74 episodes

Visionary Marketing publishes interviews with experts, marketers, innovators, Web and business experts on the subjects of innovation and marketing

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Visionary Marketing publishes interviews with experts, marketers, innovators, Web and business experts on the subjects of innovation and marketing

    Learning AI with the help of robots

    Learning AI with the help of robots

    Thomas Deneux is the founder of Learning Robots whose aim is to help pupils, students and businesses to learn AI, with the help of home-made self-driving gizmos. These little machines on two wheels are more serious than you’d think. They are all about the teaching of advanced computing. Thomas described his philosophy to me during this interview conducted at the heart of the Neuroscience Institute of the CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research). In essence, a no-nonsense approach to teaching and learning AI. 

    When AI and robots join forces to teach artificial intelligence

    Who are these friendly colourful robots?

    We’re overwhelmed with social media posts and news about AI. Often, pundits will tell you that you need to know how to use ChatGPT and make prompts. That’s all very well, but we must free ourselves from the tech giants who build these models.

    At Learning robots, we want to spark vocations among people who are interested in finding out how it works and want to use AI better.

    What is artificial intelligence anyway? AI gave birth to these fantastic tools and programs. Yet, at the same time many people are scared. Our aim, with these user-trained robots, is to make AI accessible and friendly.

    What’s behind these robots?

    In our introductory activities, the user drives a robot as if it were a remote-controlled car. But behind this robot is an AI that will record all the necessary data. Next, the robot takes over from the user in autopilot mode and drives around the circuit.

    Then we organise a race between the robots that have become autonomous in this way, and users may therefore observe that not all of them will perform equally well. It’s natural because performance depends on the quality of the training.

    The aim is to make people understand that AI machines do not become “intelligent” out of the blue.

    Behind AI, there are humans who have gathered data. And AI will only be as good as its data.

    Today’s AI is still at the stage where it reproduces patterns. It’s a mere “stochastic parrot“.

    In the early days of AI, there were expert systems, which worked with ever more sophisticated knowledge bases. Then we realised that rather than predicting all the potential situations, we could simply feed the AI with samples based on existing data sets and implement self-learning algorithms.

    With large language models (LLMs), humongous quantities of text have become available. So much so that AI has become capable of generating text by itself. But the principle is the same: the basis is those samples provided by humans.

    With AlphaAI, everything is very simple. A sensor will tell the machine what to do, for example turn left when there is light on the left. Or turn right when there is light on the right-hand side. This helps users understand the basics. After that, it’s just a matter of scaling up to more advanced AI.

    What prospects can we expect from this kind of robot?

    When you interact with a Large Language Model (LLM), you are essentially producing text, even though you could also generate images, music, videos, etc.

    Robotics is the future of AI

    But what I see emerging is that the future of AI is about robotics. The a href="https://finance.yahoo.com/news/figure-raises-675m-2-6b-125500299.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly9kdWNrZHVja2dvLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAMFGkRVn...

    Networking and Growing Your B2B Business with LinkedIn

    Networking and Growing Your B2B Business with LinkedIn

    Walking down the roads of strategic thinking for professional networking or business building, most of us would agree to name LinkedIn as a well-built pathway to tread on. What’s better than understanding the dynamics of LinkedIn as a professional networking platform from someone who trains consultants and is an expert regarding that platform. Daniel Alfon from Tel Aviv wrote the book entitled, “How to Build a LinkedIn Profile for Business Success“. For most of us in the B2B marketing or consulting space, it’s a great read on what LinkedIn has become and where it’s going. I interviewed Daniel to find out about the future of LinkedIn, and of business networking at large.

    Networking and Growing Your B2B Business with LinkedIn

    Tell us about what LinkedIn really is for B2B business folks.

    LinkedIn is what you want it to be for your business. If you’re a hypergrowth company and all, you’re interested in is finding talent, then you should focus on sharing jobs and ensuring that your existing employees are using their network to tap into candidates. If you are a content publisher or a marketer, then you should focus on the networking aspect of it.

    The strength of LinkedIn simply comes from deciding what you would like to leverage the platform for.

    This simple, straightforward question is one that a lot of LinkedIn users do not ask themselves. What is your top marketing priority: recruiting, publishing or getting more views? Or, do you need referrals?

