If there’s one lesson we’ve learned at Dreamforce 2017  it’s that trailblazing marketers are data-driven marketers who can connect engagement to demand for results.

What we’ve also learned at Dreamforce is that trailblazing marketers know how to leverage technology to enable them to find the valuable insights in the enormous amount of data aggregated about their customers. But the biggest takeaway from Dreamforce 2017 is that Artificial Intelligence is the most important change agent, not just for marketers, but for society writ large.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) was identified by all speakers, starting with Salesforce CEO, Mark Benioff’s keynote through to the small group session leaders, as the defining force of this next phase of our lives. AI, machine learning, deep learning technologies are the forces that are, and will continue, powering the 4th Industrial Revolution that is transforming the global economy.

What does AI bring to today’s marketers? It brings the capacity, or the capability to take data sets and put it to work in the pursuit of better outcomes. Those outcomes from the marketing perspective include understanding behavior and intention to reduce customer loss and increase share of wallet and, eventually, begin to predict and anticipate both behavior and need.

Before this all begins to sound a bit like a futuristic Hollywood movie, the trailblazing marketers at Dreamforce also spent a great deal of time talking about the ethics of AI and the importance of putting humans at the center of the decisions that emerge from data-driven marketing processes. Some speakers even preferred to use the term Augmented Intelligence to ensure that human decision makers keep the focus on the human end users and don’t misplace ultimate value on financial outcomes or the technology itself.

How we proceed through this period of disruption, which is moving more quickly than any other revolution both at the macro-level of global business the micro-level of our offices, still needs to be mapped out. As Mark Zill wrote this week for Martech Today “Marketers “get” the concept of AI making better use of their data and helping to increase their effectiveness, but there’s a gap between this basic understanding and putting AI to use.” His prescription to get marketers from understanding to use is to “open the black box” and improve transparency. In doing so, marketers can identify the data points that are most important to the business outcomes they’re pursuing and focus on how AI amplifies their insights.

Dreamforce 2017 laid out an interesting agenda for marketers this past week, whether or not they are formally part of the Salesforce ecosystem. In doing this the company, speakers, product teams, and attendees have done the marketing community a great service in advancing the conversation about data-driven marketing and how we can connect the dots between engagement and demand in the near future.

And we’re certainly looking forward to continuing the conversation with you on Modern Marketing Today! You can connect with us on Twitter and on LinkedIn, to share you insights on this fascinating period of time.

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