Fredrik Stenbeck

A Great Simian or just a Monkey

watson products

Watson Products, what are they?

Is it all about software you download and install or is it APIs in the cloud? Well, depending on who you talk to, you might get different answers on what Watson Products that exists.

Ginni Rometty (CEO and Chairwoman of IBM) always uses the term APIs and that they are services in the cloud. These services are used build the end-customer products. Internally at the local IBM office (non-Watson unit) there is often a mixed voice. Many struggle to change mindset to a API business model instead of traditional software license model and in Watsons case that means talking about Watson Analytics (sigh), Watson Explorer (WEX) or any of the other nifty packaged products they have released, like Watson Company Advisor and Watson Knowledge Studio. Many of these products are hybrid Watson products. A mix of classic software and Watson services.

The pre-packaged way, is in no way a bad approach, but I see it mainly as a way to package and make it easy for the customers to make a decision instead of having to build from scratch.

In my mind the only core Watson products are the services presented at the Watson Developer Cloud Watson service catalog. Those services are the core and the foundation of Watson. Watson is X amount of APIs all available in the cloud. It is also those services I would recommend all companies to primary work with.

14 Watson Services Available today

IBM have been consolidating the services lately and currently there are 14 different services available (from double the amount just a few months ago, the consolidation was needed, there was a big overlap previously). These services then contain from one to many APIs. AlchemyLanguage has 13 APIs and Dialog only one etc.

As of today, the Services are the following, I included an extremely short description, since some can be hard to grasp when reading the IBM lingo on each service.

  1. Alchemy Language
    A great service that analyzes text and sense sentiment, companies mentioned, person mentions, language used etc. It can also extract keywords which is very useful.
  2. Conversation
    A graphical interface to help designing Bots. A combo of Dialog and NLC I would say.
  3. Dialog
    A very “simple” API that only manages a scripted dialog.
  4. Document Conversion
    Converts text and documents to a format that Watson can use to learn from.
  5. Language Translation
    A service that translates text from one language to another.
  6. Natural Language Classifier
    Helps with deciding the intent of the input a user sends to Watson. Very useful since we all use different ways to express in different domains etc.
  7. Personality Insight
    A very cool API that helps us understand what type of person we interact with or receive information from.
  8. Retrieve & Rank
    The Jeopardy brain. This API is the one that answer your question and replies with a recommended solution on your problem, including evidence and ranking.
  9. Tone Analyzer
    What tone do clients use on your Facebook page or in customer service?Separate the happy clients from the angry ones etc. This API helps you understand.
  10. Speech to Text
    Obvious I guess
  11. Text to Speech
    Also obvious I guess
  12. Visual Recognition
    What is in the picture, is it a 40 year old man or a product from your company, this API helps you recognize things in images.
  13. AlchemyData News
    An archive of news and blogs. One of the least impressive APIs imho.
  14. Tradeoff Analytics
    Which product of these 5 is best for ME? TA helps me decide.

If you wonder what languages each API supports, read my post “What languages does Watson support” where I list language support per API.

4 Watson Products that are pre-packaged

As of today the Watson offerings (pre-packaged products) are:

  1. Watson Engagement Advisor
    Essentially a pre-built bot framework for e.g customer service
  2. Watson Explorer
    Search on steroids. Search both structured and unstructured data, build dashboards etc.
  3. Watson Knowledge Studio
    A graphical interface to build and train your machine learning models.
  4. Watson Company Advisor
    A high-octane version of company profiles. Find out whatever you want about any company and compare to yours etc.

These are the Watson Products as of today.

 

Augmented Intelligence instead of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence is a term that, for me, only causes confusion and also builds up caution towards new tech. It indicates that AI will replicate our intelligence and some are even afraid of AI taking over our jobs etc. It is a term that stunts the development and our progress to more successful companies. A term that much better describes what it is about is Augmented Intelligence.

Augmented Intelligence is actually what it is all about. Augmented send the notion of evolving and increasing our existing knowledge. The intelligence that systems will assist us with is not artificial, it is real and elevated. It is systems that are taught by humans and then elevated to assist and scale human expertise to help businesses and applications to assist people with well-defined tasks and help them make more informed decisions.

