A key challenge for CMOs selling AI products is that the software has to deliver on the promise. For that reason, marketers need to be careful setting customer expectations about what can be achieved and the work involved to get there.

“Right now, artificial intelligence can be anything anybody wants it to be,” Adam Howatson, CMO of OpenText told Which-50.

Which-50 spoke with executives from OpenText last week about the company’s AI and analytics platform Magellan, which was launched in July 2017.

B2B marketers should be attuned to how their customers plan to use AI-driven platforms, he said.

“I need to be accurate because if I break your trust, you’re never going to come back to me again as a customer,” Howatson said.

Part of the challenge around marketing and selling a product like Magellan is that every time an AI platform is deployed it’s attempting to solve a different business problem and based on specific data sets.

For example, one early Magellan customer is US-based Ernest and Julio Gallo Wineries which is using the data science platform to inform its manufacturing and forecasting decisions.

As a distributor, Gallo does not have a direct relationship with consumers and plans to use Magellan to analyse data sources such as social media feeds and reviews from online wine clubs to understand consumption habits.

“There are so many variables [to forecast inventory] it starts to grow beyond the capacity for a human to do that modeling prediction accurately. So, if they can do that using an AI platform like Magellan, I think they will reap benefits and it will give them a competitive edge,” Howatson said.

Gallo signed the deal with OpenText towards the end of 2017. Now data sources need to be integrated into the platform and algorithms need to be built.

“I don’t know of an AI platform that you just install out of the box and go. Where is the predict wine manufacturing capacity button?”

Barriers to adoption

Another concern around AI is the price tag and the lack of a clear business case.

OpenText is positioning Magellan as “a low-cost platform that you can iterate with” said Patricia Nagle, VP of Global Alliances at OpenText, adding most AI technologies in the market are “an expensive proposition.”

“A lot of this you don’t get it right the first time. As delivered, the technology doesn’t do anything. The real smarts are in the algorithms that you design and develop,” Nagle said.

Albert Nel, OpenText VP of Sales, APAC, told Which-50 the company plans to target its existing customer base in mining and resources, banking, and government.

Anecdotally Nel’s experience matches the research around AI adoption; customers are interested in the potential of AI but aren’t ready to commit to any major deployments. Instead, they are still experimenting with pilot projects.

“From an AI point of view, we do see North America and Europe taking the lead with Australia lagging behind,” Nel said.

He expects the scale of AI pilots to ramp up over the next two years, followed by aggressive adoption.

Looking at the numbers, 84 percent of executives globally believe AI can provide a competitive advantage but just 23 per cent of organisations have incorporated AI beyond pilot programs, according to a report from MIT Sloan Management Review.

Closer to home and a recent survey of 200 Australian organisations found only 14 per cent of Australian companies have adopted AI, compared with the global average of 23 per cent.

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