Dr. Ranjit Nair, CEO of Germin8 — a digital intelligence company focused on using data analytics and artificial intelligence to help companies become more customer-centric — is passionate about Artificial Intelligence, innovation and analytics to generate value for both companies as well as individuals. Apart from Germin8, Ranjit serves on the India Advisory Board of the University of Southern California and is the past President of the Alumni Club of Mumbai of the University of Southern California. He also serves as visiting faculty at several institutes like MICA and NMIMS.
In an elaborate tête-à-tête with Stoodnt.com Dr. Nair enunciates on the deeper nuances of future marketing through social media powered By Artificial Intelligence.
A selected excerpt –
Q. What was the idea behind launching Germin8 Solutions?
A. I am a Computer Science engineer from the University of Southern California with a strong bent towards analytics and artificial intelligence. I worked in the US for a few years but soon realized I would be more satisfied doing something back home in India. The startup ecosystem had matured in the US and I felt there were more exciting things to be done in India and hence I decided to come back. My father Raj Nair is an IIT Bombay and IIM Ahmedabad alumnus who has played key roles in growing several companies. Together we found a gap where we could add value. We called our company Germin8 and it was launched in 2007 with the intent of helping companies make better informed decisions. The traditional way of market research is to conduct surveys which are not very efficient. People were already sharing their opinions online and we thought of getting these two trends together at Germin8. Germin8 is focused on helping companies understand and act in real time based on analyzing the conversations by its stakeholders.
The inspiration for starting Germin8 was to build a company that puts India on the map when it comes to innovative products and not just be known as an exporter of software services.
The ideology of the company is customer led innovation. We believe that if we build true empathy and work closely with a few enlightened customers we can build products that are useful to the entire market. We also place a lot of emphasis on integrity, open communication and having fun in the workplace.
Q. Social Media Powered by AI Is the future of marketing
A. Social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn must use AI to make sense of the sea of human data coming at them. With an estimated 2.77 billion social network users around the globe, social networking platforms possess an unimaginable amount of data. Social media platforms need AI to be able to figure out what content is relevant content to which user, but also for things like detecting fake news, hateful content, adult content and fraud.
Now lets talk about why AI is important to the future of marketing. AI is the new electricity. Just as electricity started being used to power everything 100 years ago, AI is being added to everything now. The advent of electricity changed everything, including transport, factories, and more. Similarly, AI will change the knowledge economy. Furthermore, for marketers, adapting to AI and harnessing the power of the same is important because businesses will benefit from them being aware of AI-based tools and techniques before their competitors are.
Social media is all about humans connecting with each other; sharing information and interacting; making their presence social, and impacting each other in a good way or bad. Social listening with the help of AI can help companies generate insights from the massive volume of conversational data from multiple user generated content websites and social media platforms. Today’s businesses need AI powered software that collect these in real time and help them stay updated with what customers are saying about their products and their features, their brands as well as about their business competition.
Q. Rise of the machines: Social media and AI
A. Over 2.5 billion users were expected to have at least one social media channel by the end of 2018. This has led marketers to increasingly combining these platforms with emerging technologies to reach their growing audiences. Moreover, consumers the world over are generating huge volumes of data which can be converted into valuable insights. This intelligence if delivered in real time in order to enable real time actions can deliver an edge over competitors. We at Germin8 are focused on providing actionable insights from empowered customers that allows brands to act in real time. We are an artificial intelligence company whose products help companies become more customer centric.
Germin8 Listening helps companies understand customer perception about their brands, products, campaigns and competition. And in a crisis, it helps them know what various stakeholders are saying about the company. This helps them craft the right communication that addresses stakeholders’ concerns.
Germin8’s customer engagement product called Trooya helps companies respond to queries, complaints and leads that they may receive in social media. Today 80% of millennials use social media as their first port of call to talk to a company, preferring it to calling and emailing a company. Trooya with its AI based algorithms for routing, allocation and workflows, enables companies to smartly respond to queries from customers and other stakeholders in real time
Q. Tips for a new age Digital Marketer on AI for Social Media
A. Today, there are AI solutions that can take over most of the tedious and time-consuming tasks that businesses struggle to deal with. And the digital marketers that have already started using them are already gaining competitive advantage while those that are failing to use it will be coming up short.
One of the most important factors in the success of a company is for the digital marketer to understand the market. There are many different ways that you can understand your market. One of the most important ways to understand your market is through the use of AI using social media listening tools. This is the first step to bringing forth exceptional growth to your online business.
A smart digital marketer can also use AI based social media tools to understand their audience’s interests and to target new users. By combining CRM data about customers with social data, a digital marketer will be able to effectively communicate with their customers about the right offers and promotions.
Q. What is the real the Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Social Media
A. Artificial Intelligence (AI), whose objective is to make machines behave intelligently, is touching every sphere of our lives and social media is no exception. From a social media platform perspective, AI plays two roles. The first is to ensure that content is disseminated in the right way so that its users get to see content that they find relevant and engaging. This is very important because it is what determines whether a user keeps coming back to a particular site and ultimately the revenue that that site generates. The other and equally important role that AI plays is to police the site to keep it safe. Here AI helps in identifying illegal activity like terrorism, drug trafficking, child pornography and fraud. AI is important in detecting content that may violate the terms and conditions of the site like nudity, hate, cyber bullying. AI also plays a huge role in determining fake news which is one of the biggest threats to democracies the world over. Both the roles, of disseminating content and policing it, are very challenging because of the huge volumes of content and because people are always trying to find ways to defeat these algorithms for their own advantage.
From the perspective of companies, AI plays a big role in understanding what is being said on social media about them, whether they are engaging their audience with their content, what their audience likes and dislikes and how they can engage better with their customers. The sheer volume of conversations makes it a task that humans simply cannot do without the help of AI-based tools. And because what people discuss and how they behave is constantly changing, it is only through an AI system that learns and adapts can companies keep pace with their digital consumers.
Q. Will AI really transform marketing?
A. I think this is a moot point. AI has already transformed the way forward thinking companies are building their marketing strategies, how they advertise to customers, how they craft new content and how they engage with customers. One thing for sure, as AI becomes increasingly sophisticated, it will not only transform the entire industry but also all brands will need to rethink their approach to data, technology and human resources, in order to meet the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
Q. Why Artificial Intelligence is Critical for Social Media Listening
A. Three out of four adults in India have a mobile phone, while almost 300 million have smartphones and 70 per cent of them spend most of their internet time on entertainment and social networking. As these users become more proficient, they will transform from simply consuming content to creating their own content.
Nobody needs to be convinced that social media listening is important to get a pulse of your brand. However, the huge surge in content that one can foresee coming, will mean that listening will need to be done using sophisticated tools backed with AI that can truly make sense of the conversations to deliver insight. It is not sufficient to merely report metrics relating to the volume of conversations and whether certain words were used. Instead, social media listening tools should be able to comprehend the conversations in order to enable brands to make better decisions.