As our CMO Allen Bonde declared in a recent blog, 2022 is fit to be the year of AI-enabled Consumer Intelligence. As brands continue to grapple with massive amounts of consumer data, new priorities around understanding diversity, sustainability, and wellness concerns, and the urgency to turn these insights into action, getting clear visibility into behaviors and preferences will require new tools and skills.
This is where AICI comes in. Last year, we saw many brands reach a turning point with their approach to social listening. Whether it was pressure from their organization to consolidate consumer insights programs and efforts for greater efficiency and accuracy, or the need to combine online and offline data sources for richer insights, multiple factors have led insights and marketing pros to outgrow their social listening tools and consider new solutions.
But, picking the right AICI tool for your organization means choosing a vendor that aligns to your functional needs and maturity level. Though AICI was coined as a category by Forrester relatively recently, many vendors and services companies have been doing bits and pieces of it for years. Both are now moving into the AICI space: services firms with expertise in consumer research have acquired talent and technology to deliver consumer intelligence programs, and vendors have built out data science capabilities and hired skilled teams to provide more consultative support. To make sense of the market and find the best fit solution for your brand, consider these four criteria:
- Data sources. The data sources you analyze will depend on your specific business questions and domain. Most AICI tools will provide out of the box access to many sources of mainstream social data, but consider also which geographies and languages you’ll need support for (including region-specific data sources) and if/how the platform can ingest first party data (e.g., survey, search, etc.). Make sure your vendor has a clear roadmap for incorporating new and emerging data sources to meet your future-state needs – and even established partnerships with top platforms like Twitter or Google.
- Algorithms. To get accurate, relevant insights from consumer data, you need AI-powered algorithms to identify trends, topics, emotions, sentiment, and more. Some tools will also provide out-of-the-box frameworks to facilitate insights discovery within the context of your use case or domain (especially important for low- to mid-level maturity organizations that don’t have dedicated AICI resources). If predictive capabilities like trend detection are on your roadmap, ask your vendor if the platform supports machine-learning techniques like topic modeling or even custom frameworks.
- Reporting and APIs. Realizing the value of AICI means getting relevant insights into the hands of decision-makers across the enterprise. For some, this means BI-style reporting and strong data visualization capabilities – like support for treemaps and enhanced scorecards – that make insights easy to customize. Plus, alerts and notifications help users share real-time data across the enterprise. For more mature organizations that want to pull AICI data and analytics into their existing insights hub, open APIs and an ability to work with established analytical frameworks are a must.
- Services. As mentioned, the AICI market is comprised of both services firms and tech vendors which means you’ll have to choose the delivery model – self-service, hybrid, or managed services – that suits your organization’s needs. If you fall in the category of insights “outsourcers” and “integrators,” you’ll likely need additional skills and resources to support your AICI tech initiatives. But outside teams should add more than just headcount; choose a vendor that brings data science expertise and research rigor, experience in your domain and industry, and has a local presence in your region to get the most out of AICI.
To help your decision-making process, we’ve aggregated ratings from Forrester’s recent AICI platforms Wave evaluation and customer reviews from G2 and Gartner Peer Insights to compare the top AICI vendors. Here’s how they stack up on these four key dimensions:
Want to see the raw data that went into our analysis? Check out The Forrester New Wave™ report or visit G2 to create your own product comparisons.
Last but not least, the best way to see if a product is the right fit for your team is to see it in action. If you’re ready to make the move to AICI, set up a demo with one of our experts here.