Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

Social Media & Business Intelligence: Friends or Frenemies?


Social media monitoring is an emerging trend that's here to stay as the popularity of sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ increases. Business intelligence is past the trend phase – it's commonplace at companies large and small, who will spend nearly $11 billion on it before the year is over, according to Gartner. These are two powerful segments of the analytics market and the question that's begging to be asked is: are social media and business intelligence friends or frenemies? Do they have to play along to keep the peace or do they actually go hand-in-hand?

For us at arcplan, social media and BI are two sides of the same coin, two pieces of the puzzle that is your business. For a complete picture of your customers, your brand, and your position in the market to emerge, you need information that's collected from social sites and from your corporate data sources. After all, your data warehouse isn't going to tell you that the off-handed Twitter comment you made last week contributed to a drop in sales unless you can associate your sentiment analysis to your sales data.

We're all striving to "do more" with our data – to roll out ad-hoc reporting to our business users so they can take ownership of analysis, make data easier to access so we can rely on IT less, create high-level dashboards for our executives, build scorecards to manage our KPIs, master every chart type… but we haven’t truly begun to do more with data until we incorporate information from outside traditional BI data sources into our everyday analysis. And be aware, the amount of data we're talking about can be huge. That's why some in our industry call this Big Data – but this is a story we will review in another article.

It's important to understand how you, as an organization, can structure social information and associate it to the other data you have about your customers. All kinds of companies – B2C and B2B – are seeing the need to better understand all dimensions of their customers – not only demographic information and purchase history, but also what they're saying in the social space.

There are a number of companies that are responding to this shift. recently purchased Radian6, a leading social data monitoring company, for $326M. Radian6 gathers information from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs, and forums and gives businesses the ability to analyze, manage, track, and report on their social media efforts. It offers real-time dashboards, analysis widgets, and even a mechanism for accessing information about who is saying what – demographics, influence, location, sentiment, and more. It’s obvious why wanted to acquire Radian6 – to integrate social data with its own CRM system. Sure, Salesforce reports – and its reporting capabilities for slicing and dicing data – may be limited now, but I imagine that in the near future we'll see the ability to integrate social information with our lead, contact, and opportunity data on online dashboards for a full picture of our customers and prospects.

Even Walmart is getting into the mix. In April, they announced the acquisition of Kosmix, a social media technology provider whose platform enables users to filter and organize content in social networks to facilitate conversations. The Kosmix team is working under the name @WalmartLabs to create technologies that combine social and ecommerce capabilities…all in the name of making it easier to shop at Walmart online or offline.

This are just two examples of big companies that are driving the market and the trend of social data becoming part of a company's overall data strategy. Their examples of social/corporate integration are great, but how do they make the leap from social dashboards to dashboards that incorporate both social and traditional corporate data for a full picture of the business? That's where business intelligence tools come in. A platform that sits on top of traditional and non-traditional data sources and pulls information from all of them into single reports or dashboards is the logical next step. BI tools are ready to welcome social media data and incorporate it into analytical processes in sales, marketing, finance, partner management…what department wouldn't benefit from better insight?


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