Artificial intelligence can thank Hollywood for its bad rep. Movies like "Ex Machina" and the "Terminator" series conjure up futuristic doomsday scenarios where intelligent machines wreak havoc on humans.
However, in real life, humans are already surrounded by artificial intelligence. Amazon and Netflix recommendation engines suggest books or movies based on previous selections, Google Now reroutes drivers around traffic accidents on the commute home, and smartphone digital assistants like Apple's Siri and Microsoft's Cortana answer questions about the weather and sports scores.
Brands are using artificial intelligence to build better customer experiences and they're just getting started. IDC predicts that global spending on cognitive systems will reach $31.3 billion by 2019. Accenture found that AI could double economic growth rates by 2035 and boost labor productivity by 40%.
While there's an undeniable lure of AI delivering cost savings for businesss, the greater goal for marketers is using it to make the brand experience more personalized and predictive.
"It's one thing to redesign a digital experience, or make over a website or an app, but it's quite another to add the power of thinking and cognitive computing into embedded experiences," said Robert Schwartz, VP-global digital marketing at IBM.
Probably the most public face of AI today is IBM's Watson, the cloud-based cognitive engine "that can think like a human" that uses natural language processing and machine learning. Watson now works with dozens of brands in 45 industries across 20 countries.
Campbell Soup Co., Unilever, Toyota and GSK Consumer Healthcare are using Watson Ads, a cognitive system for advertising. Incorporating data from Weather Company, which IBM bought in 2015, Watson Ads helps brands offer relevant one-to-one brand experiences built on new consumer and product insights uncovered by Watson. Consumers can now ask Watson for Campbell Soup recipe ideas with answers built around weather, personal preference, past choices and even groceries on hand.