Can big data engineer marketing influence?

Summary:Data architects and marketers will take psychology patterns and unleash the algorithms to create influence engineering, a new sales generating discipline.

ORLANDO: Big data, marketing, psychology and analytics will blend together in a new area dubbed influence engineering over the next decade, according to a Gartner prognostication.

Speaking at the Gartner Symposium in Orlando on Sunday, analyst Andrew Frank laid out a scenario where marketing, data and IT will come together so algorithms will find and utilize so-called influencers. Influencers are people who bring their friends and networks along to buy products and trumpet causes.

Frank's talk was meant to be forward looking by about 10 years, but raises some interesting implications. Can influence be brought down to a science?

Among the key themes:

  • The science of psychology can link data architects and marketers.
  • Patterns of influence will be spotted and used for context-aware experience.
  • Ultimately IT will automate, measure and optimize these influence pitches (via algorithms of course).

The issue with these theories is that psychology is a soft science. Can you really form an algorithm to gauge what's going in a person's head? Frank argued under certain conditions it's possible. Patterns such as the need to repay favors, consistency, consensus, esteem and authority could be learned by machines. Scripted dialogs could elicit the responses marketing are looking for and even whip up ads.

For enterprises, the aim of this psychology meets big data idea is obvious: Companies that can engineer influence will sell more stuff via multiple channels.


Tune in a decade from now to see if influence engineering actually makes it to the forefront of tech buzzwords.

Topics: Big Data, TechLines


Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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