The B2B Revenue Executive Experience
The B2B Revenue Executive Experience

Episode · 5 years ago

The Impact of AI on Sales and Marketing with Justin Williams


Artificial Intelligence or AI is a hot topic in sales and marketing today, but few in the field have the experience or exposure to provide a great deal of clarity.  We went outside of sales and marketing to speak with Justin Williams, founder of Tinman Kinetics, who is competing for the IBM Watson A.I. Xprize, to get a fresh perspective.

From the history of AI to the current state to discussions around what B2B sales will look like in the future, the discussion starts to paint a slightly different picture than we are seeing today.

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Today on the B Tob Revenue Executive Experience, we're talking artificial intelligence. I'm your host, Chad Sanders, and it today we're going to talk to Justin Williams from Tinman Kinnectics, a company that's going after IBM Watson's Aix Prize, to find out what his perspectives on artificial intelligence are and how it's going to affect sales and marketing. You're listening to the BDB revenue executive experience, a podcast dedicated to helping the executives train their sales and marketing teams to optimize growth. Whether you're looking for techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's accelerate your growth in three, two, one. All right, just reminder for everybody. We want to buy you a cup of coffee. In order to do that, all you have to do is go to our website. BE TO BE REV exaccom, click on the link for the feedback form, fill that out and as a thank you for your time and insights, we will shoot you a gift card for a cup of coffee on us. Please take a second to do that. The information is extremely valuable to us. We want to make sure the show is providing value you guys want, and I'll thank you in advance for your time. Today we're going to be talking artificial intelligence. This isn't something that is just affecting sales and marketing. It's a global concern. There are huge amounts of naysayers, Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, a lot of people debating what is Ai, what could it become? What should it become? How should we limit it? How will it affect the jobs that we all have? In our outlook on the world and sales and marketing, it's a little bit fuzzier right now. We're still not sure how it's going to affect, you be to be complex, sales, how it's going to affect marketing, even though we're starting to see products kind of creep into the landscape today. What I wanted to do is something a little bit different. Rather than talk about somebody who thinks about ai from a sales perspective, I wanted to talk to somebody who lives in breeze ai on a daily basis outside of sales. Some of the could probably explain it a little bit better for us, help us get a clear picture of what the future may hold. So we're going to speak with Justin Williams. He formed a company called Tin Man Kinetics and they're going after the IBM Watson Aix Prize. Should be an interesting conversation. Hope you enjoy it. Welcome to the show, Justin. Is Good to have you. Thanks for taking the time. Thank you. Excited to have you on the show today talk some artificial intelligence, extremely hot topic today across a lot of industries, not just mine, and looking forward to hearing about how you guys are going after the the IBM Watson Ai Prize and all that and shared some of these insights with the customers. So I'm thinking the first place to start is let's just start with your background and and how did you get into ai? Sure, long background in computer science and Technology in general. Starting my career we back win in one thousand nine hundred and ninety six and it was a very strong introvert at the time, so I wanted to make sure that I was staying away from people as much as possible, so I got into embedded systems programming, typical types of developers at first. Who likes to stay away from people in dark rooms. You know, it's classic, right, it's my people. Life had some different plans for me, though. Slowly but surely I got away from Microprocessors and assembly code into Server Technology, and server technology led to Front End Development and and pretty soon I was spending the majority of my time talking to people, which which turns out it was all right. So it's been quite the quite the path. I really I really got into software because it was way to impact people and impact people in a big, broad, important way and again at the time without having to talk to them. But but it turns out there's a lot of ways to scratch that particular motivation and so I've led teams. We work together at a little agency way back in the day, and and and and...

