Spock and the Importance of Emotion in HIT Digital Strategies

Spock and the Importance of Emotion in HIT Digital Strategies

I’ve spent most of my career in the IT marketing sector where, especially at the consumer level, there has been no shortage of emotion in brand building.

For those of you who grew up during the heyday of PC marketing, you’ll remember the IBM Solutions for a Small Planet campaigns and the epic groundbreaking Lemmings commercial during Super Bowl XIX. More recently we’ve felt tears coming to our eyes as an iPhone or Galax captured a life event in ways unthinkable (can you say selfie stick?) 10 years ago. We use social platforms to SnapChat or Periscope tiny pieces of emotion.

Arguably, global brand marketers and advertising wonks have always had emotion baked into their DNA by the nature of their business. But even if that’s true, I find myself taking way too much for granted when it comes to emotional triggers in digital strategy.

Perhaps it’s related to one of my pet peeves about digital strategy: the inability for enterprise IT (and many marketers for that matter) to define precisely what digital is. So imagine adding emotion to what many have designed as an almost Spock-like enterprise or governmental techno-structure. Do we ever think of the Cloud as being the largest repository for emotional data known to mankind?

I sense you’re getting a little nervous about me going overboard with this.

To cut to the chase, it’s difficult enough to get enterprise IT to think more about the contents than the technology containers that hold them. Now add to that the analysis of the emotional quotient of those contents in the eyes of the customer, internal constituent, or citizen/taxpayer.

Let’s, for a moment, look at the inseparability of emotion when it comes to open data deployments in cities and states. Surely there are emotions among the citizenry related to data privacy anxiety. On the other hand, civic leaders must strategize with data scientists to determine how much “positive emotion” there is embedded in the open data that could be translated into the ever-elusive “taxpayer happiness.”

In business and more recently in government, greater attention is being paid to the emotional indices that reside in structured and especially in unstructured data.

My former content enrichment analyst, Bob Johnson of IDG, has taken these digital emotional triggers down to the document or web page level and has developed an auditing technique to determine whether they align with the emotional needs of the target audience or stakeholder. Many forward-thinking firms look at their social/conversational media strategy as a perfect opportunity to track the emotional trends as well as the thematic trends emanating from unstructured data feeds.

CIOs will argue that getting into this touchy-feely aspect of emotional data is mission creep and is better served by marketing or data science, where behavioral skills sets are more prevalent. Others who wish their brand to be one of driving digital innovation, rather than reacting to it, will embrace the opportunity to determine the personality of the data in the repository in addition to the structure of it.

One of the best places for CIOs to start is to determine where enterprise IT could track emotional data about their own organization. If there is none to be found (good or bad) there’s a problem with departmental digital strategy. If emotional data about IT’s roles in the enterprise is identified, this can serve as a perfect launching pad to begin a similar analysis for the departments that HIT serves.