Could IBM's Watson answer the automated response problem for brand communications on social media?

IBM's computer system, Watson, could be the answer to social media department problem of generating responses to customer messages, according to IBM Social Business global marketing manager, Renee Ducre.

Speaking on a high level marketing panel at SXSW alongside marketers and digital experts from Mondelez, Coca-Cola, Hilton Worldwide and Expion, Ducre offered a counter point to comments made by Hilton Worldwide's Vanessa Sain-Dieguez who was discussing the opportunity for automated responses on social platforms.

Said Sain-Dieguez: "We know that we have a certain response that we give over and over again because there's only so many ways that you can personalise 140 characters when you're giving the same response over and over again. There's opportunities to automate items like that but then it does become tricky because you do need that human element. As long as there is someone on the other side, even though it's automated, having someone there monitoring what is coming in that needs a more personalised touch, that's an ok combination, but its a delicate line to walk for a hospitality company."

She added: We're fortunate to be able to respond to all incoming tweets and Facebook posts, but come the day that isn't feasible any more, it might be something we need to look into."

Ducre then offered her own thoughts on the potential opportunity that Watson, which recently played and won the long-running TV games how Jeopardy, could have in answering that problem.

"With Watson it can help customer service answer those questions, she stated, explaining that during the game, Watson said 'Can I have chicks for 200?' and then he added 'I've always wanted to say that.' I thought 'Oh my God, he knows what humour is.'"

She continued: "When you think about cognitive learning, where computers can tweak a different response to make it more personalised, we might get to that point, like the movie Her, I think we're there, where you could get to a point where you have a cognitive system that could be the customer service person."

Watson is a computer system that has been developed to analyse natural language patterns and then respond appropriately as a human might, through research and analytics.

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Stephen Lepitak

Stephen Lepitak is editor of The Drum, with responsibility for overseeing the day-to-day running of the content produced for the various platforms run by the publication. Over the years he has interviewed agency network bosses such as Sir Martin Sorrell, Maurice Lévy and Arthur Sadoun, as well as Cindy Gallop, Kim Kardashian, film directors James Cameron, Spike Jonze, Richard Curtis and Lord David Puttnam. With a keen interest in media and breaking news, Lepitak has been with The Drum since 2005 and is based across its UK, US and Asia operations.

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