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Technology Cannot Replace Human Thought

Posted by Garrett Eastham at 4:16 pm in Adaptive Commerce

This may not sound like a revelation to you… in fact, some see it as just the opposite, even old fashioned! But I’ve come around to this discovery in an unusual way – by way of studying semantic search at Stanford, through patents I’ve submitted in the areas of data mining and web analytics, and in working with data scientists and human computer interaction specialists throughout my career. It all really culminated about a year ago, when I launched Edgecase (formerly Compare Metrics) by way of Manifesto.

Yep, I just said Manifesto. That’s how passionate I am on the topic, and thankfully, it’s a passion that the entire Edgecase team shares with me. Here’s an excerpt of that original manifesto, which has evolved, but is still shaping our vision for Edgecase today:

Why is it that in the 21st century, all forms and modes of inquiry are regulated to a text box? The human mind is a beautiful analysis and discovery engine backed by high-definition senses that grant us an incredible view into the world around us. The very core of human existence revolves around observing, thinking, and responding with the full capacity of our facets. And yet, even now, the most advanced form of technological inquiry requires keywords.

As human beings, we have the world’s most powerful processor literally at the top of our head. And yet, we as a technologically-driven society fight against its use. We assume that an algorithm knows best, or that a machine knows better what I want than I myself. We build layers of protection against users “making mistakes” or “mis-using software,” assuming that a machine will do it better.

The future of software innovation lies not in richer, better-crafted algorithms but rather a reinvention of the human computer interaction altogether. The key driver of innovation will be in recognizing this and striving for user interfaces and digital experiences that are personalized to the user. And by personalization, I do not simply mean the optimal selection of icons, images, and text, but rather the establishment of a deep human connection.

The key to the next wave of personalization is not in adapting the experience to the user, but rather letting the user adapt the experience to themselves. We must move beyond the idea of static experiences or static content, and instead embrace a design philosophy that gives the shopper the tools they need to make decisions faster and more confidently. The future of adaptive commerce lies in giving users the flexibility to define and configure how they want to consume and utilize information.

Of course, a lot has happened since I penned that manifesto. From receiving funding, to quadrupling in headcount over the past six months, to moving offices and going live with multiple clients, it has been an exciting year to say the least! But the core of that writing still beats at the heart of my team. We are using technology AND human brain power to adapt commerce to fit the needs of real users. And the more we learn, the more we are adapting our own products, offerings, and strategy.

Being adaptive is not just at the heart of our solution, but also central to how we continue to innovate. We’re using everything from natural language processing to visual image-based discovery to understand what shoppers really care most about, and then analyze how to instill confidence in them along the way. Today’s consumers are savvy, and they are growing more comfortable in this omni-channel world. We see it as our job to build technology that adapts as quickly as their needs and preferences.

The more we learn, the more we grow, and the more we want to share with you. In the process, I hope you’ll check in regularly with our blog, where my colleagues and I will continue to share our experiences forging the trail in the brave new world of Adaptive Commerce.

Learn more about how Adaptive Commerce is going to change the world of retail in our whitepaper: Adaptive Commerce: The New Era of Humanized Discovery.

Garrett Eastham
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Garrett is a marketing technologist with a knack for helping leading brands create, capture, and deliver value from their digital consumer experiences. He played a key role in developing the big data and analytics initiatives at Bazaarvoice as the Data & Analytics Product Manager. There he led the development of a groundbreaking new tracking methodology for user generated content, allowing clients to understand the financial impact of specific review content on consumer purchasing behavior. As the founder and CEO at Edgecase, he drives overall business and product strategy while also leading the day-to-day execution of the company’s vision.

Follow Garrett Eastham on Twitter @gstam

About

Edgecase is the #1 provider of curated product data that fuels retail and helps shoppers find what they actually want. Stay tuned to our blog to get our perspective on industry trends, news, and emerging best practices.

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