By Robert Jones
We’ve all heard it time and time again: “Computers will be able to talk to us and help do our jobs”. However, reality rarely lives up to the hype, either because the computer doesn’t understand us, the tool doesn’t have access to the right information, or it’s just not deployed in the place we need it to be. To assist with resolving these issues IBM have developed a cloud interface to Watson’s natural language processing capability. This gives you the ability to have an IT system that understands natural language, integrated to systems you own and manage, or even attached to external real estate such as your company Twitter profile.
A good example of how this would work in the real world is if we look at the opening salvo of questions and answer on a company’s chat support (via either in-house helpdesk applications or via social channels). They follow a script with several branches and the answers to many questions (once the person/computer knows what you are asking) can be provided very quickly from pre-created and stored information, or selected quickly from databases containing the client’s data or your product data. Having customers’ opening questions answered not by a person but by carefully crafted scripting, through their chosen entry point to your omni-channel solution, can significantly reduce manual effort. When the script can’t answer all the questions it can pass them on to a real-life agent who is now forearmed with all the basics and can quickly support your customer.
I know what you are thinking, yes it would be great to have this but it will just be too much work to create, requiring specialists to recode it every time I want to change a question, tweak the software’s understanding. However, much like IBM Campaign, once you have plugged the Watson Conversation tool into your customer interface and provided a way to pull any data you might need from your databases, you are left with an intuitive graphical user interface that a non-technical user can use to change or tweak to meet your evolving use cases.
Watson Conversation is made up of the following components: Intents, Entities & Dialogs.
‘ Intents ’ are purposes or goals expressed in a customer's input, such as answering a question or processing a bill payment. By recognising the intent expressed in a customer's input, the Conversation service can choose the correct dialog flow for responding to it.
By Joe Mawson
IBM acquired The Weather Company’s Product and Technology Business, Weather Services International (WSI) in 2016. WSI became the business solutions unit of The Weather Company, an IBM Business. The Weather Company powers the preloaded weather app on IOS devices and is the default weather forecast on Google. IBM recognised that weather has an impact on the whole economy, not only does weather impact transportation and infrastructure, it also influences sales. Through its WeatherFX platform, The Weather Company can bring cognitive forecasting and intelligence to business users, enabling businesses to leverage the biggest data variable they face.
In 2016 WeatherFX Triggers were made available for integration with IBM Watson Campaign Automation. This enables Marketers to select and target customers based on weather forecasts at a post code/ZIP level to deliver even more highly targeted messages across email, SMS, app push and social channels. With WCAs great strength in automation, this data can be used in Programs and automated messages as part of customer journeys and CRM strategies.
Following the addition of WeatherFX as an Endpoint in UBX and the release of the UBX Toolkit v1.3 in June 2017, WeatherFX Triggers can now be integrated directly into IBM Campaign V10.0.0.2. This is a powerful integration for many IBM Campaign clients, as weather data can now play a central role in the planning, development, deployment and analysis of marketing campaigns. For clients with IBM Interact, by including WeatherFX data in Interactive Strategies, marketers can now deliver highly targeted event driven messages using weather data in real time.
WeatherFX data is delivered to IBM Marketing in the form of WeatherFX Triggers. A weather trigger is a mix of different weather conditions and values that are unique to a location and season. These come in three categories: Relative Conditions, Activity and Product.
are varying weather condition values relative to each geography
and season, such as heavy rain, inclement or severe weather.
triggers are based on aggregate consumer activities, categorised in ways such
as ‘Outdoor Activity’, ‘Optimal In-Store shopping’ or ‘Eating Out’.
triggers are based on product usage and sales; ‘Cold Cereal’, ‘Tyres’, ‘Sunscreen’
and so on.
WeatherFX Triggers relevant to the business and the operating territory can be selected and provisioned by IBM. In an overnight process, the 3-day forecast lands in a WCA Relational Table that can be queried as a part of Contact Source, Dynamic Content within a Mailing, entry to a Program or a trigger for an automated message. For IBM Campaign clients, the Triggers are provisioned in the WeatherFX endpoint in UBX, then using the UBX Toolkit as an Event Subscriber, the data can be downloaded to the on-premise database and mapped into Campaign Flowcharts. In both applications, contacts can be selected by joining the data on customer ZIP/postal code, and then simple selection criteria return the target group.