...then artificial intelligence really hit the scene in a big way. There was kind of there's always been an interest, obviously by a lot of people, including me, for a long time kind of watching it and they're sort of hit a milestone where the data got big enough that the artificial intelligence got really good. And when I say artificial intelligence, we're still a long ways from, you know, an android that that is human like, right, but but there's there's this suite of tools that kind of broadly we talked about as being early Ai, that that is really cool, but unfortunately there's also a lot of negativity around that. There's a lot of snake oil out there. There's some doomsayers, pretty pretty famously, Eon Elon musk, founder of SPACEX and open Ai, as recently said that Ai will be the cause of world war three and it should be a much greater concern to Americans the North Korea well, and then Putin comes out and says whoever you know, whoever master's AI, will rule the world. So you're right. You know, definitely a lot of naysayers. I mean Helon's not alone. Yeah, so the IBM Watson artificial intelligence x prize came out and when I saw that I thought that it really spoke to me about putting the positive spin on ai, because I think the pioneers of ai are really the ones that are going to define what this reality is like down the road and I wanted to be a part of that. So let's take a second. So our audience is largely sales and marketing people and there's the huge topic of AI in sales. But I but I want to make sure we set some context for our audience. First, I you and I've had we've had multiple conversations about this. We both keeck out on this topic. But I would love let's start with kind of the overview from your perspective of what does artificial intelligence really mean? Where are we today versus the the snake oil people that are that are out there, and what's kind of the next step? What's the next evolution? Sure, great, great question, very broad question. Yeah, probabably should have been a little more specific, but I'm just going to let you roll with that one. Well, you know, you really can't be more specific because, you know, this thing kind of came out of left field and it is broad. It's not one thing, it's kind of a whole industry that's coming to together, which is fascinating to see. So there's, you know, the data science aspects of this that you know a lot of people think that they were working in statistics and doing some of these things for a long time, but now it's it's just become machine assisted and something a little bit beyond that. And there's all the personalization engines and things that marketers and sales folks, I'm sure, are very familiar with that try to target individuals based on their own activity and some ethnographic guesses about what they might be like and how they compared to their peers and so forth. There's the chat bots that are coming to more prominence. IBM Watson fairly famously used a chat bought and a knowledge engine to beat jeopardy contestants not long ago. But wasn't that just like a big super powered search engine with some, you know, some linguistic recognition software on the front end, or what's examplor was there more secret sauce to it? Well, I mean, ultimately that kind of is what we're talking about, right, is I kind of think of computer sciences as branching into traditional physics, if you'll bear with me on this analogy for a minute, and quantum physics. Quantum physics is all about the statistics and traditional standard physics is all about the the direct equations, right, the direct modeling and a lot of machine learning is about the statistics and traditional software is it is about those...

