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JARGON BUSTERS

What is NLP?

Natural Language Processing (NLP) put most simply is the field of using computers to understand and analyse human language (inclusive of sarcasm, colloquialisms, emojis etc.) to gain an accurate depiction of its content and sentiment. It means we can read and make sense of millions of pieces of consumer generated digital content within a matter of seconds.

What is TPV?

TPV is a scientific ranking metric that helps brands identify which trends to prioritise for action. It assigns a comparative value to each of the thousands of trends within a category, enabling trends to be ranked objectively based on their predicted importance in +6 months’ time.

What is Machine Learning?

A subset of AI that includes statistical techniques that enable machines to improve at tasks with experience. We use Machine Learning to solve complex problems where defining the rules of what the solution has to DO is impossible. Instead of programming rules we teach the machine via examples, so we define what we EXPECT from it and the machine learns the rules. For instance, giving precise and robust rules why a Social media post is positive/negative/neutral is impossible. Instead, we manually label several thousand posts then make the machine learn the rules based on this training dataset.

What is AI?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a broad term for techniques that enable machines or programmes to perform what are deemed as ‘intelligent tasks’ otherwise performed by a human with much greater capacity and speed. We use forms of AI, namely NLP and Machine Learning, to turn unstructured Social data into meaningful business intelligence.
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We’ll be in touch soon. Until then, here’s some reading to whet your appetite.

When my fellow founder Hugo Amos suggested “Black Swan” as our company name, my first reaction was “that’s pretty bold mate, do you really think we can do that?”. Seven years later the world finds itself in the midst of the impact from an unprecedented Black Swan event; COVID-19. Did we predict the emergence of a new virus strain at that specific moment? No, and whilst that’s never going to be possible, anticipating the human reaction to an emerging pandemic is absolutely predictable and we see this as Black Swan Data’s primary focus – to enable our customers to navigate this time of unprecedented change. Amidst ongoing concern for the vulnerable and our loved ones, we are laser-focused on using our Social Prediction technology, that analyses millions of public online conversations around the world, to help guide the path for our customers with objective data. Experiencing an unprecedented Black Swan moment like COVID-19 naturally leads brands to question what the immediate and longer-term future looks like and how they should respond. Unsurprisingly the digital world is not short of conjecture and opinion on this. The daily drumbeat of news, dominated by individual COVID-19 soundbites, may encourage brands to interpret and react with haste. However, in this artificial environment there is a temptation to react to what feels like a trend, identified using tools like social listening or traditional “question and answer” type research, only to discover it was a passing fad. It is crucial therefore to identify the trends and cultural drivers that will emerge, grow and sustain as COVID-19 plays out in a more sophisticated way. Surfacing these requires structured scientific analysis, using the tools and techniques of Social Prediction and crucially a sufficiently robust time-series dataset. Just a few weeks in to COVID-19 we believe it is too early to make meaningful long-term predictions and extrapolations. With extrapolation, for example, understanding underlying drivers of behaviour is crucial, and timing (will this sustain growth or taper off?) is everything, so patience is necessary. We’ll get more technical, covering S curves and exponentials in future posts! Having said that, there is much we can begin to make sense of, through cultural and category intelligence, to help brands in the shorter-term. By virtue of having ‘always-on’ access to our data sources, Black Swan has the ability to revisit and refine our historical forecasts with precision, by category, by market, and across cultures with new COVID-19 information. The current worldwide necessity of physical isolation, for example, may have vast implications across holistic lifestyles including cooking, in-home virtual workouts and […]

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Supporting women earlier in their careers will fuel the pipeline for tomorrow. Discover Camilla Carson’s practical tips to change the trajectory of your career, no matter the stage you’re at. ‘Do women really need their own day?’ I won’t be the only woman who rolls my eyes at this familiar statement in the next few days. I can hear Piers Morgan saying it now… Look around you in the office, co-working space or more importantly the boardroom and tell me if you still think we can spare a day to dwell on what more can be done. Re-affirming our commitment to a working culture where women can thrive, rather than simply survive. https://www.internationalwomensday.com In many ways we can use IWD to dwell on the huge advances that women have made and my own career in finance and technology – two sectors known for their challenges in the diversity stakes – has been full of positive stories. Moments where male colleagues have championed my work and opened doors which I might once have had to quietly jimmy with a crowbar. It is crucial that we fling those doors wide open, rather than expecting women to battle their way to the top. IWD also allows us to reflect on the gaps which persistently hang around. The latest data is interesting if not comfortable reading. Last year McKinsey conducted their fifth investigation of ‘Women and Work’ in partnership with LeanIn.org in the US. At Black Swan we believe that the truth is in the data so let’s dive in. Representation of women in C-Suite positions in the US grew by 24% in 2018-2019 BUT parity is a long way off – this only took us to 21% of C-Suite level positions being held by women We’re doing a little better in the UK. 32% of FTSE 350 board level positions are held by women https://30percentclub.org/ For every 100 men promoted to first level management, only 72 women were promoted and only 58 black women 1 million more women. Pipeline is key. If we addressed this disparity at the top of the funnel 1 million more women would be in positions with a route to serious advancement in the next 5 years in the US. Although progress has been made at the top, the main barriers lie earlier in our careers. The research talks of a ‘broken rung’ where far less women are promoted to first level management positions. This effect then compounds as we move up the levels and results in the familiar excuse at VP level and above – ‘No women apply […]

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From CES 2020, the best global technology show, we share our biggest take away – hint it wasn’t a robot launch or self-driving car…

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