A Great Simian or just a Monkey

Month: February 2016

Cognitive Business Part 2 – Marketing

Cognitive Marketing will bring a lot of vagueness out of digital marketing and digital business. Most areas of marketing will benefit from becoming cognitive. Lets start with four bullets that you will recognize.

  1. Conversation
  2. Personalization
  3. Retention
  4. Conversion

Now, these are in no way new to anyone who have worked in digital marketing or anything digital for that matter, what is new though is naturally how it is done. Prior to this new era we have struggled to talk to people in a way so they feel engaged and intrigued to continue (1), this manly since the information that has been talked about have not been “for me”, we want the “other end” to know me that much so the information is very much personalized (2), it often feels like it is for someone else and often oversold as well, it is simply not engaging enough and it is often hard to find why I should continue, easier to unsubscribe / cancel / de-register etc (3). we struggle with conversion rates and penetrate all goals and metrics in Google Analytics to see why people drop off at different places, trying to iterate with small technical and graphical details, all to convert more people, that is after all the end-game. As a potential customer we often feel like we are in a real-life store and the staff is putting things in our basket and then pushing us towards the cashier (4), this without knowing what we want or if we want to ask something etc, if we just could get some personal service, we would “convert” much faster…and naturally return to us over and over again (3 again).

I know what people from the different marketing department are saying. “We are doing that, we are listening, we are personal, we do participate in conversations and are accessible….and our conversion-rate is way higher then average in our vertical / category”.

Let me say this, you are all doing a great job, this considering the tools at hand, but if you are honest with yourself, how much do you really know about your customers, how individual is the information you are pushing, how good is your retention or is it mainly campaign-spikes….and lastly, if you think about it a bit, the conversion-rate you are so proud of, if being really honest towards yourself, is it high or simply extremely low, just high compare to competition?

Cognitive marketing is mainly about taking all the techie stuff out and putting some humanity in there. Make our potential customers feel like they are seen and heard and that we offer them things they really want to buy.

As with most cognitive this is a way to make the digital world very much more like the real world, so if you think of my last section and the numbers you are so proud of, if you had the same amount of visitors in your “real-life-store” would you still be proud of how you communicate, sell and the conversion-rate you have?

  • Offline world: Low amount of visitors, more personal, recognition, high retention and conversion.
  • Online world: High amount of visitors, little to not at all personal, limited recognition, ok retention, low conversion.
  • Cognitive world: High amount of visitors, personal, recognition, high retention, high conversion.

Naturally above is simplified, but you get the picture, now lets dig into who it actually could play out.

Cognitive Marketing

Let´s immediately look at an example. You want to sell more ecological clothes, but do not know how to reach your potential customers, get their attention, keep it and then hopefully get them to like your products, buy once and then have an ongoing relationship that includes frequent purchases in your store. You want to get to know your customers and have a conversation with them so they feel engaged and recognized.

Your goal is to attract X customers within X months. First we need to figure out who is most likely to buy our products (below are facts made up by me, I have not done any digging into who want to buy eco-friendly clothes, so entirely made up).

  • Female 20-25
  • Often express opinion on politics, relationships and culture.
  • Open to change, curious and often follow their own path. Can be philosophical.
  • …etc

To be able to match these details we also need to know how our product is liked and disliked.

  • Overall people are positive towards our product
  • Our product is often mentioned and shown in pictures with X and Y products
  • Our product is often mention in information that is classified as cultural, sub.cultural, design and environment.
  • In pictures our products are often seen together with X and Y and in outdoor environment.

Given that we also have access to a simple monitoring solution that monitors our own brand / products as well as maybe some competitor (not necessary) we have everything we need to get started.

Traditionally we do not know most of the above, we are simply screaming of joy over the number of sign-ups or subscribers we have, we rarely know even a subset of above.

In cognitive marketing we actually do.

Lets play

To play with the entire process would be a 10.000 word post and you would put in the time to read it so I used the identification and personalization part as examples. The “who to engage” part that is. One of the most important parts to have a high retention and conversation rate, get the right people in the door and talk to them in the right way.

So, when I found someone that is interested in this area of products I simply run them through Personality Insight, all we need to get an analytics like below in a Twitter username, but naturally the more info you feed the better.

watson personality insight

This person seem to be quite a good fit for our company, lets see if we can find out even more so we can be even more precise when reaching out, so we can adress the person in the right tone and message etc.

Lets continue with the case where we only have the Twitter username. Now lets grab the Twitter avatar and analyze that. From before we knew a lot about the personality, needs and values. Not so much facts, but with the avatar we get some interesting facts, even without asking.

