Artificial Intelligence - Watching me, watching you

In today's world it increasingly seems as if we're living in an episode of a 1970s science fiction series - with so many futuristic notions currently becoming reality. When it comes to web development, something which is very much in the here and now is artificial intelligence (AI) and it's being used to both enhance user experience and to make the lives of content managers just that little bit easier. And, as you'd expect, Sitecore and Lake Solutions are at the forefront of embracing the potential of AI and all that it has to offer. 

AI is one of the most discussed technologies in the world today, with the potential to alter the way we interact with brands across all platforms. It is already impacting on our everyday lives - with many of us utilising a face recognition system to unlock our phones or have friends tagged in images. Here an algorithm analyses the relative position, size and/or shape of the eyes, nose, cheekbone and jaw. These features are then used to search for other images with matching features.

AI has a growing role when it comes to the image content we have on our websites - not only is it a useful tool for keeping track of website assets but it also has a vital role to play in security, particularly in areas such as forum moderation.

Technology exists now to very quickly analyse images and videos, which delivers results about what the image contains. AI can recognise people, analyse whether they are male or female and give a pretty good guess at their ages. It can estimate if the person is happy or sad, or, if the photo contains the image of a well-known person. 

If you're a company which potentially holds hundreds or thousands of photos of beaches, mountains and cities online - AI is a useful way to find that perfect image you need for a blog or a promotional piece by using some simple search terms.

If your website includes a forum or any place where customers or visitors can leave comments, then Sitecore's workflow can be utilised to enforce moderation, AI can provide a level of 'policing' too. As described above, it can analyse images and flag up photographs which may contain nudity or something with adult content. AI can also read text in images, including handwritten text - so those increasingly popular picture messages can be checked out too.

Today, your content will be viewed on multiple platforms - from tablets to mobiles - and your images will display differently on them all. We've all visited websites where photographs look great on a PC - but open it on a mobile and the focus of the image has disappeared off the edge of the screen… 

Cropping images for different platforms is a time-consuming job for content managers and it doesn't always work … but this is where Lake Solution is working to utilise the latest technologies. AI can work out where the focal point of an image is - even if it's off centre and crop photos to work best in the different platforms. The photo thus looks great in any format - saving time in content creation, while also creating a better user experience. 

Moving forward, using AI will see websites capable of producing increasingly more intelligent responses to questions and commands, enabling brands to interact with their online customers in a more personalised manner - which can only lead to increased engagement. 

There are chat bots already at work in forums and in online retail stores and these are getting increasingly more skilled at predicting customer reactions and adapting the website experience for customers in real time. Using the very latest technology, Sitecore is able to process information and data from users, utilising it to create an enhanced customer experience. 

This is particularly relevant in online stores - where, using AI, customers are experiencing an increasingly personalised visit. It can feel like you've got your very own personal shopper, virtually covering the retail 'floor' to present you with items that you might like to purchase. 

Sitecore is already working on embedding machine learning into its core product with Sitecore Cortex.  Enabling advanced content testing against complex visitor profiles to ensure the maximum value is gained from your content and conversion points.

So watch this space as AI and machine learning is making websites work better for content authors, consumers and increasing engagement along the way.

Article Details

Ian Jepp
22 February 2018