Twilio calls on OpenAI for generative AI


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Twilio is continuing to build out its customer engagement platform capabilities with the announcement today of a new integration with generative AI leader OpenAI.

The new integration will bring OpenAI’s GPT-4 model to the Twilio Engage platform, enables organizations to build highly customized and targeted marketing campaigns. 

Twilio has a large community of users and developers that build different types of customer engagement tools. Twilio says it has more than 10 million developers that use the company’s APIs and there has already been a series of efforts to bring the power of ChatGPT and its ability to generate responses with Twilio’s voice service. 

With the new GPT-4 integration, Twilio is aiming to formalize its work with OpenAI and plans on having OpenAI CEO Sam Altman speak at the Twilio Signal conference later this month.

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OpenAI is only one part of a larger initiative known as Twilio CustomerAI. Alex Millet, senior director of product at Twilio told VentureBeat that CustomerAI was first previewed in June, to bring both generative and predictive AI to Twilio’s community.

“This integration advances the generative piece of that vision, and will allow Twilio customers to use OpenAI’s GPT-4 model to create personalized customer journeys and marketing content within Twilio Engage, which is Twilio’s marketing automation solution built atop the Segment Customer Data Platform,” said Millet. 

Why generative AI is a fit for Twilio and its customers

For Twilio, there are a number of reasons why and where generative AI is a beneficial technology that will have business impact.

For one, there is a growing need for highly personalized customer interactions. Millet noted that recent Twilio research confirmed that consumer loyalty with any given brand hinges on high quality personalization and bespoke engagement. 

The Twilio report found that 56% of consumers will only become repeat buyers after a personalized experience — a 7% lift from the previous year’s report. Millet commented that this puts a lot of pressure on customer experience leaders and marketers to retain customers and maintain customer satisfaction levels, especially at a time when budgets are more constrained and team bandwidth is limited. 

That’s where Twilio sees generative and predictive AI fit in. Millet emphasized that the AI is only as good as the data that’s powering it, which is what Twilio provides with its customer data platform. Combining AI with good data, Millet expects that marketers will be able to achieve exceptional levels of personalization while reclaiming time spent on crafting communications from scratch.

The road ahead for Twilio CustomerAI

Twilio’s overall CustomerAI vision is broader than just incorporating OpenAI models.

To date, Twilio has also announced a series of additional AI vendor partnerships, including with Google and Frame AI in June, and with AWS in July. All those partnerships will come together to help enable the larger Twilio Customer AI vision. The real value in CustomerAI, according to Millet, is that businesses can organize and pair customer knowledge with generative and predictive AI capabilities to help them to better understand and provide deeper value to their customers.

“At its simplest, CustomerAI is about making it faster and easier for companies to deliver personalized experiences to customers,” said Millet. “It sounds straightforward, but the reality is that capturing all that signal across the entire customer journey — marketing, sales, customer service, product — in real-time is complex.”

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