Tuesday, September 13, 2011

NLP: The bridge between gut and data

I recently met with a customer who said to me that one of her great goals in her career to quantify something that drives her crazy because it seemed almost impossible to do so.  She shared with me that it drives her crazy when the Ad Agency continuously try to dismiss the sound quantifiable based data predictions she develops as a market researcher by simply saying..."My gut feels this is just the right thing to do".

In fact this type of "hand waving" by business people drove me to get my MBA in the first place.  As a scientist, I was appalled to learn how my marketing folks guesstimated many of their business decisions with basic financial modeling.  As a scientist, I was taught to carefully manage variables to ensure the right controls were removed in order to get the right data.

So how does NLP (natural language processing) come in.  Well, NLP is used in social media analytics to help one understand the emotion expressed in language.  Because you break down the sentence like you did in middle school english class, you can more accurately characterize their thoughts and feelings.

Because this is true, doesn't this mean that you should be able to more accurately quantify "gut".  If a person who is doing an advertisement wants to talk about love and kittens because they think it is a great way to market valentine's day, NLP would allow you to search on Valentine's day in conjunction with kittens to determine how often they are mentioned.  In addition, it would also help you understand when they are mentioned how people feel positive and negatively and how intense this positive or negative emotion would be.  Essentially it creates accurate counts of the emotion expressed about two topics that happened to be mentioned.  And oh yeah, because it is social media data you are simply pulling in data that is already there.  There is not set up or screening.  There is no prompting.  There is simply the act of casting your net how to see how much fish are caught and what type.  And when you catch the fish, you can also see how they are feeling. 

This NLP "filter" and the ability to capture emotion would allow you to begin to create quantitative numbers around the emotions of a topic that "you believe" is a big idea.

GUT is filtered by capturing data around relevant terms that can give you emotion to allow you to QUANTIFY that expression you believe is valuable.

Yep...NLP can turn GUT into data...think about it...how does it make you feel?

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