This heavily connects to the fact that collaboration between human and computer is a very important part of becoming a successful business in the future. This collaboration is about systems helping humans and humans helping systems.

As a side note, augmented intelligence also fits much better as term in the landscape of cognitive. Artificial Intelligence is one part of cognitive, but many tend to mix cognitive with Artificial Intelligence. If we replace Artificial Intelligence with Augmented Intelligence, it is much easier and more relevant…..at least for me.

 

Microsoft Cortana vs IBM Watson

IBM Watson is a brain and Microsoft Cortana is a personal assistant. That is the simple conclusion of Yesterdays Cortana vs Watson (sort of) at The Conference in Malmö. My biggest surprise was that Microsoft Cortana is 100% scripted. Watson is a cognitive platform that actually could complement Cortana’s great features as personal assistant.

Currently in Malmö in Sweden, the conference The Conference (ehh) is happening and I was very much looking forward to the session Artificial Intelligence in Services. Primarily to listen to Deborah Harrison from Microsoft, since my knowledge about Cortana is limited. To summarize, Cortana was a huge disappointment to me. After listening to Deborah I posted the below tweet that described my immediate feelings about Cortana (excuse the typo).

So, Cortana is:

  • Scripted
  • Only a personal assistant
  • Personality and tone driven

As Deborah say already in the first minute of her talk (embedded at the end of the post) “Nothing is programmatic, we write it all”.

This leads me back to my recent post where I say that the future is about cognitive platforms and not about Bots (aka personal assistants).

Cognitive Platforms are the future, not Bots and AI

And to continue with the embeds, the comparison between Cortana and Watson was by Felix Segerbrecht described in a true and funny (with a touch of sexism irony included) way.

Cortana is a Personal Assistant and Watson is a Brain.

The speakers were senior and knew the topic way better than most (both speeches embedded below). Deborah Harrison from Microsoft is one of the original architects behind Cortana as well as head of the team that creates all the content that Cortana is communicating (again, Cortana is all scripted). Her talk was focused on how Cortana communicates and how she interprets different situations. It seems that Cortana is more of a Siri for the enterprise (guess that Microsoft is still enterprise focused).

Maya Weinstein is design lead at IBM Watson in New York. Maya talked to the Robot Neo (the real robot, not an app), gave the standard examples of oncology (cancer treatment) and kids education (Element Path) etc. She gave the standard variety of examples of use cases for Watson from concierge services (Connie the Concierge at Hilton Hotels as an example) to dating apps and medical examples. Naturally, Jeopardy was mentioned as well.

To put it blunt, Cortana could be built with just three Watson APIs, if you add a few more Watson could do even more, but again, I hope that does not happen, they should not compete, rather compliment each other. Watson is a cognitive platform and not a product in that way. Watson could even be the cognitive parts (aka the Brain) of a very good personal assistant (Cortana). Cortana is the UI / UX and asks Watson for help with all the cognitive parts she is asked to help her users with.

Nevertheless, it is interesting times and this is a true paradigm shift in technology and business…..and it is starting now.

We are now entering the World of Cognitive!

Maya Weinstein’s talk at The Conference in Malmö 16th of August 2016

 

Deborah Harrison’s talk at The Conference in Malmö 16th of August 2016

Top image is from my daughters origami book

ai chatbots and cognitive platforms

Cognitive Platforms are the future, not Bots and AI

Wherever you turn, whatever magazine you read, you see Bots, more Bots. Most of them sprinkled with Artificial Intelligence. In my view, this is a flawed and wrong assumption. The future is a platform that makes processes cognitive. A cognitive platform that will enable processes to think, learn, reason, solve problems and communicate in the expected domain and in the expected language. Bots and Artificial Intelligence are part of this platform.

The future is cognitive platforms!

Just a bot is just plain stupid, it does what you tell it to do, it is very much like traditional programming, the program does what it is programmed to do, nothing more, nothing less. It is a fun interface and an innovative communicative interaction. To escape the risk of endless loops and repeating the same stupid standard answer over and over again, we sprinkle some artificial intelligence on the poor Bot. Now we have a Bot that understands what you are saying to it and also can reply with a bit more elaborative answer then the basic standardized sentences. Does that mean that the Bot will actually assist us in our daily life and improve our performance as humans?

