How can you communicate an Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning story without just adding to the noise?

Over the past decade, we’ve been through a number of “hype cycles” for new technologies. But from the cloud to big data, nothing has shifted the industry narrative quite like machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI). In this blog post we explore how brands can use effective storytelling to communicate an AI or ML story to deliver a high-impact communications strategy.

In part, this has been driven by ‘intelligentisation’ of consumer tech. Catalysed by Apple’s Siri, Google Home and Amazon Alexa, the connected home has led the rise in smart-everything – right down to intelligent routers. However, in many cases, it’s more smart marketing than smart technology.

This exacerbates an already-difficult challenge for companies that are truly developing machine learning or AI-based technologies. They must not only compete for share of voice in their market, but must proactively differentiate themselves, their products and services from the dominant consumer experiences and discussion.

Effective storytelling is critical for differentiation in this hype-fuelled market. And here are our key learnings on how to cut through the noise:

1. Don’t rely on buzzwords and jargon

When everyone’s speaking the same language, it’s very easy to slip into using buzzwords and jargon. But as we previously explored in this blog, there is a psychological phenomenon known as semantic satiation, where continued repetition can cause a word or phrase to temporarily lose meaning – and its arguable many machine learning and AI comms messaging is suffering from this.

Make sure your message isn’t just adding to the noise by cutting the ‘hype’ from your communications – the contrast will only make what you’re saying more interesting and exciting to your audience.

2. Don’t dumb down the tech

Don’t underestimate your audience. One advantage of the buzz around machine learning and AI is that these topic have piqued the interest of many business and technology stakeholders, as well as the media, and has resulted in an audience that is better-read and increasingly savvy to the nuances of the market.

While ensuring your product messaging is accessible, don’t dumb down the technology too much in your comms as this may in turn discredit your solutions.

3. Use metaphors to help tell the story of your

When we look at some of the most famous AI and machine learning brands, one thing they have in common is great storytelling around their technology – and metaphors are a great technique to do this.

Darktrace, for example, perfectly illustrates how its technology autonomously detects and defends against emerging cyber-threats through its “enterprise immune system”, while the comparisons between IPsoft’s digital colleague, Amelia, and the human brain illustrate how she understands, processes, recognises the intent of, then executes requests.

Using metaphors in this way not only helps to explain a potentially complicated product to your audience, but makes it more memorable.

4. Talk about the business benefits

IT purchasing decisions are changing. As the technology landscape becomes more complex and diverse, with an accelerating market constantly introducing new technologies and As-A-Service solutions, many technology leaders aren’t starting with what product they want to buy. Instead, it’s what business challenge they want to solve.

In the same way, centre your narrative around how you can positive change their business – then evidence this through customer case studies and testimonials.

5. Don’t be scared of the big topics

While entering into discussions around computer ethics or “man vs. machine in the workplace” may be scary, given their contentious nature, it’s key that machine learning companies have a clear message around these bigger societal issues.

Business leaders introducing machine learning or AI technologies can face significant concern and resistance from employees, so they need to be armed with an arsenal of messaging that explains how these products responsibly approach this issue.

You don’t need to set up a global ethics board. But providing clear guidance on why your product supports the sustainable evolution of work is key.

While differentiation is critical in this competitive and noisy market, there are still some common ingredients for effective storytelling. With these five key learnings, you can be confident that your messaging will help engage and educate your audience on your story.

Written by Kate Baldwin, Account Director, Business & Technology

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