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Former Apple CEO John Sculley Says AI is the Future of Marketing

Matt D'Angelo
Matt D'Angelo
Freelance Writer

John Sculley, co-founder of Zeta Global, says data is the fuel for the 21st century.

Marketing and advertising are two rapidly changing fields. The days of targeting wide swaths of people are waning. Instead, businesses are beginning to hone in on more specific audience groups. 

Part of that transition involves embracing artificial intelligence. AI is expected to become a $30 billion industry by 2025, according to Statista.

John Sculley is someone at the forefront of this change. As the former CEO of Apple and former President of Pepsi, Sculley helped build corporate empires through innovative marketing strategies and strong leadership. Now he's applying those lessons to the current business landscape – as the co-founder of Zeta Global, Sculley is embracing AI technology and its market potential. 

We recently spoke with Sculley about artificial intelligence, person-based marketing and the changing small business marketing landscape.

Q: How has artificial intelligence already changed the business landscape? 

A: There are three different types of AI: Assistant Intelligence, like Waze, the smart GPS that has been incorporated into Google Maps. [It's] very task specific and already indispensable.

Then there is Autonomous Intelligence like self-driving automobiles ... where many sensors are giving the AI system instant feedback to self-navigate. [It's a] perfect example of machine learning from other machines. Still, more development is needed before full commercialization.

[Finally] there is Augmented Intelligence, where an AI system can do things that humans couldn't do on their own. New drug discovery is an example. 

Q: How can small businesses and entrepreneurs implement artificial intelligence today?

A: Many marketing services are now embedding machine learning technology into their solutions. Many consumer companies are making the transition to personalized marketing. AI will be foundational for consumer products and services that want to target a specific consumer based on detailed personal data and match it with predictions of what might appeal to them. Oil and electricity fueled the 20th century world. Now smart data is the fuel for the 21st century world.  

Q: What impact does artificial intelligence have on small business marketing?

A: [It's] still early days with AI for small business. I expect small businesses will rapidly become big users over the next few years. Costs of AI are dropping. Ten years ago, the iPhone was new. So was Facebook, YouTube and many other disruptive products and services that we can hardly imagine how we could live life without [now]. In time, AI will become pervasive just like these other transformative innovations.

Q: What is person-based marketing?

A: Traditionally, marketers created advertising campaigns based on broad-themed selling propositions that targeted demographically defined audiences. Personalized marketing is entirely different. It starts by analyzing massive amounts of personalized data and scores a consumer's likes and dislike behavior to make predictions on what is the best marketing message for each individual consumer [to] motivate a potential customer to buy your product or service. Cloud-based computing and machine learning together have made it possible to customize marketing messages and instantly measure their effectiveness. If the first try doesn't do the job, then the system instantly recalculates and adjusts the offer.

Q: How is Zeta Global using AI to define the future of marketing?

A: When [CEO] David Steinberg and I co-founded Zeta Global 10 years ago, our vision was to revolutionize consumer marketing. Zeta Global now has 750 million profiled names and thousands of data points for each individual. We never sell personalized data. What we do is to enable some of the largest and most successful marketers with a powerful solution to maximize their marketing dollar investment. We are one of the largest and fastest growing personalized marketing companies in the world. AI is an important foundation within our platform.

Image Credit: John Sculley/Zeta Global
Matt D'Angelo
Matt D'Angelo
business.com Contributing Writer
See Matt D'Angelo's Profile
I've worked for newspapers, magazines and various online platforms as both a writer and copy editor. Currently, I am a freelance writer living in NYC. I cover various small business topics, including technology, financing and marketing on business.com and Business News Daily.