Cognition and the future of marketing

Cognition and the future of marketing

Cognition and the future of marketing
Many of us remember that night in 2011 when Jeopardy! all-stars Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings met their fate against the IBM Watson cognitive system. While many of us were highly entertained, some amazed and a few a little skeptical, many of us weren’t thinking at the time how this leap in the world of computing was going to impact our daily jobs.

Leaders across finance, human resources and marketing came together recently at the IBM outthink tour 2016 event in Toronto, Canada, to discuss how cognitive computing’s implications can help us think differently about, or outthink, our everyday roles. What are those implications? Before getting to that question, I’ll start with a little bit of background, such as what it is.

Cognitive computing is a self-learningsystem, or one that understands, reasons and learns—an easy way to remember it is URL. These systems have the ability to process large amounts of content in context from which they can formulate hypotheses and learn as they consume more data and results over time. Two brilliant capabilities of cognitive systems make them so exciting in this macro. These capabilities are the speed at which they can process information and formulate hypotheses and how they can make sense of structured and unstructured data. Moreover, they can make sense of the kind of data that our current technology stacks are unable to make any sense of such as video and audio content, data in user reviews and comments, and so on.

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As a marketer who has relinquished all control to buyers who want personalized experiences from immediately responsive brands, the idea of what cognition represents creates a potential life raft in a world where we’re drowning in technology and data. During the IBM outthink tour event, marketers were invited to a specific track for taking a closer look at some of the trends in marketing and what cognitive computing brings to bare. Following are my biggest takeaways as we continue along this transformation from delivering branded touch points to immersing our prospects and customers in brand experiences.

Carolyn Heller Baird, global research leader at the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) asked the audience, “Who owns customer experience in your organization?” Those in attendance immediately reached consensus that customer experience is a joint responsibility across multiple departments including customer service, marketing and sales. Simply seeing this type of shift in mind-set is a big step forward in our journey to build enhanced customer experiences.

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Yet, according to IBV’s research, when global chief marketing officers (CMOs) and other business and marketing leaders were asked what goals were driving their customer engagement efforts, the majority cited acquiring new customers significantly more than retaining or growing customer bases. Baird’s challenge to the audience was to consider how a reverse dynamic, one in which customer engagement strategies focused on retention and growth, could ultimately attract new customers. You can read more about Baird and the IBV Experience Report.

That we’re thinking about a cross-departmental approach to customer experience (CX) is itself a great transformation. Still, understanding what makes a great customer experience is critical to figuring out which department owns which portion of that experience. For my session, that’s exactly what our firm set out to explore. We came up with what we call the “3 A’s of CX,” for access, attitudes and agility.

Building an exceptional customer experience requires us to understand what our customers are looking for across multiple channels and devices. Two major considerations are in play as we venture down this path. First, how buyers are changing the way they use the devices we are familiar with. TVs are getting smarter. Face-to-face events are going digital. Chat is starting to support transactions. Just ask KLM.

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