The mobile marketplace will be defined by cognitive capabilities

By Jonathan Crowl

In the world of mobile commerce, a lot of new competitions are lining up on the horizon. New innovations are flooding the marketplace with emerging technology that promises to change the way people do business online, and C-suite executives are taking note. They understand that the constantly evolving mobile marketplace demands their attention and that the greatest successes will require taking on new projects, embracing risk and dispensing with their fear of the unknown.

The IBM report, “Redefining Boundaries: Insights from the Global C-suite Study,” summarizes these shifting perspectives among executives. Better data analysis, including the rise of cognitive computing capabilities, is opening doors previously locked to brands that sought a better means of contextualizing consumer behavior and creating improved strategies for marketing to them.

As one international CMO told IBM: “Cognitive computing will allow us to analyze customer data, create predictive models and track the changing needs of customers. This will provide new upselling and cross-promotion opportunities.” While cognitive computing came in as only the fourth-ranked technology in terms of its perceived importance in the near term, innovative executives see where the future is headed, and they know these robust tools will eventually become indispensable components of their strategy. In fact, the most aggressive industry leaders are already dedicating in-house teams to building and managing these systems. By doing so, they’re providing a blueprint for other brands looking to push their digital strategy forward.

Following a trail blazed by Torchbearers

The IBM report identifies these innovative brand leaders as “Torchbearers,” forward-thinking executives who are most eager to step forward into the future and use new technologies. As with any new opportunity, cognitive computing won’t convert every businessperson overnight. Budget and staff limitations, resource constraints and sometimes the simple fear of the unknown will persuade some leaders to hold off and see how things play out for their competitors.

But brand leaders with the resources and vision for these new mobile marketplace tools aren’t worried about what the future might hold. According to the report, “Torchbearers are better able to discern future trends because they look sideways as well as outward. They adopt an ecocentric — not an egocentric — perspective, drawing on the insights of their customers and ecosystem partners to monitor the landscape from multiple vantage points. And they use rigorous analytical techniques to decipher this input.”

These techniques are increasingly featuring high-end, cutting-edge analytics tools that blow away their predecessors in terms of their firepower. While experts in these technologies are limited, that makes the arms race to employ them even more urgent.

The weather forecasting model: A case study

Cognitive tools can use contextual consumer information to better understand, and later predict, new consumer behaviors. Soon, they will be able to take on a similar role in the world of weather forecasting. As Computing notes, cognitive forecasting tools are being used to create more accurate weather predictions. In some cases, the gains may seem small, but they make a large cumulative difference.

“Previously, it wasn’t possible to predict a tornado with enough time to give proper advanced warning, but now, using cognitive computing models, people can be warned that extreme weather is coming half an hour earlier, which can make all the difference,” reports Computing.

Brands will seek to better understand consumer behavior in almost the exact same way. It may sound overly simplistic, but it’s not. While the future is unknown, the past continues to be a great predictor — and cognitive tools can “learn” these patterns to better forecast what lies ahead.

Mitigating new ethics risks

With this new technology comes new risks, and brands can’t ignore the potential ethics dilemmas that can come with such high-power tools. According to Forbes, Gartner predicts that the improper use of new big data analytics tools could lead to 50 percent of the business ethics violations that occur by 2018. This will largely be due to data tools that can generate insights and consumer knowledge unlike anything the mobile commerce world has seen before.

With great power comes great responsibility. This high risk of increased ethics violations underscores the need for in-house teams built to manage cognitive processes and monitor strategy. Enterprises must follow ethics guidelines closely, and dedicated internal team members can take on the task of protecting the brand while using cognitive tools for the best gains. Given their extensive resources and their reputation for innovation, C-suite behaviors can tell the world where the future of the mobile marketplace is headed. Enterprises don’t need a cognitive tool to forecast that: Big data is about to get even bigger.