One of the most significant advances for sales in this decade is the growing sophistication and accuracy of predictive analytics—the science of knowing how and why and when people buy, and the best ways to approach them in sales. Predictive analytics is, in my opinion, one of the most compelling uses of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The sales industry is beginning to catch on. However, inbound marketing and sales (along with many other functions and sectors) must continue to advance their use of AI in the ways their customers will consider useful and welcome, as opposed to invasive or “creepy.”

To that end, my Labs Team at InsideSales.com just completed their newest study on the State of Artificial Intelligence. It’s an interesting read and you can find the executive summary here.

In this report, we asked just under 2,000 people (1,985 respondents) from a variety of backgrounds and locations within the U.S. to give us their perceptions of this disruptive technology. For AI to reach its full potential in sales (and every other applicable industry), it is vital that we understand and respect their opinions well.

In summary, here’s what we learned.

In 2016, the AI market was worth $644 million. In 2017, the market value of AI is expected to double and continue to grow exponentially until it reaches $38.6 billion in less than 10 years.

Consumer-driven companies like Google are leading the charge with more than 11 acquisitions, so far, while business-driven companies like Salesforce, who joined the race more recently, acquired two AI based companies in the last yearAI is here to stay and it’s not just changing the market, it’s shaping the way we live and work.

When it comes to AI adoption, however, most survey respondents are still getting their feet wet, and are split in their use (and opinions) of AI in both their personal and business lives. Outside of work, more than half (54.7 percent) have at least dabbled with the use of AI. About 10.5 percent could be considered early adopters, using AI on a regular basis.

The data suggest that regular use of AI may have a correlation with income. In the survey, 54.6 percent of consumers say they use AI, however, when it comes to the percentage of consumers using AI all the time, 23.3 percent make less than $25,000 per year. This was the largest percentage in all income brackets, with this demographic consistently showcasing a familiarity with AI.

Today’s consumers experience AI primarily through services geared towards travel or entertainment, such as navigation apps (60.3 percent), video streaming (55.2 percent) and music streaming (47.4 percent). These technologies are familiar to consumers, having been in use for a decade or more.

However, the newer uses of AI have yet to hit critical mass. For example, only 12.0 percent of consumers surveyed find AI-enhanced assistants like Amazon Alexa useful so far. Home automation and bots in the workplace are slower to achieve acceptance as well, with only 5.5 percent and 1.0 percent of respondents respectively reporting regular use of these advances in their day-to-day lives.

What Is Holding AI Back? It’s a Matter of Trust

Even as apps and services that rely on AI continue to become more widespread, the results of our survey show that consumers continue to feel trepidation around AI. In fact, when presented with a list of popular AI services, 41.5 percent of respondents could not cite a single example of AI that they trust.

As with many technological advancements, acceptance is growing most quickly on the East and West Coasts. In New England, only 36.6 percent of consumers reported a lack of trust for AI. Similarly, only 38.0 percent of West Coast respondents report lack of trust.

However, nearly half (49.2 percent) of consumers in the Middle Atlantic region (NY, PA, NJ) report a lack of trust in AI and are especially wary of its use in industries that have historically required a human touch (such as financial planning, hiring or medical diagnosis). Only nine percent of respondents trust AI with their financials, and only four percent trust AI in the HR hiring process.

Consumers also have opinions about the companies they trust to lead the AI transformation and to deliver AI technology that reliably works. When asked to select their top three choices of providers, 54.3 percent of consumers ranked Google first. Apple places second with 46.3 percent of responses and Microsoft, at 40.1 percent, narrowly surpasses Amazon, with 39.6 percent, for the number three spot.

What do these results mean for entrepreneurs? For vendors whose offerings are centralized on AI implementation, you have your work cut out for you to demonstrate safety and reliability and to generate trust. However, the rapid growth of AI should clearly indicate that your prospects for success are increasingly high.

For industries that are indirectly impacted by AI (which is perhaps all of them, but most especially sales), the message from this industry research should be clear: Be respectful of privacy, always (for example, your sales prospect may not be eager to have it be visibly evident to others what they’ve been recently shopping for). Demonstrate the uses of AI that deliver convenience (such as routing them to their best purchase options more quickly) or that shorten their unwelcome tasks (such as filling out applications). Let your use of AI be increasingly evident to consumers in the ways they consider a boon.

Written by: Ken Krogue

Source: Forbes

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