Artificial intelligence, better known as AI, is being touted as having the ability to reshape the global economy. Not a new technology, AI is now gaining mainstream traction, similar to what happened with the Internet boom in 1995[i].

It’s even influencing customer experience by teaching computers how to learn and make decisions like humans do. AI applications such as deep learning, which helps computers recognize patterns in massive amounts of data, can have a huge impact on the way organizations leverage the data they collect.

As AI becomes more mainstream, it will undoubtedly help brands develop intelligent, personalized experiences for customers, aided by the shift to online shopping which increases the amount of data brands can collect from consumers.

It’s no longer just science fiction, AI’s potential business applications are increasingly becoming reality. Consumers now expect AI technology such as virtual reality, chat bots and augmented reality—all of which were built for entertainment, gaming and science applications (Pokémon GO is an example of an AI-based augmented reality game)—to be part of their shopping experience. And, they expect it all to be available on their mobile devices.

Examples of AI in action in e-commerce include[ii]:

  • Gift selection: Used by online merchants to suggest appropriate gifts, behaving like a personal assistant, as it learns the shopper’s preferences.
  • Product selector: Retailers allows customers to use natural language processing to get product recommendations tailored to their needs.
  • Supply chains/inventory levels: Used by merchants to manage inventory and avoid being out of stock—or having too much merchandise on hand.

So, how does AI apply to online communities? AI enables community managers to harness and recognize patterns, recommend next best actions, predict outcomes and automate processes, helping them become smarter about their members.

AI also indicates a shift in how data is viewed. Instead of looking back at analytics from the past, there’s more of a real-time sense of what community members want. Enabling community managers to interact with members in the way they prefer.

Brands can expect AI technology to continue to play a larger role in online communities, as they attempt to sift through all the data collected and do it faster so that it can be leveraged to impact campaigns in progress. For example, AI helps community managers pinpoint patterns in members’ comments much more quickly so that the needed data can be pulled and plugged into campaigns immediately.

One example of AI in action at FUEL CYCLE is FUEL CHAT, a chatbot that allows brands to engage with customers in a more interactive and natural format than would a traditional survey. It works with mobile devices through conversational interactions with a pre-programmed bot, allowing brands to get to know their customers on a deeper level by providing richer insights.

In addition to one-on-one conversations, FUEL CHAT can also be used to build structured chat sessions with in-the-moment feedback via messaging. All data from chat sessions is fed into a robust reporting system which allows for advanced analysis of trends, sentiment and keyword research.

There’s no question that those who leverage AI technologies will have a leg up on the competition. Savvy community platform providers will look to AI to improve customer experience across the board, increasing understanding of consumers and forging stronger connections with them.