Why is Baidu so focused on AI technology?
First of all, Baidu is a technology company and our CEO Robin Li always says that technology can make life simpler. We are nearing the end of the mobile era and the next era will be the era of artificial intelligence which can simplify people’s lives. From the intelligent, smart devices surrounding us to the everyday items we touch such as televisions and fridges, artificial intelligence can improve our lives in many ways. In the future, everything will be connected and artificial intelligence will play a major role.
There are a lot of fears around artificial intelligence; do you think people are right to be concerned about this technology?
I think the misconceptions come from lots of science fiction movies; ideas that robots will take over the world and humans will be extinct. At Baidu, Robin Li believes that artificial intelligence should work with humans; humans should be in control or managing artificial intelligence.
Everything that we have is actually based on the technology that we created, so we are talking about artificial intelligence as something completely controllable. Before, when we were in the PC and mobile era, people were looking for information and Baidu would provide the information, but now, with the help of artificial intelligence, brands can target specific groups of people with specific information.
For example, luxury brands might be looking to target the younger generation. They might be seeking out a more interactive way to reach them and I think in this era, artificial intelligence can play a huge role. So you are not only waiting for people to find you, but you can also take a step forward and proactively reach out to the target audience. That’s how I see artificial intelligence. It’s not something we should fear as uncontrollable, it’s actually something we can control and in fact, it allows the message and audience to be much more controlled actually – which is better for brands, really. People can have much more control; it’s trackable and transparent and we won’t have any more wasted traffic.
The luxury industry is not known to be ahead of the curve when it comes to technology. Do you see that changing any time soon?
A lot of people say the luxury industry is really traditional; that they are not really focusing on new technology and new trends. But in recent years, lots of brands are actually coming up with innovative ideas and are accepting the fact that technology will help brands to recruit new and younger customers. Not all brands need or can only be focusing on the old traditional way of reaching out to consumers. For instance, Dior and Montblanc are engaging much more through the digital market. Louis Vuitton is, in fact, using Baidu AI’s facial recognition to support the launch of their first fragrance campaign here in China. They are using it as a way to target young office ladies, providing them with a more personalized experience when it comes to picking a fragrance or scent for themselves. These are the changes that I see. Even Dior used the idea of Pokémon Go on Baidu maps last year.
How do you think AI can help luxury brands win customers?
What makes the difference in China is the experience people have with shopping and engaging with luxury, through digital technology. Brands are increasingly looking for more interactive ways to make use of this. In terms of services, I see brands being highly active in trying to make the online and offline connection. With facial recognition, they are now able to build a repository of all the pictures customers have scanned with their cell phones, on the cloud. This can then be tracked at offline events, if CRM data has been integrated. So when these consumers who have been registered online, arrive at offline events or the store, brands would be able to better gauge their interest for certain items, allowing consumers to have a much better experience from the moment they step into the store.
Learn more about how brands can leverage Artificial Intelligence to better target consumers at the Luxury Society Keynote 2017. Seats are going fast, so register for a spot here now!