What have been the latest trends or technological advancements that currently affect communications for businesses and organisations?
In terms of technological trends, there are two major ones. The first is machine learning and the second is artificial intelligence. They both affect how businesses are communicating in more ways than one. We have seen ourselves move from mass marketing and mass communication to more targeted digital platforms. There has been a transformation there. More companies today are using more automated tools in their communications whether it is automated replies, scheduled email marketing, or chatbots on websites among others. This was increased due to the pandemic and having to find a way to meet people without physical contact.
The most common new tools are chatbots and other customer relationship management tools. They have also started to take on more AI tools to track customer behavior like how often a customer communicates with you, how often they purchase, the nature of their inquiries and more.
With every advancement, the newer tools are being incorporated into the old ones. For example, OpenAI’s Chat GPT and similar technology might become the new preferred search engine, learning and online research tool.
What are the clear benefits of these advancements?
In terms of automation, it is most beneficial to small and medium sized businesses that may not have the budget to hire individuals to perform some of the communication tasks. You can automate part of the process and leave the team to focus on more complex tasks.
These new tools make work easier, faster and more efficient, especially when it comes to tracking and keeping records. The good thing with some of these tools is that they know when to hand over the conversation to a human resource once capacity has been reached.
Gathering insights on your clients and audiences is probably the biggest benefit for communicators today because almost every tool that is introduced has back-end analytics that helps us understand the audiences and customers better.
It is tools like these and CRM tools that help us understand and engage with our clients and audiences better.
Another benefit is that we are not mass communicating anymore and these tools help us to narrow down and target audiences. These tools have helped us cut across boundaries physically, socially and economically to reach the audiences we intentionally want to reach and therefore reduce certain communication limitations.
Are they 100% beneficial or replacements for communications professionals and brands?
My theory is that it is not possible for AI to completely replace the humanity element in communication. Our role in comms is to create brands with an element of humanity and an identity that our audiences can relate to. How do they behave when they are successful, how do they treat their most loyal clients, how do they handle a crisis – these are elements that are almost human like and AI has to work hand in hand with comms experts to have the best outcome.
My advice is that let the AI tools do what they are made to do, what they do best and where they lack capacity, let the human element take over.
Leverage the strengths of both your human resources and the technological support in order to get the perfect combination.
What challenges do you foresee in the industry if the line between AI and human intervention is not drawn?
I might not be exactly accurate with how far the inventions will go but we always learn a lot along the way. The thing about communication and marketing is that it is always evolving just like the people you are communicating with, and their environments are always evolving. The best strategy is to adapt and customize interventions. Have we completely done away with the traditional form of communication? Absolutely not, but we have leveraged off every advancement for example you will see a TVC that will include prompts for the website and socials. AI has their advantages, but it is important that people do not assume that it will replace very many roles in the industry.
It will be easier to create campaigns, put out content and so on but a balance needs to be created between what AI deals with and what humans handle.
Without that balance, either you will have to suffer the lack of human interaction, or you will be left behind because you have refused to embrace the new tools.
What is your piece of advice to professionals as they interact with AI and all new technological developments?
To communications professionals, Up-skill and Diversify so that you can know which parts to automate and which parts to focus on.
Small business and organization owners. There are normally several priorities that need to be considered in your budget. If AI will save money on your budget, please embrace it.