The above is true to a certain degree, in some cases, it will improve our lives, but mainly in the way of speed to information, the Bot will not tell us things we could not find out in other ways, it will just find it fast and deliver it to us. Such Bots are already here and have been for decades. Bots are simply put another type of interface.

The sprinkled AI is mainly about language and algorithms, a subset of the real meaning of AI. Languages in the sense that the Bot will understand you, classify what you intend to communicate and also often do this in several languages. A flaw today is that we often confuse machine learning and algorithms with the true meaning AI. It cannot be AI when most of the time it is a formula created in a spreadsheet that we then put to work on extensive amounts of data to help us to provide insight and conclusions to the user or the company. That is just machine learning. This is often done in very impressive ways (Spotifys Discover Weekly is a good example here), I have personally built companies mainly based on machine learning, so I am not in any way negative to the practice. It is just that it often (not in the Spotify case, just to be clear, they use machine learning) is described as AI and that it is the overall future of tech and in that I disagree. Why? Well, let’s start by looking at what AI is according to Wikipedia

Colloquially, the term “artificial intelligence” is applied when a machine mimics “cognitive” functions that humans associate with other human minds, such as “learning” and “problem solving”.

So, according to Wikipedia all is fine, cognitive and AI is the same, but that is not the way it is translated into today’s tech-world. Most describe AI as a combination of Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing and Algorithms. With this in mind, I prefer the “cognitive” term instead of AI. The AI term is in many ways already destroyed by those who claim to do AI, but mainly does Machine Learning and NLP based on structured data.

Lets not forget that 80% of todays information today is unstructured, not even possible to interpret for most systems today.

Today 80% of the information we have at hand is unstructured, that means that very few computers can work with that data in a valuable way. To be able to understand millions of medical journals or law books from all over the world the computer need to be able to learn, reason etc as well as to learn the domain specific language. You cannot apply an algorithm from a spreadsheet to accomplish this, a software that is very close to a human brain is needed. A cognitive platform learns, communicates and does problem-solving.

The Cognitive Doctor vs the Human Doctor (example)

Over the years we have done tremendous research on cancer. We also have a huge amount of medical journals on cancer patients. Let’s play the role of the doctor. You think you have read a lot about cancer, and this specific version of cancer. You have also been in practice for 20+ years so you have seen your fair share of cancer patients passing by as well as written a lot of research papers on the topic, which would classify you as a very knowledgeable and experienced doctor within the field.

A patient walks in with the diagnoses of cancer, the specific cancer type that you are experienced in. You look at the journal and talk to the patient. Given the research reports you have done over the years, as well as the one you have read from others in combination with your experience in the field you come to the conclusion that a specific type of treatment would be the best way to progress. Hopefully, the patient gets well and all is good.

Now, if the doctors working process would be cognitive the cognitive parts of the process would read ALL available research, ALL available medical journals. This in combination with getting all the data and info about the person incl. historical sickness and traumas etc that the patient might have. Again, let’s not forget that most of this data is actually unstructured and not even readable to most computers today. The cognitive process looks at all data (structured and unstructured) and swiftly replies to the Human Doctor with three alternatives (including the info these recommendations are based upon) for treatments for the patient, including a ranking on which alternative might be most suitable for this patient.

Now, the truth is that no doctor in the world can keep all information inside his / her head, the truth is that most of us tend to do what we have seen previous success with. What a cognitive enabled process now have given us is three alternatives for the Human Doctor to consider. It is still the Human Doctors decision, but the help presented might give new angles and new info that the Human Doctor actually had not considered. The decision is still the doctors, the decision is now only based on a more trustworthy base of data and information. Still presented to the patient by its doctor without even knowing that a computer actually helped a lot in providing the best treatment for you.

Is this pure fiction? Actually not! 

What is the future then? It is cognitive platforms!