...equations that the directly inputted from a computer programmer. This is what you're going to do. But when you kind of hand it over to the statistics, to the data to tell the computer what to do. Sometimes you get unexpected results and it can become a black box that a lot of people don't necessarily know how it's coming up with the answers it is. And nobody specifically programmed Watson to figure out how to answer those questions. Based on wikipedia entries. It just they just fed that information in and, statistically speaking, it kind of figured it out for itself with some variety of learning techniques. So I mean from that's that right. There is where it gets a little scary, right, it figured it out. If you figured it out, so you got you basically take Siri, and I'm oversimplifying, except just to the audience knows I have, I've I'm dangerous when it comes to these topics, so I'll oversimplify. But so you have Siri basically plugged into the Internet and they call it Watson, and somehow I figured out, when a question was asked, where and how to go find that information and spit it back out. But the where and how it figured that out? What's what? How did that happen? What's that? What's that secret sauce of there? Because to me that's the that's the mystery. To the layman, that's the mystery of it if a programmer didn't tell Watson. Okay, when you hear a question and you can tell it's a question based on, you know, the the liquistic structure of the words that you're hearing, you know it's a question and you didn't tell it to go look. How how did it figure that out? That language really speaks to one of my great passions for artificial intelligence in general and that that's a really great example and as and look at something like Siri. So way back in the day a lot of very very smart programmers and very very smart linguists came together and tried to build some really complex rules just around the English language to be able to understand and parse and English sentence and be able to know what is the subject, what is the verb, not even what that means, just what are the components of a particular sentence. And those models really kind of sucked. It just English. It's moving very fast, there's there's just a lot of complexity the rules and very few people use the rules perfectly when they're using English. So then came along machine learning and we took a huge amount of of text that came from books, that came from newspaper articles, different things like that, and we said, statistically speaking, you figure it out computer. Here's some examples of things that we've hand parst so you can kind of learn from what we're what we've hand crafted here. But then you figure out the rest and see how people are actually using language and the next thing you know you're born with Sirie or all of these different natural language processing pieces. And again, they don't have meaning behind it necessarily, but the understand how people are using that language and and again. And when you get down to the the root of it, it is a series of weighted learning and when I say learning I mean statistics, right. So it said did this work? Yes, then it gives that a stronger weight. This not work, than it lowers that weight and it just does that, rinse and repeat over enough data and it becomes really smart. So then it really comes down to processing power. How fast can you run those the statistical analysis to figure out the right path? Yeah, and we haven't even had that kind of power to do this again, except in the last, you know, decade, if you're going to be generous. So this, this really is an exciting beginning of a whole new industry even if you've been in sales for decades, new technology, new buyers and new dynamics create challenges your team may not be ready for. Value Prime solutions enables... to focus on sales, on the prospects and customers, not the noise, and the sales framework you implement with them is simple, scalable and proven. CHECK OUT VALUE PRIME SOLUTIONSCOM and ask how they can help you beat your target. All right, we got a basis for it for ai, and then kind of the history of it where we're at today. So how did where did ten man kinetics come from? And what are you guys aiming to do with the IBM Watson Ai Prize? Yeah, so this, this prize is a lot different than a lot of other ex prizes. If anybody's familiar with those, Ex prize was as a foundation that launch such things as the space x prize that launched companies like spacex. Most X prize competitions have very few teams. This one was a little bit broader in what it would accept, and so there was a lot of interest. A hundred forty seven teams were accepted in the initial round. Were part of that and and the goal is to answer humanities grand challenges. It's as simple as that. is to put a positive impact on artificial intelligence for the benefit of humanity. So Tin Man was the an original robot that was actually created before the term robot was ever coined, famous for wanting heart and kind of having more heart all along than anybody else, and so we wanted to have technology with heart and we wanted to get rid of the the kind of the black box around Ai, make it a little bit more approachable, make it accessible to a broader audience, not just the the fortune one hundred that have the money today to be able to invest in it, but medium, even small business can take advantage of this as we start seeing this explosion of artificial intelligence capabilities and platforms. Excellent base, YEA, and you guy, you guys have you have a unique, I thought when we were talking about it, kind of a unique take on what you're trying to accomplish with storytelling. Can you can help our audience understand that? Yeah, so there's a lot of ways that you can go with that general mission. Right. So our particular x prize entry is is just trying to capture legacy and be able to share that with future generations is kind of the short version of this. The invention of paper made the ability to share knowledge easier. The invention of Internet and email arguably made it easier, but you also have a little bit of information overload if your in book talks with Slan anything like mine. Yeah, and and the next evolution of that is going to be too fold you. We want to be able to let people record their stories, but we also want people to be able to to access those stories. I know my kids aren't ready for a lot of the stories from my family, from my own life. My father was a cop for a while. You can imagine he's got some some interesting stories. I had a grandmother that, in the era of World War Two, survived a fire that burn ninety percent of her body and she had to learn to paint with her toes while she recovered in the hospital with with pig skin covering her and losing fingers and stuff, and went on to have five kids, including my mother. Well, you know, there's there's a lot of powerful stories and I've got my youngest is just about to turn to and she's not really ready for grandma stories yet. Yeah, but what what a source of strength and inspiration and some of the darker sides of this. To write. There's there's some family history that we can learn from that isn't always positive, and I want to be able to capture that and, when she's ready, to be able to have her have natural language conversation stations that that let...

