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Coming into this year, we were surprised to find no AI events for the marketing or growth agenda.

So we planned Transform in San Francisco on August 21 and 22, focused exclusively on real business results and applications for marketing, product, and growth engineer executives.

We’re excited, because Transform has some amazing speakers — and case studies with real results.

You can do it too!

There’s so much hype around AI that it starts to sound like voodoo, or something only achievable if you’re Google, Amazon, or Microsoft and therefore able to hire data scientists with salaries of starting NFL quarterbacks. But after talking with and studying upstarts like Stitch Fix and Hopper, we realized just about any company can avail themselves of AI technology. Our motto for this event became: “You can do it too!”


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Above: Jana Eggers, CEO of Nara Logics, which helped P&G double sales conversion at its Olay brand

In prepping the content for Transform, we’ve purposefully cut through the hype. We’ve weeded through hundreds of stories and submissions to pick ones with real results and applicable lessons for attendees. At the swanky corporate events thrown by Google, Amazon, and other platform companies, you do sometimes see examples of customer companies availing themselves of machine learning tools provided by those giants. But the stories tend to be highly sanitized and slanted.

Turns out, for each company, the right AI strategy will be slightly different. But from our conversations, we’ve concluded the AI revolution for marketers is really here — it isn’t hype. In fact, you’d better move pretty quickly to avoid being left behind. Business application of AI has only accelerated this year. Speech recognition has continued to improve, thanks to further research and deep learning work from major platform providers, and it can now be accessed by any company willing to pay modest fees. Business organizations will likely double their use of machine learning technology by the end of 2018, according to Deloitte. A full 40 percent of leading companies have already deployed AI technologies or machine learning models in their business, according to McKinsey.

Here are just a few of the stories we’ve already previewed in VB, which will be told more fully at Transform.

We’ll also hear stories from the leading AI executives from the New York Times, Uber, Pinterest, Airbnb, Lyft,, Target, LinkedIn, Nordstrom, Samsung, Google, Stitch Fix, Nike, Schwab, Yelp, Etsy, and more.

Covering major application and strategy areas

Above: David Vismans, chief product officer,

Above all, we’ll dig into the half-dozen or so leading AI technologies and strategies. There’s conversational commerce, driven by natural language processing (NLP) and understanding (NLU), in either text or voice form, allowing companies to engage and convert users with what are essentially robots (see, for example, Autodesk, which will be at Transform).

There are recommendation engines and content-matching technologies, which are disrupting all of ecommerce. There’s the move toward intelligent customer databases (like Amperity), giving marketers a more efficient underpinning for apps on top, often bypassing the established marketing cloud platforms. There’s image recognition, also referred to as computer vision, where ecommerce sites can boost conversion in numerous ways (see eBay, HelloFresh, Airbnb, and Zillow). There’s personalized notification engagement, using data and responses that feed back into AI algorithms to open up new lines of business (Hopper). We’ll touch on some other AI areas, including emotional engagement, but they are at an earlier stage and less proven.

Above: Scott Huffman, VP, Google Assistant

Transform features mostly consumer-facing brands (B2C), for the sake of clarity and relevance. Big B2C companies like Google and Amazon pioneered the way with AI. Most compelling AI strategies have trickled over to business-to-business (B2B), however, so B2B practitioners will find relevant content at Transform. That said, we’ll also touch directly on B2B — for example, with GoGo, which moved its entire infrastructure over to Amazon’s cloud, allowing it to merge its structured and unstructured data to a single lake and thus to launch more AI applications, including some benefiting its airline customers, not just users.

We’ll avoid the hype from AI vendors — there are too many of them — but we’re inviting those who offer real value. The big platforms providing AI to startups will be there, including Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft. And we have a special segment committed to showcasing the latest startup technologies in this area making a difference.

Finally, we’ll focus on practical takeaways from the experts. These will include how to start an AI project, which is often less scary and ambitious than you think. We’ll discuss when a project is core to your business and when it’s not, and what that means for your build-or-buy strategy as well as your hiring strategy. In some cases, you’ll need to hire expensive data scientists, in others not so much. A SaaS company or other service provider will suffice in some instances.

In sum, there are exciting and transformative opportunities here for businesses. Transform is the only AI event of the year focused on growth marketing strategies and successes. We hope you’ll come away knowing how to harness AI to exponentially grow your business, no matter the size. We’re so committed to reporting on this unfolding AI revolution — it promises to be one of the most important trends of our lifetime — that we’ve built a whole channel committed to AI, and continue to invest there, both in writing and in other areas. Stay tuned, and see you at Transform!

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