AdForum Exclusive: An Interview with Robbee Minicola, President, Wunderman Seattle & Global Lead, Wunderman AI Services

Robbee Minicola, President, Wunderman Seattle & Global Lead, Wunderman AI Services sits down with AdForum to discuss their new AI services and more.

By Sarah Cullen

AdForum: Wunderman is the first agency to offer custom-built AI solutions independent of an OS device. Tell us about Wunderman’s AI Services and why it was launched. 

Robbee:
  device form factors grow to include speaking and listening devices, beyond atypical typing and reading devices like mobile phones and PCs, Wunderman has expanded its offering to build conversational databases for clients using artificial intelligence. These conversational databases allow brands to communicate with customers 24/7 either through chatbots, a voice activated interface, or virtual digital assistants.

This conversational “brain trust” can surface as proprietary mobile or web applications in the client’s domain or emerge in existing OS platforms like Alexa, Google Home, Siri, or Cortana.

The main point being that the client maintains 100% control over its customer data, all conversation exchanges with the customer and the brand can provide real time engagement that is suited to the way the customer thinks and interacts vs forcing a customer to plough through online web pages and customer care IVR directions to solve their need.

AdForum: Wunderman is described as having a strong performance in customer engagement strategy.  How do you think AI can improve this?

Robbee: Wherever and whenever a customer wishes to engage with our brands – Wunderman will be there. We will either be driving the communication content itself or developing the communication platform for our clients to then drive the content delivery.

Unlike traditional customer acquisition agencies, Wunderman is a global leader in customer retention – for this reason we are in the bunker with our clients, and their data, helping them retain and delight their customers.

Artificial intelligence represents a new communication platform where brands can communicate to customers on the customer’s terms…this can be through augmenting customer care or even the product itself through a variety of conversational technologies.

AdForum: Apart from marketing purposes, where else can you see such technological developments being beneficial?

Robbee: Simplistically, Artificial Intelligence takes two forms: one direction is the application of cognitive services to underlying machine learning algorithms basically humanizing the capability thus enabling humans to “converse” with a machine. The other form is where machine learning enters such an advanced stage of defining “unknown unknowns” using deep learning and neural networks that the intelligence is no longer constrained by humans (human intelligence) – but is advanced to a state of artificial intelligence.

Having defined the bifurcated intent of AI – one can easily see how conversational technologies can ultimately manifest as functional roles in an organization conducting trivial and rote tasks that previously required a human. When we think of neural networks and deep learning, this kind of AI can not only solve highly complex business problems – but also identify problems that were not known or obvious to humans and resolve them (unknown unknowns).

AdForum: How did the partnership between Microsoft and Wunderman begin?

Robbee: Wunderman has a long-established relationship with Microsoft so when we considered our first foray into AI – Microsoft was at the top of the list.

All of the AI platforms, Amazon, Google, IBM and Microsoft have only recently launched their AI capabilities – we selected Microsoft as our first partner due to their advanced capabilities, their service roadmap as part of their technology and research division, and the confidence our clients have in Microsoft Azure.

Wunderman intends to partner with all of the AI platforms to provide a ubiquitous service to our clients.

AdForum: As technology is rapidly changing, how do you intend on ensuring Wunderman’s AI Services does not become obsolete?

Robbee: As demonstrated by Wunderman being the first global agency to launch an AI service we are already at the forefront of activity in this area.

As conversational technologies grow to include IoT – where the client can exchange information and conversation with its customers inside the product itself – we will be there.

Wunderman’s premise is creatively driven, data inspired – and this claim is not limited to customer communication – it includes platforms, protocols, product development – all driving growth for our clients as we inspire their customers to take action and experience all the respective brand has to offer.