McKinsey’s 2016 data and analytics study found 120 potential machine learning applications in 12 industries — and the evolution is accelerating. Join our latest VB Live interactive event for a deep dive into how machine learning can transform your business.

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The more data your customer gives you, the more you can infer their needs. AI and machine learning have advanced to the point where you don’t just know what they want — you know it before they do.

“That’s the side people would say is kind of creepy,” says Quinn Banks, senior product marketing manager at Farmers Insurance. “I always laugh. I say, what’s creepy today is ubiquitous tomorrow. Get used to it.”

That’s because creepy immediately transforms into cool when it creates real value for a customer. “Insurance is such an emotional piece,” Banks says. “Your roof just blew away, you want to talk to a live person. You don’t want to talk to a computer, you don’t want to talk to a chat bot.”

Machine learning, which can aggregate customer data far beyond your basic data points, can streamline that first distraught phone call for someone standing by their burned-out husk of a car.

“We should be able to start pulling in information from that customer,” Banks explains. “The type of car, the route they drive, how old that vehicle is, previous driving experience–does this customer have a propensity to have major accidents or fender benders? Do they live in an area that’s high on fender benders, or are they in a rural area?”

From there, the painful process becomes quicker, smoother — and helps the damaged customer’s heart heal, when they feel known and understood.

“With machine our service agents on the phone are able to pull in information about the customer to assist them through that emotional process,” Banks explains. “They can concentrate on that connection as opposed to, ‘Let me put you on hold.'”

And use cases will continue to develop, growing ever more sophisticated, the more private data a person is willing to part with.

“Imagine life insurance with the Apple Watch,” Banks says. “You’re wearing the watch and it has an oximeter so it can check your blood oxygen level, and it has a heart rate monitor.” But add that to the ability to mine social data as well, he continues. and you can go even deeper and make risk assessment laser-accurate. “You have somebody who posts on Facebook that they’ve been rock climbing for the last 6 weeks,” he says. “It might be kind of hard to insure that person.”

But of course, he says, the “creepy” potential is always there. “There’s some limits we’ve got to look at, too,” he adds. “How far do we take that machine learning? How deep do we dig through a person’s information?”

A use case of your very own is a matter of finding your core objective, and avoiding gimmicks and shiny object syndrome.

“Everyone comes in and says, ‘Well I want it to do this, I want it to do that, and it’s got this over here…'” he explains. “I see it every day and it’s always a struggle because there’s a level of excitement you don’t want to crush, but then you have to be pragmatic about it.”

And once it’s humming along, you need to stay on top of it. “You need a complete team to manage it, because once you put that in place, and your customers are used to it, you can’t back off,” says Banks. “You must keep it moving forward.”

To keep moving forward, join the conversation with Quinn Banks and director of marketing technology, Stewart Rogers, in this interactive VB Live event! You’ll learn more about how machine learning is transforming industries, what it really takes to implement it in the real world, executive buy-in and more.

Don’t miss out!

Register here for free.

In this VB Live event, you’ll:

  • Learn how cognitive technologies scale across mobile devices (including cars)
  • Evaluate the value of a machine learning product to your organization
  • Tailor your data structure to optimize for future machine learning initiatives


  • Quinn Banks, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Farmers Insurance
  • Stewart Rogers, Director of Marketing Technology, VentureBeat


  • Wendy Schuchart, Analyst, VentureBeat