This article was originally published to Medium
The metaverse is years away. But that doesn’t mean you should wait to figure out your brand’s place in it. To make it manageable follow these four P’s of metaverse marketing: Product, People, Performance and Protection.
Don’t worry, you won’t have to toss out the other marketing P’s you’ve learned over the years. In fact, you definitely need those too. If you don’t know what those are there are way better places to learn about them than here.
The metaverse is six years from being truly mainstream. But don’t breathe a sigh of relief just yet. Six years goes fast when it comes to emerging technology.
If you’re wondering where all this certainty about the future is coming from the answer is Gartner. The Gartner Hype Cycle is useful for tracking the tools that are going to make the metaverse possible. In this case we’re interested in foundational technology for the metaverse: web3, NFTs, decentralized identity & generative design AI. These pieces of tech are all on the 2–5 year track in the Hype Cycle. The metaverse itself is “more than 10 years out” by their reasoning. But taken together it is my opinion that a “mature metaverse” is six years out. A mature metaverse is one with ad products to buy, systems to integrate with and most of all a strong creator economy in place. The metaverse in 10-plus years will be well into its mature phase and the opportunity for innovation will be on the downswing.
So with 6 years on the clock, how do you start getting your business ready for the metaverse?
There are myriad ways to get your product into the metaverse. But ultimately it comes down to two ways of looking at it:
Direct Representation and Abstract Representation of the product.
If you make a real world product you’ve probably figured this out. Real world products — especially clothes, shoes and accessories — are already in the metaverse. It’s not always cool, it doesn’t always make sense, but most real products exist digitally anyway. Cars, toasters, lamps, bookcases; all of these are manufactured using tools that unfurl the complicated matter of matter and render them in reality. So moving them to a digital world means getting the format right and choosing a platform partner.
But before these products throw off their two-dimensional existence for the exciting new three-dimensional ones consider the following:
What purpose does this product serve in a digital world?
My friend Martine Lavoie likes to use a water bottle as example for this problem, and it’s a great one. In the real world a water bottle holds liquid to be consumed by its owner. It keeps you hydrated. But in the digital world we don’t need water. So a direct representation of a water bottle won’t be that interesting. Without a purpose it becomes a cosmetic accessory. Not all bad. A large portion of what made Fortnite successful was understanding the value of cosmetic items in virtual worlds.
In order for this to work we have to give the water bottle a purpose in a digital world. Our water bottle needs to in some way alter the way we experience a digital world.
In the world of Fortnite “being hydrated” might simply mean having a full health for your in-game avatar. So our water bottle could have some interaction with restoring your avatar’s health. A character animation that shows our avatar chugging from the bottle as their health rises could be one form of Direct Representation. Another way could be arranging a sponsorship or creating a mod where health improving items on the map resemble our humble water bottle.
But what if you don’t have a real-world product to begin with. If you’re a bank, insurance company, law firm or consultancy your services have no physical analog in a digital world. Instead you need to think about how your product or service exists through Abstract Representation.
Abstract Representation tells people something about the product or service by changing their digital identity or the world in which it exists. It is what you sell as an idea rather than a literal representation of the prduct.
Good news: your ad agency already knows how to think this way. The best agencies in the world have built their whole business on stripping down a product to its base idea and then showing how that idea changes the customer’s life for the better.
Let’s say we’re a big bank known for having locations just about everywhere people go™. The products we offer like loans; savings & chequing accounts; or overdraft protection have no analong outside the real world. Sure, you can use them to buy digital currency that is used in metaverse platforms. But that doesn’t tell us a thing about your bank. It doesn’t say that our services are available everywhere people go™. Instead we need to figure how the promise of being our customer extends into unreal worlds:
How does being our customer add value to the way they experience a digital world?
The answer to this comes from our differentiator: everywhere people go™. Differentiators make brands recognizable in a new context. In this case that new context is 3D worlds.
One way we could accomplish this is to simply extend the interfaces of our services to these new worlds. That would be “everywhere people go™” through Direct Representation.
But another way might be having agents in popular virtual worlds. Today these agents would be creators. In a few years virtual people might be a viable way to do this as well. Agents are exclusively available to customers and teach you the ins-and-outs of the virtual world they’re in.
However, understanding your product in this way means you need to understand your customers first. Without knowing them well it’s hard (impossible?) to figure out if having virtual water bottles on their avatar or being everywhere people go™ is something they care about at all.
