Nov

Towards smarter data - accuracy and precision

                                                   

There is a huge amount of information out there. And it is growing. To make it efficient and increase our competitive advantage we need to evolve and start using information in a smart way, by concentrating on data that drives business value because it is accurate, actionable, and agile. Accuracy is an important measure that determines the quality of data processing solutions.

How accuracy is calculated?

It is easy to do with structured data, because the requirements are formalizable. It is less obvious with unstructured data, e.g. a stream of social feeds, or any data set that involves natural language. Indeed, the sentences of natural language are subject to multiple interpretations, and therefore allow a degree of subjectivity. For example, should a sentence ‘I haven’t been on a sea cruise for a long time’ be qualified for a data set of people interested in going on a cruise? Both answers, yes and no, seem valid.

In these cases an argument was put forward endorsing a consensus approach which polls data providers is the best way to judge data accuracy. This approach essentially claims that attributes with the highest consensus across data providers is the most accurate.

At nmodes we deal with unstructured data all the time because we process natural language messages, primarily from social networks. We do not favor this simplistic approach, as it is considered biased, inviting people to make assumptions based on what they already believe to be true, and making no distinction between precision and accuracy. Obviously the difference is that precision measures what you got right, and accuracy measures both what you got right and what you got wrong. Accuracy is a more inclusive and therefore more valuable characteristic.

Our approach is

a) to validate data against third party independent sources (typically of academic origin) that contain trusted sets and reliable demography. Validating nmodes data against third party sources allows us to verify that our data achieves the greatest possible balance of scale and accuracy.

b) to enrich upon the existing test sets by purposefully including examples ambiguous in meaning and intent, and providing additional levels of categorization to cover these examples.

Accuracy is becoming important when businesses move from rudimentary data use, typical of the first Big Data years, to a more measured and careful approach of today. Understanding how it is calculated and the value it brings helps in achieving long-term sustainability and success.

 

Interested in reading more? Check out our other blogs:

Marketers: You Need to Keep Evolving

It’s clear that marketing has drastically changed in the last decade. The rise of digital, accompanied by its ever-evolving technologies in mobile and advertising will build a perpetual environment of test and learn. As well, continuous emergence of audience platforms will create a nomadic culture that follows the fickle consumer paths. Ultimately, this will dictate the sustainability of platforms.

Marketing has been one organizational function that has succumb to tremendous pressure to evolve in the last decade. It’s turned both ad agencies and companies on their ears, furiously attempting to learn and adapt, while desperately hanging on to what they already know.

Perhaps it’s time to let go. If there ever was a time to accept change it’s now. In my personal experience, and from what you’ll read,

- I’ve witnessed an incredible evolution in the digital space by way of technology and targeting,

- I’ve also witnessed rapid changes in consumer consumption and the increasing fragmentation of media,

- Adapting and learning has been integral in helping me evolve with the market demand.

Consumers have changed the game for marketers.

No longer do we have only a few mediums for content consumption. In as little as 2 decades we’ve moved beyond just TV, radio, print, billboards. We’ve also raced beyond the standard network channels, the key national newspapers.

As consumers our attention has moved to sites that speak to our own areas of interest. They may not necessarily be as popular or as known. Our peers greatly influence what we do and where we go. But, our ever trusted smart phones gives us access to inform us about the things we want, when we want them and where we want them.

This always-on economy is not about to die down. The growing consumer expectations will mandate companies to have greater visibility into where their customers are, what they’re saying, their preferences, their preferred channels and modes of communication. The growing pressure to keep the “owned” and “earned” channels “on” will challenge the business to become much more responsive than ever before.

Marketers are slowly becoming obsolete.

As marketers, our roles have been forced to evolve. It hasn’t been easy. Coupled with this consumer evolution we’re witnessing, the economic times have changed the way we operate. No longer is marketing a cost centre. We are now more accountable than ever. The old performance measures which we were accustomed to need to change. We need to evolve beyond the mindset of traditional mediums, and embrace the inherent benefits of digital and where it’s going.

Becoming obsolete is a reality in today’s fast-moving environment. Yes, today’s marketer needs to leave their comfort zone and venture into an environment that does not seems to want to sit still. Luckily, it doesn’t necessarily mean abandoning the principles they’ve learned along the way. It just means evolving their thinking and applying these same principles to the new mediums.

1. Data is the new norm: The promise of big data brings with it enormous benefits that can now inform customer preferences, propensities; identify relevant prospects in real-time; distill meaning from reams of information where it impacts competitive or brand reputation. The opportunities to target more granularly beyond just “company”-collected transactions provides profound instances to find the right customer, at the right time, in the right channels, with the right message. The need for strong data analysts to compile this information across multiple platforms and mediums will be an essential component to effectively target for acquisition; improve retention rates and optimize for real-time performance.

2. Agility is imperative: Gone are the days of relying on historical data. These days, any data point longer than 30 days is too old and therefore, irrelevant. Gone are the days when media plans or strategies are “baked”. No longer are we required (or should we be required) to sit and wait for results. With data becoming more embedded in our daily work, marketers must work towards a more agile environment: This means becoming more data responsive to an increasingly  fragmented and splintered market,  having the structures and processes to change tactics on the fly.

3. Value is the new currency: One of the hardest lessons for marketers to have learned was to refrain from leading with overt company or product messages. “Leading with value” has become a difficult principle to adopt, after years of “me-me-me” communications. Declining performance of digital ad units means marketers must rethink content from the position of the customer. The rise of editorial as an essential function within marketing will be necessary to instil this new discipline.

