SAN FRANCISCO -- Business has always been social, and this isn't anything new. The difference with social media is that we can encode these social relationships in the way computer can understand them, according to Marie Wallace, a social analytics strategist at IBM.
See also: IBM VP: Big data, analytics giving way to 'social economy'
At a panel discussion about social big data analytics (specifically, its current challenges and future opportunities), Wallace explained that the connection between big data and social maedia analytics is not about being inwardly focused.
"The other aspect of this is if we want to truly leverage social media, I think it's really important that we integrate it into the fabric of the business," Wallace said.
Joe Davy, founder and chief product officer at EvoApp, posited that the "holy grail" question for many businesses is how do we take traffic and metrics that matter to us and infer patterns into that content out of the social web.
Basically, how do we understand the relationship between social and a particular business?
Davy said that in terms of the line of business, the majority of customers that his company interacts with are in the marketing and sales world.
"They're specifically looking at very basic things around brand management, where they're just trying to understand who is talking about their brand and who is talking about competitors," Davy said.
Marketing organizations are changing the way they communicate with customers, argued Doug Jones, vice president of business development at Badgeville, citing that Facebook provided all of us with "a massive platform to call it the way we see it."
"The real business impact is actually very tangible," Jones said, explaining that "fear actually created a lot of the initial uptake" as business leaders wanted to make sure they covered all bases and concerns from customers to prevent any kind of backlash or similar negative responses online."
Davy pointed out that there is a theory floating around among marketing specialists that if they just increase the number of mentions they garner online, that they'll sell more of whatever they're selling.
But that's not always necessarily the case.
Wallace argued that many "enterprises are struggling at the moment." While marketing departments might be at the forefront of social media analytics, other departments, such as CRM, are trying to get into this.
"It's unclear how to monetize social media analytics for most departments," Wallace acknowledged.
Commenting on one of the interesting things when businesses try to install a new social platform within the enterprise, Wallace made an interesting comparison between these ventures and feeding a hungry child.
"You're feeding it for 18 to 24 months before it learns to speak," Wallace said, "What we're trying to do is get the child to grow up faster."
Like most other experts and specialists focused on building solutions for big data, the panelists agreed that figuring out how to put big data to work is a lot more complex than just analyzing what is on Twitter.
"We're really at the forefront of what's happening here," said Ed Elze from IBM's jStart Team.