No metaverse will be successful without people. Lots of people. If you’ve ever played an massively multiplayer online (MMO) game that hasn’t taken off yet you know how hollow digital worlds can feel.
So lets assume that all the metaverse platforms understand this and succeed in getting us together in virtual worlds. Is it the same as when we all joined Twitter in 2006? There are similarities, but old-guard social networks like Twitter had a different purpose in that time. They were almost exclusively about connecting people. In 2022 it’s expected that platforms connect people. So now platforms promise more than connections. Metaverse platforms promise the most. They promise to connect us in natural ways, they promise to let us own our identities and evolve them and most importantly they promise to let us create new things together in digital worlds.
It is this intersection of individuality and togetherness that we need to understand in order to make the metaverse useful to our customers (and therefore to our businesses).
Individuality is a promise of metaverse experiences. This is a direct rip from the world of gaming. Building a “character” to play a game is a concept that goes all the way back to tabletop games like Dungeons & Dragons. “Character creation” is a common feature of modern games of all types. Some are so intricate they’re almost as interesting as the game itself.
This focus on hyper-individuality is what makes metaverse experiences appealing to creators. In their current world distinctiveness is elusive. It’s elusive because the algorithms that decide what is popular shape how we behave as we seek that popularity. The result is homogeny, and the cycle starts over.
Togetherness is on the other side of the equation. Since a metaverse with no one else in it is purgatory we need to create a lot for people to do.
What people do together in the metaverse matters a lot. The metaverse is real time fun. It’s not leaving a quip for others to laugh at on a wall, or a recorded video showing how to make a perfect Caesar.
While metaverse experiences look a lot like games they aren’t strictly games. Games have competitive objectives. Most metaverse platforms have creative objectives. Minecraft and Roblox have gaming elements in them: bad guys to fight, power ups to collect, but they’re not successful because of this, they’re successful because of what they let you create in them.
Like our Product exercise we can get to the heart of the matter by answering a couple of questions:
How will they express themselves? & What will they do when they’re together?
Luckily we’ve proven to be pretty good at finding ways to express ourselves. Profile pictures, a simple image to show people who you are, carry a tremendous amount of information with them. This isn’t a feature of the platforms, it’s a hack. A sanctioned hack, but a hack nonetheless.
As for what they’ll do together? Well that really depends a lot on the platform, certainly. But people are ingenious. Look no further than the world of memes. Memes are one of the largest (the largest?) collective art project people have ever undertaken. Memes show us that when people get together they can make something clever, entertaining and meaningful. But most importantly memes are a highly efficient way of communicating. They work on any screen and creating them requires just a web browser and they scale to the size of any community.
In the metaverse we should be watching for the equivalent creations that:
- Don’t rely exclusively on language to convey information
- Can be produced and consumed by any participant
- It improves the value of an experience for everyone
Strong hints you’ve found the creative activity people can get behind look like this: It can be understood without much analysis (more than language); anyone can join in and make it (produced by any participant); and it’s entertaining for people to be part of (improves the experience).
Fornite dances fit this model. When you dance in Fortnite you’re communicating without language (1). Today it’s possible to make your own dances, although it’s a little cumbersome (2). And… Well, dances were a real phenomenon for a while (3).
Of course, all of this is for nothing if we don’t know how well it’s working. Certainly we can see people dancing. But are they having fun? This is where Performance comes in.
Modern digital systems are remarkably quantifiable. Every action we take online can be measured. What’s more is every time we use these measurements to make a decision about what to do next we find even more data to collect. This never ending loop of measurement and new measures is the magic that lets us build on ideas so fast today. We are always only a click or two away from spotting the next big trend.
But the metaverse is a little different. In the metaverse people are acting in real time. Anything “real time” requires heavy duty computing. Sorting, filtering, formatting, aggregation — all of these techniques in data science have to happen in the moment when it’s handled in real time. This is 180º to the asynchronous web where there’s plenty of time to get data ready before it’s displayed as information.
That means the things we can measure in the metaverse are going to be everything we measure today, plus. Data from the asynchronous web will be valuable for setting preferences, determining what worlds we might be interested in exploring or what advertising exists in our view in a virtual world.
The “plus” is what real time opens up. The plus might be adding how we say something to what is being said. It can track what we’re looking at, for how long and where our attention is taken next.
These are all new opportunities to change what we communicate.
