Artificial Intelligence (AI) and construction marketing: Is it the next big thing?

mit strata center
Ray and Maria Stata Center at MIT

I’ve been following the rapid Artificial Intelligence (AI) or machine learning progress, and an increasing number of stories describing how the rapidly evolving technology has been implemented for marketing applications.

Most of the stories so far relate to a specific subset of the marketing universe: Businesses (usually larger in size) with loads of consumer data, and, through AI, the ability to adapt the data to deliver/focus marketing messages with specific consumers.

Note two features here: The applications appear to be valid for business-to-consumer or perhaps large volume business-to-business markets. And they require a lot of data about customer preferences and traits.

Tell me, outside of perhaps a sub-category of residential contractors, or perhaps some building products manufacturers with a wide range of potential purchasers, how many readers here have marketing circumstances fitting this mould?

AI certainly can be useful, for example, in the case of a consumer service offering to “shop” for better car insurance deals. Here, we have the required variables where machine learning shines. First, there are many distinctions among consumers; both in driving records, cars they drive, and locations where they live. And there are many competing insurance carriers, with a diversity of products.  If statistical and probability analysis — and learning based on accumulated experience — can be applied in this sector, highly focused and targeted marketing strategies can quite reasonably and effectively introduced, and the cost savings in avoiding wasted efforts would be immense.

But does this help you if your speciality is building schools, or even residential remodel projects? If you are lucky, in the schools example, you’ll likely only have a universe of a few dozen (or even less) potential clients. There are more residential renovation opportunities, but if you have acquired any experience, you’ll already most likely know the market segment and characteristics of your potential clients, and expensive computer-based number crunching probably won’t add that much value.

I should qualify these remarks because they focus specifically on marketing. Integrated AI and computer-management systems can certainly be valuable and effective as an overall business/project management system, resulting in major efficiency enhancements and, indirectly, a much better client experience.

My conclusion: Yes, AI will be important to the industry, but the drive to implement it will come from the project/design end rather than the marketing side. AEC marketers should certainly be aware of the trends, but I don’t think need to be leaders in implementing them.

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