For many years we have witnessed marketing and ITS working together to transform organisations into smart, fast moving, innovative businesses through the art of amalgamation to achieve operational efficiency. The 2018 trends by industry analysts Gartner, highlights the application of Machine Learning (ML) used as a way to interpret the interaction of devices in a more intelligent way with people and surroundings. But when the conversation turns to artificial intelligence (AI) it is often associated with sci-fi movies, not marketing and ITS.
Switch are applying new capabilities for ML to marketing using Sitecore's Cortex. There are a number of articles online for system architects discussing how the process of modelling combined with algorithms takes place in Sitecore. What our team at Switch have been working on is taking this new Cortex technology and applying it to common marketing activities to support the application for personalisation, re-targeting, ad-bidding and analytical reporting. This application isn't the "art" of marketing, but will automate the tracking of customer's behaviour across multiple digital touchpoints, changing the way analytics is captured and maintained. Helping customers to make smarter decisions without having to crunch the huge amounts of data themselves.
It starts with Digital Goals, in Sitecore we create goals for campaigns, form completions, page events, transactions, and even offline activities such as enter display home. Details on how to setup Sitecore goals is located here.
A consistent problem for marketing professions is managing and up-keep on goals and goal weighted value. It is easy enough for someone to setup a website goal, but to understand the weighted value of each, while you add new goals, and refine existing values, is the maintenance which often gets left behind. But we need it! We need goals and weighted values to ensure personalisation, content optimisation, and reporting is accurate and always aligned to the content strategy. This is where we are applying ML.
To take a quick step back into history, ML in its simplest form is creating models of data and as the database is populated, the application of these models becomes smarter. A simple and earliest examples of ML is Deep Blue, the first computer to win a chess game and beat the world champion chess player in 1996. But this didn't happened the first time but as the world champion played games with the Deep Blue computer, it processed and applied data, becoming smarter - learning the moves by understanding what strategies its competitor was utilising.
At Switch, we've been building our own methods of application for Sitecore's Cortex. Imagine that your chess pieces are your goals. And your moves are the visitors. As people move from one goal to another, the machine learns. The goals value weightings can be automatically adjusted to best represent which goals lead to the desired outcomes. We simply model the goals and values based on the outcomes we want the visitor to achieve.
Currently, to do this manually is hours of planning, execution and maintenance. The manual application of goals and value weighting accurately is questionable, and value weighting of a goal is often subjective. With ML, not only is it a smarter way of managing the analytics, but the targeted personalisation which is triggered by a goal is more precise, increasing the likelihood for a customer to engage with the content and convert.
It's an exciting time to be implementing AI and ML within Sitecore for our customers and the powerful results that they bring.