by Leo Jakobson | April 08, 2019

 Since the term was coined in 1955, artificial intelligence has often been used as a metaphor for the dehumanizing growth of technology from a servant into a master. And yet, it's all around us now. Rather than the HAL 9000 computer ominously warning, "I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that," AI today is taking a less sinister form, in the guise of Amazon's Alexa personal assistant and Tesla's self-driving cars. So it should come as no surprise that the incentive, reward and recognition industry is looking at how AI and the tools that go into it, like machine learning and predictive analytics, can be used to engage, recognize employees, channel partners and consumers.

"We are on the cusp of really understanding what AI and predictive analytics can tell us about motivating a population," says Melissa Van Dyke, president of the Incentive Research Foundation.

Why Artificial Intelligence Is the Next Motivation Strategy

Within the incentive industry, Maritz Motivation Solutions has led the way toward tapping the full potential of AI. Its Decision Sciences division, launched in 2017, puts predictive modeling and machine learning at the center of its offerings. The effort takes Maritz' ongoing work in neuroscience and behavioral economics and applies it to a system that learns more with each bit of data fed to it, refining its predictions of consumer behavior and employee preferences over time.

"Machine learning understands your preferences at a different level," says Maritz Motivation Solutions' chief data officer Jesse Wolfersberger, who heads up the Decision Sciences division. "We all get a ton of spam emails, but the ones that are really relevant can cut through that. If the messaging is relevant to the recipients, it should feel like we are shopping for them."

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