Don’t be afraid of new technologies: be curious!
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Jean-Philippe Maheu (JP), VP of Client Solutions for the Americas at Twitter, one of the world’s most influential tech companies, tells us which technologies are on his radar for 2018 and why.
Jean-Philippe Maheu is Vice President of Client Solutions for the Americas, Twitter (November 2017). Based in New York, Jean-Philippe (JP) Maheu joined Twitter in February 2013 as VP of Client Solutions for the Americas. Before joining Twitter, JP was the CEO of Bluefin Labs, and previously to that, the Chief Digital Officer at Ogilvy.
“Technology has always interested me, which is why I work for a tech company. But today all leaders are obligated to understand, if not how new technologies are built, then, at a minimum, their impacts,” says JP. “It’s hard to see how you can stay sharp in the business world today without understanding technological impacts on customer behaviors, value chains, collaboration, and so on. Whether you’re in tech, luxury, transportation, pharmaceuticals, banking, every single industry is being impacted.” JP tries to keep up with new technologies by reading and going to technology events, mentioning a keen interest currently in what’s happening around self-driving vehicles. “But,” he says, “I definitely know more about the technologies with direct impacts on my industry, like machine learning.”
Using machine learning to identify relevant content for users
Machine learning technology underpins Twitter’s content selection and discovery features – features that lie at the heart of a platform that enables its users to stay informed about what’s happening in the world. “Close to 500 million tweets are created each day on Twitter. They range in subject from the mundane, like someone’s ride to work on the subway, to substantial news updates from professional publishers like Le Monde, to a topical alert about an earthquake in Indonesia from a local resident,” JP explains. “One of these tweets could be critical to you, so the question for us is: how do we make sure that you see it?” Over late 2016 and 2017, Twitter introduced a number of new features to ensure users would see the content most relevant to them, all underpinned by machine learning technology. For example, tweets always appeared in the timeline based on recency: the most recent tweet created would appear at the top of a user’s timeline. A year ago, Twitter introduced “In case you missed it” which displays in your feed a set of tweets selected algorithmically based on user interest and behavior, so users don’t miss the tweets most relevant to them even if they don’t check the application frequently. More recently, Twitter upgraded its “Explore” tab with “Today’s Moments & Trends” which also uses machine learning technology to surface tweets for you around specific topics. “Machine learning algorithms have an internal feedback loop that enables them to get better over time at deciding which tweets are relevant to you, based on multiple signals that you send as a user: who you follow and what interests you have, i.e., what tweets you engage with in terms of likes, shares, and replies. These algorithms also take into account the quantity and velocity of attention around a tweet from other users,” reports JP. “Over the past 3-4 years, we’ve seen these technologies develop rapidly, and we’re investing more and more into them.”
Turning negatives into positives with help from customer service bots
“People often use Twitter for customer service,” explains JP. “You contact a company on Twitter, and the company tweets back at you in a private direct message. Even when a customer service interaction starts out negatively on Twitter, with a complaint, we find that very often the user will finish the interaction by publicly tweeting ‘thank you’ to the brand, because of the successful resolution of their problem via direct message. From a brand perspective, these interactions are actually great, because it gives brands the chance to publicly transform a negative into a positive.” Twitter is investing in using bots to automate and enable these types of customer service interactions on their platform. “Bots have the potential to significantly increase the scale of customer service activities on our platform, enabling companies to respond to a far larger number of inquiries,” says JP, who confirms that customers also often prefer chatbots thanks to their superior speed and accuracy. “Bots are still nascent. We’re still in the testing phase,” JP reports. “But one day in the not too distant future they will be able to answer even complex customer inquiries very effectively.”
To go further
Read the full 3-part feature
Point of View
5 technologies you should know about for 2018
The interview with Jean-Philippe Maheu, VO of Client Solutions for the Americas at Twitter
Don’t be afraid of new technologies: be curious!
The impacts of new business technologies at Danone, Boeing, and Starbucks
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