The application of WeatherFX data allows marketers the opportunity and capability to deliver meaningful messages to customers at time when the weather will reinforce those messages. These could be service messages directly targeting customers set to be impacted by extreme weather, delivering relevant and timely information that improves customer engagement. Weather data can also be leveraged to give highly localised product offers, using combinations of Relative Conditions, Activity and Product Triggers. An impressive use case is cited by IBM when working with the car manufacturer Subaru. During times of bad weather contacts receive a message highlighting the product and its safety features. This is then followed up at a time of more warmer weather, with an offer that includes a call to action to visit the local dealer. The timeliness of these messages would be unique to a customer’s location, and in this way, it leverages the weather data to emphasise product messages and contact a customer with an offer at a time they are most likely to respond.
By rolling out of WeatherFX Triggers to the IBM Watson Marketing portfolio, IBM are continuing to add value to this proposition and put a powerful dataset in the hands of marketers. Weather impacts every aspect of our lives, from what clothes we wear, what products we buy or where and how we travel. By using this data in creative ways in IBM Watson Marketing, marketers can deliver meaningful messages to customers and forecast even better responses.
Purple Square would like to welcome David who recently joined the management team as Commercial Director for Australia/New Zealand. David took time out of his hectic on-boarding schedule to introduce himself and share some of his thoughts, opinions on marketing technology!
By David Avery
Can you give us a background to your career?
My career in sales started back in 2005 in an outsourced sales centre in Brighton selling residential broadband, tv and phone packages and I ended up running a very successful team. In 2009, I moved to my first technology sales role, knowing absolutely nothing about email marketing technology, by the time I left this organisation in 2012 we had grown the company from 35 heads when I joined to over 100 and I was the International Sales Manager – this gave me a great grounding in a new area and this was when I first discovered a passion for digital marketing and technology.
In 2012, I relocated from the UK to Australia and joined an organisation that was the exclusive reseller of Silverpop in APAC, this was a new challenge as the technology was aimed at a different segment of the market and at the same time I was also learning about the nuances of working in a country the other side of the world from home! During this time, it was when Silverpop was acquired by IBM, this again was very interesting – learning how to work with one of the largest technology companies in the globe with a history like IBM was a very interesting experience and I look back on this time with very fond memories.
In 2015, I joined a regional digital agency that had been formed through a series of acquisitions, mainly due to them deciding to partner with IBM for the former Silverpop product. As part of the team that was tasked with setting up the adoption of Silverpop this gave me the opportunity to experience working in New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia and other APAC countries which was great for my own personal development as I was able to gain experience of working in different markets. This role was also important for me in gaining a greater understanding of the various marketing channels out there, previously I had been pigeon holed in the email marketing/marketing automation world and hadn’t really paid a great deal of attention to the other marketing channels – this was great experience which I think has given me a greater understanding of the challenges that CMO’s face and the pressures they are under to deliver results.
What does your new role at PSC entail?
I am responsible for Purple Square Consulting’s A/NZ business and everything that entails – from ensuring that we are consistently delivering high quality of work for our clients and partners, to ensuring that the team is happy in their roles and are constantly learning and developing and of course looking to grow a sustainable and successful business.
Why did you choose to join PSC?
From the moment that I started discussions with Tim and Andy I was instantly attracted to their passion for IBM’s Watson Marketing Solutions. I see a lot of tech partners, MSP’s and agencies who claim to be agnostic and able to work with any technology, but quite often the reality is that they are not actually specialising in a particular technology – it was very clear to me from our first conversations that PSC shared my view that to be truly world class, in delivering great experiences for clients, it was important to specialise in one technology set.
This is just my personal view and it’s not to say I am right, but I look at it this way – if you had a medical condition, would you go to someone who claimed to know something about everything, or a specialist that was an expert in your condition? I think the same applies to a CMO or CTO – you want to put your faith in a partner who is a specialist with your chosen technology.
