Luminoso to enterprises: Here's what all that chatter really means

Based on machine learning, the company's new Compass system helps you understand what consumers are really saying

Luminoso's Compass understands Emoji.

Luminoso's Compass understands Emoji.

Imagine your company has just launched a new product: the Acme iSolution. You've got an ad campaign under way and you want to know how people are reacting.

That would make you a good candidate for sentiment analysis, a set of technologies that can tell you whether discussions on social networks are generally positive or negative. Unfortunately, sentiment analysis -- which already dates back more than a decade -- typically can only handle terms it's been trained to understand. If instead of "great," "excellent" or "awesome," some people say "tight" or "swag," you could miss their voices altogether.

"One of the big things we found is that when customers are talking about sensory products or products they're passionate about, they use very creative language," said Luminoso cofounder and CEO Catherine Havasi. "Most of the technology can't handle it -- you have to have already taught it the words to look for."

Born of the MIT Media Lab in 2010, Havasi's company takes a different approach. Tapping the power of machine learning and natural language processing, Luminoso's new Compass product, which will be announced Thursday, is designed to give companies deeper insight into what consumers are saying, and in real time. Emails, surveys, news sites, blogs, forums and focus groups can all be included in addition to social media.

"Other products deal with static text -- tweets from last Thanksgiving, emails from customers, focus-group transcripts," Havasi explained. "Compass deals with real-time textual information. We're

trying instead to understand the different topics people are talking about, such as during a product launch or news event, and to understand how they emerge, relate and change over time."

What that means is, during your product launch, you'll know right away if the conversation starts to veer off and focus on an issue you didn't catch during testing. At least as important, you'll be able to adjust your strategy sooner rather than later.

Aiming to replace a process that's been largely a manual one, Compass will not only uncover the evolving shifts in essential keywords but also highlight when keywords stop being relevant and are no longer worth following.

The technology underlying Compass is a more advanced version of what Luminoso introduced through Sony's One Stadium LIVE for the 2014 FIFA World Cup to uncover, analyze and organize the millions of social media conversations happening across Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Now, Compass brings similar capabilities to enterprises so that they can follow and segment high-volume social media conversations dynamically, view "clean" social media streams without duplicates and other noise, and detect trends.

Integrated with Twitter's Gnip service, Compass also understands multiple languages -- now including Emoji -- and is compatible with most pre-existing workflow systems, business intelligence tools and CRMs.

Luminoso announced a $6.5 million Series A funding round last July. Since then, it's expanded its client list with dozens of Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 companies, it says, as well as government agencies including NASA.

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