...her explore these stories and let those stories remix in a way that's specific to her. And so that's that's the root of our competition project is to be able to to take Siri that understands language pretty well, improve that and then also dramatically improve the the natural language generation or the the talking back part of of Ai and and have some meaning and cultural stories and preservation as a heart of that. And so correct me if I'm wrong. Is I think through this it's it's almost like, you know, a paper was invented. Now you can share the knowledge, you can capture it. Internet comes along and, like said, information overload and a quite frankly, let's be honest, so much crap and and this seems to me like a return almost to the oral tradition, but in a much more interactive manner that isn't constrained by the life cycle of the storyteller. Yes, exactly that's exactly right. I think there's a lot to get from more of the oral tradition in the digital age and there's not really been a way to do that until artificial intelligence. Excellent. Okay. So now, when we think about I mean storytelling is obviously a big topic in sales and marketing to people are trying to understand the power of stories. Right, especially this audience should understand you're much better off, when you're doing a complex sale, telling a story rather than say hey, my product does x, Y and C and go into features and benefits. But we're seeing a I pop up in really odd maybe not odd, maybe it's just the first places as pop it up, but everybody's talking about ai in sales and you see it sometimes. In the latest example I saw as there's a new software product, I think it just came out over it's in Beta, called Balto software, and essentially, they say, and I don't know how it works, you probably can decide for this, but essentially, if if I'm on a call like with you, this program is running into background and it's actually giving me visual cues on my screen as I am talking to you and it's telling me, okay, they just put you on Meute or based on that response, they're not paying attention, they're not getting it or you're talking too fast right. And that to me doesn't seem to fulfill the whole promise of Ai. But it's a very unique application in sales that may not get in the way of the actual sales process. Right. The concern becomes some of these AI tools, I think, have the risk of becoming far too invasive in the sales process and delaying the human connection. So I'm kind of curious. Maybe that goes back to the doomsayer stuff with Elon Musk, but but I'm curious if you think about you know, sales is people buy from people, at least today, people buy from people and they want to trust. Can you see other scenarios where you think ai will be a great application in in complex sales and marketing situations? Yeah, I actually really like that example. It I'm not sure the execution is ideal, but but I like that it's people buying from people still, because I think one of the core goals that we have is that we think the technology should empower people, it should supercharge people with artificial intelligence. It's not something that should replace people when I look at the future of jeopardy, I see a bunch of contestants, each of them with their own version of Watson and their own transparent version that they understand how Watson is is coming up with helpful strategies for them and competing with each other at sort of level that humans never could and the machines couldn't without people. They already see this with some chess competitions out there. Actually is have a bunch of people assisted by AI, but still it's a it's a partnership, it's not a replacement. And so that idea of artificial intelligence helping you along the way and evaluate a situation, especially when it may be difficult to especially like, for instance, over a phone call...

...where you don't have body language to sort of give you back that body language, sounds like a really good application to me, because I don't think that that anytime soon we're really looking at useful techniques that replay least people outright, even down at the lowest levels, at the grunt stuff. You see some of the some of the fast food chain stores replacing people with automated kiosks. Right. You know, where's your where's your management going to come from. If you cut the bottom out of the bottom rung of the ladder out from your workforce, you know, is there a way to maybe make those people more efficient, more accurate, you know, super charge them, make them be able to do more with less, without replacing them out right and really harming yourself in the look not too distant long term, as we're already seeing actually, and that balance is interesting right. I was I was talking to Gable Arsenis the VP of inside sales. of We were talking about kind of house sales has swung from you know, there was, you know, people that did every did everything right back in the day. Then technology comes in and now we've kind of overspecialized in sales. So you have stre who sets appointments and then in a account manager who actually talks to them. And you know, it's gotten to the point where specialization, and there's some debate on this, but specialization may actually be getting in the way. And he uses analogy of tech being able to create the kind of that iron man salesperson, like you have a Jarvis that you're working with. That Jarvis in and of itself is cool, but there is a power in that, in that partnership between the two. That makes bow with parties better. Now the question becomes you throw in the millennials, right, and we've got in sales. There's a whole nother challenge with millennials. These are these are people that have grown up with technology, right. They're used to looking at their phones. I'm at you and I used to talk about the stats. Like people literally millennials will roll over and pick up their phone before their to touch their significant other. So they're very they're very used to this technology. And then I can see that, I can see it becoming very powerful when they partner with it. But my concern would become does it run the risk of making and maybe this is broader than to sales, but does it run the risk of making salespeople or just people in general, Lazier at being human? HMM. Well, I think if there's not a lot of work to be done, then there runs at risk. From my perspective, I never have enough hours in the day, so I don't know about that. But but I think one one interesting point to kind of emphasize here is the next phase of AI, which is a huge focus of our project for x prize, is semantic Ai. That's the meaning behind, you know words, the meaning behind the actions and so forth. It's kind of taking that black box and making it transparent. And it's also is varied, as there are meanings to to to doing any kind given tasks. So to back that up a little bit, you know, ask three people the meaning of life, you know, get six answers right. There's no one, there's no mathematical right answer to meaning and that's why it's such a difficult problem and artificial intelligence. So when we are talking about storytelling, it's a little bit easier because we can put some some confines and some personalization and we can say what that meaning of that story is supposed to be. But what you'll see is that as artificial intelligence gets better and starts partnering with people more, it's going to reflect the person it's working with more and that means that you'll have very different results from that millennial versus the season sales professional. Even though the millennial will be assisted in superpowered and incredible ways, their approach will be different and the artificial intelligence that semantics behind...

