Martin Meyer-Gossner moderated a fireside chat with IBM IX’s Paul Papas and marketing cloud specialist Salesforce’s Jon Suarez-Davis on how to deliver smarter, faster, contextual user experiences using AI and machine learning.

Although the companies have been partnered for several years, recently this was extended to deliver a unified AI-powered solution that brings together IBM Watson and Salesforce Einstein through complementary abilities, which Suarez-Davis described as a “marriage of equals”.

Discussing how machine learning is transforming marketing insights and how it can empower marketers to use data in ways that have never been tried before, he reinforced the importance of delivering value back to the marketplace using pattern analysis and speed to market, as well as democratising AI.

Papas talked about how the ‘augmented human intelligence’ of Watson was transforming all professions and extending capabilities, referring to how music producer Alex Da Kid described the system as like “having a million versions of [himself] reading a million books at the same time”.

Suarex-Davis felt that consumers don’t care if an experience is machine-driven or human-driven, as long as it is fantastic. “Marketers want to drive connected, real time experiences,” he continued, citing his company’s success with US Bank “driving dramatic responses, faster time plus more salient experiences”. “I see it as a proof point that AI can deliver the experiences that marketers need, it’s not an either/or – we need to provide humans with the right information to deliver these experiences to brands.”

Papas concurred, as long as people are getting the information they need in a format they can easily consume and extract in a way to drive business.  “How can I add value to someone’s life and how can I use AI to achieve that?” he added, on making the process simpler for users and adding differentiator value, which, “at the core is what a marketer is trying to do every day”.

Marketers need to work out what they are trying to solve, what their strategy is to achieve that and what the learning agenda is in order to focus for success. “Some are going to fail, but they need to learn from it,” added Suarex-Davis.

But what about if the company has no idea what problem it needs to solve?

“We’re living in an incredibly disruptive time,” he added. “You can either be scared or embrace this technology, understand you have to start leaning into it and use data to unearth what you should be focusing on.” Papas felt there has never been a better time to be a creator –  and never been a tougher time to be in business than the present day. “Imagine a world without screens – what does experience design look like? How do you design experiences for humans that are not limited by a form factor?”

Looking to the future, Suarex Davis concluded that “hopefully AI has taken over my job and I’m on a beach in the Maldives”.