Haya Ajjan talks with CBS News about how AI is reshaping marketing and e-commerce

Ajjan, associate dean of the Love School of Business and a professor of management information systems, spoke with the national news outlet about how artificial intelligence technologies are impacting customer search experiences.

Ever wonder how social media or e-commerce sites can serve up the perfect shopping suggestion for you? That’s thanks to the use of algorithms that take into account your past behavior online, and now artificial intelligence technologies are making the predictive power of these algorithms even greater.

Elon University Associate Dean of the Martha & Spencer Love School of Business, Associate Professor MIS, and Gordon Professor of Entrepreneurship Haya Ajjan

Haya Ajjan, associate dean of the Love School of Business and a professor of management information systems, recently spoke with CBS News to shed more light on how AI is impacting how retailers can tailor offerings to a user’s preferences and past shopping behaviors.

“When I go to Amazon, I feel like sometimes what it’s recommending to me is exactly what I need to purchase,” Ajjan told CBS News reporter Kerry Breen. “It’s even taking away the search that I was about to embark on, but the way that this is done is typically that the algorithm analyzes my online activities, how I browse the web, where I’m searching, and then tries to anticipate my need. Sometimes I think that the websites I’m using are kind of anticipating my need, or even a need that I did not know I had.”

Ajjan compared social media to the famed Christmas windows in the flagship Macy’s department store in New York City.

“Those are really famous, associated with shopping and attracting the audience and driving our purchase intent. It’s exactly the same way we’re interacting with Instagram or TikTok,” Ajjan said. “Research shows 62% of shoppers report interest in a product or brand after actually seeing it on their story or feed. I think that’s really powerful. 49% of consumers rely on influencers … Social media channels are changing the way that we shop.”

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Ajjan, who is also the Gordon Professor of Entrepreneurship, teaches data analytics and information systems courses in Elon’s undergraduate business and MBA programs. She started the Center for Organizational Analytics at Elon and was instrumental in developing the curriculum for M.S. in Management concentration in Organizational Analytics. She earned her MBA and doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Belk College of Business. Her research focuses on better understanding the impact of technology use on individuals, groups, and organizations. She has authored research articles that have appeared in national and international journals, such as the Journal of Business Research, the European Journal of Operations Research, Behaviour & Information Technology, the British Journal of Educational Technology, the Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice and the Journal of Enterprise Information Management.