Marketing in the Battle with the emerging cognitive era

1 June 2022 Editor-in-Chief

Sensors as harbingers of the cognitive era in our lives

In recent years, we have become accustomed to invisible sensors helping us everywhere. We experience this right now when we sit in our car and in many situations, it glances, or a sound alerts us to a small mistake of ours. We also leave it to these sensors to spread everywhere in the house. The heating is regulated or in the house smartphones and tablets take over the control of electrical appliances or even the alarm system. Self-driving – or autonomously driving – cars are under discussion, the first tests are even underway with large trucks, and we will have to get used to the fact that we will soon no longer need a driving licence, as the car of the future will become a data centre and autonomously drive us from point A to B.

Sensors are all around us, not just in our cars, but in our homes, our phones, on the plane, in the lift, in our workplaces, and since Apple positioned its iWatch as a fitness and healthcare lifestyle gadget, even around our wrist. Sensors are ubiquitous. They protect us, warn us, and in some cases even inspire us to live better and lead healthier lives. What possibilities when you think of the data that each of us now gives for free to health insurance companies, life insurance companies or the state.

The cognitive era started a long time ago

We must learn to trust machines, apps, and sensors (mostly associated with artificial intelligence, after all) and consciously prepare ourselves for the cognitive era now. This era – or already today – we are already putting many decisions in the hands of these systems that not only collect and analyse data but help us make decisions not only in borderline situations.

Virginia Rometty, CEO of IBM, predicts that in just five years, every major business decision will have been previously analyzed, evaluated and processed by cognitive systems in a way that we come to understand that from the vast amount of data, movement profiles and personal preferences, these cognitive systems will drastically change and enhance our decision-making.

Marketing and brand managers will drastically change their decision making in the next few years.

Cognitive systems, with their ability to analyse data and a myriad of motion profiles in real time, even in complex networks, and to track consumers undetected, foreshadow possibilities that we consider almost impossible today. IBM Watson Ads will be one of the first technologies on the market that will be able to capture product interest, the ability to create an environment for positive buying decisions and thus offer content to the potential customer in such a way that it is almost impossible to recognise as advertising. And we will then start to trust such machines, algorithms or whatever we call them, and use them for any kind of e-commerce, just as we do with sensors today.

Today, we already rely more on search results than on real research.

The algorithms of search engines and e-commerce platforms are gateways with a significant influence on our purchasing decisions, according to studies by management consultancies. But marketing specialists must ask themselves here what happens when cognitive systems prepare the purchase of a product or service, which then still represents the brand of a product at all. If such a system finds out through its comprehensive analyses that consumers only buy a branded product on certain occasions, but not otherwise, this system will even take over the decision of what, when and where to buy.

From today’s perspective, this will completely change brand awareness. Any number of brands – whether premium or cheap – will be chosen situationally when this simply presents itself from the context of life. And as consumers, we won’t feel bad about constantly changing brands, since every product makes sense in the medium or long term, precisely in this situation.

IBM Watson as a cognitive super-algorithm

Although it is still argued that even the best cognitive systems have no intuition, we already must admit that intuition usually plays a subordinate role in purchasing. Emotion plays a more significant role – but these cognitive systems can determine this very precisely thanks to the substantial number of sensors – e.g. the iWatch on the arm. And including emotional decisions in the purchase of a product is only a problem of the amount of data that must be processed in real time. If we look today at the multitude of real-time networking of the billions of Internet-of-Thing’s gadgets, we learn that real-time analysis is not such a big problem already today.

IBM Watson technology is already showing us today what will be possible tomorrow. If we follow the publications on this topic, the argumentation falls into two directions: On the one hand, optimists see the possibility of finally finding time for “human” needs again as an absolute added value – on the other hand, pessimists see an expanded ability – i.e. networking of such super-intelligences – as the only thing that will make people lazy and flatten their minds. But today we still assume that we can really control these machines.

And here I would like to give two lines of thought: What happens when these “machines” become autonomous – i.e. exchange and improve their algorithms themselves among themselves, and what is happening now? We don’t yet know any “IBM Watson’s” that have already been working autonomously for 20 or more years. We therefore must ask ourselves today what such machines can do for us and what such machines will take over.

  • Category: Media and AI Criticism
  • Author: NeoNetWalker, Germany
  • Published: June 2020
  • Languages: German, English
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