Text Analytics 2014: Sid Banerjee, Clarabridge

I post a yearly look at the Text Analytics industry — technologies and market developments — from the provider perspective. This year’s is Text Analytics 2014.

To gather background material for the article, and for my forth-coming report Text Analytics 2014: User Perspectives on Solutions and Providers (which should be out by late May), I interviewed a number of industry figures: Lexalytics CEO Jeff Catlin, Clarabridge CEO Sid Banerjee, Fiona McNeill of SAS, Daedalus co-founder José Carlos González, and Tom Anderson of Anderson Analytics and OdinText. (The links behind the names will take you to the individual Q&A articles.) This article is —

SidBanerjeeText Analytics 2014: Q&A with Sid Banerjee, Clarabridge

1) How has the market for text technologies, and text-analytics-reliant solutions, changed in the past year? Any surprises?

The market has seen a lot more competition by way of historically non-text analytics vendors adding various forms of text analytics solutions to their product mix.  In 2013 several survey companies added text and sentiment analytics capability.  Workforce Management vendors highlighted their customer experience analytics capabilities, many powered by text (and speech) analytics capabilities – which were, depending on the vendor, home grown, or licensed from pure play text companies.  And even social CRM, and social marketing vendors – whose primary focus until this year was social communication and marketing automation processes, started adding sentiment mining and text analytics capabilities into their product mix.  As a result the market got a bit more confusing from a vendor selection perspective.  Firms like Clarabridge have continued to tout “multichannel” customer experience intelligence and text/sentiment capabilities – partly because it’s always been our focus, but also to seek to differentiate from the new crop of mostly point solution providers of text analytics.  It’s likely that this trend of more point solutions focused on single source based analytics and deployment to departmental users, while enterprise providers focus more on multichannel analytics, and enterprise deployments, will continue in 2014.

2) Do you have a 2013 user story, from a customer, that really illustrates what text analytics is all about?

A few.  An airline customer merged with a major airline and over the course of 2013 used text analytics (from surveys, social, and customer call centers) to ensure critical customer feedback was incorporated into the inevitable changes that occur when companies come together.  Feedback was used to figure out how to manage switching a customer base to a new brand of coffee with minimum disruption.  Feedback was used to identify which boarding processes (from the two airlines) was most acceptable to the passengers of the other airline.  And branding, support, frequent flyer programs, and many other processes were monitored and modified, as needed to ensure customer needs and wants were met.

My favorite story comes from a leading wireless vendor, who used Clarabridge during Hurricane Sandy. (while Sandy occurred in 2012, I learned about it in early 2013).  The carrier suffered extensive network outages along the Jersey Shore, and of course the outages, and general suffering from their customers who suffered displacement and devastation affected entire communities.  As the carrier was tracking outages, customer feedback, and general recovery efforts after the hurricane, they caught wind of a trending topic via social and other channels of customers wondering if they were going to be charged for the days and weeks their service was out.  Left unaddressed, the company realized they were likely to see a growing chorus of requests for credits flooding their call centers from unhappy and inconvenienced customers.  After consulting with the business owners across the region, the carrier decided to proactively notify all affected customers that if they were residents of areas incurring outages, their charges would be proactively suspended while reconstruction work was going on.  The positive impact on customer satisfaction was immediate, and the company averted a frustrating and distracting impact on its customer relationships.

Both stories highlight a consistent theme about the value of text analytics in the context of customer experience.  If you listen to your customers, you can find problems, you can fix things more proactively, you can avert cost and inconvenience for both you and your customers, and you can create a more loyal and and lasting relationship between you and your customers.   That’s really what it’s all about.

3) What new features or capabilities are top of your customers’ and prospects’ wish lists for 2014?  And what new abilities or solutions can we expect to see from your company in the coming year?

At a high level – expect to see the following:

More Big Data: we will support ever high data volumes

More Big Data Analytics: we will support more use of analytics to separate actionable data from non actionable data, to identify trends and insights, to make recommendations and predictions, and to suggest interactions and conversations between companies and customers.

More Uses:  In the past our customers have generally looked to Clarabridge insights and analytics, powered by text and sentiment analytics.  They will continue to see business value and application value in these areas, but our products have evolved in 2013 and will continue to evolve in 2014 to include more mobile deployability, more collaboration and alerting capability, and more capability to recommend and enable customer engagement.  Our solutions will increasingly be designed to support the specific usability and functionality requirements of key practitioners of customer experience analysis, customer engagement, and customer support.

4) Mobile’s growth is only accelerating, complicating the data picture, accompanied by a desire for faster, more accurate, and more useful, situational insights delivery. How are you keeping up?

We launched Clarabridge GO in fall 2013. With this application Android, iPhone, and iPad users can run reports, get alerts, view dashboards, collaborate with fellow employees, and directly engage with end customers, all from their mobile applications.  The application brings together social, survey and feedback content into a single mobile portal, alerting, and engagement framework.  We are seeing more and more of our customers looking for mobile access to insights and looking for the platform to engage and respond. Clarabridge GO is designed to package the Clarabridge capability for the mobile user.

5) Where does the greatest opportunity reside, for you as a solution provider? Internationalization? Algorithms, visualization, or other technical advances? In data integration and synthesis and expansion to new data sources? In providing the means for your customers to monetize data, or in monetizing data yourselves? In untapped business domains or in greater uptake in the domains you already serve?

More markets/languages – we will continue to internationalize our product for more markets, languages, and use cases.

Algorithms – we are continuing to invest in making our algorithms more scalable (to handle more volumes), more “intelligent” to provide more recommendation/action based findings, not just insights), and more accurate/useful (separating useful data from noise, ensuring the most accurate mappings and tagging are occurring as we process text and unstructured content), and more linked (connecting more data points from more disparate sources into integrated, linked insights across more and more customer interaction touch points.

Extending the core platform to more “uses” for more “users.” – lots of plans here – we will be announcing more in 2014.

More content types.  We intend to follow customer expression in whatever form factor it takes.  Customers increasingly are mixing media, structured, semistructured, unstructured.  We will continue to look for ways to follow customer conversations across media, and apply intelligence to structure, deduce, provide insights, and help make recommendations.

6) Do you have anything to add, regarding the 2014 outlook for text analytics and your company?

More partnerships – 2014 is the year I expect to see major productive partnerships developing between technology service, and support partners.  Companies are making major investments in institutionalizing customer experience across the enterprise, powered by customer insights extracted from unstructured customer interaction and feedback data.  To support the investments, expect to see the big Systems Integrators, Business Process Outsources (BPOs), marketing services companies, and technology vendors working more and more closely together to common cause – helping customers realize value to customer experience insights.  Making better products.  Creating positive customer experiences.  Marketing more relevant and successful campaigns. And more smartly managing customer relationships.  All aided by intelligent customer experience technologies like Clarabridge.

Thank you to Sid! Click on the links that follow to read other Text Analytics 2014 Q&A responses: Lexalytics CEO Jeff Catlin, Fiona McNeill of SAS, Daedalus co-founder José Carlos González, and Tom Anderson of Anderson Analytics and OdinText. And click here for this year’s industry summary, Text Analytics 2014.

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