Microsoft

AI is the future of customer interaction – but it probably won’t be Microsoft’s Zo

The vast majority of interactive AIs (chatbots, conversational interfaces etcetera) operate on the principle of conversation trees – making them functional but uninspiring to interact with.

In most cases, the programmer defines questions and a list of possible responses that the AI can return – in a similar way that Alexa Skills and Google Home Actions are built. 

How alumni could help HR combat the digital skills shortage

What if trying to retain your staff was missing the bigger picture?

What if, as the cliché goes, loving something means letting it go?

Well, that’s what forward-thinking HR departments are starting to understand, creating alumni groups to learn from past employees and their networks.

Perhaps this could be an important strategy to improve recruitment of digital skills in the ongoing skills shortage?

Seven reasons for the unstoppable rise of CRM

I’m at Microsoft Convergence in Barcelona. I’m also in the middle of compiling a report on multichannel marketing.

Both of these endeavours leave me bemused as to why I haven’t heard people using the phrase ‘the year of CRM’.

Perhaps it just doesn’t have the ring to it that ‘year of mobile’ always did. Perhaps it’s because a lot of the CRM action is occuring in enterprise B2B and isn’t as sexy as above-the-line brand campaigns.

Anyway, the point is that CRM, a very traditional concept, through cloud and mobile, is a sophisticated and rapidly growing market. The market in 2013 was valued at $20.4bn by Gartner.

This growth isn’t set to change pace, with Econsultancy’s Marketing Budgets 2014 report showing CRM to be the technology most earmarked for investment this year (see chart below).

Microsoft Dynamics itself lays claim to 41 quarters of double digit growth, 4.4m users and 80% year-on-year net seat growth.

It has just announced increased ‘omnichannel’ functionality and seems to be coming up on the rails in a top five of CRM providers who are all making hay – Salesforce especially.

So, I thought I’d round up some reasons for this rise in CRM.

What do we get out of brands interacting with each other on Twitter?

What about us little guys, huh?

One of the surprising results of brands adopting social media as a marketing channel is the creation of an unpredictable little corner of Twitter known as ‘that weird thing that happens when brands talk to each other’.

As a child of the 80s and therefore a survivor of the Cola Wars, it feels inexplicable that two corporations would even acknowledge each other’s existence, let alone engage in friendly banter with each other in a public setting.

Bitter rivals, divided by capitalism, hurling rocks at each other from behind the safety of multi-million dollar television ad campaigns is what we’re used to. 

Not this…

What is click fraud and how can you prevent it?

Are you an advertiser running a PPC campaign? Is there something not quite right with your paid search costs? Does your performance data contain unexplained anomalies? 

Have you heard the term ‘click fraud’ bandied around the internet and think that you could be its next victim?

I realise that while writing this introduction I was beginning to sound like a fear-mongering, consumer-based TV show that makes even the most rational people think twice about leaving the house after dark, so I’ll stop here.

Is click fraud something you should be aware of, and if so, to what extent does it affect your PPC campaign?

Censorship or surveillance: which keywords are flagged in China?

What do censorship and surveillance programmes look for? What can this tell us about internet usage in China?

Can we contrast with the perceived surveillance state of the West? What are the implications for a company in the Chinese market?

Unsurprisingly, there are lots of questions still to be answered about the state of the internet in China.

First Monday has this month published a very interesting paper, presenting an analysis of data from a year and a half tracking the censorship and surveillance keyword lists of two instant messaging (IM) programs used in China.

I thought it would be useful to sum up what Crandall et al. found, so you don’t have to read the whole thing. Although this study looks at IM clients, there are certainly findings that can be extrapolated across public services, such as Baidu and Sina Weibo.