The Rise of the Emotional Machines

 

Technology is getting emotional, thankfully not in a stroppy or petulant way.

It is not so much about computers expressing emotions, rather becoming more attuned to our own emotional states.

The Q sensor is one device that can monitor emotions and stress levels. An interesting application is in autism  where it has been able to monitor stress levels, that are not discernible from the child’s expressions or body language.

The child can appear to have a very sudden ‘meltdown’ where in reality the sensor shows a gradual build up of stress and frustration, culminating in a sudden emotional crunch point.

Smart cameras that recognise emotions via facial expressions have also been used in autism, in this case predicting other people’s emotions. Autistic children, often unable to discern moods and expressions of others, are given feedback from the device, helping them be more sensitive to other people’s emotions.

 

The Affectiva Q sensor
The Affectiva Q sensor – detecting our emotions

 

These emergent devices have also been used in market research, e.g. assessing the impact of advertising. Rather than gain participant feedback solely via questions and self reported feedback, a much richer and authentic picture can be gathered via biosensors and cameras that track facial expressions

 and emotional response.

These devices have been proven to work effectively in the research stage, yet are still costly.

It won’t be long before they become mainstream and we are all using these devices.

Consider a specific medical example where a doctor is interacting online with promotional or educational content from a pharma company.

The content should already be tailored to that doctor’s specific needs and situation. The beauty of this technology is that it can add another communication layer, tailoring the content to the doctor’s mood and needs at a specific moment in time.

A doctor who normally loves rich data and detail, but who is busy and tired will automatically be provided a shorter summary. A doctor who becomes distracted could be quickly re engaged with a timely question or request to input some information, or being served up some compelling and entertaining content.

Scary? Intrusive? Well who would have thought we would be where we are now, the privacy we have been prepared to trade for various online benefits.

The possibilities are immense for marketing across all sectors.

And it wont be long before our computers have more emotional intelligence than the average medical sales rep. (Although some may say that day arrived long ago)

 

 

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Integration is the New Innovation

It seems i missed the season, where multiple predictions are made, on how technology will impact our lives in general and healthcare specifically.  These predictions range from the very optimistic to the very obvious. Now, I’m not knocking this sport – if I had dusted off my crystal ball in time I would certainly have given it a go.

Clearly hibernating and late out of the starting blocks I thought I would indulge myself with only 1 pharma 2013 prediction. In fact prediction is a little grandiose, it is more of an observation,

This year will be where ‘Pharma’ spends it’s energies integrating existing tactics rather than experimenting with new ones.

Several high profile clients I have worked with in 2012 are doing very little revolutionary in terms of individual tactics. The innovative bit, is actually joining the right old & new tactics together in a way that meets customer & business needs, in an efficient and measurable way.

Admittedly this may sound insipid and uninspiring, clearly less fun compared to say… developing a novel thought recognition health social media platform that is able to moderate comments and record Adverse Events before they are even written. etc. etc.

However, effective integration is the key to unlocking the business value from digital & social media and many pharma companies are starting to realise this.

Similar to me with this post, some of the companies I work with were late out of the starting blocks when it came to digital marketing. They let the pioneers take the arrows – learn from the early mistakes & successes and are now in a position to leapfrog their digital exploring rivals.

Some examples of this thinking are:-

  • Ensuring there are defined and accessible metrics for each and every tactic, from web portals to medical apps.  Based on customer behaviour and feedback the tactic can then be quickly optimised, scrapped or replaced.
  • Customer channel preferences should be captured, allowing them to select the channel and frequency of communication.
  • The entire customer journey needs to be mapped and relevant, engaging content served up at each stage. An easy truism to trot out, yet a significant challenge to make a reality.  An example, is if a customer completes an online learning module, their responses should be used to tailor future modules and inform the wider relationship with the company.
  • Strong behavioural calls to action need to be set up and monitored, i.e. number of Doctors reviewing a product administration video or number of patients downloading a symptom checking app or simple checklist, that recommends they see a doctor if required.
  • And of course ensuring a tighter integration with the sales force, if they are indeed a relevant part of the mix.

So then, is 2013 set to be a boring year for pharma?

Well I actually can’t see many (business!) things being more exciting than being able to deliver mutual customer & business value in a measurable way.

There will and should still be experimentation of course, primarily at a strategic level, where pharma examines suitable future business models and what services will be most relevant to consumers in the emerging landscape.

I’d be interested in hearing if this is reality, is the experimentation phase being replaced by one of more focussed integrated execution?  Or is my experience at odds with an ongoing digital wild west of pharma? Feel free to add your thoughts…