Social Analytics: Current Challenges, Future Opportunities @SocialMediaWeek

The folks at ZDNet made a great job at summarizing the IBM-hosted Industry Panel “Social Big Data Analytics: Current Challenges, Future Opportunities” with their article Panel: Social big data analytics proving difficult within the enterprise. However, for the sake of completeness I thought I would share my prep notes so that you have the unedited version of my mental perambulations.

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post “Wake up Enterprise, the Internet is kicking our ass!” which encapsulates what I see one of the more interesting challenges and opportunities for social analytics, namely the application of Social Network Analysis within the enterprise. So let’s look at the situation today…

On one hand, we see the Internet community completely transforming how people interact with each other and with information. We see them capturing every possible human interaction, ever piece of content created and ever button clicked, in order to build information services that are smarter and more personalized — from socially filtering your news feed to recommending what books you should buy.

On the other hand, the enterprise is drowning in information while at the same time sitting on a pre-existing network of interactions between people, content, processes, and applications — a rich social semantic network that intimately describes what is happening within the enterprise (even if it is buried inside a myriad of schemas within existing business applications). Just imagine the type of information services we could build if we leveraged this network; although in this case it might be recommending which customer you should call, rather than which book you should read.

And enterprise social network analysis is NOT about being inwardly focused, in fact just the opposite. I strongly believe that for the enterprise to truly capitalize on social media and their underpinning social semantic networks, we need mechanisms to integrate parts of those networks into the fabric of the enterprise, and apply social analytics across the combined network, so that we can truly have a 360 degree view of the business — the customer, the competitor, the product, the employee, or any other aspect.

Instead of just using the social media analysis results — an influence score for a person or a sentiment score for a brand — I want to also leverage parts of the underlying network that underpinned that particular analysis result.

So I’m a sales guy and a new customer opportunity lands on my lap, I need my enterprise recommender service to advise me on how best to close the deal.

Suggest the People in the organization that could help me progress this deal. The analysis would leverage parts of the internal network, such as (1) projects people worked on, deals they’ve been involved with, documents they’ve written. But also external networks, such as (2) companies they worked with before, who follows them on twitter, who they follow, are they externally influential, on what topics, …

Or suggest Content that would help me respond to the client. Again leveraging internal networks, such as documents that are linked to other successful “similar” opportunities, product or industry collateral, or competitive analysis. But again external is key, for example; you might want to know which competitors are already working with the client, what technologies they are using, how their business is doing, …

So our big challenge & opportunity over the next few years will be integration of social networks and social network analysis into the enterprise…

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