IRF Study: Timing is Just Right for an AI Explosion

There is a famous quote, attributed to anonymous, "We are the middle children of history, born too late to explore the Earth, born too early to explore the stars." Fortunately for us, we were born at the perfect time for Artificial Intelligence. A few years ago, AI was technologically impossible. A few years from now, all of the low-hanging fruit will have been picked. But right now, in most industries, if you can apply AI to your business, you might be the first person in history to do so. That's awesome to think about.

We were thrilled to collaborate with the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) on their latest research, both as a sponsor and a source. The research, found here, investigates the current and potential uses of AI in our industry. The rewards and incentive industry is not as far along in the AI journey as digital media or finance, but there is no question that we’re on the cusp. To me, that’s extremely exciting.

At Maritz Motivation, we're trying to inject AI into every aspect of our programs. Most notably, we used AI to predict reward preferences in a loyalty program, in conjunction with our client HSBC. The results were better than we anticipated, with 70% of customers who redeemed doing so in the category the AI chose for them. This is the tip of the iceberg for how AI will transform this industry. Just this year, we used AI on our clients’ programs to predict future sales, predict participant attrition, and designing rule structures.

We are truly on the verge of an AI explosion, particularly in the rewards and incentives space. There will be a massive chasm driven between the brands who embrace AI and those who don't, just as mobile did a decade ago and the internet a decade before that. Companies will rise and fall, and it will happen sooner than you anticipate.