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Social intelligence: How to mine social media for business results

Sandra Gittlen | Aug. 11, 2017
By blending automation and expertise, a strong social intelligence strategy can transform social media data into actionable insights — and help shape your company’s products, advertising and customer experience.


Incorporating social intelligence into IT's information infrastructure

Gartner's Sussin finds herself frustrated that more hasn't come of social intelligence. She acknowledges the technology to do more with social input wasn't available when businesses initially started listening to social platforms but says it is now, pointing to the ability to blend unstructured data from social platforms and structured data from traditional systems to extract intelligence.

Still she finds organizations "jamming social data" such as how many "likes" they have into Tableau instead of making use of social modules available in Oracle, Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics and other enterprise systems. "They're not bringing information in that's intelligent and it's certainly not helping them," she says.

Sussin says lack of integration often is a product of silos within an organization, where social media has either been buried in marketing or kept as a separate entity. "In the early days, companies set up social media as a feed for listening, figuring they would find something that would lead to a million-dollar idea and make it all worth it," she says, adding, "That's how they got in trouble."

For social intelligence to truly take hold, it must be incorporated with the organization's business analytics and intelligence infrastructure in IT. "Data leaders will say they have enough on their plate with bigger data management problems and don't see social intelligence as their issue, but it is," she says.

Social intelligence would do well with the governance applied to other data management efforts such as CRM and ERP systems, according to Sussin. "We need the social people and the data management people to talk to each other and understand that this information can and needs to be exchanged for better decision making," she says.


Bringing social intelligence out of the marketing silo

Melissa O'Brien, research director for Digitally Driven Front Office Services at HFS Research, agrees that organizational silos are hampering the power that could be gained from social platforms.

"When I first started covering this area, the discussion was about how you pivot social media from a pure marketing standpoint into customer relationships. Now the conversation is much bigger than that: The data you get from social can play a bigger role throughout the enterprise," O'Brien says. "But social strategy has typically existed as a subset of marketing and it still tends to get stuck there."

She believes businesses are just at the beginning of this part of their social journey and as they become more customer-centric, social intelligence will spread across the enterprise. "All of this is a work in progress and it is a struggle for companies."


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