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Big data isn’t human. Is a video-first approach the answer?


Times have changed dramatically in the last several months as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Like never before, all of us have been forced to adapt to the so-called ‘new normal’ in our personal and professional lives.

Although many organizations are struggling to keep their head above uncharted waters, there are some important realizations that have been uncovered. The most important of these is the need to re-evaluate and reimagine the ways they connect, interact and are able to anticipate the needs of their customers.

Big data is great, but is it limited?

The increasing use of data at scale or ‘big data’ as it has come to be known, has grown exponentially in the last decade. Our knowledge of customers – what they like, what they hate, how they want to be communicated with; even where they like to be communicated to – has improved dramatically thanks to technological enablement.

However, recent events have shown more than ever that we want to feel a connection with the people and organizations that populate our lives. As a result, organizations are leveraging that need for connectivity. They’re realizing the power of storytelling as a tool to drive behavioral change and form deeper, more meaningful connections with their customers.

Data alone can only tell us so much. What’s more, as our reliance on it increases exponentially, we are starting to see organizations crippled by information overload and the limited time frames they operate on when it comes to accessing and analyzing mountains of data. In fact, many of these same organizations may not be asking their customers the right questions in the first place, making data gathering and harvesting flawed from the beginning. In addition, the methods for gathering data – for example the classic open-ended text question in a survey– is a limiting format that doesn’t allow customers to truly express themselves. As a result, organizations are only able to gather a partial picture of their key audiences’ needs, wants and feelings.

Has data just eaten itself? Can video save it?

Data has certainly turbo charged some of the household brands we’ve come to love in the past five years. Although it’s a powerful weapon in the battle to win the hearts and minds of customers, it also has its limitations. Data doesn’t necessarily lend itself well to understanding the actual thoughts and feelings of audiences. In fact, it could be said that to some extent pure data is actually quite dehumanized and at arm’s length from the true psychological factors shaping human behaviour.

As a result, we need to ask the question, how can we truly gain deeper insight of customer thoughts, wants and behaviors? And, is it even possible to do this at scale?

The answer to these questions lies in the way many of us have connected with friends, family and work colleagues over these last few months. Video. Unlike any other medium, the human element found in video provides us an opportunity to reconnect and build positive relationships with customers, stakeholders and a myriad of other audiences.

Over the past 20 years, progress in video technology has put digital communication at the forefront, and more and more consumers are actively engaging with and producing video content. In April 2020, there were 300 million daily Zoom participants alone, compared to the reported 10M in December 20191. Necessity has certainly seen video communication get its day in the sun of late. However, this shouldn’t be seen as a mere ‘one off’ or temporary change out of necessity. Video data, coupled with research and analytics functions, has the potential to change entire industries and enable organizations to extract even greater insight and understanding of key audiences in comparison to traditional data collection methods.

Telling emotive stories is key

Put simply, video has the power to capture the human imagination and form deeper emotional connections with people via simple but effective storytelling. As a result, the very basic things we humans connect and engage with – ideas, thoughts and feelings – can be easily transmitted through video from person to person (whether they be our consumers or internal teams). For organizations, video research content is a means by which to give their customer or key audience a voice or bring them to life in the boardroom.

Ultimately, video allows us to tell very human stories and enhances our understanding of what lies behind the data sets we use day in, day out as researchers and consumer analysts. It also helps us to enter into a two-way dialogue with key audiences, helping them to put a face to our brand, whilst giving our organizations the means to join the vital dots as to what actually makes customers and consumers tick.

It is said that people retain 95% of a message when it is communicated through the medium of video, compared to 10% when reading it in text2. By extension, the possibilities for communicating big ideas internally to senior executives via video, too prove just as effective.

Instead of simply presenting static data to justify a strategic or marketing hunch, we can take our teams and senior executives on our customer’s journey, giving leadership a glimpse into how our customers really interact with our brand, product or service, first-hand. As much as we are able, video actually puts us in the customer’s shoes.

If nothing else, video can also help businesses to break down some of the denial and bias that can exist about their product or service that typically exists when presented with data in the form of charts and graphs. With quality video insight, the tendency for blinkered thinking and post rationalism is stopped dead in its tracks as soon as a customer is seen speaking. In this context, the video doesn’t lie and can either reinforce thinking or expose blind spots for companies.

Creating meaningful and scalable video insight

It was with these considerations in mind that we developed the Medallia LivingLens video asset management solution.

Firstly, the platform allows consumer research to be conducted remotely via video conferencing technology and fed into our own system on completion – of great advantage in the current climate of lockdowns and physical contact restrictions. Not only that, but once recorded, all videos are archived in a useable and easily navigable hub of video content for researchers to analyze and draw valuable insights from.

One of the most valuable benefits of the system is that emotive content can be identified and isolated quickly and at scale – all thanks to the use of our sophisticated AI analytics tools.

Airbnb, Del Taco and Atlassian are all examples of Medallia LivingLens customers who harness the power of emotive storytelling within their organizations as a means to better shape their business.

For instance, Airbnb over the years has drawn on a huge number of focus groups and online interviews to shape its operations. With no easy way to review and analyze video, many hours could have been potentially lost on non-strategic tasks which add no value over the long term.

However, after implementing Medallia LivingLens’ video asset management platform, Airbnb researchers were able to search the spoken word and use AI to automatically surface key themes and create engaging showreels. Showreels enabled Airbnb to win the hearts and minds of key decision makers and ultimately steer the company’s growth on an upward trajectory by keeping customer experience top-of-mind.

Shaping the future by going back to basics

Like never before, using video insights to make more informed decisions for our businesses is vital. What’s more, we now have the technology to do this at scale. This means there can only be a bright future to look forward to amid challenging times—one where companies can empower their research teams to be better attuned and connected to the thoughts and feelings of customers and target audiences.

Ironically, although we may be the most technologically advanced set of humans to have walked this planet; it’s actually the very primitive aspects of human behavior and psychology that will bring us closer to our customers and teams.

To harness the power of video insight for your organization, request a demo of Medallia LivingLens.