With PSC’s decades of IBM implementation experience behind them and skilled and certified consultants on the team, together with a high percentage of repeat business from satisfied clients, gave me a great deal of confidence that I was joining an organisation that can deliver world class consulting & project delivery for the A/NZ market.
What aspect of your new role are you looking forward to?
The opportunity to grow a great services business in A/NZ truly excites me, I take a great deal of pride in delivering great outcomes for clients which in turn allows them to deliver great customer experiences. I really enjoy working with the local IBM team and am looking forwards to continuing to be able to work closely with them. From a personal perspective, I feel very honoured that Andy has put his trust in me to lead his business in A/NZ and I look forwards to repaying that faith.
What do you see as the biggest challenges facing organisations in terms of marketing technology in APAC?
We work in such a fast-paced environment, with marketing professionals being under incredible amounts of pressure to deliver increased sales, new sign ups, eyeballs on their websites and apps or qualified sales leads – where do they spend their time and budgets?
I see a lot of organisations who spend on average 8 x more on customer acquisition than they do on customer engagement, what does this mean? Well when you are spending all of that money acquiring new customers but not onboarding them properly, they are most likely to feel disengaged with your brand and go elsewhere. No matter your industry – banking, retail, travel etc – you should be aiming to provide the same personalised & exceptional customer experience online as when a new customer walks into your branch, retail outlet or airport lounge… Yet we don’t. There is nothing more uninspiring than the feeling that you are being marketed to as part of a mass audience.
With the advancements in marketing technology this really doesn’t need to be the case – we have the ability to work with hundreds of different data points, customer behaviours and analytics tools that should allow us to provide our customers with personalised experiences, for them to feel inspired and to be presented with an offer or service that is exactly what they need. But, sadly, this isn’t the case…
We read and hear so much about the big disruptors that have revolutionised legacy industries – Air BnB, Uber, Amazon etc and we admire how they have used technology to disrupt their industries. But truthfully, technology was just the enabler for these disruptors – these organisations started by putting the customers experience at the forefront of their offering, and the results speak for themselves.
In summary – if you are on the board of an organisation – please invest in technology that will enable great customer experiences and focus on customer engagement, not on just acquiring new customers and then treating them all the same!
What do you hope to achieve in your new role?
If we can reach a point whereby we have a customer base who are very happy with the work we have delivered, and they value the relationship that they have with PSC. Plus have a team who feel that they are happy with their roles and feel as though they are learning and growing from a personal development perspective – I will feel as though I have done a good job.
By Darren Webb
Working on a large project, perhaps partnering with an enterprise level Systems Integrator (SI) can be challenging and rewarding in equal measure. Basic project management principles will always apply in terms of the solid identification of up front end goals, and tracking progress will help get you across the line with sanity (and budget) intact, but here we will discuss what happens when you take a relatively simple Watson Marketing implementation and then scale up to System’s Integrator level.
With project requirements, what are your end goals? These should be clearly laid out and any requirements that contain the words “etc.” or “and so on” or similar should be called out at the start. Strict requirements will let you scope the project clearly. Ultimately you want all parties to be happy to signoff the work but keep an eye on those NFRs (Non-Functional requirements) that describe how a deliverable is going to perform rather than what it is going to do. The capacity for the project to go wrong if the foundations have been badly laid is almost limitless and review cannot be emphasised enough with a strong management team essential. When the subject area is particularly large or new to a customer then a helping hand up front in specification is never a bad thing.
By Ben North
Invest for success
The bulk of enterprise software implementation effort (and budget!) is typically allocated to the technology purchase and its subsequent deployment, with on-going support for marketing teams often an afterthought. However, truly successful implementations, that is those that achieve their ROI and adoption objectives, require an appropriate level of investment in enablement as well.
