Watson Takes Center Stage at Amplify 2016

With the breadth of marketing automation tools available, this is the dawn of a golden age of marketing, with all roads pointing toward engaging the customer at deeper levels than ever before, said Harriet Green, IBM‘s VP and GM, Internet of Things, Commerce & Education, opening the general session at Amplify 2016. 

“We can record every move a customer makes as they navigate a website; we have heat maps that follow foot traffic through store; we can analyze unsolicited social sentiments about brands in real time,” Green said.

Outthink Ordinary, held May 16-18 in Tampa, drew more than 3,500 marketers, technology partners, and other industry insiders.

Green also noted the problem, all too familiar to CMOs, to leverage the vast amount of data now in play. “There is so much info available in so many places and so many forms—we aren’t able to digest all it,” Green said. “It surrounds us, overwhelms us, and much of it goes unused.”

To ensure the “goldmine of information” – the “hundreds of zegabytes” –  accumulated annually provides the insight and competitive advantage it is designed to do rather than go to waste, IBM is harnessing the power of its Watson computing system’s to bring cognitive computing to the marketing environment.

Cognitive computing will now be infused across IBM’s suite of marketing and merchandising platforms, with the goal of helping brands access the “messy human data” previously off limits to computers.

Watson’s tour de force is its ability to analyze multiple and diverse data sets across platforms and channels, offer actionable insights and predictions, and, this is key, to understand, reason, and learn from its interactions.

For example, as part of its game plan to dig deep into customer data, Green pointed to IBM’s fall acquisition of The Weather Channel. Acknowledged or not, weather is a determining factor in our behaviors – we buy certain products when the weather is bad, different ones when the weather turns good. Watson will combine data gathered by The Weather Channel with customer data from other sources (such as social media) to help predict buying behavior.

”Watson understands natural language and has contextual understanding of marketing tactics,” said Kareem Yusef, VP, offering management and development, IBM Commerce , during his time on the podium. “It is able to offer well-reasoned suggestions based on experiential learning.”

Why should marketers take the advice of a computer platform? “Because they can see the reasoning that the system has gone to reach that decision,” said Yusef. “Also, they can further train the systems to give the marketer what they want.”

IBM wants you to think of its embedded expertise as a learned colleague, a “teammate,” that you can call on at will (via computer chat) to work by your side. 

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