I See What You’re Saying. Natural Language Processing’s Role in our Digital World

Natural Language Processing (NLP) is a computer science practice that aims to give computers the ability to understand text and spoken words in the same way humans can. NLP is a key feature of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as understanding the language that we use to "teach" computers is critical to evolving the accuracy of the AI tasks we are asking of them.

The most familiar application of NLP is speech recognition--taking the spoken word and converting it to text. Speech recognition also is part of any application that follows voice commands.To work properly, the technology has to be knowledgeable of accents and frequently understand context (semantics) to differentiate words with a similar sound but have various meanings or spellings. NLP is also closely tied to several tasks that work in the background of applications we use everyday, including spam detection, foreign language translation, virtual assistants, chatbots, social media sentiment analysis, and text summaries/abstracts for long documents.

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My Event Is Your Event

Blank Name TagPersonalization is a hot trend in events, but what does it really mean? Personalization focuses on tailoring the event experience for each attendee. This can seem daunting when planning events with thousands of people. But even with the biggest events, breaking it down to one-on-one communication can help make it more manageable. From including first names on email correspondence to monogrammed bags at check-in, carefully curated refreshments, targeted sessions recommendations, and post-event engagement, personalization options abound.

To do any of this, you need one critical element--data.

Gather information on your attendees. What is their preferred name (Jennifer vs Jenny)? What is their job title, buying authority, departments they oversee? Do they have dietary restrictions or preferences? However, be careful not to over ask or overwhelm attendees with questions. The registration form should not ask every piece of information you are looking for. Get the basics, then follow-up with a pre-event questionnaire for more in-depth questions.

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The Next Frontier of Citizen Experience

Citizen Experience is a focus of the President's Management Agenda and the resulting IT Modernization Centers of Excellence. This focal point is a result of government receiving poor customer service marks (ranking them on par or below cable companies) year after year. Agencies have evolved from requiring citizens to visit a government office to fill out sheets of paperwork to online portals that provide much of that same paperwork online. It quickly became clear, however, that simply moving paperwork online was not the answer to improving citizen experience with government. Today the technology exists to take that online interaction to the next level.

Social media, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), video chat, text, and chatbots are being used throughout government to give citizens a more direct and personalized digital line to the agencies that serve them. Cities are using IoT to better communicate the whereabouts and schedule of public transport as well as air quality levels. AI is powering website chatbots and search functions allowing for more self-service of citizens looking to conduct business with the government 24/7.

But technology alone will not improve the government's customer service scores. The culture and morale of the government workforce also plays a huge role in the service that is delivered to citizens. Service representatives in government should be trained on new systems and shown how technologies will enhance, rather than replace, their jobs. Continue reading

Government Gets Social

Social media management platform, Hootsuite, recently released "The Social Government Benchmark Report 2018" that looked at how agencies are using and viewing social media use in connection with their mission. The report examined the value of social media for government organizations as well as explored best practices for enterprise-level social media management for government.

The survey of public sector employees found that about half of respondents rated their agency's use of social media as good or excellent. The top use cases for social media cited were:

  • Citizen engagement (77%) - social media allows for a better understanding of citizen needs and they've seen an increase in positive sentiment.
  • Customer care/service delivery (48%) - teams are able to have faster response times.
  • Critical response communications (47%) - agencies found that citizens are better informed about critical issues and rumors are quickly addressed via social channels.
  • Employer branding and recruitment (45%) - respondents say they are getting a higher volume of candidates as a result of social outreach.

Based on these successes, it's no surprise public servants want to do more with social. 87% of respondents said there is room for improvement. Luckily, there are several events in the coming months that can provide guidance on how public sector organizations can better use social media. Continue reading

Behind the Curtain: GAIN 2018 Conference

GAIN - which stands for Grow, Accelerate, Innovate, Network - has become the annual home for government marketers to come together and share challenges, tactics, and successes. This event, now in its third year, filled a void in the event landscape for government marketers.

Government marketing is a unique field given the strict guidelines that surround government purchasing. What works in the commercial market does not always translate to government. And speaking of translate, the government's acronym alphabet soup feels like a whole different language.

We spoke with Founder Lou Anne Brossman to find out what attendees should expect at this year's event.

What makes GAIN different from other federal events?

First, there's our focus on the marketers. When we started this event I had people come up to me and exclaim, "I've found my people!" Marketers are so busy and focused on their day to day that once they were able to take a step back and talk with peers they realized there was a huge value in the camaraderie of this field.

It's been exciting to watch people make connections. Our attendees started referring to themselves as GAINers both at the show and throughout the year. It's really been great to see this community form.

I think another unique aspect is this idea of community. GAIN was borne out of Government Marketing University (or GMarkU), a professional learning platform that takes a collaborative, community-based approach toward knowledge sharing and skill development in the field of public sector marketing.

We have over 60 gurus from all corners of the U.S. public sector marketplace -- marketers, thought leaders, government (current and former), media and sales leaders -- contributing their time and knowledge via classes and events. Sharing is not confined to one day - it continues year round with GMarkU.

Finally, I think a unique aspect of our event is the interplay between government executives and private sector marketers. We have ambassadors, many current and former government officials, that act as mentors to marketers, providing insight into what is happening on the government side. Continue reading