By Tim Biddiscombe
We live in interesting times, as the Chinese curse goes! While Purple Square remain fully committed to 100% supporting the IBM Watson Marketing technology stack across our 4 functional pillars (Implementation, Consulting, Learning, Support), I, along with my fellow 'Squarians' have been watching the IBM UBX area develop with great interest, for the complimentary (not competitive) technologies that are now linking up to IBM Watson Marketing.
We've talked about IBM UBX before, check out our blog ` Life after V9’ and 5 minute feature for starters. It's a brave new world of effortless APIs (Application Program Interfaces - software talking to software). I say effortless, because with a technology like IBM UBX, the API layer, once the purview of lengthy and expensive internal IT Development projects is all pre-completed for us. With a few clicks a marketer can connect up any existing UBX endpoint (IBM or otherwise) to any other one, and the data will start flowing to where it needs to be to support your marketing.
Out of the 30+ endpoint partners currently on offer (full list here ), we have chosen to explore and evaluate Sprinklr first of all. As one of the first endpoints to be added, Sprinklr caught our eye, and the more we found out about them as a company, the more interested we became. Sprinklr is an Enterprise Level Social Media Management Platform, with modules to cover an organisations interactions with their customers across all aspects of Social, including:
- Content Marketing
- Case Management
Their reach is broad, across 24 social networks (I couldn’t even name 24!), and thousands of forums, websites & blogs.
By Ryan Bartlett
Enter “Content Marketing” in Google and within a few clicks something along the lines of “Content is King” will surely appear on screen. Content has always been here but there’s been a dramatic shift in focus to Content Marketing. Content is now a valuable commodity, depending on how you use it can do a lot more than just inspire a purchase, it can create followers and brand advocates all of which increase brand awareness which could create new leads and more sales.
Back in May last year, I sat in the audience at Amplify 2016 and watched like many others the many new and exciting propositions from IBM in the Marketing area. Watson had definitely arrived and one of the new areas covered was Content, IBM too were stressing the importance of quickly delivering the right content and at the right time. Six months after Amplify, IBM launched Watson Content Hub - a tool aimed at simplifying the content management process, and recently I’ve had the opportunity to get some hands-on experience which I’m happy to share.
It shouldn’t come as a mystery as to what this new product is all about, the clues are in the name. For starters, it’s part the ever-growing Watson marketing suite, so it’s cloud-based and comes infused with cognitive abilities. It’s for Content management, storing a variety of object types including (but not limited to) images, videos, contents and links. However, it’s the final word ‘ Hub ’ that piqued my interest, a word that can be defined simply as “the effective centre of an activity or network” . So, what exactly could this be or will this be the centre of? We can get to that bit shortly.
In this product, Watson works by analysing the content you upload and tagging the material appropriately. For example, for an image of Times Square in New York, Watson analysed the image, and generated 33 different tags including Traffic, City, USA, Yellow, Cabs Commute, Times Square. You’re also free to add your own tags and remove any tags you don’t quite agree with. The big point is that this is all done for you in the background and is relatively accurate – and will become more so over time. The design and layout is easy to navigate but it’s these tags that make it easier to find the right content when you need it, and take a great deal of the pain out of Content Upload.
By Mos Bhatti
In October 2016, my colleague Tim wrote a great little piece on Life After V9 (of IBM Campaign). As the song goes “the world don’t stop…” and IBM have embarked on a fascinating journey; embedding cognitive capabilities in to the IBM Watson Customer Engagement portfolio, comprising Campaign Automation, Marketing Insight and Real Time Personalization solutions.
We’ll talk more about these in future posts, in this blog I’ll be looking at the integration between IBM Campaign V10 and IBM Watson Campaign Automation (formerly IBM Marketing Cloud); which enhances the interaction and overall capability of these solutions, putting the customer at the heart of the practice, enriching the marketing users experience and facilitating a collaborative and omni-channel approach to marketing.
IBM Watson Campaign Automation is a digital marketing platform encompassing a broad range of capabilities including:
Incorporating email, SMS and mobile push, along with embedded analytics, Engage is a digital marketing and lead management solution.
