‘Generative AI Must Complement Human Creativity, Not Replace It’: Accenture Song

Generative AI should be used to complement human creativity, not replace it — and brands who choose to go for AI alone in their marketing risk blending in.

That’s the message from Mark Curtis, Accenture Song’s global head of innovation and sustainability, who sees a ‘trend to mediocrity’ if we become too dependent on generative AI.

Mark CurtisWe recently sat down with Curtis to discuss the Accenture Life Trends 2024 report (PDF) and how the visible and invisible bonds between people and their world are changing.

Curtis provides invaluable insights into how generative AI influences our interactions with the world and what new opportunities artificial intelligence might unveil.

About Mark Curtis

Mark Curtis is the Global Sustainability & Thought Leadership Lead for Accenture Song, leading the company’s global sustainability studio, which helps clients reinvent and scale sustainable models of consumption through human insight, technology, and creativity.

Before this role, Mark served as Accenture Song’s Global Metaverse Lead and co-led Accenture’s Metaverse Continuum Business Group, and previously he was Chief Client Officer and a co-founder of Fjord. He is a serial entrepreneur and innovator who has worked in media, digital, mobile, and design for over 30 years. Accenture acquired Fjord in May 2013.​

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Key Takeaways

  • Generative AI is transforming consumer engagement with personalized, conversational digital interactions.
  • Companies must blend generative AI with core brand values for distinctive creativity.
  • Generative AI, when augmenting human creativity rather than replacing it, fosters unique, innovative content.
  • Ethical use of generative AI is vital for consumer trust and responsible business practices.

Generative AI’s Impact on Consumer Behavior

Q: How is generative AI transforming the ways in which consumers interact with digital platforms, and what implications does this have for businesses regarding personalization and customer experience? 

A: We are only just scraping the surface of how generative AI has the power to transform the consumer experience. One trend that we’re seeing is that information discovery is shifting from traditional search methods to a more conversational model.

This allows brands to understand the customer on an entirely new level, enabling them to provide consumers with the personalized experience they consistently ask for.

This comes as customer loyalty is dwindling, demanding organizations redirect their attention to the consumer experience as a pathway to growth and longevity.

Generative AI can be leveraged in customer service, marketing, and design to enhance consumer touchpoints and drive long-term loyalty.

By leveraging generative AI to upgrade how brands interact with their customers, companies can differentiate themselves and help future-proof their business.

Balancing Innovation and Tradition

Q: With the rise of generative AI, how can companies balance adopting this cutting-edge technology while maintaining the essence of their traditional brand values and customer relationships? 

A: With generative AI, companies can produce on-demand creative concepts, but that process should be augmented with creatives who have the proper budget, time, and opportunity to harness the technology; otherwise, these concepts run the risk of not being differentiated enough (remember, generative AI is an averaging engine) and straying from a brand’s core values/representation in a saturated market.

In a world of abundant options and rapid technological advances, it’s more important than ever for companies to get clarity on their brand’s identity (and how it flexes in multiple interactions) and culture to inform their creative briefs better and understand the risks they’re willing to take.

Addressing the Creativity Stagnation

Q: The Accenture report mentions a “meh-diocrity” trend in creativity due to technological influences. How can generative AI be leveraged to enhance, rather than stifle, human creativity in content creation and marketing?

A: Generative AI should be used to complement human creativity, not replace it. Brands that fall victim to the allure of using generative AI alone to generate creative concepts will ultimately risk blending in.

If tools like generative AI replace craft and creativity, the risk is a permanent shift to mediocrity—just with a higher bar!

When effectively employed, generative AI can generate initial concepts that creatives can further develop, turning their ideas into tangible realities. This synergy can lead to creatives producing high-quality work more efficiently and technologists becoming innovative co-creators.

When engaging with generative AI, visionaries should adhere to three fundamental principles: first, prioritizing both the quality of the work and achieving the optimal outcome for the intended audience; and second, maintaining a keen concentration on the brief is essential to prevent being overwhelmed by the myriad of possibilities presented by the technology.

Lastly, understand how tech platforms, tools, and discovery constrain you to do the same as everyone else.

