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Using AI for new product development

AI can improve the way publishers currently work and it can also enable the development and launch of completely new product offerings. Markus Karlsson, CEO of Affino, looks at the opportunities.

By Markus Karlsson

Using AI for new product development

Q: How can AI assist in new product development?

A: AI is already ubiquitous. You can hardly buy a device or newly launched software without some AI inclusion.

Focusing on media, the sweet spot right now is to use AI to leverage the existing media archives, and to add value to new content and experiences as they are being created.

The two most effective ways to do this are to create more immersive expert systems, and to use AI to convert content automatically between different formats.

If we start with text articles, both current and archived, leveraging them to create expert systems using AI can in many cases leapfrog building extensive data products which require heavy investment while at the same time delivering a great deal of the insight they would have provided for a fraction of the cost.

An example would be to adapt the content of static online directories and create a new conversational interface where users can, for instance, ask for a list of ten travel operators to Bermuda, with contact details, in a table. Which is far more effective than simply listing them out on screen as the data can instantly be imported / used in emails, for calling users and more. This can be taken further and extended using agents to then automatically contact those operators via email and collate any replies to questions.

When it comes to news and opinion pieces. These can be used to create a number of focused expert systems, each built on specific themes, eg. Theatre reviews can be used to create an interactive service for exploring questions like: Who got the best reviews for their Hamlet, or which directors has this actor worked with, or who did the set design for The Mousetrap?

Equally exciting is the conversion between media formats. The end user tends to have different modes that they are in when they are consuming media, so the ability to create audio and video versions of text content automatically is going to be increasingly valuable. It means the content can bridge platforms, eg. text to images for Instagram, short audio clips and even audio news summaries on your website and the podcasting platforms, and automated generation of videos although the video component doesn’t quite feel ready for primetime.

Q: What will be possible in the future?

A: We already have the situation now where a single business owner can run a media company with the right tools, working alongside contracted editors and journalists. AI services are not far off being able to cover many of the remaining aspects required for day-to-day media creation and commercial operations.

So, for some media products, in particular ones with elements of ‘churnalism’, they will mostly be automated, with some human safeguards.

For others, AIs will be used to massively simplify most of the mundane work that needs doing, allowing the human team members to focus more on the public facing side of media. It will, for example, greatly lower the skill and cost of producing studio grade video.

We are already seeing early prototypes of AI software which can produce scripts for TV programmes and then generate the entire video and audio for them. This will be a gamechanger for producing TV and film content. The same for music production where AIs are already used throughout the music production process.

In the future, you will be able to task AIs with creating new media brands, populate them with content and analyse how the audience interacts to see if the concept sticks. You could extend that to creating fully AI driven virtual events, and if a concept sticks, bring in the human element with real editors, commentators, researchers and presenters.

This will be the massive challenge ahead for media owners, since the cost of rolling out media brands and creating content will greatly decline, meaning there will be exponentially more available to consumers. Probably the biggest factor will be how effectively the trust factor is built into brands so an AI which helps with driving that trust forward will be a key factor in brand building.

For B2B product development, the holy grail is to produce widgets which are essential to transactions within the business, think Spotify for music, Uber for transport, Amazon for product search and delivery. Media companies who are able to produce priceless intel and transactional tools that become essential for their sector will always be the winners. AI services can greatly shorten this product development cycle and in many cases, greatly reduce the cost.

The key is to keep a very close eye on what is possible on the AI side and be ready to build prototypes and deploy them to your community at the earliest opportunity. Media companies who get this right will then be on the same exponential growth curve as tech startups who achieve the same breakthrough services.

Three top tips

  1. Try things out, and fully embrace the opportunities from AI. Those that don’t will be seriously challenged even in the near future.
  2. Start envisaging how your content could be transformed into great new expert or entertainment services.
  3. Build prototypes; this is a journey and you have to get started on it. You’ll learn more from creating prototypes than anything else.

Markus and the other contributors to our AI Special took part in an ‘AI Special – Q&A’ webinar on Wednesday, 26 June. You can watch the recording by registering here.

About us

Founded in 2009, ours is the leading AI-infused Unified Business Platform, suitable for most businesses and organisations. The Affino SaaS Platform provides a complete single customer view solution for engaging with and monetising audiences. It combines audience CRM with automation, ecommerce, subscriptions and memberships, events, ad serving, and expert AI solutions.



This article was included in the AI Special, published by InPublishing in June 2024. Click here to see the other articles in this special feature.