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Augmented Influence, Broader Impact, Unmatched Results

By Pascal Beucler, SVP & Chief Strategy Officer, MSL

Data and analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, immersive technologies (VR, AR, MR): these are not buzz words or trends, but major realities, based on technological disruptions which are impacting all industries, including ours.

We need to understand what’s ahead of us, in order to better help our clients embrace the now and the next.

As the McKinsey Global Institute recently highlighted it:

Rapid technological advances in digitization and data and analytics have been reshaping the business landscape, supercharging performance, and enabling the emergence of new business innovations and new forms of competition. At the same time, the technology itself highlighted continues to evolve, bringing new waves of advances in robotics, analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI), and especially machine learning. Together they amount to a step change in technical capabilities that could have profound implications for business, for the economy, and more broadly, for society.

  • More, deeper, better databased insights, allowing quicker decision-making and faster implementation: Augmented Insights
  • Immersive technologies which amplify the emotional resonance of a message: Augmented Emotions
  • The revolution of cognitive computing systems which learn, adapt and interact with people in natural language: Augmented Intelligence

That’s what we mean with Augmented Influence and the future of PR.

Augmented Insights

Big data is becoming easier to capture, cheaper to store, simpler to process and act upon. As insideBIGDATA, observes “human and machine-generated data is experiencing an overall 10x faster growth rate than traditional business data, and machine data is increasing even more rapidly at 50x the growth rate.

We’ve known for long that insights drive essential value, when based on deeply grounded data. This is what we call data-driven insights and foresights, the precious currency for today and tomorrow, in the age of Affinity Marketing.

The challenge lies in our ability to:

  • identify in real time what really matters to our clients’ audience, out of the ever-growing amount of data we’re able to capture
  • come up with the best value proposition: when is the right moment, in the appropriate context, with the relevant content, to make it happen?

It is critical to grasp the big data and machine learning developments ahead of us, as the IoT keeps multiplying interfaces and interactions between people and brands: possibilities are boundless, whether for designing the best possible engagement opportunities, optimizing a customer journey, capturing trends in real-time, better predicting behaviors, carving personalized communication.

Whether for marketing and communication, e-commerce or retail, product development and activation, Augmented Insights mean higher effectiveness, personalized impact and results.

Augmented Emotions

Emotional resonance is what’s moving people these days.

Whether it is virtual, augmented or mixed reality, at the end of the day, real, deep emotion, will triumph. The power and effectiveness of emotion in communications has already been proven. That’s what makes these immersive experiences “Empathy Machines”, as our colleague Rishad Tobaccowala so aptly calls them.

Whether sensorimotor, cognitive, spatial, psychological, sensory, used for a consumer marketing project, for employee engagement or for an experiential event, immersive technologies are everywhere, and they change everything for us, opening different ways to communicate, engage and share our stories. Simulation boosts simulation, in the best possible way.

Should we need more evidence of the game-changing power of immersive technologies, designing a future where the virtual and real worlds blur, some recent and massive strategic movements in the area, particularly on the West Coast, demonstrate just that:

Google, for instance, offered a glimpse of how it sees the future at its annual Developers Conference recently: it clearly involves a lot of blending between real and virtual worlds. Like other tech giants, Google is investing heavily in what is, for brands, a big chunk of their future: emotionally engaging customer experience.

Augmented Intelligence

Another huge transformation is boosted by a series of breakthroughs in the AI sector, from neural networks to Graphic Processing Units (GPUs). What was used for cool video games or for man vs machine shows is now bringing data and algorithms to the next level at the speed of light, preparing another series of shifts in terms of customer relationship management.

Brands and other actors across sectors have already dived deep into the study of Artificial Intelligence :

  • Global marketing website The Drum, in partnership with social media analytics company Sysomos, is exploring how brands are investing in artificial intelligence.
  • Forrester predicts investment in artificial intelligence Will Grow 300% in 2017. Businesses that use artificial intelligence (AI), big data and the Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to uncover new business insights “will steal $1.2 trillion per annum from their less informed peers by 2020.”

Data, immersive tech and artificial intelligence are deeply interconnected. Bots are boosted by deep machine learning, and Immersive Techs are transforming the way we interact. AI actually is what unlocks insights from big data.

We stand for helping our clients creatively engage with people and communities, raise their voice and be heard in the always on conversation. What’s new is that chatbots are becoming a key part of this conversation: not using your finger to click or touch, but just interacting in your natural language makes a huge difference. Apple’s HomeKit, Google’s Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, Facebook’s Jarvis, Orange’s Djingo and many other digital personal assistants are opening a brand new era.

This is where Cognitive Computing is deeply transformational: it helps machines understand us, and engage with us. In other words, understanding natural language puts AI at the heart of human interactions and communications.

And the learning curve may have no limits, as machines can generate and evaluate evidence based hypothesis, learning more and more, better and better, from what we select and what we answer.

We also acknowledge that better understanding and measuring how people interact with online content is crucial. Neurosciences and psychology are here to help.

To conclude, I’d say again that our industry is at a turning point, and that all options are open so far – the least tempting and the most exciting. But there is no doubt that the way in which we can create value from the equation of our times – BQ (IQ, EQ + TQ) – will largely decide the outcome. Augmented Influence stands exactly where Intelligence, Emotion & Technology meet, and it expands at the speed of light. (“Bloody Quick”).

This article is a part of “PR 2020 The Dawn of the Augmented Influence” published by MSL’s People’s Insights team that covers the latest trends in engagement on both the consumer and corporate side.

PascalPascal holds BAs in History and Language Sciences, a master’s degree in Linguistics and a post graduate degree in Semio-Linguistics. In 1987 he joined Intelligences, a subsidiary of Publicis, and in 1992 he became the MD. In 1994 he was promoted to Partner at Publicis Consultants, and then to General Manager of Carré Noir in 2001. Pascal is an Associate Professor at CELSA (Paris IV Sorbonne) and a visiting professor at HEC. In 2005 Pascal was named VP of Publicis Consultants | Worldwide, in charge of Brand Strategy and development of its international network.
@pbeucler | pascal.beucler@mslgroup.com

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For more information contact Pascal Beucler, SVP & Chief Strategy Officer, Global, MSL and Melanie Joe, Consultant – Research & Insights, MSL