• Songshan Ciyou Temple near Raohe night market, Taipei

There’s a sense of urgency in Asia to capitalize on AI, not only to compete but to lead globally. Appier, established six years ago in Taiwan, is one of these firms. I recently attended its first analyst event in Taipei to better understand how the company approaches the AI opportunity and helps its clients deliver business and customer value. The young company — which has, so far, raised US$82 million in funding from firms like Sequoia Capital, United Overseas Bank, and Line — has a portfolio of AI-based offerings that mainly focus on digital marketing use cases in Asia Pacific. Its “killer app”? It leverages machine learning techniques to track online users across devices without collecting any personal identifiable information. These are my key takeaways from this event, both for buyers and AI solution vendors:

  • AI delivers significant business value when the use case is narrow enough. Appier’s cross-device tracking solution CrossX AI enables marketers to shift from a channel-centric to a customer-centric view, deliver more relevant and timely marketing campaigns, and drive better customer engagement. Companies like Carrefour and Paktor in Taiwan have already achieved significant increase in click-through rates, conversion rates and revenue growth, while optimizing their advertising spending.
  • Customer data privacy and ethics are not front and center, but they must be. Recent events involving use of customer data at Facebook, but also at Experian, have shown that tech vendors will likely face rising customer and regulatory pressure to come up with fair and reasonable data practices and be transparent about them. This was the key missing piece for me during the Appier event. Some Asian markets might still be more lax when it comes to personal data protection, but even China’s government is closely looking at and learning from these recent cases. AI vendors like Appier that collect customer online behaviors and create profiles that are then sold to clients to enrich their own audience will have to clarify their customer data practices.
  • AI will move from tactical to more strategic value with human support. Appier is working on broadening its catalog of use cases — also including customer-service-related use cases — through its Aixon predictive analytics and machine learning platform. A managed service offer helps firms at the beginning of their AI journey to get access to relevant skills, process knowledge, and domain expertise to deliver business outcomes more quickly. Getting the most of AI investments indeed means looking beyond technology and implementing the relevant processes and capabilities to develop an insights-driven business. Appier will have to develop a relevant consulting capability or rely on consulting partners to help their clients build such critical business capability.

My colleague Xiaofeng Wang is currently working on a report detailing the role of AI in marketing in Asia. In this report, she will be able to bring a lot more depth and analysis on how advanced marketers in Asia deliver value to their business and customers leveraging AI technologies. Please let us know if you would like to participate in this research!