...that, if this is done well, is going to reflect that. And there's there's an infinite number of combinations of people and AI assisted approaches out there, that that's just going to paint the universe and all kinds of interesting colors. Well and that and it gets close to I mean not this may say more about me than the audience wants to know, but to me it almost sounds like the a I would have borderline personality disorder. And yes, everybody, that is a that is a DSM qualification. Don't ask how I know that or why. Interesting childhood, but anyway, I mean if the AI starts to take on or augment, like if you and I were given the same set of ai and it's exposure to us as people kind of shapes itself, then there isn't maybe that reduces the fear that there's one cognitive Skynet, right, that everybody as a Terminator, reference guys for the young ones, skynet kind of thing, where there's this one consciousness, digital consciousness, and I think that's what and maybe I'm wrong, but I think that's what scares the crap out of people, is that it gets to the point where, you know, all the doomsayers say humanity is a virus and let's, you know, launch the bombs. If you incorporate and Meld the humanity into the AI and they they amplify each other. I think am I wrong in thinking that the probably there's some reduction of risk associated with that approach? I think that's absolutely true. That was the goal of Elan usks Musk's open aie initiative. It is to make ai kind of for everybody and and honestly, it's just the natural progression. You know, we had mainframe computers back in the day and then we had personal computers and personal devices and sure there's a lot of cloud computing, but that personalization, no matter where it lives and exists, is going to be just the natural course that this is going to run. We're going to all have multiple agents that are acting on our behalves, that are more like us than they are our friends who have their own agents. Excellent, excellent. Well does that? I've really enjoy this conversation and I you and I could talk about this for hours. If, if there's people listening that want to get more information on to me and kinetics or connected you, what's the best way to do that? Sure, just shoot us an email. Hello at Tin Man Die Ioh is a good way to do it and happy to talk more. Really appreciate the time today Justin this has been great. Can't thank you enough for coming on the show and wish you guys the best luck with the prize as possible. Thank you very much. All right, that doesn't for this episode of the B Tob Revenue Executive Experience. I am your host, chat sinners, and want to thank you for taking the time to listen to this episode. Please go to the website, click on the link, fill out the feedback form. BE TO BE REV exactcom click on that feedback form and we'll shoot you five dollar gift card for a cup of coffee on us if you've got feedback for us on the show or would like to get in touch with us, linkedin obviously for myself, or just shoot us an email at accelerate at value prime solutionscom. Share the podcast out with friends, family and CO workers. Let people know it's out there and, if you get a chance, please write US review on itunes. We greatly appreciate that. Until next time, we have value prime solutions. Wish you and yours nothing but the greatest success. You've been listening to the BB Revenue Executive Experience to ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show and Itunes for your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening, until next time,.

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