    It could be that you went there almost exclusively for publishing content, but now you could use it for networking. If your marketing department is producing high-quality content, then leveraging LinkedIn to get more exposure for it is a great idea. It requires some coordination, and it can’t be top down.

    How do you establish business success in B2B, is it being able to sell more?

    One way to look at it is at the top of the funnel. Transactions would not happen on LinkedIn. However, it could be the platform where more people are made aware of your solution via a webinar or a demo. Then, they get in touch or something else happens outside of LinkedIn.

    You want people to find your solution, and within seconds understand that it is something interesting.

    When I look at your profile and I see that we have a number of mutual connections, then what I think about those people will affect and influence the way I think of you. If I think highly of them, even if I don’t ask them about that at all, then something of some of the stardust would actually be above your head.

    LinkedIn: a battle for visibility or a tool for B2B networking?

    Lately, while I was doing a training session for KPMG, I had mentioned three key points which I think could be relevant. When an employee of your firm shares or likes or comments, there are three dimensions to it. One, he is about the way others perceive that action. Let’s say that we are connected, and I see that you like some content. In many cases, ‘liking’ is perceived to be the lowest trust characteristic of your engagement. It doesn’t mean that you even read it. It could simply be that you like the person who published that content.

    Sharing is more valuable in the eyes of many people. But if an employee is doing it, then I would encourage her to not just share, but add something of her own. This could be a sentence with an explanation of why it’s so compelling...

    • 31 min
    LinkedIn’s new features under the microscope

    LinkedIn’s new features under the microscope

    What are the most outstanding new features of LinkedIn in 2024? Reid Hoffmann’s professional network was created almost 21 years ago (in May 2003) and acquired by Microsoft in 2016. Visionary Marketing invited Bruno Fridlansky to talk about this platform, of which he is an expert. Together we were able to answer a few basic questions about using the tool and review some of its latest features. It’s worth noting that Bruno isn’t ecstatic about most of them.

    The New Features of LinkedIn Under the Microscope

    We’ve been using LinkedIn professionally for 20 years, a tiny bit less than the age of the application, which will celebrate its 21st birthday in May 2024. Nevertheless, this gives us a lot of hindsight on the use of the leading business-to-business application, which over time has managed to do away with all its competitors.

    LinkedIn gone rich and the enemy of reach

    As a key player in this sector, LinkedIn is a flourishing platform with annual revenues of more than $15 billion. What is particularly remarkable is the rapid growth in recent years of this turnover, which has even almost doubled since 2020.

    A business volume that, compared to Microsoft’s total revenues is still small (around 7% of the Redmond firm’s $211 billion), but substantial in the world of social networks, even with a very business-to-business positioning. To give you an idea, it’s just over 10% of Meta’s turnover in 2023, but around 5 times as much as the advertising revenue generated by X in this period.

    But beyond these staggering figures, there are a number of questions to be asked.

    First of all, there’s the recurring interrogation about “reach”. Many users are wondering how and when their publications will be seen and by whom…

    LinkedIn is rich but its reach is poor

    A question that is increasingly hard to answer. So much so that the platform seems to be playing a game of cat and mouse with its content creators.

    Recently, a large number of the latter has opted for content creation techniques favoured by B2C influencers. Selfies flourished but have been heavily criticised on the B2B network. This trend seems to have been halted, Bruno Fridlansky confirms. Some of us continue to complain that many self-focused publications are still populating their feeds, however. Perhaps the measures put in place by LinkedIn are not being deployed in the same way or at the same time for all users, which seems to be customary according to Bruno.

    But that’s not the most important philosophical question: what is a tool made for, and ultimately, in this platform economy, are these social tools at our disposal, or have we become their slaves? Bruno’s answer to this question struck me as particularly apt:

    It’s a platform that was originally made available to us but now we are the ones feeding the beast.

    Beyond these considerations, most readers are interested in the tool’s new features. No matter how hard we try, repeating over and over again that a tool is just a tool, we might as well bite the bullet. Hence our review with Bruno of the various LinkedIn features that have been added to the tool recently.

