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Social Media and BI

by Robert Hunter, Dashboard InsightThursday, July 1, 2010

With July designated as "social media month" here at Dashboard Insight, we thought we'd ask some industry analysts and BI technology vendors about their views on the relationship between social media and BI.  So, as we've done before,  we contacted a number of them and ask for a one-paragraph answer to the question: "How can BI applications use social media to benefit dashboarding and related 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 can BI applications use social media to benefit dashboarding and related BI initiatives?

"Social media can benefit BI initiatives in three ways.  First, by incorporating social media into dashboards.  There’s no such thing as truly unstructured text, the structure is merely latent and can be extracted.  This means using text analysis to identify terms, phrases and grammatical relationships in tweets, blogs and user reviews.  Second, by analyzing the social networks themselves.  For example, which tweets get retweeted?  By whom?   Who is most influential in the diffusion of the tweet through the network?  Answers to these questions can help spot taste-makers in your customer base.  And finally, by collaborating on analyses.  With the proliferation of dashboards and metrics in large companies, social media can tap the wisdom of crowds to get multiple perspectives that may lead to new questions and novel insights."

Paul Sonderegger
Chief Strategist
Endeca Technologies, Inc.


 

How can BI applications use social media to benefit dashboarding and related BI initiatives?

"BI applications can leverage social media from two different perspectives.  First, as organizations increasingly embrace social media as an important channel to promote their brand and products, tracking the health of this channel using metrics like sentiment, activity volume, etc., is critical to ensure the channel supports the organization’s goals, plans and objectives.  For example, organizations who have successfully monitored this channel have been able to avert major negative publicity by catching and addressing negative sentiments early on.  Second, as BI gets pushed to the lower levels of the organization (i.e., BI for the masses), social media techniques like wiki, discussions and publish/subscribe become extremely important tools to allow for a team dialogue, fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing to enable optimal 'collective wisdom-based decision making.'  It’s just a matter of time before this style of decision making becomes the norm in enterprises."

Haranath Gnana
Sr. Principal
Saama Technologies


 

How can BI applications use social media to benefit dashboarding and related BI initiatives?

"To capture social data, companies need to have a pulse on conversations happening across multiple social sites in real time and be able to respond in a timely fashion.  The immediacy of social interactions requires very different thinking than how marketers apply traditional business intelligence.  To harvest social media data in the most effective way, we recommend integrating business intelligence into a social media platform that strategists across your company can see and act upon in real time.  Bringing together information from a variety of different sources helps create a picture of interconnectedness and provides a 360-degree insight into  influencers so they can more easily identify high-value opportunities.  As social information is applied to other data sets, key decision makers can also more effectively assess the value of social media across its enterprise and more effectively apply social media with other initiatives to boost the bottom line."

Blake Cahill
SVP of Corporate Marketing
Visible Technologies


 

How can BI applications use social media to benefit dashboarding and related BI initiatives?

"Companies that deal with the public or large B2B customer bases can benefit by bringing real-time web analytics, sales transaction data and social networking data (including mentions in Twitter feeds, blog posts, comments on media websites, and so on) into unified dashboards.  These dashboards make it possible to correlate market buzz with customer activity and buying patterns.  The tools for this are available - but many companies have yet to exploit these opportunities to improve their performance by better understanding what is driving or hurting their businesses.  One enabling key to deployment is the development of connectors for the various data sources that need to feed the dashboard.  In addition, it's critical that the system be able to make sense of the data in order to make it truly useful.  It's all part of helping managers quickly understand the mood of the market and take the steps necessary to optimize their opportunities as well as mitigate problems before they get out of control."

Hugh Heinsohn
Panopticon Software
www.panopticon.com


 

How can BI applications use social media to benefit dashboarding and related BI initiatives?

"Dashboards continue to play a significant role in operational decision-making due to their usability and the primary audience they address.  With the emergence of social media and social data feeds, new information and insight can extend an organization’s view into their customer and operational effectiveness.  Customer satisfaction, customer sentiment and brand effectiveness are just a few samples of what organizations can gain from social data.  BI dashboards are effective at simplifying large volumes of structured data into actionable decisions.  Applying existing BI best practices to these new social data feeds including data restructuring, data enrichment using metadata - and data visualization - creates new insights and new opportunities.  BI dashboards have the unique advantage for organizations by unifying social and operational data within a context that is ready-built for corporate decision-making."

Mike Boyarski
Director Product Marketing
Jaspersoft Ltd.


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