Hunter Hastings talks to Will Dinkel, CEO of Nova.ai, an intelligent platform for outbound sales and marketing — and a great example of AI as a tool for everyday tasks of everyday businesses of all kinds.
AI has come a long way in a short time. Ten years ago, we always had to have a “human in the loop” for any task that could be made more productive with software. It could never be so productive as to not use human labor. And often that labor was very inefficiently deployed. Will cited the example of tracking labels and numbers on shipping containers — software could record the data, but humans still had to interpret it.
AI is available and relevant for entrepreneurs and small businesses today. Emerging technologies — including AI, Platforms, Apps and Global Exchanges — augment the capacity of individual entrepreneurs: AI is a business tool and a creative tool for entrepreneurs right now.
Outbound sales and marketing is a practical application of AI in a critical everyday activity. The specific area of application we talk about is personalization — which increases engagement and results. Personalization can generate as much as a 10X increase in sales effectiveness. Without AI it’s very labor intensive — 94.2% of the typical enterprise sales team’s budget is labor. With AI, personalization is very much less labor intensive, very effective, and potentially self-improving over time.
Personalization of sales messaging via AI is an example of bringing machine intelligence to empathy. In episode 5, Peter Klein explained the pivotal role of empathy in entrepreneurial success. With AI — in combination with the empathic entrepreneur — we can make empathy work for us more intelligently, more intensively and with greater analytical rigor.
Machine learning accumulates data over time and, via regression, uses it to make better decisions. When Netflix recommends “British mid-century dramas with a strong female lead” for your viewing enjoyment, it has accumulated your input data (searching, for example), and your output data (what you actually watch) and identified the most dominant co-varying themes in order to identify a recommendation you are highly likely to accept. Initially, the model needs a human in the loop to help it become accurate, but over time it can operate autonomously.
Nova.ai is an example of an application of AI that has become much more broadly capable over time at helping humans perform better. Initially, it was able to identify snippets of sentences and information that were effective in increasing outbound e-mail sales productivity by +40%. Now it can focus on the much broader role of the seller — in a process called Intelligent Customer Management — by sifting through all the data a salesperson has to deal with, identifying the major time sinks associated with it, and lifting the burden by providing analyses and recommendations for the most productive actions.
The future increase in AI productivity will come from it knowing more about the individual user. Currently, AI can sort through data intelligently, but it knows far less about the human user of the data. When that gap is closed, AI productivity will ascend to a new level. Imagine a nutrition bot that knows all your personal health and eating and exercise data. When scanning data in front of your eyes — like a menu or a deli counter — it will be able to make truly personalized, and perhaps life-extending, recommendations.
A.I. productivity will be available to all businesses, big and small. AI will be very egalitarian. Everyone can access it, and the upfront cost is low. In the first industrial revolution, capital intensiveness limited the access to opportunity. Not many had enough capital to build a railroad or a steel mill. In the era of AI, we can all access training in coding and AI and machine learning on Udemy or Coursera or one of many other learning platforms.
A good place to start is to open a Github account. Gitub is free at the basic level, and anyone can search for AI applications in any subject of interest. Everyone should have a fundamental programming education and Github is a great place to explore. Nova.ai is the place to find out about Intelligent Customer Management.