I don’t know why I’m always hesitant when going to big conferences like the BCAMA Vision 2014 one a couple weeks ago. I guess it’s the fact that they’re usually full-day conferences that can be draining on the body and mind, but I usually end up leaving inspired by some great advice and new ideas.
This conference was definitely no different. Here are some things I learned about at the conference that is hopefully of help to you as well.
IBM’s “Watson” Technology is probably the Future of Search
If you’ve never heard of IBM’s WATSON before, watch the video below:
As you can see, this supercomputer is scary cool. IBM explains Watson as a Cognitive Computer which has the ability to answer questions posed in every nuance of natural language, such as puns, synonyms and homonyms, slang, and jargon.
Using this technology, they’re redeveloping The North Face website search engine. As a consumer, you’ll be able ask questions like “I’m going camping for the weekend at Cultus Lake, what type of tent can you recommend?”, and Watson, who is pre-populated with product information, user reviews, sales histories, blogs, relevant magazines and publications, etc. will respond with its best answer along with links for a more in-depth look into the answer.
Even more interesting information from the IBM website:
Newer generations of Watson are currently being trained in oncology diagnosis for healthcare professionals, and in customer service as a support representative. IBM Research continues to push the boundaries of Watson by developing new interfaces that will allow humans and computers to interact more naturally.
Ipsos Reid’s Facial Recognition Software will interpret what you don’t say
This was super interesting. I demo’d a facial recognition program developed by Ipsos Reid that can read facial expressions – in other words – it can decipher how much you’re enjoying or hating the commercial or Youtube video you’re watching. They partner with agencies for focus group research on commercials before they air – in order to understand the true inner emotions a viewer might not be able – or willing – to articulate. It can quantify your emotions based on when you smirk or when your eyes widen etc.
From an Ipsos Reid press release:
Ipsos is rapidly integrating facial coding into ad tests and other media evaluations to capture the overall emotional engagement on a moment by moment basis. To date they have applied the technology to studies in 15 countries and numerous key clients.
The Drivers of Play
I always look forward to the breakout sessions of conferences, as you usually get into a more intimate settings and have the opportunity to ask questions and learn a little bit more. I was fortunate enough to stop by Intensions’ Nick Black’s presentation on the “Drivers of Play”, in which he talked about the opportunities when giving your customers a “state of flow” when interacting with your brand.
He used the example of Lentil as Anything, a pay-as-you-feel restaurant based out of Australia. In essence, he explained that an activity only qualifies as “playing” when there aren’t any outcomes or strict rules, and if you’re “playing”, you tend to focus less about price points and other restrictions. It allows your mind to get into a “state of flow” which not pushes your creativity and inventiveness, but also allows you to escape. In the case of Lentil as Anything, the restaurant gives you the opportunity to “play” by choosing what you like to eat, and paying however much you like. And because the restaurant gives its patrons the opportunity to get into a “state of flow” where they feel they’ve escaped the daily responsibilities of life, they tend to enjoy the experience more – and thus, pay more.
Nick compared this concept with the popular notion of “going to Vegas” to escape, as well as Virgin’s pink-coloured credit card that consumers would use specifically for shopping. Although the card functioned like any other credit card, women who used it were dedicated to using it because they felt like they were “playing” when they used it.
I followed up with Nick the other day and he said he’d send me the slides on the “Drivers of Play” when they’re developed, and if he’s willing to have me share it here, I will.
So, what now?
As mentioned above, I usually leave these conferences energized, but I find that it can be difficult to implement all the things that you learn at these things. There were definitely some other things that were memorable from the conference, but these three will be ideas our agency will look into when developing new ideas for our clients. What’s important to note too is that each of these technologies or ideas are achievable of any organization of any size. It’s a matter of figuring out whether it’ll give your organization the ROI it needs.
Thanks for reading. Until next time.
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