The People Network is a Social Semantic Network

I hosted a Social Network Analytics tweet chat a few weeks ago and there was recurring commentary about the importance of transactional/business data for people analytics. A sentiment I totally agree with. While I’ve been obsessively arguing over the last few years for more of a focus on “interactions” as opposed to “transactions”, it’s not because I don’t believe that transactional data is important. Quite the contrary, business and process data is hugely important for any people analytics. However rather than segmenting business and social data (traditionally structured and unstructured) into different analytics tools, techniques, and models, I like to think of them as coming together at the bigdata platform and then jointly contributing to the Enterprise Graph — a truly social semantic network.

I wrote a short post 14 months ago entitled “The Future of Business Analytics; from Transactional to Interactional” which briefly shared this perspective and I just wanted to steal a paragraph from that post. “Tomorrow’s business analytics will be about analyzing interactions so we can truly understand how & why something happened; it will know how deals are being closed, who’s involved, what they are doing, how they are interacting, what content & data they are using, and will be able to recognize the interactions that characterize successful deals — the people, skills, relationships, activities, content, data, strategies, etc. This will inform real-time business decisions, allow us to structure the business around successful work practices, combine the right mix of skills to maximize optimal business outcomes, and recognize the valuable data, knowledge, and networks as they directly relate to business results.”

There is a second post I wrote 6 months ago entitled “Is it time to bin the Enterprise Social Network?” where I again referenced the importance of considering the people graph as being more than social. The post followed a day of analyst meetings at Heathrow Airport, where I discussed this issue with a broad spectrum of European analysts and we touched on the idea of the Business Interaction Network (Enterprise Graph) which captures “all interactions irrespective of where they happen; your social network, business applications, collaboration tools, or transactional records. The network which effectively becomes the memory of an organization.”

Anyway, I guess the point I’m trying to get to, albeit circuitously, is that when we think about the People Network we need to think of this as ultimately representing everything the person interacts with (people, places, things, processes, …) in order that we can build increasingly more relevant analytics. Some of these connections may come from transactional sources (Marie bought a Samsung Note II) whereas others may come from social (Marie likes the Samsung Facebook Page), communication (Marie contacts Samsung Helpdesk), or others. We need the graph to represent the “memory of the individual” so that we can build analytics that accurately characterize the needs, preferences, relationships, context, etc. of the individual.

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