    Bells for a Better View of Content on Your Network

    LinkedIn added a feature some time ago, a bell icon, that you can activate if you don’t want to miss anything posted by someone you follow. But things aren’t quite as simple as that. First of all, try and click on your 25,000 followers’ bells! Good luck with it. But that’s not all.

    • 12 min
    Luxury Venues during the 2024 Paris Olympics

    Luxury Venues during the 2024 Paris Olympics

    What if hiring luxury venues during the 2024 Olympics were a good opportunity for brands, even small ones?  The Olympic Games are only six months away from now and I was wondering how much of an opportunity it was for brands and which ones. To find out I invited Tanya Bencheva, the CEO and founder of Native Spaces, to share her reflections on that subject. Little did I imagine, when I first contacted Tanya, that there were so many options for smaller brands. It’s certainly up for grabs and our readers should definitely give it a thought. 

    2024 Olympic Games in Paris: Luxury Venues are a Good Bargain for Smaller Brands

    What are the expectations six months ahead of the Games

    Tanya Bencheva. It’s certainly a very exciting event. I really hope for everybody and for the world that it’s going to be as big as we expect it to be because we are all in need of a reminder of the values brought together by the 2024 Olympic Games.

    How successful do you think will it be from a business point of view?

    It would be a no-brainer not to use that event to get more visibility.

    Now how big it will be, I couldn’t say precisely but there are a lot of expectations and buzz. What we know for sure is that a lot of property owners are increasingly coming to us to try and monetise their buildings and venues via this big happening.

    Why should a brand bother about luxury venues and the Olympic Games at all?

    There are many, reasons for this. There will be millions of people from all over the world and with a high level of income who will be staying in Paris during the Olympic Games. Hence it’s an excellent opportunity for visibility. On top of that, these people will share content with their communities, and that adds other millions of viewers to the lot. And then obviously the games are televised, therefore generating more listeners. So it’s an incredible possibility to build brand awareness. And beyond that, engagement.

    I think it’s a no-brainer.

    Is it just for big, renowned brands?

    I think they can all benefit in different ways. That’s a unique opportunity to advertise internationally. Established brands can bring together their fans, they will already be in town for the Olympics, so they can increase customer engagement.

    There are particular sectors that would be more prone to profit from this visibility, though. Anything that has to do with sports and also maybe apparel and consumer brands. But that being said, the Olympic Games are about much more than just sport. It’s a huge event that is based on positive values that any marque may want to be associated with. So, I think any label may try to find creative ways to align itself with the Olympic spirit.

    If I were selling plastic tarpaulins, could I jump on the bandwagon too?

    You could! There are always creative ways to grab the public’s attention. The Paris Olympic Games have a special focus on sustainability. This could trigger an idea for you, but you’d have to do that with authenticity, though. If you don’t live and breathe such values, it would be more difficult to align your brand with them.

    Are such luxury venues only for B2C businesses?

    Of course not! B2B companies can also resort to these kinds of events not only for visibility but mostly to show special attention to their larger clients. For instance, inviting key customers to join them in their private lounges. They can invite them to outstanding locations overlooking some of the sports venues or lavish apartments overlooking the river Seine. Or inviting their clients to watch the opening ceremony in a specially branded environment.

    How do brands,

    • 19 min
    The AI ‘revolution’ will not take place

    The AI ‘revolution’ will not take place

    Just like the Trojan war, the AI “revolution” will not take place*. Today’s topic is the inevitable generative AI. This is the perfect opportunity for us to discuss what a technological revolution is or isn’t. Here are our thoughts, and we might as well warn you that we are putting our trotters in the trough in a very counter-intuitive way. Admittedly, we’re taking a bit of a risk here, but keeping up with the Joneses isn’t a valid option for Visionary Marketers. As we know the subject well from having trained and certified a thousand students, we are also well aware of the limitations of GenAI tools.

    The AI “Revolution” Will Not Take Place

    * this is a literary reference to Jean Giraudoux

    “Generative AI” has been buzzword of the year in 2023 for better or worse. I have wanted to dig somewhat deeper, though. So, what is and isn’t a technological ‘revolution,’ and is AI one of them? That is the question. A few days ago, I came across a LinkedIn post that argued, through a widely shared video, that “nothing was like ever before.” It showed a large crowd filming the 2023 fireworks on the Champs-Élysées with their mobile phones.