If you know that your latest digital twin doodad is more interesting if people see someone else with one first it makes signing on a star creator a lot less risky.
Actionable data in real time leads us to a single question to ask about how our measurement strategy needs to change:
What will you do when you can track behaviour in the moment?
After all we don’t collect data to put it on a shelf and admire it. Our job is to make decisions based on the data. And in a real time world that means making decisions before the data is in. Developers are intimately familiar with this kind of prediction. They make them all the time and they call them conditionals or “if-thens.”
First imagine what might happen (if) and determine the action taken in that circumstance (then).
Thinking this way isn’t new. It’s called “scenario planning” and you can find it in places as broad reaching as the endeavours of a military force or as specific the conditions of your auto-insurance policy. What is important is to understand what you can know, and that’s evolving quickly. The previous Oculus VR headset — Oculus Quest 2 — had four external black and white cameras. The new Oculus Pro has ten sensors.
So, find out what you can know, then think about what you’d do with the outcomes of that knowledge. This is likely a new kind of reporting you’ll need to figure out. This new type of reporting anticipates behaviour instead of exclusively analyzing it. So our understanding of how things are going shifts from hitting numbers (monthly active users, clicks, time spent) to how accurately we figure out what changes behaviour in a way that benefits customers and our brand.
The computational requirements of collecting and processing data like this are enormous. So like all of our planning for the metaverse, we have time to get it right. And that’s good because this capability is a scary one. Big platforms don’t have a great track record in how they’ve used data and it’s harmed people in the real world.
Which brings us to the last P: Protection.
The process of ensuring our experiences in the metaverse are inclusive, safe and rewarding relies on our understanding of the other three Ps. We need accessible products and services (product) that our customers want to experience (people) and a way to figure out how to improve that experience in the future (performance).
Protection fits in the mix in a few ways. One of them is simply data security. Keeping people’s data is a big responsibility. Even more so when that data is recording what they say and look at. This is a promise of web3: data you own and can take with you easily. The latter part isn’t there yet, but the former is well developed. NFTs are one example, and also a technology that defines the “Peak of Inflated Expectations” on the Hype Cycle.
But the metaverse is a creator’s space. And that means that there will be more value in these worlds as people spend time in them. Where there’s value increased by human interest there’s the potential for fraud, harassment and exploitation.
Fraud is rampant in the nascent web3 world. As this is being written FTX has crumbled and erased a few billion dollars from people’s pockets. There are plenty of crypto heists to link to as well. These have been caused by both technical flaws and human ones. It’s reasonable to think the technical will get sorted out in time. The kind of fraud we (as marketers) should think about is the latter kind. Setting up clear policies around ownership has to be coupled with technical means of enforcing those policies.
Harassment has been a severe issue online since well before the social web. Each iteration of our online existence makes harassment all the more potent. The metaverse is no exception. But, with real-time measurment comes the possibility to provide real-time enforcement of anti-harassment policies. There are rudimentary systems like this in online games today. Meta has committed to offering similar tools in their platform. It is up to us to understand these tools and to work with platform providers to improve them.
Exploitation is not unique to the metaverse, but the metaverse might be a more fertile place for exploitation to flourish. It can flourish because the nature of a metaverse experience is one where you (the user) add value to the world by being in it. Mostly this is from what we create there. This is why the metaverse is a creator’s space. To protect these creations a balance needs to be struck between creators and the platform as to how each benefits from the activities of the other.
So. Here comes the metaverse, just six short years away. Like all technology it creates fabulous new opportunities along with scary levels of change and the risk of unforseen consequences.
But, if we spend this time planning for the metaverse we can be ready to operate there as it becomes more and more mainstream.
And it’s not all that scary. A lot of what we’ll do is familiar to us: working closely with the creator community, finding new ideas buried in the data, good old fashioned customer research and content strategy. All of it with new twists: a focus on what creators make instead of who they are; encouraging customers to do things together; knowing those customers more intimately and figuring out how to best make use of what they’ve created for us.
The metaverse is a big topic I couldn’t hope to explore in three articles. And as I was writing this the bottom appeared to be falling out of it.
Personally, I think this tech is too intriguing an idea to die just because an early mover overpromised. Every time we’re given the chance to connect with each other in some fantastic new way — chat rooms, blogs, instant messaging, social websites, social apps — there is an explosion of creativity. The metaverse is proving to be no different so far. The technical hangups always end up solved (6 years! Say it with me!) and the cultural impact is huge. As marketers we have to be close to culture. Culture is where attention is and our jobs are to capture attention.
