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Insight Into Social Media And Business Intelligence

by Steve BogdonThursday, March 17, 2011

Last July Dashboard Insight took their first look at the relationship between social media and business intelligence. Since then we continue to see this trend growing at an incredible rate and we had to look into this topic again. After looking over our collection of articles we felt there are a couple of areas not being properly addressed. We asked the following questions to our experts:

  1. The popularity of social media as a marketing tool continues to grow. How is your company or clients measuring the effectiveness of their social media campaigns?
  2. How are you tying in social media with your BI initiatives?

The answers are below, listed in random order. You'll note some get close to the line of "product promotion," but they don't cross it! To get more information, we've provided company links, please check them out.


How are you tying in social media with your BI initiatives?

The exponential growth of social media and self-publishing outlets has made one thing clear: today’s digital citizens want to actively share information and tell their stories in more compelling ways, using both public and private data sources. As such, cloud technologies are spurring dramatic evolutionary shifts in BI. For starters, vendors are starting to bring collaborative user experiences and development features into the heart of their BI offerings, converging traditional analytics applications with social media paradigms. This growing trend towards ‘self-service’ analytics capabilities is being accelerated by advances in cloud technologies that further remove barriers to adoption of self-service BI and enhance the collaborative experience. 

At TIBCO, we’re continuing to challenge the traditional BI ‘publish-consume’ model by leveraging Spotfire, our next-generation BI platform, to create new approaches for knowledge-sharing, empowering anyone to publish their own dashboards and business applications, and engaging with others who share their interests. We believe that this results in more relevant information, since it’s being driven directly by users who have the questions they want answered. 

Lou Jordano
Director of Product Marketing
Spotfire, TIBCO Software, Inc.


The popularity of social media as a marketing tool continues to grow. How is your company or clients measuring the effectiveness of their social media campaigns?

The promise of social media for BI is obvious. But the challenge is not. Social media is one of the best examples of the new grand challenge for BI: Diversity at scale.

Social media defies the traditional BI profile of homogeneous data coming from standardized processes. Instead, it comes from diverse sources like twitter, Facebook, affinity sites, and blogs. Plus, this data is about individuals. People using social media are informed consumers accustomed to the power of choice. Reducing this data to averages and KPIs misses the point. Instead, companies must analyze social media to understand customers as individuals, -- their likes and dislikes, as well as degree of influence on others.

This will be difficult for many companies. But, the best are already turning these analyses into action through targeted marketing and merchandising activities. This is another aspect of diversity at scale. More finely tuned promotions to more, but smaller, target groups across more touchpoints including Web, mobile, Facebook apps, and email is more difficult to manage than traditional database marketing.

But the prize is worth it. The promise of social media for companies is creating new value for current customers and serving new customers previously beyond their reach.

Paul Sonderegger
Chief Strategist


How are you tying in social media with your BI initiatives?

In the past dashboards were report oriented entities that focused on presenting management with sets of pre-defined KPIs and charts. Their design was done by specially-trained IT personnel. Today, BI dashboards (often being named WorkBoards) have evolved to lively and active displays that allow business users to quickly build and alter them to fit their changing business needs (with little or no IT involvement ). These WorkBoards enable enterprise users to collaborate on their BI work as each WorkBoard contains discussion threads and users’ comments. Thus they contain not only nicely presented data, but also the corresponding human analysis that evolves as the BI work progresses and the data changes. WorkBoards can also include other active social components such as Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, connecting them to other aspects of the company’s operations such as marketing and customer support for example.

These new socially-enabled Workboards improve the ability of the business users to collaborate on data and create insight that is the result of a team discussion. The usage of Business Intelligence is enhanced and extends to more and more users within the organization. The WorkBoards are now not only management tools but also used for business managers, analysts, brand managers etc.

Rony Ross
Executive Chairman and Chief Technology Officer


The popularity of social media as a marketing tool continues to grow. How is your company or clients measuring the effectiveness of their social media campaigns?

While I have to admit some scepticism that social media can live up to its hype as a B2B marketing tool, there are a few social media channels that are worth trying and measuring.

With Twitter you can make monthly counts of your followers, do searches of tweets for your brand name and count up mentions each month, and look at your Web site analytics for the number of monthly visitors from twitter.com among your traffic sources, as well as look at visit quality stats including bounce rates, average visit times, and goal conversions.

As for social bookmarking sites like del.icio.us and StumbleUpon, the easiest metrics to track are, again, your Web site visitor stats from these domains. For social networking sites such as LinkedIn or Facebook company pages, besides Web stats, you can count your members/fans, although I find creating content for these profiles to be duplicative to your own site and blog. A corporate page on Wikipedia is a must, and you can track visitors from it.

Slideshare.net is one lesser known one that I like, and there you can look up the views of your slide decks. Same goes for your YouTube videos.

Mark Flaherty
Chief Marketing Officer
InetSoft Technology


How are you tying in social media with your BI initiatives?

While there are hesitations around social technologies due the perceived risks about not being able to secure internal and external conversations, it’s important to think about social media as more than just a means to communicate with other employees or customers. On the flip side, too much collaboration within internal channels can lead to a deluge of more data and add an unnecessary layer of confusion.

Successful integration of social media channels and business intelligence needs to be laser focused on not only making the process easy, but also providing employees with additional ways to be more productive. For example, integrating social media with analytics dashboards can filter online activity streams, analyze the needed data in real-time as well as predict future events based off of the data. Additionally, linking data reports to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter will enable employees to easily collaborate as well as immediately share information.

Outside of predictive analytics, it’s also important to ensure these activity streams can connect with existing enterprise applications, so users don’t operate in a vacuum. For example, with an event steam broker, employees can quickly combine and sort through social data along with business data and obtain actionable insights as well as readable information. While the addition of social media may seem like it’s adding excessive information, this data can be the needed insight to establish context and make more strategic decisions.

Dr. Rado Kotorov
Chief Information Officer
Information Builders


The popularity of social media as a marketing tool continues to grow. How is your company or clients measuring the effectiveness of their social media campaigns?

Social media as a marketing medium is definitely on the growth path. We have our presence in Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. Many of our clients and BI analysts are present on these social media sites as well. Lately, we are finding more BI related discussions happening in Quora too. Having an active presence in social media helps us not just in product promotion/marketing, but also in supporting our customers and to proactively engage our target audience in a better way.

On measuring effectiveness, we keep track of monthly visits from social media sites. For example, in the case of Facebook, we measure metrics such as the number of 'Likes' we’ve received, the traffic to our Facebook page, the comments left by our users/visitors on the Wall etc. We are observing a definite increase in our site's traffic and an audience that's more engaged, wanting to keep themselves up-to-date with the latest happenings at Zoho.

Clarence Rozario
Product Manager
Zoho Reports

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