  • Gender
  • Age
  • …and that the photo actually contains a person

alchemy vision

This process is a start of building something really great. As you see in the image above the person that I have used is Lady Gaga (both for personality insight and for the image), which was also discovered in the analysis. I think she is slightly younger though, but a hard life in the music industry might impact the, by Watson, presumed age.

Just to be certain of what tone to use when interacting you can always analyze the tone in the text that we found written by the person about our products or area of products, this so we address with the expected tone. It could look something like this.

watson tone analyzer

I could create examples like above for the entire chain I described above, but I hope and guess that the description might suffice as an overview of how Cognitive Marketing could look like in real-life.

To summarize, cognitive marketing will bring out a lot of vagueness and replace that with a relationship that is very similar to how we interact in real-life.

Even though I am not entirely comfortable with IBM CEO Ginny Rometty in her statement Digital Intelligence + Digital Business = Cognitive Business it is really applicable to marketing.

This is the second post in my Real-life Cognitive Business series. Below is part 1 and the other parts will be added as they are posted.

Cognitive Business Part 1: Internal Communication

Hire a Refugee! Welcome Talent!

Today people flee for their lives from horrible situations, they flee to survive and often without any belongings as well as often leaving loved ones behind. We, people in a countries without this state of emergency, that are not at war and have fairly good living-standard can do something to help these people. This post is about how we can help them professionally, which naturally will help them as humans as well.

My deepest belief is that a country like Sweden (where I live) in the long-term will benefit greatly by all the knowledge and experience we gain from these refugees. It is a tough situation we have currently with a government system that struggles to keep up with the amount of people arriving. This post will not be about politics or the rough situation we face to take care of these people when they enter our (or other) country. This post is about the opportunity we have over time and what we can do as professionals to help both us and the newly arrived.

This post was triggered when I saw the great Welcome Talent initiative from LinkedIn where they help to match companies that are recruiting to match them with asylum seekers or newly arrived.

It is a fantastic thing and many great startups have already joined as well as a few matured ones. Some that have joined are Spotify, TicTail and Dreamler. Of the matured ones we have the mobile operator 3, Proffice, DFind and Cybercom.

linkedin-welcome-talent

If you are a company with operations in Sweden and in some area are looking to add additional knowledge and staff, do take a look at the LinkedIn initiative Welcome Talent.

This is not a shortcut or in any means giving the refugees a fast lane, it is purely about giving the opportunity for the refugees to be found and participate on the same terms as those already in the system.

What else can we do?

When I heard about this initiative by LinkedIn I started to think. Since I am not living in Stockholm or work for a large corporation I realized that the LinkedIn solution might not work for me / us. But one thing is for sure, our munincipal do have a lot of asylum seekers and newly arrived. I am very confident that many of those have great knowledge, interest and experience from areas that we could be of benefit to include in our company. I did also push the thought even further, why limit it to the company that is currently up and running, why not push the idea to actually starting new ones and include refugees in any way possible. Naturally there are a few things that is needed to be able to make this happen.

  • The municipal need to be on board
  • We need to be able to identify the individuals that have interest, knowledge and / or experience
  • We need to get all the formal stuff cleared with the different migration and employment governmental agencies
  • The fact that many refugees are moved around during the asylum process
  • The language barrier (not for the actual work since code and design are pretty language independent)

In the ideal world the successful companies would lead to a guaranteed working permit to start with as well as a residence approval. Guess that will be a struggle independant of everyones good will.

Do or Do Not – Yoda

I am confident that independent of if we succeed with the companies or not, everyone involved will be happier after compared with before. Hopefully something like this will not only help the process of integration, it will also benefit the Swedish economy long term as well as helping a lot of individual get back into a working life and make their own living and to be able to take care of their famelys without the support of the government.

Lets see where this will go, I have initiated the first step in the process for my own involvement to help people in need and hopefully that will do some good in the long run.

One of my favorite songs from one of my Lil Bros bands, this one is unreleased but I still love it.

cognitive collaboration

Cognitive Business Part 1 – Internal Collaboration

I am starting with an old passion of mine, Internal Collaboration, knowledge and information sharing as well as finding the right expertise within the organisation. I will try to be concrete and skip the marketing buzzwords. This is the first in my series of examples of real-life Cognitive Business.

I started this series since sometimes this cognitive business thing is hard to grasp without real-life examples that all of us personally can relate to. So, lets jump right in.

