As an engineer by trade who went on to launch an A.I.-based, e-commerce focused, advertising platform, many assume that I haven’t had to strongly rely on the emotional intelligence of other people. That could not be further from the truth.
While bad tech can single-handedly sink even the most promising company, great technology will always need the superior instincts of insightful human beings in order to realize its full potential. When it comes to picking winners and losers, smart investors will always gauge the level of emotional intelligence at play behind key hiring decisions, judgment calls on development, methodology driving the branding strategy, and most importantly, receptivity to new technology.
Openness to emerging innovation might not be a full-proof indicator of emotional intelligence, but an utter lack of it is definitely a red flag. From the newly emerging to the firmly established, I have worked with thousands of Amazon merchants from vastly diverse backgrounds, and the one common trait that the successful ones all seem to share is emotional intelligence.
These are the sellers who understand that while thousands of data points support an algorithm in setting up a sale, it takes an actual human being to click on “add to cart.” These are the sellers who know how to read the room and trust their instincts when developing products. And these are the sellers who embrace Artificial Intelligence.
Emotionally intelligent humans aren’t intimidated by tools that surpass human capacity, they are inspired by them. They are comfortable in admitting that a scope of work is beyond them individually and have zero hesitation in recognizing the need for machine learning to gather and analyze billions of data points, interpret the results, and determine and implement voluminous courses of action simultaneously.
Then, with the burden of those superhuman tasks off their collective plates, they can focus on crucial initiatives that computers are notoriously bad at: creating relationships, fostering innovative thought, and motivating employees.
There are many different definitions of emotional intelligence and my favorite can be found in the Cambridge Dictionary: “The ability to understand the way people feel and react and to use this skill to make good judgments and to avoid or solve problems.” For those working in technology, I would say that the key word in that definition is “react.”
Over the past decades, I have embraced a torrent of new innovation, most of which has proven extremely helpful. But one hidden benefit of emerging innovation is the ability to observe and take note of how both colleagues and competitors react to it.
There are those who see innovation as invaluable, and those who see it as intimidating. Witnessing a person navigating that process has always given me a good indication as to their level of emotional intelligence and their likelihood of success. The arrival of A.I. has provided a wealth of anecdotal data on this front.
Due to the mammoth scale and stakes of any given retail media campaign, it takes a certain amount of faith to successfully execute and build an A.I.-driven marketing strategy. E-commerce advertisers lacking in emotional intelligence are more likely to react in fear to momentary downturns and pause the momentum in order to get some tangible grasp on the situation. This act of looking under the hood might be worth the time if the campaign was running on a traditional vehicle, but A.I. algorithms are essentially engines with billions of minuscule parts.
The emotionally intelligent sellers understand that A.I. is an extension of human intelligence, not a replacement for it. There simply aren’t enough human beings on the face of the Earth to conduct all the tasks being done by A.I. to connect marketers with the consumers who are most likely to buy.
There is no doubt that acceptance of A.I. is growing in our society. According to research conducted by the Capgemini Research Institute, 78 percent of executives believe that AI and automation will increase the demand for emotional intelligence.
As technology plays an increasingly influential role in the future, those with emotional intelligence — and demonstrating such skills as empathy, compassion, social understanding and persuasion while relying on their intuition — will become essential.
Unlike human beings, A.I. considers, analyzes and evaluates all information and data free of judgment, fueled solely by facts and evidence, and fully remembers all successes and failures. Emotionally intelligent people define insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. So naturally, they value the fact that artificial intelligence never makes the same mistake twice.