Thanks for reading.
I have 20 years experience in digital marketing. It’s never been boring. In fact, I don’t believe anything is boring if you spend a little time to understand it. My sweet spot are brands that people have to buy, but don’t necessarily want to buy. “Grudge purchases” someone called them once.
mesh conference goes deep on AI, with experts focusing in on training, ethics, and risk
The mix of topics is a major part of the appeal. So is the opportunity to have genuine conversations.
The mix of topics is a major part of the appeal. So is the opportunity to have genuine conversations with senior leaders, and doers, across so many industries for two days.
Day one of the mesh conference was all about navigating innovation, privacy policies, and diversity in a tech-driven world, and day two was all about artificial intelligence (AI) and its impact on media, marketing, business and society.
AI is everywhere, but this day hit different.
“I sat beside a marketer this morning who said he came to mesh because he was interested in the topics, but that he also knew lots about the subject matter so he wasn’t sure how much he’d take away,” said mesh attendee, Sarah Coleman who travelled from Calgary to see mesh in Toronto.
“But after a full day of talks, he said to me that he was totally surprised by the cross-industry perspectives shared, and he walked away from the first day with thoughts he had never considered. For me, that’s the biggest value of mesh and it’s why I travelled across the country for my second mesh conference this year.”
Day two opened up with a frank discussion about the training of artificial intelligence (AI) and data sources with Elena Yunusov, AI strategy and marketing leader with the Human Feedback Foundation.
Yunusov recently started the foundation to crowdsource the human feedback layer that’s missing from private AI models. Private models will continue and make decisions we won’t agree with, she said, but open source initiatives offer the chance for more innovation and better-informed applications.
“We should have more say about how AI is shaped and developed,” said Yunusov.
There are a handful of models influencing us in ways we may not understand. But the Human Feedback Foundation is a small, but mighty open-source project trying to make AI less toxic and more empathetic.
Use human feedback to bring the human voice back into data
After opening remarks, Yunusov continued the AI discussion with Darnel Moore, founder and CEO of Distinct.ly, who sees technology as a tool to connect with people. “We need a way for people to see each other and for businesses to see those people,” said Moore.
Businesses just want to see the data point — not its context. But cognitive bias tells us that time, place, and situation influences people’s decisions, so the data means nothing without context.
Moore said somewhere along the line people became a bug, rather than a feature, for businesses and that needs to change.
“It’s important to get yourself out of the loop of data and buzzwords,” he Moore.
It’s hard when you’re driving hard and fast not to attach yourself to buzzwords. But it’s not about pitching, selling, or moving your product — it’s about connecting with people.
Both Yunusov and Moore expressed puzzlement around the anxiety many people have around AI handling routine tasks.
“Machinery is levelling human beings up from the mundane,” said Moore. People can now be more creative and learn in ways that weren’t possible before, he added.
“We have agency in this and the tools we never had before to get us to the next stages of that journey,” added Yunusov.
We’re living through a bit of a reckoning in tech, she notes. Things are going to change, but how they change should be up to us.
“Change is part of the human experience and we’re just doing it with different tools now,” said Yunusov.
AI is a very divisive concept
Rika Nakazawa, global vice-president with NTT’s New Ventures and Innovation team, joined mesh fresh from COP28’s World Climate Summit in Dubai where there were two camps — one that believed AI is going to be the end of our ability to attain sustainability goals, and the other that thought it would bring the dawn of a new horizon.
Amy Peck, founder and CEO of EndeavorXR, agreed. On one end of the spectrum, it’s the great saviour. We’ll be able to leverage it and achieve all our goals, she said. On the other end is the doom and gloom.
Peck said business leaders need to start understanding data better, urging for bias-free data to be the foundation for AI training algorithms. We’re equal in our humanity, said Peck, so we must learn to embrace our differences rather than vilify them.
“AI is an overnight success, 80 years in the making,” said Nakazawa. “There’s nothing artificial about artificial intelligence.”
It’s all made — binary code is mimicking our brain.
“We have to retrain ourselves to work with AI and not just hand over our tasks to AI,” Peck said.
We needed to manage and prevent food waste
For this event, the mesh conference partnered with Second Harvest to ensure unused food served at lunch would not go to waste. Using Second Harvest technology, unused packaged lunches were donated to a local charity.