Imagine having a question about one of your company products or any question that is an internal only question. Today you might search the intranet, often without result, you then take to your nifty internal collaboration tool, might be Slack, Yammer or whatever tool you have. If you are lucky and after a few interactions you might get an answer to your question or at least a part of the question.

Cognitive Internal Collaboration

Now lets imagine a world where there is a new friend on your list in the tool called Filippa. Filippa is a clever girl, she actually remembers everything and she keeps track on all new things that are created or stored internally and to some extent also externally. When you put your question on the internal network you can also adress Filippa. She will then go through all of the information she has and present you with what she think is the best 5 answers, who has created the info and also some evidence to why she thinks those five pieces of info is the most important. If a complex answer she will bundle it and present it in a nice way for you, still with evidence and who is the expert in the area and who has created the info.

Immediate Benefits

This will not only provide some really good answers to your question, this will also contribute to the conversation that might continue afterward. This since many other might chip-in on the conversation you have with Filippa and bring even more value to the answer. Filippa, as the caring and non-selfish individual she is, will also give credit to the original authors of the info and naturally @mention them in her reply, so now the conversation can really elevate and the end-result you will walk away with will be something like this:

  1. The answer will be of very high-quality
  2. Given to you within seconds
  3. Expertise on the topic identified and also invited to the conversation to further elaborate as well as giving credit to the expertise.
  4. Not only did you learn, so did Filippa. She added this conversation to her “knowledge” and is now even smarter and ready for even trickier questions within the area of expertise.

Just imagine the amount of time you spend searching for the right information or expertise within your organisation, that is a huge pain and cost for todays organisations.

In this first part of the “Cognitive Business Examples”-series we have touch what many consider the holy grail of collaboration. I hope this use-case / example fills some gaps and that the potential is obvious?

In the next part of this series we will look at how Marketing could work in a cognitive business.

This is the first post in my Real-life Cognitive Business series. Below is part 2 and the other parts will be added as they are posted.

Cognitive Business Part 2: Marketing

The photo is from Harstena in Gryts Archepelago in the Swedish east coast. A true favorite place on earth. The pump could represent the pumping and flowing of information that is described in the post.

Congitive Business Explained

Yesterday I wrote a post on the Future of Cognitive Business. After I posted I realized that even though many might know and understand the word Cognitive, the term Cognitive Business might need some further explanation. Earlier I have written about the word Cognitive as well.

A good start could be to listen to Ginni Rometty, CEO and Chairman at IBM. In short words, her explanation:

“Cognitive Business = Digital Business + Digital Intelligence”

Often Cognitive Business is talked about in the same sentance as Watson and / or Artificial Intelligence, but lets put that aside for now and give the term Cognitive Business some real thought.

As the IBM CEO states it is the combination digital business and digital intelligence. For me that sounds a bit too easy and especially we might associate those terms with differnent things and they are also a bit buzzwordy. I also do not understand why the use of Digital is used. Business today is not a digital or not digital. Digital is a part of every business independent of if you consider your business being digital or not. I would even go further and claim that the business that will have the most benefit from being a cognitive business are those who are more traditional and less “digital”, the opportinity within healthcare, the legal system, financial sector etc etc is much larger then with the ones already fully digital. A cognitive business will be able to leverage information that they previously could not. That is a huge opportunity.

For me Cognitive Business is a true evolution and the reason for that is simple. We will be able to do our work much better then before. That maybe sounds to simple of a answer, but I will stick to it. We will be able to get happier customers, know our customers better, generate more sales, better marketing and better product development and research.

If my business (whatever it is) have become cognitive I will never forget anything, I will always have the support for making the right decisions, I will always be able to ask for facts and get the reasoning for those answers, I do not have to go to a database or a SAP like system, I will be able to leverage information that have been impossible to leverage before, I will most probably just have to grab my smartphone (or other device) and simple speak into the mic and the reply is real-time (currently a delay is actually programmed so that the real real-time delay does not scare us).

Instead of writing an extremely long post about all different examples I decided to start a series of post on the topic, so expect post starting Monday that describes how a cognitive business look in the following areas:

  • Internal Collaboration, Information sharing and finding expertice
  • Research and Development
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Operations
  • ….and maybe some additional one.

First post in the series will be posted on Monday and include how a cognitive buisness will look in the area of collaboration, knowldge and information sharing as well as finding the right expertise.

Two very important things with AI and machine learning is personalisation and transparency. Both are now back with a vengeance.
Internet of Emotions: Putting the person back into personalization

cognitive business

Future of Cognitive Business

The Cognitive Era is here. According to studies by 2018 50% of us will regulary interact with cognitive systems and the total market value for cognitive by 2019 is estimated to $12.5B. So how will this world of cognitive business look?