For me, the success in this space lies in how well a company makes its processes cognitive. Cognitive will never be a specific product (like a Smart Bot) it will be integrated into existing (or new) business processes. Damn, that sounds boring, but let’s be honest here, most companies have defined ways of working aka processes. Most of these processes can be vastly improved by making them cognitive. To be clear, it is not new processes it is about making existing processes cognitive and by that more efficient, more valuable and more productive.

To be able to do this a process needs to be able to access different cognitive functions and consume them where appropriate. I could be to read, learn and understand a law book (and solve legal obstacles) or thousands of medical journals (like the cancer doctor example above) or it could be to find certain objects in millions of images or to analyze incoming communication, voice or e-mail, to be able to give a better customer experience, it could also be to give a quick, accurate  and personal (tone, personality) reply (in the right language) to a customer that interacts with the company.

This is only provided by a cognitive platform and not by a bot or AI (as positioned today by tech companies), but both are important parts of the cognitive platform.

PS I think I will break down this rant rambling post in a few more specific posts on the topics of cognitive platform, cognitive process etc Stay tuned DS

Photo from the movie Big Hero 6 by Disney

Cutting the Slack

Slack is taking over the world, Slack is killing e-mail, and so on, we have all heard the rants of the very much hyped company valued at billions and with an impressive user base. It does decrease e-mail usage and help teams stay in contact and solve problems quickly with everyone informed. It also comes with some real disadvantages.

I have used Slack since early beta and I have used it extensively, for the last years constantly and in several teams. I have used it for daily operations in companies I have founded and work with. I have also participated in external teams, like IBM Watson teams, external companies whose products I use and also teams like The Informations Slack channel. I really like the real-time aspect of Slack and the sense of everyone being onboard and up-to-date. The fast pace does solve problems and challenges quickly and it keeps everyone on the same page. So why am I hesitant to Slack?

Disadvantages with Slack

  1. In your face! Slack is mainly an always on product, which makes it very much “in your face”. It simply disturbed you all the time.
  2. No threading!
  3. Lost information! An important topic is discussed and suddenly someone posts another topic in the thread and the ongoing important discussion is very often interrupted or lost due to the new discussion, often with the result that the first discussion is lost and never closed.
  4. Loosing productivity! This is my main problem with Slack and also the main reason for this post. To be focused and productive you need about 30min to be fully focused. With Slack running that rarely happens. There is always a conversation going on and with today’s notification frenzy you’re already disturbed pretty often, but since Slack fast becomes crucial for your business you often prioritize Slack notifications and switch from whatever you are up to and read the new messages.

Notifications are the future?

I do not agree here. I hate notifications. I have lately analyzed my productivity and realized that notifications is a huge part of my productivity going down. Since a while I have therefore disabled all notifications on laptop / iMac. On top of that I have switched most of my work to iPad Pro, which actually promotes focused work due to the limited support for having multiple windows / apps visible on the screen. Like when I am writing this, it is in full screen on my iPad and all notifications switched off. I do have notifications turned on for most apps on my iPhone, so when the urge to get updated surfaces I just glance at the phone.

To be clear, I do distinguish between productivity work and interaction work. When I write this blogpost, working on a presentation or creating a customer agreement I want to be left alone. A lot of my other time is dedicated for interaction (been working with sales for 20 years that is a big part of the day naturally) so this anti-notification strategy does not mean I am not fast in responding which most people who interact with me probably can vouch for.

Does Slack kill e-mail?

To give Slack some credit, it almost entirely get rid of internal e-mails and tiresome CC threads, so internally it does definitely kill most e-mail. Externally it does not, not at all. E-mail is here to stay as a protocol, but there is plenty of room for innovation and potentially some upgrades to smtp would be of help to improve innovations further.

But you have always hated e-mail, has that changed?

No, it has not, but over the last couple of years things have actually changed in terms of how we use e-mail. This is most notable in small companies and definitely not seen in most large corporations where huge CC threads and attachment bonanza (versioning and storage of all those Powerpoints, hello) is still a major problem.