    A technological “revolution”… really?

    In addition to the ubiquitous mobile screens, there were giant LCD displays on the sides and the Arc de Triomphe itself was turned into a mammoth screen. Similar pictures could have been taken in London, New York or Ulan Bator. In a nutshell, what’s new in 2024 is that everyone owns a screen.

    It’s laughable in more than many ways. It reminds me of my 2013 presentations on social media. I was already showing the same photo (above, taken from an NBC broadcast), which was supposed to prove a change in society.

    Enough of that, let’s get back to our main topic, i.e., generative AI. The 2023 obligatory buzzword has undoubtedly been “revolution” as in “GenAI is a technological revolution.”

    This term is ambiguous, though. As Merriam Webster state, a revolution’s first meaning is that of a planet turning on itself, a kind of standstill in fact. A revolution’s first meaning is “back to square zero.” In other words, as Alphonse Karr would have it, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” On the other hand, it’s a term so widely used in innovation that it’s almost embarrassing.

    1 (a) 1 Revolution the action by a celestial body of going round in an orbit or elliptical course. also: apparent movement of such a body round the earth [Merriam-Webster]

    Try to play down this ‘revolution’ business and people will mock you. It has happened to me. However, one should wonder what, in our daily lives, is bound to change so radically in the coming years.

    Fear Is Irrational

    Firstly, fear is everywhere, but is it justified? Should we consider AI is a ‘revolution’ merely because we fear we might l...

    • 12 min
    CSR: a survival guide for the depressed responsible marketer

    CSR: a survival guide for the depressed responsible marketer

    How can a responsible marketer survive when the world around us is crumbling? Or at least when experts are telling you that it is. Three years to the day, the French association of marketers Adetem asked Visionary Marketing to join its CSR responsible marketing initiative, and naturally we welcomed the opportunity. That almost seemed natural to us. However, things aren’t that simple and many questions remain. Here are our thoughts on the subject even though there are more questions than answers. Our underlying goal is to encourage marketers (and salespeople) to question and reflect on their practices and how they should behave professionally at a time when society as a whole is torn on these issues, particularly environmental ones. It seems to us more suitable than developing an ideological pitch and demanding that facts match reality.

    Tips for the Depressed Responsible Marketer

    This survival guide for depressed responsible marketers was written for some reason. Let me tell you an anecdote

    Anecdote: An Eco-Distressed Responsible Marketer

    One day, I met a colleague and friend who is a digital marketing expert. He was deeply concerned by recent developments in climate change (not to be confused with global warming). His wife had just given birth to a baby and he was devastated by “the world we would be leaving behind to our children”. I sensed that he was about to snap, so I reassured him and advised him to take the edge off. His eco-anxiety (the word hadn’t been invented back then) was probably not going to do much good, and even less so for his child, who would probably be in need of trust, encouragement and a positive outlook.

    And yet, six or seven years later, I’m reminded of this anecdote as a COP28 conference, led by an oil tycoon and carrying the hopes of many, has just drawn to a close. Same old song and dance, the following IPCC get-together will take place in Azerbaijan and will be led by an ex-marketeer from the oil industry! Worse still, I learned recently that one of the flagship organisations that gave birth to the IPCC was also founded and run by a Canadian oil investor (check Maurice Strong’s bio).

    More depressing news for you

    To this one could add many other depressing events or books (from Vaclav Smil to James Hansen and Antoine Bueno [Fr] through to Jean-Baptiste Fressoz [Fr]). All that shows we might well hit the wall of climate change soon. French Energy expert Fressoz states, there is no such thing as energy transitions for instance. Smil had highlighted the energy transition issue as early as 2010. To top it all, there is no such thing as “peak oil”. Two mining experts from France, warned us about the surfeit of oil reserves on the planet [Fr]. There is no dearth of oil sorry, we’re in for trouble for very much longer I’m afraid.

    Worse still, there was this talk we gave in Tunisia. While around a hundred marketers flocked to the workshops dedicated to AI, digital marketing or agility in product marketing,

    • 9 min

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