Social media networks are radically changing the interactions between customers and business, and now even citizens and governments in this millennium. Social media networks provide a dynamic and friendly human-machine user interface that greatly facilitates collaboration and enhances information sharing and influence flow in ways never seen before. This paradigm shift represents a major communications innovation in all markets and is radically changing the way people and organizations engage and behave online.
Enter the social customer. They will be (and are) a worst nightmare for companies that ignore them and don’t engage. Many companies and organizations will be significantly challenged to meet the heightened expectations for excellent products and services demanded by the social customers. Most importantly, the power of the social customer is inherently in their ecosystem of influence, as Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews, for example, are now commonly shared with friends on FaceBook and Twitter.
“Sniffing the digital exhaust” (quote from Andreas Weigend)
Social media networks are creating large data sets of structured and unstructured data that can be leveraged to get closer to the customer, thereby enabling companies to gain competitive advantage and improve performance. These data sets provide important insights into the overall customer experience. In this discussion, I will elaborate on the seminal findings from “The Social Media and Business Intelligence Survey.”
The survey was fielded this January and February in North America and EMEA in cooperation with IBM, the SHARE user group and Unisphere Magazine. In designing the questionnaire I specifically asked about the use of cloud-based third-party social media business intelligence tools, in addition to what business intelligence platforms were in use and the primary business motivation for social media and business intelligence initiatives.
Overall we found that about one-third of the 700 companies that participated were intelligent early-adopter organizations that are just beginning to monitor and collect social media data from propriety and open social media networks.
We found that only 30 percent of organizations are currently monitoring proprietary social media networks (SMNs), and nearly half indicated that they are monitoring open SMNs such as Facebook or Twitter.
Only 27 percent of the sample base are currently collecting data and building SMN data stores.
Approximately 60 percent of the companies have plans to monitor, collect, stage and analyze SMN data were in the next year, one to two years, and three to five years. This clearly reflects a nascent or early adopter market, with early majority, late majority and laggards following a classic bell curve in evolution.
This represents a great market opportunity for large entrenched enterprise BI vendors and new cloud and SaaS vendors to create and deliver products and services, thought leadership and best practices for conducting social media and business intelligence processes and analysis, or what could be called SCRM.
- Slightly more than half of the organizations plan to increase SMN monitoring and data collection and analysis in the one to two years.
- More than half expect to increase investment SMN BI tools in the next one to two years.
- Only 15 percent of organizations plan to invest in cloud and SaaS-based social media tools in the next year, but this increases significantly in the next two to three years.
Internal vs. cloud data warehouse or data mart
In question 11, I inquired about data hosting on internal data marts, private and public cloud (only 27 percent of the sample base are currently building SMN data stores):
- 18% – indicated they were using an internal platform
- 2% – employing an external cloud-based platform
- 4% – using a private cloud
- 67% – did not know or found the question not applicable
Plans for investing in cloud and SaaS-based social media tools
In question 17, I asked what the plans were for increasing organizational investment in cloud and software-as-a-service-based social media tools, and over 521 companies responded to this question.
- 52% – plan to invest in cloud/SaaS in the next two to three years
- 15% – plan to invest significantly in the next year overall, but 20% of line-of-business professionals indicated they would invest in the next year
- 30% – had no plans to increase investment
Social media BI a new business and IT discipline
The second half of the survey was designed to identify the key business initiatives supported by this new discipline and, not surprisingly, most of them revolved around the customer. Social media networks have rapidly become the word-of-mouth marketing platform of this millennium.
Sales, marketing, PR/communications and customer service are the top business functions supported that are employing SMN data monitoring, collection and business intelligence analysis.
Product innovation, product testing and pricing, along with identification of influencers were not important at this stage of the market’s evolution.
Top business initiatives supported
- Brand-reputation management
- Marketing communications
- Customer service
- Customer experience management
Top metrics employed
- Customer satisfaction
- Overall buzz
- Brand experience
- Advertising campaign performance
This benchmark survey provides important insights into how medium and large organizations are leveraging business intelligence tools and platforms to harvest, manage and analyse social media data. The bullets below depict the top legacy BI vendors and new social media BI vendors and are reflective of industry market share, although the sample base was highly biased toward an IBM-installed base.
Top legacy BI vendors in use
- SAS Institute
- SAP Business Objects
Top new social media BI vendors
Top emerging social media BI vendors
- Radian 6
- eVolve 24
The sample base provided an excellent mix of company sizes, with nearly one-third of the respondents coming from each segment of SMB, mid-range and large organizations. A broad spectrum of industries participated, although financial services was the largest industry participant. The majority of respondents were information technology professionals; however, more than 100 line-of-business professionals also participated.
The sample base was primarily North American (62%), EMEA (30% and 170 respondents), and Germany was the largest EMEA country represented.
We asked a number of questions about data volume, type, hosting, storage, and frequency of data movement, but many of the answers were somewhat inconclusive because of the early stage of the market. Companies and organizations are just beginning to take social media seriously, and this is reflective in the overall findings of the sample base and the lack of clear business metrics and their current non-impact on business processes.
Again, this is a great market opportunity for software vendors to provide the products and services needed to harvest social media data and manage the hordes of social customers that are emerging every day.
Peter J. Auditore is the principal researcher at The Data Dog, a boutique consultancy focused on strategic and executable marketing communications for this millennium. Formerly Mr. Auditore was Head of the SAP Business Influencer Group and a veteran of four technology startups including: Zona Research (cofounder), Hummingbird (VP Marketing Americas), Survey.com (president) and Exigen Group, (VP Corporate Communications), He has over 20 years of experience in selling and marketing software to LE and SME organizations worldwide.