  • We do rarely see the Friday fun e-mail threads anymore, they are now published on Facebook instead.
  • One to many e-mails are limited due to that many companies now use Slack, Yammer et al.
  • Small talk is now published in products like Slack and / or chat products.
  • News and links are now published in other channels then over e-mail (notifications might come via e-mail though)

The main benefit with e-mail is that it is asynchronous and not real-time. Which is another thing that has change over the years, prior many expected an e-mail response very quickly and treated e-mail as a real-time channel, that development is great progress for productivity. My main recommendation for e-mail addicts is to just go through e-mail early in the morning, mid/day and a the end-of-the-day. This to stop being interrupted and feeling the urge to check e-mail every 5min or react to the constant notifications.

There is still room for a lot of innovation in this space, Slack has done a great job, but it is not the end solution. I know Slack will implement some cool things in the future, but their foundation is mainly productivity hostile which has made me positive to choose other products if I was to choose tool today.

For further reading VICE media posted a post “Turning Off Slack” that also have similar thoughts as I do.

impossible foods burger (photo from Impossible Foods)

We need to change what we eat!

Lets change the way we eat or we will destroy the planet. We need to act now and food tech could be a large part of the solution for a better planet. Food innovation has already found ways to replace meat and eggs with plants and also insects.

Animal agriculture and livestock is the biggest environmental problem we have!

Not all of us are aware on how bad the situation is for our planet, and even if you are aware, you might not know that the biggest problem is that we eat too much meat and eggs. This is a bigger problem then all the transportation and CO2 emissions that everyone is talking about. We need to decrease the amount of food from animal significantly, that is a fact and all researchers and studies agree. The numbers wary in studies and research, but between 10%-35% of total global emissions (GHG) is what most studies say can be traced to meat agriculture, of those 80% is from livestock. It is not CO2 that is the gas in this sector, it is CH4 (methane) and N2O (nitrous oxide). .

This is not meant as a doomsday post, rather the opposite. Naturally there are companies and entrepreneurs that have realised this and started to find solutions to this problem.

We need to eat differently

Few of us want to give up eating hamburgers, a nice steak, baking bread etc. Since I have a hard time seeing all of us becoming vegans, we need to find other ways, and we need to act now! 

What we need to do is to find replacement for meat and eggs. Not only replace the taste, but also the ingredients, since they are important for our well being. Mainly it is about replacing protein. 92% of the plants on our planet has not yet been analysed, we are now starting to find out that we actually can do some really cool things with plants (see below), but also many insects have significantly less impact on the environment, so crickets are starting to be a trendy bug to eat.

80% of the worlds population already eat insects, but it does not happen that frequently in the western world, maybe we should change that. One of the worlds best restaurants actually have crickets on their menu. The Copenhagen, well awarded, restaurant Noma, serves pancakes with fermented crickets.

When we visited our Thai friends near the Laos border, the family had their own crickets farm so obviously we had to taste. I was about to post a photo of me eating, but it is not in favour of the post to give you a hint. Below are two pictures from that trip, the first one is how it was served (just fried in a pan with some spices and herbs) and the second one is from the cricket farm.

Food tech

How to replace eggs?

Hampton Creek is a San Francisco based company that create products like cookie dough and mayonnaise to be able to replace eggs, more products will come over time.  their products are sold on Whole Foods and others. Hampton Creek have made it possible to get bread to grow while in the oven and make omeletts tasty as well as great mouth feel. Pretty amazing. The below TEDx talk by the Hampton Creek CEO Josh Tetrick, is not a product presentation but rather about how bad the chicken industry is, well worth a watch.

How to replace meat?

Several companies have produced meat replacement products. Some do it based on plants, which naturally is the best, others do it by using real meat cells.

Memphis Meats does it with meat cells, but I am more in favour of making it from plants. That is what Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods does. In the below Beyond Meat video they explain how they do it.

https://youtu.be/RSDiCoEag9s

Naturally we want to continue to have our burgers etc and the top picture is how a burger from Impossible Foods looks like (photo credit to Impossible Foods).

Protein?

Above examples on how to replace meat and eggs are solved by innovation and research of plants (except Memphis Meat), but we also have other areas that provide a much lower environmental footprint even given that they are living things, that is insects and especially crickets. This is nothing new, we have been eating insects since the very beginning of time I assume, but lately we have been to posh for it in the western world. Well, now is a good time to change that. One way to apply insects is to create a protein flour from crickets. This what Bitty Foods does. the CEO Megan Miller also held a TEDx talk, this one in Manhattan, where she describes why and what they do.

