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Your Next Hire: A Cognitive Developer

Look, agencies, I get it. Data rules. It rules your clients’ decisions and strategies. Though you stack so much stock in data, however, you only have access to 1/5 of the good stuff. As much as 80% of the data out there is unstructured, which means it’s meaningless to you. Even if you have the most sophisticated AI or learning system, its effectiveness — and your agency’s success and competitive advantage — relies on you capturing as much good data as you can.

In this next computing era, you must snag a top artificial intelligence (AI)/cognitive developer and pair her with a data scientist so that they can layer cognitive computing on top of your learning system and mine more good data.

Here’s why.

The dev evolution

Our world is constructed of code and driven by data, and the developers who master it possess real power. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that developer jobs will grow 17% from 2014 to 2024, a rate faster than the average for all occupations, the bureau points out. The same thing happened when CRM, e-commerce and websites became more prominent and companies needed to become more proficient with these platforms. Advertising agencies and companies started adding specialized, on-staff developers to wield these tools.

Now we’re in the midst of the next digital shift: the evolution of the developer. Today, fast-moving technologies push our mental limits. Think virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), bots and AI. And since consumers have gotten comfortable with digital experiences and AI-powered products, businesses are incorporating these new technologies into their products and dreaming up new ways to make a splash in the market.

Consider ordinary household items that have been “AI’ed.” There’s a system that answers your call from the airport and adjusts the thermostat. There’s a fridge that lets you know when you’re out of eggs.

This rapidly growing AI market is projected to sextuple over the next 10 years. It makes sense that the agencies supporting these product makers and other companies leveraging AI must differentiate by having AI/cognitive developers who understand and write interfaces for a range of applications – mobile experiences, data analytics and cognitive computing.

Setting the course with cognitive computing

Until recently, technology was seen as an enabler. Now it’s an advisor. Using AI – or what we at IBM describe as augmented intelligence or cognitive computing – a growing number of products interact with people to advise them on making more informed decisions. Here are three examples of IBM projects using cognitive to serve customer needs:

The cognitive-enabled Staples Easy Button office supply reordering system will learn businesses’ preferences over time and make ordering easier via natural language.
A concierge-powered 1-800-Flowers gift recommendation engine will offer natural conversation on the company’s website and analyze location, temperature, climate factors, the shopper’s gender and planned use to suggest relevant gifts.
General Motors & OnStar Go will use Watson capabilities in a car to offer deals and advice in the dashboard. The system will help drivers avoid traffic jams, turn on gas pumps and pay for the gas from the vehicle dashboard.

Data, data everywhere

Focus groups and surveys may never entirely disappear, but businesses now have access to big data and analytics tools that drive a deeper and more nuanced understanding of customers and the customer journey. The smart agency will use tools such as IBM’s sentiment analysis API that parses millions of social media posts to reveal in real time how consumers feel about their clients’ brands. It will engage cognitive computing to review terabytes of data on its target audience to move beyond personalized marketing to individualized. Since the consumer wants you to know their preferences and behaviors, you will better tailor experiences for them with cognitive.

Shifting ahead of the times

Cognitive computing is the next great technology shift. In the early days of mobile, we saw a spark, smolder and, ultimately, a ubiquitous wildfire. The same is occurring with cognitive. First movers on cognitive tech in every industry, including advertising and marketing, will win because they’ll possess advantages and outpace their competitors.

As more products are enabled for AI, those product makers will value and award the agencies with AI/cognitive developers on board who speak the language, take action and proactively think of clever and useful campaigns that use the collected big data.

You can blaze that cognitive trail right now in the agency world by who you hire. Will you?

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