Prepare for the Future of AI-Powered Customers

By Kasey Panetta | 4-minute read | September 12, 2023

Big Picture

5 ways to court AI-enabled machine customers

Digital-savvy business leaders can do these five things today to appeal to machine customers and their sizable wallets as their population grows and they become more sophisticated, powerful and independent decision makers and transactors.

No. 1: Make all your product and service information easily accessible to AI-powered customers.

  • Machine customers may be searching on 100 different variables, and you need to supply data for all of them, depending on where they are in the purchase process.

  • Provide and encourage API access, and make sure CAPTCHA and other bot-thwarting tools are not shutting out legitimate machine customer revenue.

No. 2: Add machine customers to your core digital commerce and sales strategy.

  • Strive to be exceptional at digital commerce, including all digital touchpoints, such as social media, mobile apps and chatbots. Machine customers will start appearing in these spaces.

  • Consider the impact of these buyers on the way you sell and provide information. For example, consider creating a machine customer platform to interact with third parties through automated log-owner permissions and preferences, manage and initiate tasks and facilitate payment receipts.

“The buying behavior of AI-powered customers is logical and rational. Decades of insight and training in marketing and selling to human customers may suddenly become irrelevant.”

No. 3: Develop a strong commercial partnership between sales, marketing, supply chain, IT and analytics.

  • Ensure your cross-functional team creates one to three scenarios that explore what happens when AI-enabled machine customers start buying from you. 

  • The supply chain must be agile enough to respond to unexpected demand patterns.

No. 4: Start hiring and training sales and service staff to work with AI agents.

  • Sales and service staff need to understand and possibly crack the algorithms that drive machine customers’ purchase behavior or after-sale service demands. 

  • These employees need a basic understanding of how AI-driven purchasers function; some positions may require a data science background.

No. 5: Alert and train customer-facing staff to spot machine customers.

  • Bots powered by generative AI’s large language models may already be posing as humans and trying to negotiate, book and buy from you through text-chat-based customer service lines, and perhaps even via telephone calls using high-quality voice synthesis.

  • Their buying behavior is logical and rational. In some cases, decades of insight and training in marketing and selling to human customers may suddenly become irrelevant.

The story behind the research

  • From the desk of Mark Raskino, Distinguished VP Analyst

    “While AI bot replacements for employees might do as you say, AI-enabled machine customers — nonhuman economic actors that obtain goods and services in exchange for payment — will do as they see fit. If you serve them well, they can grow your addressable market. If you ignore their needs, you may not even see them walk away.”

  • Book: When Machines Become Customers

    CEOs believe machine customers will account for up to 20% or more of revenue by 2030. This book will help you to take full advantage of this trillion-dollar opportunity.

  • Webinar: Machine Customers as a Growth-Driver

    Billions of AI-powered devices will soon be your customers. Join Gartner Distinguished VP Analysts Don Scheibenreif and Mark Raskino to hear what a machine customer really is, the growth opportunities for your business, and best practices to ready your organization for this megatrend.

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3 things to tell your peers


AI is accelerating the trend of devices and machines becoming customers.


AI-powered customers behave very differently from human customers — to start, the former are more rational and logical.


Sales, marketing and customer service must all prepare to attract, retain and serve the unique needs of machine customers — or risk losing revenue.

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Mark Raskino is a Gartner Fellow in the CEO and Digital Business Leadership research team. Mark works primarily with CIOs and their business executive colleagues. He covers business and technology trends and their implications for business strategy, innovation, business models, leadership and executive relationships. Mr. Raskino's research includes Gartner's annual CEO survey and CIO resolutions. He co-authored the books "Digital to the Core" (Gartner, 2015) and "Mastering the Hype Cycle" (Harvard Business Press, 2008). He is a frequent keynote speaker and keynote interviewer.

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