The robots are coming. Or so we would be led to believe. From pop culture to the corporate echelons of Wall Street and beyond, artificial intelligence is a hot topic. Which jobs will be replaced by a mechanized upgrade on human capacity, what services will become obsolete as the computers take over, who will be in charge?

Disruptive technologies are going to have a seismic impact on business and we've really only seen the start of it. The temptation is to integrate technologies as quickly as possible to ensure your business is at the absolute forefront: look at early adopters such as Amazon, a brand synonymous with clever use of AI, or Google who spent a staggering $400 million on AI start-up Deep Mind back in 2014. And it goes beyond B2C, with applications in the realms of healthcare, public safety, education and pioneers like IBM Watson alluding to the potential AI has to radically change every facet of our lives.

But investment in AI is also, to an extent, investing in the unknown. As a technology in its relevant infancy, do you take the leap into the dark now for fear of missing out in the future or is a more tentative approach best? Indeed, are there areas you should be prioritizing ahead of what is still an evolving offer?

Vast swathes of industry are facing this question right now. And, in the ongoing pursuit of innovation you can see why shiny, new tech is an alluring prospect. But at the heart of AI lies a critical question--if machines are to really simulate human capabilities, how will they learn the emotional instincts we possess? Particularly in industries driven by human desire, it's critical to understand how the human mind works alongside AI to instill a more grounded, human approach to innovation. Indeed, how can you unite emotional intelligence with artificial intelligence to speak to your customers in a more authentic way, whether they are buying sneakers or dealing with cyber-security threats? Here are a few guidelines. 

Embrace empathy.

You need to know your customers--nothing new there. But as data and tech become an increasingly important tool for understanding, there is a danger of losing audience empathy in the plethora of facts, stats, and cold, hard insights. Empathy is what connects us, what makes us human. While machines handle the facts and figures, it's critical that brands and businesses explore the human truths of their audience and apply an empathetic position to the way AI is employed. By showing emotional intelligence towards the consumer, we are more likely to land on the solutions and innovations that will truly benefit their lives.

Create friction.

Machines work best when operating flawlessly, following the exact blueprint from which they were designed. Humans meanwhile are built to adapt. Artificial intelligence is lauded for its potential to create smooth process for consumers, but unencumbered journeys aren't everything. Introducing more friction to a situation can create a stronger, more human element.

Less is more where value is amplified.

Understanding the emotional intelligence behind choice is critical; you may think that a wealth of options is appealing but in reality it can be overwhelming and even a hindrance. Research shows that when faced with a glut of possibilities people often become less satisfied when they finally land on the final decision, plagued by the thought they could have chosen better. Don't bombard your audience with a myriad of choices spooled out from the machine, instead acknowledge their emotional need for value and deliver the right benefits rather than endless benefits.

Stop acting like AI.

In other words, stop trying to predict the next response. Humans are curiously complex creatures, contradicting their past preferences on a regular basis and changing their minds on a whim. When companies try to predict these needs and wants too restrictively, funneling into personalized products and services, it comes with an imminent expiration date. Understand that consumers are fickle, so appeal to the practicalities of their needs over the fads and trends for a more impactful relationship.

Marry AI with EI.

When the time is right and forces have aligned, diving into AI may well be the best thing you can do for your business. Feed technology with the right human ideas and the end result will be incredible powerful, with the sum of all parts working far better than either in isolation.

Published on: Feb 5, 2018