Will investment in AI personalisation supersede UX?

Posted by Justin Masters
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Personalisation and A/B Testing have long been heralded as the best ways to prioritise information on a website in order to maximise engagement and satisfaction. But now that we have AI personalisation, should you continue to invest in UX?

Both are valid approaches to achieving an organisation's goals for their digital presence, but with the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) to the mass market, we’re on the brink of a fourth industrial revolution. We’re now able to plan less, learn and adapt quicker than ever, and deliver even more personalised user experiences. The big question for organisations is: does the way we cultivate experiences need to fundamentally change?

The AI effect on UX investment

Digital strategies should always place user experience at their core. User experience over each and every digital channel, including the website, must be fully considered through workshops, audience research and user engagement. This is arguably more important than the underlying technology platform decision and often contributes to a significant proportion of the project budget.

However, with the capabilities to adapt the user experience that AI offers, many are wondering whether there’s still a need to invest so significantly in UX. Now that technology allows us to personalise the entire experience, do we really need to architect the perfect user journey? Is there a need to craft segmented user journeys across different digital channels if we can tailor the experience to the individual?

The benefits of AI

AI is a major topic of conversation for all the leading vendors and industry reports. But one of the challenges we’re helping our clients to understand and overcome is how to build AI into their digital strategies and roadmaps.

We’ve built digital solutions for clients such as the Financial Services Forum and RICS that enable them to deliver personalised content to their users by pulling data from their CRM systems. The next step in personalisation is to be able to deliver products or services to customers that are linked to user behaviour and categories. For example, if you know that your customer has recently bought a red kettle, perhaps you’d want to show them red toasters and so on. Feeding data into AI will help you deliver personalisation at scale, enabling you to drive competitive advantage and boost user experience.

AI will help to empower employees, engage customers through channels such as conversational UI, optimise operations, transform products and monitor campaigns in real-time, adapting them without manual intervention.

AI and user experience

For years now, Facebook, Amazon and others have used AI and behavioural personalisation to drive our experiences, recommending products and content based on our behaviour. However, while these sites are built for direct user interaction, a traditional company website isn't. There’s no user profile, no past behaviour to instantly make recommendations with.

Using AI to adapt the user experience isn't anything new, but the ability to benefit from the power of AI for a relatively low investment is a recent development.

Until recently the traditional methods of A/B testing and editor driven personalisation (using defined segments of users based on specific criteria to adapt content) have been the most commonly employed approaches to improving the customer journey. Personalisation technology, now available in all digital experience platforms, can be used to display more relevant content to the user.

AI further supplements the personalisation capabilities of digital experience platforms by providing the ability to deliver the right content to the right person at the right time, based on the data we know about the individual user, not a group of similar users. The holy grail of the ‘segment of one.’

UX, AI and data

At Netcel, our UX process has matured to consider how AI can further enhance an experience, as well as where it is appropriate to do so. Now more than ever, UX must consider the data that is available (and that can be captured) in order to allow AI to enhance the users' experience through whichever digital channel they interact with. The knowledge and understanding of AI is key to creating the optimal user experience.

It is commonly said that AI eats data, and that without data, AI is starved of the information that it requires in order to make recommendations, be that content links or products. Capture of data is what allows AI to enhance the users' experience.

Consider how on demand TV providers such as Netflix, Sky or Virgin apply AI to prompt you with further viewing recommendations. This only works as a result of the data from your viewing history. As you watch more content, providing the AI with even more data, the recommendations get even more accurate and your user experience is enhanced. Your data is supplemented by the millions of other data points that are provided when other users watch or rate similar content to you. But the models by which AI interprets this data aren’t created by AI. Manual intervention is still required in order for AI to make sense of the data that’s fed to it.

The value of the UX team

AI can enhance an experience, but what it cannot do is initiate the entire user experience. It relies both on the data and models that have been created and trained. The ability to create an entire user experience through AI, machine learning or even deep learning simply doesn't exist today. The UX team are effectively the trainers for the AI layer, with vast experience and an ability to predict and analyse human behaviour.

This is where UX blends with AI. You need to understand the problem you are trying to solve, with or without the assistance of AI.

The arrival of the fourth industrial revolution, and the mass market availability of AI, does not mean that the need for investment in user experiences has reduced. But nevertheless, AI is providing better ROI, along with the ability to refine experiences on an individual level which has, until now, been unachievable.


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