Taking Your Leads From Artificial Intelligence

Sysomos rolled out a unified social media marketing and analytics platform yesterday that it says enables marketers to access all the paid, owned and earned data they need to create strategic campaigns, take action in real time and measure the actions through one interface. In effect, it unifies the range of tools Sysomos has developed or acquired over the years into one platform. Individual users, however, can focus on the aspects that matter most to them, whether it’s identifying trending topics, measuring impact or using the refined data to tell relevant stories.

The platform also incorporates artificial intelligence to “uncover correlations, anomalies and associations by using machine learning to process trillions of data points every second,” as a release puts it, and that’s the aspect I’m going to focus on.

While viewing a couple of short previews of the new platform that Sysomos CEO Peter Heffring sent over last week, I was struck in particular by its ability to detect patterns not only in the words of a social campaign but also in posted images. It then delivers what Sysomos calls “automated unguided insights” that you can take a variety of actions on, from responding to a comment to sharing it, to referring an idea to your agency to generate a new campaign. And AI notices things that the human eye doesn’t --  for instance, the way a bicycle in an influencer’s post about your automobile brand is catching a number of people’s attention.

There's recently been a lot of thought-provoking  information -- to take the spin off what some might call disturbing info -- about where AI might lead us. Elon Musk is one of those most concerned, even as he develops his own company to implant electrodes that someday will upload and download thoughts in the human brain. Granted, much of the apprehension is on a far more advanced,  or totally hypothetical, level than the relatively benign desire of marketers to harness every purchasing proclivity of every consumer.

Then there’s the matter of bots gunning for your job. Rest assured that the AI in Sysomos’ new platform isn’t.

“The human element, I think, is absolutely still critical,” says Erica Jenkins, Sysomos’ chief product officer. Based on all the “permutations and different measurement points” the platform mines, “we can tell the human, ‘Hey, if you are going to go and create new content, the best theme should be …; , these type of key words should be included; here's maybe a hashtag or some type of a trend that might -- right now, real time -- be something that you could harness.”

Leave the collecting and sifting of all that data to the machines, in other words, and spend your time crafting stories that will resonate with your target. Indeed, during a presentation CEO Heffring made last month, he was careful to put AI in its place.

“AI is a good path. Not necessarily the best path. But a good path,” he told his staff in an address titled “Farming and Harvesting Insights: How Marketing Must Evolve.”

To wit: The third largest supercomputer in the world, the IBM Blue Gene, is able to process 500 trillion operations per second. That’s about as good as the brain of a mouse, which only has a few million neurons to work with. Humans brains have about 100 billion neurons, with information whipping around between them at the rate of 200 miles per hour.

In order to get to the processing level of your average copy writer, “it would literally take city blocks of supercomputers, with one billion watts of power, with a nuclear power plant to power that, and a river would have to be diverted to cool the chips,” Heffring told his employees.

What’s this all boil down to? Well, you’ve still got about 30 years before supercomputers catch up with your ability to take the data points gleaned and cleaned by machines intelligence and turn them into compelling, on-target stories.

Or, as Jenkins reinforced her point: “There still is, absolutely, an emotional or human aspect to this. We're just trying to do the research to inform [marketers], so they don't have to spend the time doing that themselves.”

Not only that, you can do it from your mobile device just before you go to sleep, or right after it wakes you up. Ah, the joys of being a 24/7 creative human marketer in the pre-AI Age!

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