“It’s the eHarmony of food,” joked Lori Nikkel, CEO of Second Harvest during a fireside discussion.
Nikkel was joined by Winston Rosser, VP of Food Rescue Operations at Second Harvest, who demoed the technology built to help conquer food insecurity and food redistribution.
Rosser explained that the app connects a variety of donors, from small retailers to major grocery stores, with local, non-profit charities who need food. Before the platform was built, huge trucks were sent to pick up 20 lbs of food from a grocer and take it across the city — an option that was not sustainable. Now, donors can easily connect with one of more than 61,000 charities via the platform.
Rosser also shared some startling stats:
- 58% of all the food produced in Canada is lost or wasted, mostly ending up in landfill.
- 3.9 million Canadians are food insecure.
- Only 4% of food businesses were donating food.
Since the launch of the app, Second Harvest has flipped everything on its head. In 2016 the organization rescued nine million pounds of food, but after the app was deployed, that number skyrocketed — in 2022, nearly 75 million pounds of food was rescued in 2022. Last year Second Harvest kept food worth $234 million out of landfill.
When asked why there’s so much food waste to begin with, Nikkel offered a sober response: “We don’t value food,” she said, adding that we’ve commoditized food to the point where we don’t value it like we used to. An example: many people will buy food in a two-for-one deal even if they don’t need it, and oftentimes it’s simply thrown out.
Adoption requires sponsorship within the organization
Afternoon discussions on day two of the mesh conference also looked at laggard industries, and professionals who can be resistant to change.
Colleen Pound, founder and CEO of Proxure, and Mary Jane Dykeman, managing partner at INQ Law, talked about the difficult task of integrating AI in law and healthcare — two industries that can be averse to technological innovation.
“Their aversion creates a lot of white space to work in,” said Pound, adding that progress looks like evolution rather than revolution.
Dykeman agreed, adding that change in situations like this often takes a foothold when a series of low-risk initiatives are the starting point. Ultimately, they can lead to larger transformations.
In addition, privacy and data security are major issues for both industries that need to be managed first, Pound said. Data management is the starting point.
“Better data and better processes drive better business outcomes,” Pound said.
AI is what you make it
The day’s closing panel included a conversation on AI in media, featuring mesh co-founder and media pundit, Mathew Ingram.
Ingram joked that he would be terrified if he was starting his journalism career today. As the chief digital writer for the Columbia Journalism Review, Ingram noted that distributing information is easier today, but distributing disinformation is also easier.
“The quality of the disinformation doesn’t matter,” Ingram said, saying people believe disinformation because they want to believe it.
“A nine-year-old could think of a more plausible conspiracy theory than some of the ones I’ve seen people believe,” he said.
Chris Hogg, president and founder of the content marketing firm Digital Journal Group (DJG), said he sees B2B content marketing rolling back to what high-quality journalism used to offer. Hogg said success can now require businesses to produce less content, and instead focus on quality and distribution to stand out and drive results.
The fireside discussion also looked at the risks AI poses to the media industry.
AI may not always be able to make things better, but it has great applications as a technology to support journalists.
“It’s a tool that you can use and do things that help you and are valuable,” said Ingram, noting that transcription, story idea generation, and automating mundane tasks are big benefits offered by AI.
While there are considerable risks with OpenAI’s accuracy, deep fakes, and fake AI content, Ingram said the technology is still important.
“I’m a big believer in the power of individuals to change things,” he said. “There are things we thought would be inconsequential, but have changed the world, for better or worse.”
Join us next year in Calgary for the mesh conference, June 11-12, 2024. The two-day event then returns to Toronto the week of October 21, 2024.
DX Journal covers the impact of digital transformation (DX) initiatives worldwide across multiple industries.
mesh conference hits Toronto this week — here’s what’s in store
This week, innovators and digital transformation leaders from across North America will gather at the Symes in Toronto for the mesh conference.
This week, innovators and digital transformation leaders from across North America will gather at the Symes in Toronto for the mesh conference. With a focus on four threads — business, media and technology, society, and marketing — mesh will connect, share, and inspire others to think about changing how we think, organize, operate and behave.
The mesh conference differs from your typical transformation and innovation event in part thanks to two simple rules: no slide decks and canned presentations, and no pay-to-play sessions. The result? Lively sessions where the audience is encouraged to engage with speakers throughout.
