By Andrew Bredenkamp
There’s a lot of talk in the media these days about artificial intelligence (AI). On the one hand, there’s been a steady flow of stories about how AI is being used in incredible ways to tackle complex challenges and automate decision-making. From time to time, we even see shining examples of some of AI’s more publicized achievements. Remember when IBM’s Watson successfully defeated a couple of former champions on “Jeopardy!” back in 2011? What about AlphaGo’s amazing performance in the GoGames earlier this year?
Despite the hype, not everyone thinks that AI is a good thing. Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak, and Bill Gates are among the prominent voices warning about the potential dangers of AI. Despite their fears of a potential doomsday scenario, the reality is that AI is many decades away from becoming sophisticated enough to be a potential threat. That leaves plenty of time to put the safeguards in place to ensure that never happens. Suffice it to say that I wouldn’t lose any sleep worrying about whether or not the machines will eventually rise up against us.
I bring this up not just because I find it all fascinating, but also because AI is becoming an increasingly important part of marketing and, more specifically, of content. A growing number of companies are using AI to do all sorts of things ranging from natural language generation to content analysis to the content optimization that our own product, Acrolinx, makes possible.
When it comes to deciding what, if anything, you and your company should be doing about AI and your content, you’ve really only got three choices:
- The first is to bury your head in the sand and keep doing things the way you always have. That means having an army of writers and editors on staff who you train to write just the way you want them to so that they know your products and all of your style guidelines. The problem is that this is an expensive proposition and one that doesn’t easily scale. If you suddenly find yourself needing to double your content output, you’re going to be hard pressed to oblige for many months until you’ve hired and trained all of the right people. That hardly seems practical.
- At the other end of the spectrum, we’ve got option two, which is to go all in on AI. Having realized that AI can automate content creation for you, you might decide to fire all of your writers and let the machines take over. It would be faster, scalable, and a whole lot cheaper. But hold on, there’s a problem here too. The fact is that we’re a long ways away from the point where these technologies can replace human writers in most capacities. If you were to rely on AI right now, you’d find that your content would no longer accurately reflect your brand, engage your audience, or do any of the other things it’s supposed to do. It just wouldn’t work. Maybe 25 years from now it will be a different story, but not today.
- That leaves us with option three, which by now you’ve probably guessed is your best bet. It’s embracing AI as a way to augment and enhance what you’re doing, without ever removing the human element from the equation. The fact is that AI technologies can be incredibly effective at helping you create better content faster than you otherwise could. Content that’s on-brand and on-target. But it needs to be used in collaboration with your content creators, gently nudging them with the appropriate guidance while they write and offering the governance necessary to ensure consistency. In other words, you can’t simply rely on these technologies blindly. To reap their benefits, you have to embed them into your existing teams and workflows.
Creating great content is incredibly important. In case you missed it, here’s our latest research that offers up some hard data that explains why. As we look ahead, those companies that create high-quality content that helps them connect with their customers will continue to have a real competitive advantage. In our view, the companies that can leverage AI to help them on that journey will be able to do so better, faster, and cheaper than everyone else. Talk about stacking the deck in your favor.