We have all seen the Terminator movies, they have been some of the most successful movies of all time. Well, the news is out, you are exposed to them every day!

Exposure to the “Machines” is an everyday occurrence. Ring up any medium sized business and you are greeted with “Welcome to XYZ Products. Press 1 for Sales, Press 2 for Support, Press 3 if the first two options are not the one you want” etc.

What you are exposed to is a crude form of “Machine learning”. The concept of Machine Learning is not new but it is being increasingly used by websites to answer repetitive and simplistic questions.

Machine Learning is in Your Computer and Phone. Now!

Amazon uses it to help website visitors to find basic information like order status and delivery times. Microsoft Outlook uses it to weed out than annoying spam message.

We are really only at the start of the Machine learning journey for websites and businesses and this Machine learning concept will play a pivotal role in providing search information for customers into the future. Most of us use Google search every day and when you make a typing mistake you laugh and get the message “Did you mean? – That’s Google’s Machine Learning algorithm working away in the background trying to work out what you’re searching for.  In the past that work would have been done by a human being using a phone book!

These Machine tools have the ability to learn and maybe not in the same way as they do in the movies to come after us, but to be actually helpful how to save people time and money.  Artificial Intelligence (AI) is reshaping the way we use the Internet every day.

I used to watch Star Trek when I was a kid and I used to marvel at the gadgets that they had like communicators, little tablet devices that had information on and fabulous built-in computer screens. All of these items are our reality. Mini iPads look just like the little tablets that Spock would hand around in the mid-sixties. Little did the makers of Star Trek ever think that many of those gadgets would come to fruition and I thank the late Steve Jobs for that, a truly remarkable visionary.

We used to marvel at Captain Kirk saying  “Computer how far is it to the next Galaxy?” Now, a far better computer than that exists in my iPhone. It’s name’s is Siri and I can ask it anything and generally I get a pretty good answer.

There are computer networks now that rival the complexity and the deepness of the human brain and they are being used to analyse vast amounts of digital data and these networks can learn all sorts of useful tasks like identifying photographs, recognising spoken commands and for many, searches and queries that are faster and better than humans.

Google is implementing artificial intelligence to speed up the search process and deliver search results not only based on complex algorithms but search patterns by consumers and customers. As the Google machine learns the way in which searches are undertaken by you and your friends then those search results can be displayed.  Google calls this technology “Rankbrain” and it’s being used for more and more searches.

Our brains have unique power to develop deep learning; the capability to know a huge amount of data about a specific matter, issue, activity, product or much more, we call it experience, Google is looking into the way how brain works and in 2015, Google started rollout of its deep learning system which helps them to generate responses for the search queries that you enter.

Facebook and Twitter also use deep learning techniques to understand the patterns of use how to and to deliver a better user experience. Apple are doing the same with spotlight search.

At first it all seems a little bit “big brother” and it really depends on what machine learning is used for will determine whether machine learning really is “big brother” or not.  I’m not convinced that there is too much sinister intent behind it, moreover I think it’s a clever tool to deliver enormous power for searching so the customers can find what they want.

As a good example, let’s take a simple Yellow Pages phone book search.  Firstly, you have to find the book and that’s getting increasingly harder, then you have to find the classification that you’re searching for and let’s call it “security windows”, then you need to find a product listing that suits what you’re looking for and only you know what that is. In your brain you have a few bullet points and you know that you’re looking for security screens to be fitted to your windows, probably looking for the cheapest price, probably looking for the place that has them ready to install, and probably looking for a place that is close to your business or home.

And that’s about it. How do you find out if the company you have called is any good? Do they have them in stock? How can you tell if they are right for you? Thats where the phone book ends and the Internet starts.

Machine Learning has to think like your brain but it does not know how you are thinking and it doesn’t know the bullet points until you start searching, start clicking on links and pages and to work out what your likes and dislikes are. But the machine knows from its learned experience that people like reading reviews and that people search for price and much more.

It’s the enriched search experience users expect and take for granted that Machine learning delivers and will improve on.

At R6 Digital(tm), we use special tools to help us understand how you find those bullet points around a website.  in the example that I’ve used,  I am a customer ready to buy, equally I could be just researching security windows, or I could already have a quote for security windows and I’m just looking for another company to get another quote from to make sure that I’m paying the right price.

I could be researching, comparing or buying. Who knows….

Generally there are three types of people at any given time using your website.  There are researchers there are comparers and there are buyers.  These three types all need to have content that is tailored for them and Machine learning will help us find the relevant content quickly, pointing them to the pages on your website with the most relevance. Most websites get many views per day and recent research shows that close to 80% a website views are potential customers researching the product or service that you are promoting.

Our specialist web tools help us analyse the patterns of use of websites so that we can improve and tune and refine the message as part of the ongoing process of search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimisation (SEO). It’s a labour intensive, technical activity and we spent many hours working out how users engage with your website and its offers.

Interestingly, the web is starting to use Machine learning to understand how Machine learning should work using the technology to understand and deliver predictive capacity. Machine learning will be particularly important in our lives as huge amounts of data is analysed, the outcome will be more tailored offers and outcomes to customers. Taking some of the science out of having to do the hard work of trying to work out “is my offer compatible with my customer base?” is our key to further research.

R6 Digital™ is working on the next generation of displaying information based on search characteristics. This does not mean the end to multi page websites: frankly far from it, but the search process needs to be tied to an outcome process, with a purchase option that is a tried and tested technology.

When we introduced “RapidStor” 5 years ago, it could display results for Storage units that was searched based on a number of parameters. The technology behind a product like RapidStor is rapidly evolving and we are very excited what this will mean for many of our customers.

With over 50 billion web pages in the world, cutting through and finding search results is the key to productivity gains for our customers and our R6 Digital™ team is working on the next generation of tools to help your business compete and make more money.