The theme for this edition is “Human-powered, tech-enabled.” Speakers and attendees will explore the pivotal role of technologies in augmenting human capabilities to improve workplace diversity, enhance competitiveness, and even turn back time on human-induced environmental damage through “de-extinction”.
The full mesh speaker lineup
Over the course of two days, more than 20 speakers will take part in the Toronto event on December 6-7, 2023. The full run-of-show, with speakers and sessions, includes:
Canada’s digital policy has gone off the rails. What should the engaged community be doing?
Dr. Michael Geist (Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-Commerce Law, University of Ottawa) will join Tyler Chisholm (clearmotive marketing) to discuss the Meta ban on news, Google’s newly announced search policy around news (backed by $100 million for the industry) and podcasting regulations. Dr. Geist will explain why he has described the law as a “total policy disaster” and an “epic policy blunder” by the government. On the heels of his testimony before the CRTC, he’ll share his insights on what we might expect next and what engaged communities should be doing. Gain a greater understanding of the policy landscape and its impact on how we live and work.
Leveraging AI to create a more diverse and inclusive tech industry
Marissa McNeelands (CEO of Toast) will be joined by Amber Mac to discuss how her company works to eliminate gender bias in tech hiring. TOAST, Canada’s first female-focused talent partner, uses a unique AI-driven recruitment tool to help organizations diversify their tech teams and support women in tech careers. This session will explore the role that data and algorithms could play in fostering a more inclusive workforce.
AI, Creativity, and Inclusivity: Empowering Tomorrow’s Marketing Leaders
This panel explores how AI and creativity can foster economic empowerment through tech skills training and career growth. The panel will delve into the impact of AI on marketing, the importance of diversity and inclusivity in its design, and the role of continuous education. The session aims to understand economic empowerment through tech skills training, career growth, and a nurturing environment. Features Natalie Black (Mia), Liberty White (CHOZEN MEDIA), Prieeyya Kaur Kesh (Mia), and Anne-Marie Enns (Mia)
Innovating for Canada’s Competitive Edge
Join Dana O’Born (Council of Canadian Innovators), Tracey Bodnarchuk (Canada Powered by Women), and Stuart MacDonald (Narrative Fund) as they discuss the future of Canadian competitiveness through the lens of innovation and transformation. This session will explore the technology and energy industries and why innovation is a team sport. Looking at both growing and transitioning sectors, they will explore how Canada can leverage its strengths and overcome challenges to maintain a competitive edge in the global market and create a sustainable, prosperous future.
Why ‘de-extinction’ is vital to fighting climate change
Join Ben Lamm (CEO of Colossal) and Chris Hogg (DJG) for a riveting discussion on de-extinction and its role in combating climate change. Could the woolly mammoth, the Tasmanian tiger, and the dodo bird be agents of change? Learn about Colossal’s groundbreaking work in reviving extinct species and how this contributes to biodiversity restoration. We will delve into the technology behind halting extinction, preserving animal DNA, and reversing human-induced environmental damage. Explore how de-extinction can restore lost ecosystems, increase biodiversity, and contribute to environmental sustainability. This session promises to spark insightful discussions on the future of biotech and environmental conservation.
AI in Marketing: Magic Wand, Double-Edged Sword or Pandora’s Box
Darnel Moore (Distinct.ly) will be joined by Elena Yunusov (Human Feedback Foundation) to explore customer marketing strategies in the context of AI. We will delve into how AI can personalize content at scale and analyze customer behaviour while highlighting the importance of human insight and intervention in marketing. Have we crossed the line when the computer tracks, predicts and influences customer behaviours? Where and when is it best to deploy machine learning and AI in your marketing strategy? At what point in the process is it still best for humans to drive the process? How do we ensure that AI supports the customer journey and that the tools we deploy do not undermine an authentic, transparent relationship? Join us as we aspire to find where the balance is best placed between AI tools and human intention, avoid repeating the mistakes of social media and aim to harness the power of AI responsibly.
The Almighty AI: Friend or Foe for the Sustainability Agenda?
While headlines are dominated by the thrill and alarm of the rise in Artificial Intelligence applications and utility across industries, they have overshadowed another existential hot topic: Sustainability and ESG. This fireside chat will examine AI’s role in the Sustainability agenda for communities, businesses, and national states, and in what ways leaders across sectors are taking action today for impact tomorrow. We might even imagine new kinds of futures where artificial and collective intelligence collide in this unique chat forum. Features Amy Peck (EndeavorXR) and Rika Nakazawa (NTT).
