is to more strongly signal that the first and most powerful impact of technologies like machine learning and natural language processing will be to complement or assist human efforts and intelligence.


Yet even when it comes to working alongside AI, there is a steep learning curve to be climbed. A recent Bloomberg article examined the talent gap related to AI. And a study from PwC examining tomorrow’s workforce found that 74 percent of international workers are ready to learn new skills or completely retrain in order to remain employable in the future.


Companies around the world – particularly tech giants – are searching for high-level AI, machine learning and data science experts to build and integrate these technologies. These companies are offering impressive pay packages and other benefits. But there simply isn’t enough talent to fill all these openings.


If the war for AI talent proves anything, it’s that our clients are already internally planning for this transformation. Even beyond the C-suite, employees are looking for opportunities to leverage AI in their workday routines. Communications professionals across all sectors should recognize the potential concerns among stakeholders when it comes to AI’s impact on the workforce, while simultaneously helping communicate the benefits of this technology. If you’re a business leader, lean in to the desire for training – and provide opportunities to expand your employees’ skill sets.


Knowing How AI will Change Your Clients’ Business


In addition to internal AI opportunities and stressors, B2B companies must be aware of and adapt to the same pressures impacting their clients.


Financial services is one industry where the impact of AI is being addressed and planned for from the client side. Whether private or public sector, financial institutions are integrating AI and machine learning into numerous daily functions – from regulatory and compliance, to trading, to automating client interaction.


Banks, for one, are stepping up their fintech investments in 2018. A recent study found that 82 percent of U.S. commercial banks plan to increase fintech investment over the next three years. Technologies such as AI, blockchain and AR will be the primary areas of focus.


To meet the evolving needs of their clients and partners, B2B companies servicing financial institutions and other players are investing time and money into creating AI-enabled products and services that help their financial services clients to optimize their business functions – and offer better, faster and more engaging experiences to end users, like consumers.


One example of this is personalization. According to CooperKatz client Fiserv CTO Marc West, advances in AI could help financial institutions deliver intelligent personalization that rivals the Facebooks, Amazons and Alphabets of the world. Not only will AI improve the day-to-day customer experience, it could bolster other FI operations such as sales. Such AI implementation enables companies to generate customer insights that help easily identify the other products or services a customer truly needs – a cross-sale win-win.


Countless B2B companies across myriad industries are experiencing similar obstacles when it comes to adopting AI. Communications professionals must not only grasp the impact of emerging technologies on your own company, but also the trends of your entire industry.


Artificial intelligence is just one of the emerging technologies we are seeing impact our clients at CooperKatz. Learn more about our work or get in touch here.


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