Cognitive is still a new word and for an explanation I have alredy written several posts on the topic, but in the “What is Cognitive” the word and meaning is described pretty digested.

Lets start with a glimpse of how it will be. It is mainly about 4 things:

  1. Collaboration between humans and computers.
  2. It is about cumputers learning, reason and understanding what it sees, hears and reads.
  3. It is about having real-time access to all needed information and never miss or forget that information.
  4. It is about making the right decisions faster, based on the right information.

https://youtu.be/WpA5IBDS9MQ

The case illustrated in the video can easily be applied to other areas as well. Think product development and research, think sales meetings, thing building a business case for a client.

Most of these cognitive solutions are available today

So what are you waiting for, lets start to build this for your company.

Wait, you do not believe me when I say it can be done today? Well do take a look at the below video and watch it in a none cartoonish, but very real life environment. Say hello to CELIA!

I would say that the two videos above are the main reason I am so absorbed by IBM Watson and Cognitive Business. I will start a serie of posts on use cases similar or different from above, but how cognitive business will change the business world we live in today. We are truly in a shift in terms of eras of computing. It might sound like a buzzword or marketing, but regardless of the word or name, the shift is hear and it is happening, computers do learn, think, reason and understand. They can also communicate (written or verbal) in an efficient and understandable way to each one of us, in our language.

The language is probably one of the main areas that is needed to be upgraded for cognitive business to fully bloom. Most services support many languages, but only english is covered by all services and for Watson to be able to communicate with us in our language and understand what we are saying, he needs to now many more languages. Recently wrote a post on what languages Watson supports presented on a per service level for the interested.

And just for the record, I do not believe that AI, Cognitive or Watson himself, will replace humans.

Watson Ecosystem partners important to succeed

According to IBM and IDC 90% of the innovation will come from partners. In Watsons case this is the Watson Ecosystem.

What do the researchers say about the future of cognitive?

There is one guy that has a certain glory and glow to him when he presents cognitive. He also has the knowledge and the background to do it with authority. Do listen to Dr John Kelly, Senior Vice President Solutions Portfolio and Reaserch at IBM, talking about the Future of Cognitive.

The top photo is taken at Utö in the Stockholm archepelago. Thought the gate could symbolize that we now are entering the future

watson ecosystem

Watson Ecosystem, how it works

IBM Watson Ecosystem is a partner program for companies and startups to leverage IBM Watson services. It is also a community, semi accelerator and VC. Monies, where I am a co-founder is a part of the IBM Watson Ecosystem.

Watson Ecosystem is the first partner program I have seen out of the Big Blue that puts both IBM and the partner in the same boat. It is a win-win situation. This for several reasons, I will go deeper into each and every one of them, but a quick list looks like this:

  1. Pure revenue share. If we succeed IBM succeed.
  2. Legal Agreements that are clear with deliverables defined. Never seen such good and straight forward agreements from IBM before.
  3. Dedicated team, both technical and business from the Watson team that really helps and are dedicated especially to you.
  4. A clear process on how to work.
  5. Free access to Watson services and parts of Bluemix.
  6. Potential Joint marketing and PR activities.
  7. Potential financial injection from the Venture Capital arm of Watson (a $100M fund currently)
  8. Potential access to client and the IBM sales-force.

How to become an IBM Watson Ecosystem Partner

This process is for me still a bit blurry. When I tried to submit the formal way with Monies, the site was out-of-order and did not accept any submissions. So I had to use other methods and found a way to get in the door and then I guess we followed the internal IBM process and evaluation with the result of us being approved to join the IBM Watson Ecosystem. The ordinary process does probably look something like this (we only shortcut #1):

  1. Submit your company on the “Join the Watson Ecossytem“-site.
  2. Get contacted by IBM for initial call
  3. Fill in the “Ecossytem Onboarding Partnership”-form (I think it was called Alignment Form when we did it). This docucument describes your business, state, funding, business model, products and how Watson is aimed to be used.
  4. Get Approval / Rejection
  5. If Approved join IBM Partnerworld as an ISV and sign the Watson Developer Agreement.
  6. Get an assigned Watson Solution Architect and a Watson Engagement Manager.
  7. Convert your Bluemix account to a Ecosystem Bluemix account and then start coding, no time to loose.

