The Future of Collaboration in Marketing Is Cognitive, Data-Driven and a Conversation

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In late January I was invited to a meeting with a company, Oblong, that does visual collaboration for the enterprise – think Minority Report: large screens all around you with data, charts, news, video, etc. moving left and right, up and down. Use the laser point and share anything on any device, zoom into it, split it, squeeze it, spin it. Amazing stuff!

Walking out of it I jokingly said to them, “It was a bit disappointing to be honest, I expected holograms to come out of the conference table.” Their head of sales responded, not jokingly, “Oh, we’re working on that. It’s in the lab.”

Collaboration, information, data, teams – everything is changing in 2017. We’ve arrived in the future.

Marketing and sales teams have more data at their disposal than anyone could even imagine a couple years ago. That data is unstructured, fast moving, highly distributed. So are teams and projects; and the pressure to deliver results, ROI, is relentless.

In marketing especially both the need and potential are enormous. Marketers need to juggle an increasing number of asset types (images, video, audio, text, etc.), constantly finding and creating new content, and somehow figure out who to get it in front of, when and how. And that’s only the first step in the marketing funnel …. Now you need to keep your users engaged, move them towards a transaction and ultimately convert them; because nowadays, let’s not fool ourselves, everything in marketing is about ROI.

This is why we built Sia.

Sia is a cognitive bot to gain deep insights into unstructured data for personalization and prediction of campaigns and projects. Amazingly, we’ve been able to build Sia within a few months thanks to the power of IBM Watson delivered through Bluemix and our Softlayer hosting.

Geared towards marketers at Fortune 2000 companies, Sia quickly convinced dozens of companies that they need to tackle the challenges of collaboration and data in 2017. Sia Insights allows marketers to gain behavioral and emotional data on their users and customers to inform marketing strategy, advertising, creative and editorial. Sia Personalize enables marketers to run “marketing in the moment” campaigns at very large scale, based on ML technology that continuously optimizes for ROI. Sia Prediction uses deep data analytics and predictive modeling to understand what makes large scale marketing campaigns succeed, and perfect these key attributes before a marketer commits her dollars.

This is great, but it’s frankly beyond the reach of your typical marketer. Collaboration is what makes this actionable and real. With our Sia chatbot you can control all of the above functionalities, share, comment and work together across teams. Even better, the Sia chatbot is integrated with many existing collaboration platforms such as Slack, email clients, Skype – and of course IBM Watson Workspace and IBM Connections. This brings the power of Sia with Watson to where teams work, talk, create, plan and deliver results.

With Sia, BBVA, one of the largest banks in Europe, is able to dramatically extend its customer reach. Using our cognitive insights we rapidly moved from five existing customer segments to almost 500. Within the same breath, we created 500 matching versions of their current newsletter that are automatically populated and published. Best of all, our machine learning engine makes content, product and CTA recommendations for all of these, delivering real bottom line impact.

Time Inc. relied on Sia to inform their 2016 edition of “Person of the Year.” And no, they did not need Sia to pick the then president elect as POY, but they did need Sia to understand why – we set up a set of cognitive insights for a list of 300 candidates for POY, and it’s these insights that helped Time Magazine decide on who to pick and why to pick them. More importantly, it allowed them to write a “new story” rooted in a personal, behavioral dataset from millions and millions of sources, articles and social media feeds.

Novant Health is at the forefront of marketing in healthcare. With recent deregulation on how healthcare companies and providers can approach patients, Novant Health now sees an opportunity to get personal. With Sia Personalize we are able to quickly build personalized landing pages, amplified with newsletters and social media. But these are not your typical campaigns; they are powered by machine learning for automation and cognitive insights for engagement.

All three clients have one major aspect in common beyond being marketing front runners: Collaboration. Marketing teams working with agencies, internal product teams and an awesome software vendor (that’s us!!!) to deliver innovative projects fast and keep them accountable. None of this would have been possible with Sia Insights and Sia Personalization alone – it required collaboration, team tools such us our chatbot, messaging integrations and sharing features to become reality.

The future of collaboration in marketing is today and it’s about cognitive, unstructured data and a conversation.

Be sure to catch the Opentopic demo at the Oblong booth at IBM Connect 2017.

Also, see below for Andre’s interview from IBM Watson 2016:

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