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    Artificial intelligence (AI) has been the “next big thing” for a while now. AI brings machine intelligence to the analysis of all the “big data” that’s being accumulated. While the real impact of AI on the real estate business may still be years away, understanding its capabilities and potential now will lead to new applications and innovations.

    Here are 3 things you need to know about AI

    1. Beyond aggregating data

    AI is better equipped than us humans to parse the millions of data points captured on an ongoing basis through all the various channels. Using complex algorithms, AI is able to search seemingly random data to identify patterns of behavior and emerging trends.

    For example, an AI program could identify winning marketing strategies at key touch points throughout the sales process that lead to increased conversion rates. Then, AI could modify existing marketing campaigns to replicate those past successes.

    2. Are you talking to me?

    Because AI has the ability to recognize patterns in data, it can be harnessed to assist clients directly.

    Intelligent chatbots are familiar to anyone who’s used an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system when calling just about any company — “Please say or enter your account number.”  The difference between traditional IVR and an intelligent chatbot is that the IVR application’s ability to understand natural language is augmented by machine learning, enabling it to adapt and improve responses based on experience. In other words, the more you interact with a bot, the better it is able to answer your questions. Today’s digital assistants are much brighter than those sophisticated and often complex “call trees” of the past.

    Bots work by recognizing words or phrases provided by the user in either a spoken word or typed question. The bot then searches for the output that most closely corresponds to the questions in order to continue the conversation. Bots can be used to carry out transactions, answer questions, and capture customer feedback.

    These same abilities are embedded in virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and OK Google enabling them to better serve us with continued use. In addition to these virtual assistants, bots can be found on most company sites and their corresponding apps, retail shopping websites, and instant messaging apps like Facebook Messenger. Non-assistant applications include chatbots used for entertainment purposes, for research, and “social bots” which promote a particular product, candidate, or issue.

    3. Resistance is futile

    When the topic of AI comes up, it is often described as a threat to human jobs. While AI does pose a real threat, it remains to be seen whether or not homes will be sold by robots in the near future. AI works best when combined with human ingenuity. It saves time when it comes to analyzing large data sets and uncovering potential gains as revealed in patterns of behavior. It can also deliver first tier client services around the clock, saving both time and money.

    The Bottom Line

    Back in the 1950s and early 60s when IBM was introducing its mainframe computers to large corporations, there were many people who believed that these smart machines would come to dominate their creators. Many fear the same from AI today. AI presents both a challenge and an opportunity. Fear will not prevent the development of AI. Instead, by beginning to develop knowledge and understanding of this new technology, real estate agents will have a new tool to use to find and serve more new customers and convert them to future referral partners.

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