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Cognitive Commerce: What’s in it for You?

Commercially available cognitive computing is a new evolution in technology and presents a significant opportunity for a wide variety of industries.
We are already seeing “cognitive computing” influence our daily lives. The intent of cognitive systems is to help people make better decisions. And this is why cognitive is gaining more traction and popularity in the marketplace.
I recently interviewed Steve Gatto of our Perficient Digital practice to learn more about how cognitive computing will impact the commerce and retail industries, which are in the early adoption phase for embracing these systems.
“When you think cognitive, especially in relation to eCommerce, it has the ability to do four things: understand, analyze, recommend, and learn,” said Gatto.
“First, understanding – cognitive technology understands data within the context of a particular situation. Second, analyzing data based on this understanding. The technology is not only understanding words in context but can also analyze this data relative to the individual asking the question.
“Third, the technology applies machine learning to make recommendations based on understanding and analysis capabilities. And finally, the technology is learning from each of these interactions. As it engages in future interactions that has a similar context, the platform can apply those learnings from previous interactions,” he said.

Why Cognitive for eCommerce?

Most businesses are well aware of the data explosion that is underway. The volume and speed at which data continues to grow is unprecedented.

The big data floodgates will open in 2017, driven by business’ voracious appetite for deeper contextual insights that drive customer engagement.1

Additionally, nearly 80% of this data is unstructured.2 Online touchpoints now extend beyond your web properties and email to include mobile apps, connected devices and social media. Traditional touchpoints, such as point of sale and customer support, have been “digitized” to collect customer data, and IoT makes it possible to collect data via wearables, connected devices and remote sensors.1
The main challenge traditional and pure-play eCommerce businesses face today is that they must be able to gain insights from all of this data to engage customers on their terms in a consistent, natural and intuitive way.
“The theme of ‘personalization’ in Commerce is certainly not new. Options and approaches to deliver on the promise of personalization has been a hot topic for over a decade. But with the rise of this data, identifying insights, and then subsequently execute at scale, that’s become increasingly challenging. So a new buzzword on personalization has become this thought of relevancy. You want to deliver relevant experiences to people, so you have to figure out, ‘What do your customers want?’ and ‘How do they want to research, interact, and buy?  Ideally, sellers need to have the insights to react to these crucial moments when customers are engaging with their brand,” Gatto stated.
“To accomplish this, just think of all the data you need – stored data, online data, CRM data, etc. All of this data sits in other repositories, and it’s awfully difficult to bring it all together, analyze it, and use those insights to deliver relevancy in the moment,” he continued.
“But if you have cognitive solutions to take in and analyze this data, from an omni-channel perspective, you can understand how customers are engaging with all of your touchpoints, and maybe even predict some of the things that they need the next time you engage with them. That’s providing relevancy and value to your customers,” said Gatto.
There’s no doubt that cognitive computing is the next frontier in digital transformation for eCommerce businesses. In the next post of this series, we will uncover the key benefits for embracing and applying this technology to your business.
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1 Forrester Research

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Stephanie Gallina, Senior Manager, Microsoft + CXC Partner Marketing

Stephanie has more than 15 years' experience in marketing communications, leading and executing marketing strategies for corporate and non-profit organizations. She elevates the awareness of relevant digital solution topics and thought leadership for Perficient.

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