AI to power the next wave of consumer intelligence
Our friends at Forrester have been writing about the rise of a new generation of AI-enabled consumer intelligence solutions over the past year. These solutions tap inside and outside data sources, and leverage the latest machine learning (ML) techniques to enable insights professionals to work at speed and scale and enable better decision making across the enterprise.
Most critically, these smart solutions operationalize AI, and bring its value not just to market research and customer insights groups – but to a diverse set of product, innovation, and customer service teams that are increasingly dependent on understanding (in real-time) consumer context and motivation, how they are talking about your products and brand, and even broader trends that are super important to product development, go to market, and customer love strategies.
As Forrester points out, these solutions have roots in and serve other market segments, including social listening, feedback management, customer analytics, text analytics, and insights services, and among late stage vendors in the firm’s New Tech report, only 3 are recognized as true hybrid platform/service providers, including Synthesio.
We think AICI provides a great blueprint for the future of consumer intelligence (and the role of social listening within it). But it’s more than that. The “hybrid” segment represents how most organizations need to apply AI and machine learning given the shortage of data science talent – and the need for all parties to have access to insights earlier, to move faster and capture emerging market opportunities before the competition.
Democratizing the power of AI also requires a rethinking of what data is most helpful, and how to get more actionable, accessible small data into the hands of more people, and leave the big data to machines (which are way better at dealing with it vs. humans). Interesting, this is a topic I’ve written about for almost a decade and more recently even Gartner has started to promote as well.
Seeing Trends Sooner Requires Both Machine Intelligence and Human Expertise
If the path to consumer intelligence starts with social listening, we need a solution that is global-native and covers all the right sources. Only with this in place can we have a complete view of the market and its consumers. In addition, reducing the time it takes to turn insights into action is often the top goal for organizations that hope to become data-driven. Yet, there is always too much data, creating data overload. And the teams managing data are often not the teams that need it the most – really a challenge going back to early BI and centralized reporting functions.
This is where democratizing data, supported by smart machines, aka automation and AI, come in; like the use of ML for sifting through large volumes, noise reduction, and preliminary classification. Yet most organizations are relatively immature when it comes to adoption of techniques like deep learning. So, there needs to be tools that non-experts can use, and helpers on call to get teams started, provide the data science expertise when needed, and ensure accurate results.
Enter the role of hybrid providers that handle more data types, and more information, in more languages. They orchestrate the contributions of AI agents, along with expert built analytical frameworks and partner provided add-ons to allow teams to move faster, test and learn, and scale up more efficiently than using software or a service provider alone.
Here’s how each of these ingredients come together at Synthesio:
- Next-gen AI and NLP technology provide the engine. Built upon the best of open source models like Google BERT and Facebook XLM, this engine drives bottom-up topic modeling to automatically categorize conversation themes and trends, along with advanced behavioral understanding via emotion classification and sentiment analysis, and even video intelligence.
- Expert built analytical frameworks provide the context. Leveraging the SIA Data Science team and Ipsos’ 5 decades of experience, these models help supercharge intelligence delivery by injecting cultural insights, or shopper behavior data, or innovation best practices. Paired with guidance on selecting and applying the right approaches, and understanding outputs, human experts also help to ensure the use of AI is both effective and ethical.
- Human-machine teams and partnerships provide scale. Making progress with forward-looking trend prediction depends on this approach, especially when it comes to cultural analysis. This starts with having access to all relevant data sources (social, search, behavioral, etc.), along with connectors to third-party business systems to operationalize insights via dashboards, visualizations, and even in-app guidance.
This approach is foundational for bringing the power of AI from the lab to across the enterprise. And also helping insight professionals and their peers get ahead by proving the most complete, most accurate, and most predictive picture of their consumers and markets. It balances the role of humans and machines and, most importantly, sets up AI as a true game-changer when it comes to the future of actionable, tech-enabled consumer intelligence.
Allen is the CMO of Synthesio, a long time AI and data nerd, and McKinsey and Forrester alum. He has held leadership roles at several start-ups, was CMO and co-founder of social marketing pioneer Offerpop (now Wyng), and also VP of marketing and innovation at OpenText. He has given talks on 4 continents, and is a graduate of WPI and the...