The pre-requisits and what it takes t be approved are also a bit blurry, but this screenshot might give you and indication at least.

watson ecosystem pre-requisits

How does the overall process look like when you are a part of the Watson Ecosystem?

watson ecosystem process

In the Watson Ecosystem Community you have a dedicated dashboard for your progress and it is also possible to network in the community even though the activity is extremely low, which is too bad actually. There are some supporting documents, guidlines and presentations to help you out.

This is our current progress. Monies currently in the middle of our PoC / Prototype phase.

ibm watson ecosystem

The deliverables are continously followed-up in weekly calls with your Watson Engagement Manager and your Watson Solution Architect. The team we have seems to be a great pair of Watson individuals.

How is it to be a part of the Watson Ecosystem?

Silly headline I know, but since there is not that much info available and not that many companies in the Ecosystem it might be of interest.

To be clear, Monies are currently in the middle of the process of building our first product so I do not have the entire picture yet.

How many companies are in the Watson Ecosystem? Numbers vary. I currently see numbers between 299 and 500. In Sweden it is only Monies and Ericsson and total in Europe 24, for Asia the total number is 11. It is hard to verify the exact numbers, but it is at least an indication. The wast majority of Ecosystem partner are in US. Also worth noting that large global companies like Accenture, Ogilvy / Mather and Softbank all are Ecosystem partners as well.

Is the Watson Ecossytem and IBM startup-friendly for real?

This one is hard to answer. The easy answer is both yes and no. On the surface and in the agreement, the process etc I would say they are startup friendly. In terms of documentations, forms and to some extent technology…they are the same ol IBM. Also when you work with the Watson team in NYC, it is smoother then usual, but it is still obvious that Watson is a part of the Big and very blue IBM. See next section for further details.

What can be improved?

To be clear, I really like the Ecosystem and by no means I want this section to drag this post into a negative spin, but without constructive suggestions on improvement I do not think this post would be taken serious anyway, so….

Lack of startup and entrepreneurial skills

I would say that the biggest disadvantage is that it seems to be too few individuals on the IBM Watson Ecosystem side (and Watson in general) that have actual experience from working with, or have prev built startups. This is a huge drawback. My suggestion would be to recruit heavily in this segment. I get the sense IBM is recruiting young (aka startup friendly people, but that does unfortunately not mean they have the recuired experience needed) externally and senior staff is recruited internally (the oclassic IBM person in suit and all). If this is a good strategy? I would say no. My simple suggestion is, recruit indivuduals that are entrepreneurs, have built startups prior, but see the potential in Watson and feel the urge to join and make a difference by helping others build really really cool things with Watson.

Regional and local presence / knowledge

Another big disadvantage is that it is very much a US play only at this stage. The knowledge and experience from other parts of the world seem to be limited. It would be great if people from the other regions would join and facilitate the Ecosystem partners from their regions. I still think they should be based out of NYC mainly, but local / regional knowledge is never to underestimated.

Watson Ecosystem vs Partner World

This will be a short section. The Ecossytem is nothing like PW. Most of the bad stuff is out and the good parts are still there. The Watson Ecosystem is a partner program on at least somewhat equal terms, I cannot say the same for being a Business Partner in PartnerWorld. Formally I think the Ecosystem is connected or is considered legally a subcategory to PartnerWorld or similar, just guessing. The IBM Watson Ecosystem is a huge step forward in terms of IBM Partner Programs. Keep it up!

What does it cost?

Simply put, it costs hard work and dedication. It also cost you some dependency on IBM, since Watson is an IBM technology that mainly lives on Bluemix. The program is free to join when approved and it does not cost you any money to be a part of the Ecosystem, this with one cavet though, which I have had a few not-so-happy conversations with IBM about. During 2015 they learnt that a some partners do not deliver after they have entered into Commercial Agreement, but still enjoys the benefits of being a part of the program and by that (after a Commercial Agreement is signed) can use IBM in branding and communication, this without bringing in any revenue to IBM. This IBM wanted to correct and during 2016 they have put a small (?!) fee in place if no revenue is generated after the Commercial Agreement is signed. This I can understand, I cannot say I fully agree with the result of the 2015 performance and the implications it has on the 2016 Ecosystem members, but all-in-all not a biggie I would say. The fee is also waived if revenue exists above the fee level.

Naturally IBM needs revenue from Watson and this is done via a 70/30 revenue-share (if a fully Watson dependent application) in your favor, so similar to Apple et al. Straight forward and good business model imho.

Summary

Watson Ecosystem is the best partner program IBM has to date. If IBM keeps focusing on IBM Watson as they do, the Watson Ecosystem will be a core companent in that success.

Photo Credit to Henrik Johansson and his photo “Landscape is changing” from Flickr.

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