Amplifying Community Actions: Case Study of the Second Harvest Food Rescue App
Lori Nikkel (CEO of Second Harvest) and Winston Rosser (VP, Second Harvest) will join Mark Evans (Marketing Spark) to discuss their innovative approach to combating food waste and insecurity, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath. They’ll share how their technology platform has facilitated partnerships between food donors and non-profits, enabling them to scale the redistribution of surplus food from coast to coast to coast. Learn about the increased efficiency that allowed them to connect 5,600 donors with 3,400 non-profits–rescuing 24 million pounds of food, averting 79.3 million pounds of greenhouse gases, and saving 13.2 billion litres of water in the last year alone.
AI & Procurement: The Intersection of Innovation, Risk and Law
Join Colleen Pound (CEO of Proxure), Mary Jane Dykeman (INQ Law) and David Potter (Vog) for an enlightening session on the transformative role of AI and technology in professional services. They will delve into how these tools are levelling the playing field, particularly in procurement and legal services. Colleen, with her expertise in automation and predictive analytics, will shed light on procuring AI solutions. Mary Jane, a seasoned health and data lawyer, will discuss the legal and risk management aspects of AI adoption. This session promises a rich blend of insights from the tech startup and healthcare sectors.
What the chaos at OpenAI, misinformation, and fake AI journalists mean for our future
Join Mathew Ingram (CJR) and moderator Chris Hogg as they explore the chaos that has been the world of AI this year. From executive shakeups, to fast-vs-slow AI, to misinformation and deepfakes, this session will explore the current state of AI and what it means for our future.
Digital Journal is an official media partner of the mesh conference. Learn more and get tickets to the mesh conference, happening December 6-7 in Toronto, at meshconference.com
AI is taking the world by storm — unless you’re in finance, Gartner survey finds
61% of finance leaders aren’t using AI and Gartner explores why in their latest survey.
We’ve seen plenty of studies, industry updates, and tech investments pointing to an AI revolution in virtually every industry, especially IT and customer service.
But one Gartner survey shows a lag in AI adoption by the finance industry. The technology research and consulting firm conducted a survey of 130 finance leaders and noticed “limited” AI implementations:
“Despite AI’s potential, most finance functions’ AI implementations have remained limited. As they begin to chart out a plan for how best to prioritize that additional investment, CFOs should partner with their finance leadership teams to compare their current progress against their peers’ and identify concrete recommendations from early adopters on how best to accelerate AI use in their function.”
- Marco Steeker, Senior Principal, Gartner Finance Practice
Here are a few highlights from the report:
Most finance leaders using AI are only in early stages
Gartner found that only 8% of finance organizations are using AI in production, which is much less than the 20% in other areas like HR, real estate, and procurement. This speaks to finance being over two times behind in AI use compared to the rest of the departmental functions. Additionally, a mere 1% of finance leaders say they’re in the scaling phase.
Finance leaders prioritize other initiatives over AI
The survey asked respondents why they haven’t used AI in primary finance functions, and the majority of answers included these four reasons:
- Lack of technical capabilities
- Low-quality data
- Insufficient use cases
- Other priorities
The latter reason felt the most problematic within finance leaders’ perspectives:
“What this perspective underappreciates is that AI can be a critical enabler of finance leaders’ “other priorities,” such as more dynamic financial planning or close and consolidation efficiency.”
- Marco Steeker, Senior Principal, Gartner Finance Practice
A recent Dye & Durham report suggests AI could help stabilize the financial sector as interest rates and economic indicators sway by offering efficiency, cost reduction, and accuracy — but the hesitancy remains. Their report also found that a majority of skilled professionals, including lawyers, doctors, and financiers, express discomfort with incorporating AI into their services.
Existing AI use in finance varies across different functions
The Gartner survey found that finance departments don’t use AI for one main function across the board. Instead, it’s use cases are varied and include:
- Accounting support
- Anomaly/error detection
- Financial analysis
Learn more about the Gartner survey here.
Veronica Ott is a freelance writer and digital marketer with a specialization in finance and business. As a CPA with experience in the industry, she’s able to provide unique insight into various monetary, financial and economic topics. When Veronica isn’t writing, you can find her watching the latest films!
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