Consumer Trust and Ethical Considerations

Q: With the increasing use of generative AI in customer interactions, what are the key ethical considerations businesses must address to maintain consumer trust, particularly regarding data privacy and AI-generated content?

A: Responsible AI has multiple aspects, including copyright, rising carbon emissions, data security, and hallucination.

Although generative AI can bolster a business, companies must employ responsible AI. We found that 35% of consumers believe everyone is responsible for discussing responsible and healthy technology use.

This requires conscious creation, advancement, and implementation of AI with good intentions to empower both employees and businesses with a fair and beneficial impact on customers and society.

A privacy-first approach ensures sensitive data is never used unethically. Notably, companies should ensure AI transparency and develop algorithms using data that is as impartial as possible to minimize unintended bias.

Lastly, employees are a company’s best checkpoint and should be empowered to raise concerns at any point to address any issues promptly.

Navigating Economic Challenges

Q: In the context of the report’s findings on customer experience being deprioritized due to economic pressures, how can businesses effectively integrate generative AI without exacerbating this trend and instead use it to enhance customer value?

A: Generative AI can enable brands to make their customers feel more deeply understood than ever before due to its natural language functionality.

As consumer expectations skew towards personalized and pertinent products and services, the multimodal capability of generative AI opens doors to next-generation sensory experiences.

This creates content that connects with people unprecedentedly, fueling solid and personal relationships between brands and customers.

Future of Work with Generative AI

Q: How do you envision the role of generative AI in transforming the workplace, particularly in enhancing employee productivity and fostering innovation?

A: Generative AI should be used to augment human talent rather than replace it. Research from our recent Pulse of Change report found that close to 9 in 10 organizations claim generative AI contributes positively to the employee experience, and 68% say generative AI enhances employee productivity.

Generative AI can be an incredibly effective tool for automating tedious tasks so that leaders can foster an environment that empowers employees to prioritize strategic thinking solving for more complex business challenges. AI will likely replace extensive parts of current white-collar jobs — companies need to be aware there will be extensive public debate about this.

Overcoming Technological Overload

Q: As the report suggests, consumers have a growing sense of technological overload. How can companies use generative AI to simplify, rather than complicate, the user experience?

A: As the Life Trends findings revealed, more than 25% of people feel technology has made their lives more complex. From an enterprise perspective, this means it’s essential for companies to be thoughtful and strategic when implementing new technologies into business operations.

While tools like generative AI can be harnessed to analyze large amounts of information across platforms, companies need to properly train their employees to accelerate the value-add to their business.

From a customer experience perspective, generative AI can help solve critical business challenges. For example, 47% of consumers feel undervalued due to poor customer service. A third of respondents felt it took more work to get help or even reach customer service.

Generative AI services can streamline these communications while tracking customer sentiment to understand better and improve customer experience.

Generative AI in Navigating New Life Paths

Q: With the trend towards the “Decade of Deconstruction” and changing life goals, how can generative AI assist businesses in understanding and adapting to these evolving consumer life paths and preferences?

A: Understanding and meeting customer needs is more than just a business goal – it’s a way to develop personal connections and enhance customer experiences. However, businesses should be aware that 41% of people who use technology often feel it complicates and simplifies their lives today.

Generative AI can help brands and platforms significantly improve by simplifying and customizing the customer experience. Notably, it can understand customers’ wants and needs in real time. This rapid adjustment to evolving customer preferences ensures that brands can deliver the right content or product to audiences at the right moment.

Brands can leverage a pivotal competitive advantage by dynamically serving content optimized for individuals rather than relying solely on cohorts and segments. This approach can underscore the versatility and precision of generative AI in catering to individual user needs.

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Neil C. Hughes
Senior Technology Writer

Neil is a freelance tech journalist with 20 years of experience in IT. He’s the host of the popular Tech Talks Daily Podcast, picking up a LinkedIn Top Voice for his influential insights in tech. Apart from Techopedia, his work can be found on INC, TNW, TechHQ, and Cybernews. Neil's favorite things in life range from wandering the tech conference show floors from Arizona to Armenia to enjoying a 5-day digital detox at Glastonbury Festival and supporting Derby County.  He believes technology works best when it brings people together.