Provides a way to exchange data between IBM (and IBM Business Partner) applications and your own systems of engagement. UBX identifies individuals and their behaviour (Events) in interactions occurring across different channels, passing this information from Publishing systems, to Subscribing systems in an actionable form.
Used by marketers to create compelling, easy-to-use storyboards of digital and traditional marketing programs or customer journeys, this collaborative application can be used in conjunction with IBM Campaign and Engage to bridge Planning and Execution.
By Jonny Oliver
IBM Journey Designer was released a year ago, but has now come-of-age as one of the many tools in the IBM Watson Marketing suite. It's a cloud-based collaboration product that allows marketers to plan the customer journey in a user-friendly drag-and-drop interface. It includes a real-time chat window and messages/notifications to allow users to work together, allowing Marketing, Sales and Customer Service to visualise cross-channel journeys, set marketing goals and design tailored customer experiences.
Users begin by creating a Storyboard - an editable canvas that supports Connectors and Touchpoints, and tools such as directional arrows and notes. Connectors can be a group (essentially a low-level canvas), a program (that integrates with automated programs in Marketing Cloud) or a campaign (which integrates with IBM Campaign). Touchpoints include E-mail, SMS, Landing pages, Social and more that marketers can drag onto the canvas to plan their customer journey. These can all be linked with arrows to indicate the direction, though these are just informative and do not have an effect on the journey. In fact, with the exceptions of the campaign and program integration, the entire canvas is just a reference to allow marketers to collaborate and discuss.
By Joe Mawson
IBM launched the Watson brand in late 2016 and anyone engaged in IBM Commerce in the last 5 years could be forgiven that this could be little more than another name change. As part of the PSC delegation to Amplify 2017, I was keen to see what Watson could really do and what it really means in the real-world of IBM Marketing.
The first day of Amplify kicked off at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas with a Business Partner session. Presented by Kate Linendoll, the session immediately introduced several consumer products that use the Watson APIs in creative ways; a toy dinosaur that could talk to you, chocolates with recipes aggregated and suggested by Chef Watson and LifeBeam headphones. Using the twitter hashtag #IBMAmplify put Business Partners in the running to win one of these products as prizes. This kicked off a flurry of twitter traffic and reminds us all that social marketing is becoming central to our interaction with events. The session was held exclusively for Business Partners, with IBMers and Clients turned away at the door. IBM now place Business Partners as central to their business model, with VP Susan Reynolds promising a Business Partner in every deal.
Amplify this year promised to show off not just what Watson can do or will do in the future, but rather how Watson is being used now. In Watson Marketing this means Predictive Journey Path Analysis and Struggle Detection in Customer Experience Analytics, Rules Advisor in Real-Time Personalisation and Audience Identification in Marketing Insights. Richard Hearn declared IBM to be the only end-to-end cognitive customer engagement platform, emphasising that IBM know that clients want a seamless integration, not just a series of products bolted together. To be cognitive the platform must understand, reason, learn and interact. For IBM, cognitive is synonymous with Watson. By embedding Watson across the portfolio IBM have proved that the Watson brand is not just a clever name, the Watson brand is here to stay.
The buzz from the Business Partner session carried over to the keynote, which began with Katie Linendoll proudly announcing that what we are going to see is “not the future. It’s right here, right now”. The first demonstration had Watson perform real-time sentiment analysis to a series of questions, with cubes changing colour based on the sentiment of the answers given in the room under the #ibmamplify hashtag. Pink for excited, teal for curious, blue for eager and purple for engaged.
General Manager Harriet Green took to the stage with presentations from the Home Shopping Network (who don’t believe in Omni-Channel, it’s just shopping), Adidas (they do believe in omni-channel), and Titan each sharing high profile success stories of working with IBM.
For Watson Marketing, the stand out presentation came from Melanie Butcher who demonstrated the Watson Marketing Assistant speaking to Watson using natural language; she was able to teach Watson new terminology, ask Watson to analyse campaign results, ask Watson how it gauged that success. Melanie asked Watson to analyse the sentiment of the subject lines of the emails with the highest open rates in the past year. This was an impressive practical application of AI in Marketing providing actionable insights and it is available in beta now for customers using Watson Campaign Automation (formally Marketing Cloud). All you have to do is ask for it.
