Down the Big Data Rabbit Hole

New algorithms give us insight into consumer sentiment using social media. How far down this rabbit hole can we go? Will brand managers have the ability to measure beyond share of wallet to share of heart?

Will Big Data eventually give us insights to measure intangibles like happiness, desire or share of heart – the emotional connection customers have to your brand?

I can hear the scoffs. The snickers.

How on earth could we measure something so intangible as emotion?

I don’t have all of the answers; just thinking out loud here. What I do have, however, is years of experience that says humans are radically innovative and capable of mind-bending things when provided the appropriate tools. In this case, Big Data.

There was a time when we thought that atoms were the smallest particles in the universe. Enter quarks, electrons, photons, neutrinos and, most recently, the Higgs boson.

There was a time when a computer weighed 30 tons and took up nearly 1,800 square feet. Fifty years ago, we would have never imagined that two-thirds of Americans would carry a computer around in their pocket.

Just because we can’t imagine it doesn’t mean it won’t ever exist.

Wearable tech will soon diagnose a heart condition before your doctor does. Fast food restaurants will soon give you an offer the minute your stomach growls. All we need is a simple upgrade on your Fitbit.

Think of all of the information you can emit with a blank stare, or a shy smile.

Remember Minority Report? John Anderton was called by name, and given offers as he walked by various stores. Virtual sales assistants mentioned past purchases to customers, asking how they enjoyed them. This is creepy, but it’s our potential future with Big Data. And it’s closer than you think. In essence, it’s here.

One example is Affectiva, a company that specializes in “emotion recognition technology.” The software makes it possible to analyze metrics of emotion to provide brands with business insights. We are treading water in the sci-fi pond now.

Yes, I believe we will one day be able to measure the emotional impact of your brand in real-time. That means, we will be able to automatically generate content to solve consumer problems as they occur. And I believe that all of this will happen without a human.