4. Customer convergence has arrived: All mediums are converging. Appointment TV is dead. The customer dictates the content they want to consume, across multiple mediums, the times they want it.  On-demand mediums will challenge the marketer as consumers move swiftly between tablets to smartphone to television. The new ways of targeting customers across multiple-platforms now allows the marketer more long-tail opportunities that will augment and support traditional mass targeting.

5. Customer experience mandates an always-on presence: A more informed customer expects consumers today an optimal experience that “allows them to shop and receive their purchases where they want, when they want and how they want.” This means providing the ‘continuous experience’ across brands, devices and format: mobile internet devices, computers, brick-and-mortar, television, radio, direct mail, catalog etc. Today’s marketer is channel-agnostic and is aware of sites, platforms and channels the customer is researching, eliciting recommendations, price-comparing and ultimately, buying.

6. Sustainability, not campaigns: The value of social media as an open channel two-way conversations now provides brands with the ability to not only build relationships, but benefit from the effort and commitment to nurture customer relationships through these channels. Word of Mouth and Advocacy are strong indicators of brands doing it right. The value of organic traffic that results from content value, social consistency and customer-commitment, will surpass the more costly campaign-driven ad-buys and promotions.

7. Social cannot be outsourced: Agencies will never be able to truly be able to build effective community management services. This function needs to live within the organization. Customer relationships with brands cannot be fostered via surrogate means, and then adopted into the organization. Only employees within the organization, with the proper knowledge and solutions, can effectively troubleshoot customer complaints and provide the right responses in the expected timeframe. An emerging discipline in community /customer relationship management will be critical to gauge the pulse of the community and to bridge the gap with the organization.

8. Context is key: Google has gone beyond just keyword and now tries to extract real meaning from what people search or speak about. Semantic algorithms go this one step further and now give marketers the tools to truly understand what people need and want. It’s here that will help predict and define areas the brand can connect and provide value to customers.

9. Customer-centric needs to be the standard: As digital grows up, the areas mentioned above will move companies to start to shift in ways that puts the needs of the customers at the centre of the organization. One-to-one marketing will a reality as data allows us to truly customize experiences for each customer. Retention will get increasingly harder as mediums and platforms rise and fall with the nomadic consumer and Facebook and Twitter become less standard platforms. Where pundits have prophesied the death of marketing, a more responsive, dynamic and collaborative organization will take its place.

10. A dynamic organization is a social organization: The result of these changes will inevitably move away from marketing and become embedded in all parts of the organization. A responsive, dynamic organization means that PR, HR, Product development, Inventory Management, Operations will need seamless communication channels to properly receive and disseminate information intra and outside the company to stakeholders and customers. The future CMO, in my opinion, will become more operations-minded but will rely on the collective organization to function effectively.

Marketing is no longer a discipline with best practices and tried and true techniques. As long as technology exists, and media evolves, consumers will continue to find new ways to connect and consume information. What’s clear is that these days our traditional definition of longevity is short-lived. Not only does the marketer need to morph with the times, the organization does as well.

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CHATBOT PLATFORMS. How to choose the right one?

   
Chatbot platforms are essential tools if you need to build and run a chatbot.
There are many available on the market, big and small, popular and not so much.

Here are some useful thoughts that should help you navigate the complex world of chatbots and conversational AI solutions.

All chatbot platforms can be split into two categories: those that let you create chatbots without any programming, and those that require programming. Now, the idea that you don’t need to possess technical knowledge to build a chatbot seems appealing but the reality is not so rosy. In fact, I have yet to see a professional chatbot created without coding.
Chatbots rely on sophisticated algorithms and advanced knowledge of linguistics. These technologies are so complex that at the moment there are no plug-and-play solutions available. The companies like Chatfuel, Manychat, Flow XO and many others are attempting to fill that void and offer chatbot platforms that are simple in use. The best way to make the chatbot creation simpler is by dropping the need to code them. However this simplicity comes at a price: chatbots made without coding are limited, rigid and in general, primitive.
So to summarize: if you want to impress your girlfriend use Chatfuel. If you need a professional chatbot that delivers on your business goals and provides customer satisfaction use advanced chatbot platforms with programming capabilities.

One of the main, if not the main, tasks of the chatbot platforms is to connect your chatbot to the user interfaces. There are many ways for your chatbot to interface with the world: on Facebook messenger, on the website, on the mobile app, via SMS, on Twitter , on Skype, on Slack, on Telegram, and more. A good chatbot platform should seamlessly connect the chatbot to most of these channels. Chatbot platforms do not make your chatbot smarter. For this you need AI Engines (brief disucssion on AI Engines: http://nmodes.com/entry/2018/03/29/what-are-ai-engines-and-how-choose-one/).

For best results create your chatbot on a chatbot platform, then connect it to AI engine.

One of the top chatbot platforms on the market is Microsoft Bot Framework. It is robust, powerful, with a wide variety of useful functionality built-in. Another good chatbot platform is DialogFlow. DialogFlow has a slightly different architecture in the sense that it is a chatbot platform and an AI Engine all in one interface.

Chatbot platforms can be used to create conversation flow for your chatbot. There are several schools of thought here: some prefer to delegate conversation flow to AI engines. Chatfuel and other tools with the emphasis on simplicity (build your chatbot in minutes, no coding necessary) offer easy graphical interfaces for conversation flow creation. And there is always a reliable option to create conversation flow in an old-fashioned way, programmatically.

Which option to choose? Depends on your chatbot requirements and the business needs the chatbot is expected to address.And if you have questions feel free to ask: http://http://nmodes.com/contact-us/

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