So many of our everyday marketing decisions are driven by data. Companies have caught on to the importance of gathering data, and do so now from across multiple platforms. In fact, so much data is being collected these days that by 2020 it will have quadrupled what was accumulated in 2015, according to the market research firm, International Data Corp.

Data’s value though comes from using it to garner insights and then putting those insights into practice to improve your business. That’s why artificial intelligence has made its way into marketing lingo over the past few years. Something needed to be done to harness all the data. Today, sites like Pinterest use AI to program their systems to assist with a range of activities such as classifying images and SalesForce Platform, Einstein uses a layer of AI to help companies make daily sales predictions.

Now we need to make way for machine learning, which is the next step beyond AI. Where AI requires systems to be programmed to perform activities, machine learning provides computers the ability to learn without being specifically programmed. The technology identifies the patterns, builds insights, and then automatically acts on those insights. No coding from users is needed, learning happens through examples.

Innovative marketers recognize the need to continually evaluate new technologies and consider adoption for their organization. However, machine learning may seem a little “Star Wars” like for some and it may be a couple years before its adoption by companies is more mainstream, especially depending on the company’s size.

There are some interesting things to look at with machine learning that should be put on your marketing radar. As noted in the May issue of CRM magazine, machine learning is a horizontal technology, so marketers can apply it to any part of customer engagement.

We’re talking about everything from advertising to social media. Let’s cover some examples so you can get a sense of its impact on different marketing activities. In advertising, sophisticated software knows how to bid on real-time opportunities and has been perfected over the past couple of years to recognize if users are clicking on their ads and to then purchase more display ads. It’s expected to continue evolving to produce real-time, personalized advertising with optimized messaging that reaches customers across all the platforms they use.

Marketing campaigns regardless of where they start out like on TV or radio, often drive customers to trackable landing pages. Now with machine learning added in, search and social media is enhanced and can monitor where users click to produce valuable insights into the sales process.

Customer service is another biggie, companies are targeting machine learning to improve. According to a Forrester Research report Artificial Intelligence: What’s Possible for Enterprises, 57 percent of executives believe its most significant benefit will be improving customer experiences and support and 58 percent want to tackle the most challenging marketing issues with machine learning first such as personalized customer care and new product development. A piece of this requires using sentiment analysis to try and identify the emotions that customers are feeling so customer care reps can respond in a more empathetic manner.

Social sentiment can also be captured by machine learning on social media. Over 3.5 billion snapchat videos are generated daily and using this technology allows marketers to filter and identify which customers are and could be potential brand champions. Something every company is looking for right now.

Machine learning tools offer endless possibilities for truly utilizing data across a spectrum of marketing initiatives. Its implementation will require the right company culture and honestly, probably some more time. Machine learning is still in its infancy. Organizations need to be paying attention to case studies around its use to clearly understand expectation, factors, and results. This will also give companies time to prepare their organizations so they can fully take advantage of this technology.