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Glossary, Further Reading & References

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Executive Summary
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A computer program governed by a specific set of rules that allows it to perform complex, labor-intensive tasks like calculations, data processing and automated reasoning … so we human marketers can focus on strategy and creative

Artificial intelligence

A computer system that can gather data and make decisions and/or solve complex problems.

Big data

This is the massive amount of information we now generate about ourselves — our interests and habits — as we move through the digital universe. Some say the term “big data” should be retired, because so much data is collected these days that all data is now part of big data.


A type of virtual assistant that uses artificial intelligence to hold a conversation via voice or text. Chatbots can be used in facilitate transactions, answer questions, play games and more.

Cloud computing

A virtual data-storage space that provides on-demand access to software and information.

Deep learning

A more advanced branch of machine learning, where a computer teaches itself with only minimal amounts of programming. With deep learning, marketers can make predictions about consumer behavior.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

A regulation enacted by the European Union (EU) to protect its citizens’ personal data privacy; goes into effect May 25, 2018. Failure to comply could mean steep fines.

Internet of things

Wearables, cars, televisions, light switches … anything with an on/off switch that can be connected to the Internet to transmit and receive data.

Machine learning

Machine learning teaches a computer to find functions — equations that work not only for the examples that it has, but for unknown ones in the future. Machine learning teaches a computer how to predict.

Natural language processing

Natural language processing is a way for computers to analyze, understand and derive meaning from human language. Where can NLP be used?

  • Adverse event detection
  • Chatbots
  • Sentiment analysis
  • Text analysis
  • Text generation
  • Text summarization
  • Translation
Neural network

Natural language processing is a way for computers to analyze, understand and derive meaning from human language. Where can NLP be used?

Psychographic profiles

Psychological characteristics like attitudes, opinions, interests, and lifestyles that help explain why people do what they do.

Reinforced learning

A mechanism reinforces an action by rewarding desired outcomes. An example might be a stock-picking tool: if a system reviews the variables (e.g., revenue growth over time, dividend percentages), chooses a stock, and profits from the investment, the action is reinforced by the favorable outcome.


The ability of a system to act and interact with the physical world.

Smart data

Data that’s organized, provides insights and identifies patterns that businesses can act on.

Speech recognition

The ability of a system to accept input from the human voice.

Supervised learning

Systems are trained by labeling attributes of data and connecting those attributes to an output. (e.g., those are ears; that is a tail; that is a trunk; elephants have ears, tails, and a trunk.) When the system encounters similar information, it can give a prediction or recommendation to an appropriate level of certainty. Supervised learning can work with data that is easy to organize and label, such as in spam email recognition, sentiment analysis, or product recommendation engines.

Unsupervised learning

Algorithms explore data without a human having labeled it as training data. Unsupervised learning is particularly useful in situations such as identifying customer segments or detecting anomalies.

Virtual assistant

Think Apple’s Siri, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or even a chatbot on your favorite shopping site. Virtual assistants use natural language processing to provide the correct responses to many commonly asked questions: everything from “What’s the weather like today?” to “When was the last time the Yankees won the world series?” to “Who sings this song?”

Vision learning

The ability of a system to understand a picture without words.