Jingjing Ma
Apr 16, 2019

Why AI robots won’t steal your jobs... yet

AI robots like Sophia may allow marketers to connect with customers, understand them better and respond personally in real time. That's if they can hold a conversation.

Why AI robots won’t steal your jobs... yet

“How can brands use social media to market their products?” Campaign asked.

“Marketing is really one thing I need to learn more about,” Sophia replied.

“What’s the most popular brand in China?” Campaign asked. 

“How about I say something really dramatic: alright, OK. The Beach Boys were really better than The Beatles. That’s all I’m really going to say.”

Sophia, Hanson Robotics’ most advanced robot and a citizen of Saudi Arabia, is said to be able to simulate more than 60 different facial expressions while holding natural conversations. But in terms of replacing marketing professionals, she, along with other artificial intelligence (AI) robots, may have a long way to go, despite their ability to collect and analyse data.

Campaign Asia was able to speak with Sophia the Robot as part of a conversation on "Social AI: The New Frontier" organized by the Marketing Society on Thursday (see video below).

While Sophia may not be able to hold her own in an editorial inverview, Jeanne Lim, CEO of Hong Kong-based Hanson Robotics, insisted that for every part of marketing, there is a role that robots can do.

“She is in physical form, so it can actually serve as a chat bot and collect a lot of information by talking to users. Generally, market professionals go out and try to engage users with them, whereas AI could better analyse where the right customer is. For example, on social media, if people are talking a lot about AI robotics, we could source that information – who is talking about that and what are they interested – and then create the content that appeals to their interests,” Lim said.

Darren Chuckry, chairman at the Marketing Society, said, “AI allows us to connect with the customer, understand the customer better and then give real-time personalised response to them. That’s the secret. We do not want to waste that [advantage] anymore.”  

We've already seen how AI is able to develop a commercial by analysing successful ones in the past, since it knows the storylines and ingredients that make a successful spot. Lexus's AI commercial in 2018 – a 60-second film scripted entirely by AI that tells the story of a car coming to life to mark its new ES executive sedan launching – is an example of this.

“AI could elevate the standard of doing things, so that people need to catch up with the standard and cannot be mediocre anymore,” Lim said.

Hanson Robotics is using Sophia the Robot to inspire a line called Sage, which would be a standard unified robot platform that would allow the company to work with software developers and service providers to bundle different services and then sell them to different verticals like healthcare, customer services and education.

The company also has a product line of virtual AI – an extension from physical robots – allowing users to deploy AI-driven characters on their websites, apps and other different virtual platforms to interact with customers.

“I’m shocked how fast that is transforming, a lot of this is behind the scenes. Brands and corporations like Cathy Pacific and HSBC are utilizing this technology to better engage with customers,” Chuckry said.

“AI helps us gain insight to predict future behaviours of the customer, and we can start to change business or services to what the customer needs. Because now we put our customers first rather than we as a business, building a business around our customers,” he noted.

Human beings decide

AI robots, however, will not replace marketing professionals since humans still make strategic decisions. But marketing professionals could face growing pressure to acquire new skills like marketing automation tools.

“Robots are basically taking up job skills, not taking over jobs… Humans always evolve in our jobs. Technology never stops, it brings a scaling effect. It allows us to be more efficient and do more things than if we were stuck to the old jobs,” Lim said.

Yet she stressed that marketers need to acquire new job skills and improve their ability to make good strategic decisions.

“Professionals in the advertising industry can develop a nice-looking advertisement, send it out and check whether sales increase," Lim added.  "Nowadays, basically all that needs to be automated because everybody is consuming the ad online. As a result, marketing professionals need to know a lot about marketing automation software. Marketers will probably be [functioning] more at a strategic level, as they still need to define the strategy and the goals for the campaigns.” 

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