A piece of honesty

I consider myself a fairly average individual with a decent intellect and I am also fairly involved and interested in trying to contribute to protecting our planet and keeping it safe for the generations to come. With that said, I admit that I, up until recently, had no clue to what extent the animal agriculture and livestock impacted our planet. Since then I have gained an interest and trying to decide what I, as an individual, can do. This both how I eat as an individual / family but also how I might be able to contribute in a bigger way.

If it was new to me, it is most certainly new to many others as well.

cognitive transparency

Transparency is the future

Transparency will be the key to success in the era of artificial intelligence and cognitive. With all new technology also comes new challenges. In the artificial intelligence and cognitive area of technology one main challenge is how to manage privacy and integrity.

Currently artificial intelligence and cognitive products are the new hot and trendy topic and also it seems to be the new hot area for new startups.

Disclaimer: The company I have co-founded, Monies, is one of those. Our goal is to unify your financial life and bring meaning and consciousness to your financial life. By that we are naturally in the needles eye of this post and transparency will be one of a few keys to our success.

Since these systems and technologies are a lot about emotions and to learn about how we as humans work and to learn, reason and have a conversation based on the input you provide, it is essential that we trust the technology and that we know 100% that the info is secure, not shared and private only to me. Already at this stage there are a lot of risk and many will fail.

In my opinion we will also need to be really assured that my data is not mixed with other persons or organizations data. This is important since most of the AI / cognitive platforms are….platforms. This means that all data goes into “one” place and not on your own dedicated instance or server. Most platforms, Facebook, Google, Amazon or IBM are physically based in huge data centers and all data is physically stored in the same environment as other individuals or organizations data. For these organizations to be able to build the necessary trust that our data is secure and private to us or our organization, transparency will be of outmost importance to establish this trust.

If we push the topic it is the same as when you share information with another human, you need to feel that you trust that individual prior to sharing sensitive information. Since these technologies replicates a lot of the behavior we have as humans. Would you share your private info if you knew that the other person immediately shared that info with the rest of his company or even other companies that they are also doing business with, would not think so.

Even though machines replicate a lot of our behavior today, some things are hard to establish, like trust. Enter the revenge of transparency. Transparency have long be pushed down in the value-chain in favor of capitalizing on our private data, companies like Facebook, Google and others that have as a business-model to re-sell your data to companies that want to reach you with their message. Their business model is to sell your data, you are the product.

This will not compute in the era of AI and cognitive. We will, in my opinion, be much more restricted in what we share about ourselves if we do not feel safe and secure.

Ai and cognitive as technologies are already here to stay so this is not a post against these technologies, the opposite, I believe strongly in them, even so much that I have started a company in the segment.

We and everyone else in the segment need to be fully transparent about the following:

  1. How we store the data
  2. How we keep it safe
  3. That personal information is not shared and truly personal
  4. Provide info on the reasoning on the answers provided
  5. Provide evidence that backs the answers that are provided

Only then can a artificial intelligence and cognitive technologies really become as successful as they are expected to become.

I will end this post with a quote rom Rob High, IBM Fellow and CTO of IBM Watson, in a Mashable article on the topic recently.

They’re subject to the human condition — that is, all of the forms of expression that we leverage to communicate our thoughts, ideas and knowledge, and all of the experiences that we’re exposed to that shapes those thoughts — cognitive systems don’t behave like other deterministic (mathematically modeled) computing systems. They are subject to the same ambiguities, nuances, subtleties and lack of universal truth that we as humans are subject to. They, like other human experts, are only really held up as an expert when we develop trust in them. Cognitive systems, like other human experts, have to establish that trust by being transparent about why they believe what they believe — answer what they answer. And in doing so, they will reveal whether they are acting nefariously or not.

Photo: The top photo is taken from a train entering Stockholm a rainy winter day in December. I thought the wet window could symbolize some transparency.

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.

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.

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