The Weather Company (IBM) on AI: Mindshare@Cannes

While at the Cannes Lions Festival, we took some time to sit down with a few of our partners to find out what advice they have for marketers, and what they need to adapt for in 2020. The Weather Company CMO Jordan Bitterman tells us why machines will never truly be able to replace human creativity.

For brands looking to dip their toe into the world of Artificial Intelligence, where do you suggest they start?

The power of AI is that it enables organizations and machines to work together to make decisions faster, better and aided by cognitive technology. Where to start is entirely dependent on the goals of each brand – not just marketing goals, but business goals. If the top priority is customer service, then that’s the place to apply it. But, the same is true for logistics, yield management and, of course, advertising.

Equally important: what mistakes do brands need to avoid once they’ve gotten involved in AI?

There is so much that AI can be applied to, that it’s kind of like being a kid in a toy store: ‘I want this, I want that.’  While cognitive has an infinite number of uses, the mistake will be trying to do too much at once. I would suggest picking a challenge to solve and focusing on it.  Get in there, learn what you need, hire the right people, partner well and iterate as you go.

The year is 2020. If you can only pick one, what industry do you think will be using way more AI than anyone might expect?

Various reports suggest that cognitive is gaining traction early on in financial services and retail.  Beyond those, I would expect travel and transportation to be big areas of growth.  Autonomous driving will powered by AI and IoT.  And, by 2020, the experience we have as business and leisure travelers will become more personalized and frictionless by airlines and hoteliers.

When is the singularity happening?

A year ago, I would have said that this notion was a complete fantasy, but if we change this term to “partial singularity” – meaning: some sort of merging between people and machines – I think we will see evidence of this within 5-7 years. For many of us, we are already never more than 2 feet from our smartphones. The logical progression is to embed that hardware into our skin. And, yes, I can’t believe I just said that!

How do you ensure a balance between creativity & adaptive strategies in the marketplace? 

We will never get to the place where machines replace creativity because the bar for creativity will only go higher because of what machines enable.