Film star, Will Smith was the final act of the Keynote. He is Professionally Certified in Watson Campaign Automation (formally IBM Marketing Cloud, formally Silverpop) and has been an IBM Campaign user for a number of years. All part of creating a buzz around the conference, Will shared some of his life story and answered the questions we all wanted, for example “How’s DJ Jazzy Jeff?” For all the light-hearted anarchy Will Smith brought to Amplify, one point he made resonated though the week. In his early acting days he could get away with making average movies, or sometimes poor movies (Wild Wild West, anybody?). In the 1990s he could make films that hit a dud note and no one would notice until the studio had made its money back. In 2017, if you make a bad movie word gets out straight away through social media and we are all much less forgiving. Decision making in 2017 has to be much more considered.
As exciting as the keynotes are, the real substance at Amplify comes from the breakout sessions. One session of note came from Jeremy Waite. Jeremy is an IBM Evangelist (that really is his job title) and he presented a tour of the landscape Marketers face in 2017. Jeremy introduced the term ‘ personification ’ in Marketing. In a world where 55% of customers don’t want to share their data, personification is the opposite to personalisation; it’s the right message at the right time when you don’t know the customer. In social media this is advertising to lookalike profiles, or leveraging cognitive tools like Watson to deliver ‘thumb stopping moments’
Other standout sessions came from Embel Assist who used an implementation of IBM Interact and IBM PCI to deliver real time scoring and offer presentation across channels. This included scoring customers’ propensity to respond to an offer and present those offers in real time. In an inbound call centre, this might mean presenting no offers, to ensure efficiency in the customer experience.
Similarly, Shutterfly presented an example of using Interact to deliver targeted cross sell messages in transactional email. Shutterfly delivers personalised printed merchandise, they analysed their email response rates and saw an opportunity to deliver real time marketing messages in transactional mailings, and on the website, making their marketing message central to the customer experience, and not a pre or post sale activity.
PSC’s Tim Biddiscombe created a buzz with his presentation on the integration between IBM Campaign and Sprinklr using UBX. IBM Campaign is an enterprise level marketing tool that provides closed loop marketing with offer management and attribution. Sprinklr can listen for brand mentions across 25 social networks, over 500,000 websites, blogs and forums, it enables advertising to target lookalike profiles and it can be used to manage massive volumes of social conversations. Connecting the two platforms using UBX means a seamless extension to IBM Campaign, where social is more than just another channel, but part of closed loop marketing automation.
The award for best breakout session title went to ‘Cloudy With a Chance of Email Personalisation’ presented by Sam Peskin (IBM) and Dennis O’Donnel (IBM/Weather Company). The session demonstrated the cognitive capabilities of WeatherFX within Watson Marketing Automation. The integration of WeatherFX with WCA offers an interesting number of use cases, based upon the underlying research that weather drives customer demand. In the UK, weather is the single most important topic of conversation, for national retailers in large territories in the US, the weather can mean the need to target different messages across different regions. Beyond knowing that we buy ice cream when it is hot, using Cognitive Weather triggers Marketers can use weather to target given messages as a zip code level. For example during bad road conditions, a car manufacturer may want to deliver a marketing message to emphasise safety and handling. A grocery store that could target customers to a local store level to drive customer footfall ahead of incoming storms. A fashion retailer leveraged bad weather to promote ads for thermal jackets to consumers experiencing bad weather. A pharmacy identifying the first days of spring at a zip code level could target customers at a local level to remind them to stock up on hay fever medication. The key component of the weather triggers is to understand what weather means to each region at a given point in time, identifying when it is unseasonably warm, or when the weather extremes are approaching. In this way, WeatherFX triggers are cognitive, and that cognitive capability can be used to drive really targeted messages.
Amplify 2017 put cognitive at the centre of the IBM proposition and the real-world examples on show at the conference prove that cognitive marketing is more than a novelty, it is the reality for marketing in 2017 and beyond.