“In the digital marketing context, AI can create hundreds of variations of a creative to show to different cohorts at different dayparts, different devices, and so forth. AI doesn’t get bored or tired. It doesn’t have an ego.” – Karthi Kumar Marshan, President and CMO, Kotak Mahindra Bank.

We had a great opportunity to have an insightful discussion with one of the finest marketing brains of our country – Karthi Kumar Marshan, President and CMO, Kotak Mahindra Bank. Marshan shared these snippets about a stimulating and well-rounded programme on artificial intelligence (AI) powered marketing that is happening with the collaboration of IIM Calcutta and TalentSprint.

Marshan has a rich metier of stellar brand launches, marketing problem solving, usability engineering, marketing partner development, and marketing strategy development. Before joining Kotak, he also co-founded Sharekhan and held key positions at South Asian Television and Marsh, a leading insurance broker, and risk adviser. He gave an apt curtain-roller to this innovative and interactive 6 months online AI-Powered Marketing Programme that will soon kick-start its first cohort. He did so by pulling out the description of artificial intelligence in some Hollywood movies. For instance, ‘The Imitation Game’ shows a particular human quirk for an intelligent machine to crack the code of an enemy machine in a war situation. He dispelled the movies’-borne myth that artificial intelligence will take over the world by underlining the role that humans have to play in the AI-part of the future. He also reminded of the high-order goals that humanity should keep in mind while using artificial intelligence.

A brief excerpt from Marshan’s inaugural address

For the marketing domain, the impact of regression modeling and reverse engineering of consumer behaviour would be vital areas to understand AI’s value. AI’s insights can be both the source of a substantial opportunity and also a dangerous ethical dilemma for the marketer.

We want to solve human problems. But do we want to get under the human skin?

AI in marketing can solve many challenges

  1. Better and easier research (like brand recall research that approaches the right set of respondents)
  2. Precise customer segmentation without invasion of customer comfort
  3. Smart and courageous pricing
  4. Fixing fragmentation in media planning
  5. Risk-proof campaign creation by testing commercials with AI (because it can easily create multiple variations of the same Ad).

Automation is another example he gave to depict the strength that artificial intelligence can give in an industry, like banking for servicing high-value transactions at various branches. IVR-based chat-bots are significant areas where the machine can do routine work, and the human can do the more-meaningful work.

Long-tail customers (as against blockbuster customers): It is this cohort of small-consequence customers that will have a broad and positive impact for a marketer. Artificial intelligence can help marketers to ‘know the customer better’ so that a ‘horses for courses’ approach can be used for pricing, communication, and other personalization areas. Artificial intelligence is what will equip marketers with the nuances and precision that they always wanted. It is important for students and professionals to be responsible and ethical with this power that artificial intelligence gives them.

“I look forward to a very ethical but profitable and successful AI journey for the country at large on the back of talented people like you getting into it.”
Karthi Kumar Marshan, President and CMO, Kotak Mahindra Bank

Marshan’s insights turned out to be very useful for marketers, business heads, analysts, consultants, entrepreneurs, and CXOs of all stripes–helping them with better clarity and confidence in some of their most challenging decisions. His discussion has unveiled some thrilling areas and questions about the role of AI in Marketing, and the programme’s experts and faculties would get more in-depth into them during this programme–including pricing, customer behaviour, and segmentation.

For now, be sure that AI will not take over the world, but to be a ‘Hero’ in this world, you will need to learn some new tricks.