'Social biz' uprising drives big data analytics

Consumer social media uptake in Southeast Asia spurring rise of "social business", where more companies look to big data analytics to make sense of data deluge, say IBM execs.
Written by Vivian Yeo, Contributor

SINGAPORE--The inevitable shift by businesses to become more social is fueling demand for big data analytics, say IBM executives, who note that the phenomenon is significant in Southeast Asia where social media consumption is growing rapidly.

According to Nigel Beck, vice president of business development for social software at IBM, business processes are undergoing a pervasive change today with the rise of "social business". This calls for organizations to "find customers with problems instead of customers finding [them] with problems", Beck said.

Such social businesses create the means for people and information to "find each other", are transparent or provide open access to information, and are nimble as they are able to quickly adjust course, he added. The IBMer was speaking to ZDNet Asia on the sidelines of the IBM LotusSphere and Information on Demand event here Tuesday.

To equip social businesses, Big Blue has embedded social capabilities in analytics tools as well as included predictive analytics into social collaboration products, said John Mullins, Asean business unit executive for collaboration solutions at IBM Software Group, who sat in on the same interview.

That would enable, for example, an airline to identify a customer who has blogged about a negative experience with its service, and correct that unpleasant encounter via its contact center, said Singapore-based Mullins.

Bernard Spang, director of strategy and marketing for database software systems at IBM's software group, noted that the explosion in both structured and unstructured data has driven organizations to look at business analytics as a strategic focus area. He said companies are trying to achieve better business outcomes with the rising amounts of machine- and human-generated data including information from sensors, blogs and tweets.

To that end, IBM has brought together capabilities under big data analytics that address the volume, variety and velocity of information, Spang said, adding that the vendor is combining various analytic technologies instead of offering analytic silos.

"The more info you can bring together and analyze, the better you see the market situation, the better you can understand your customers to grow the business," he said.

SEA a social media hotbed
According to Mullins, Southeast Asia is leading the world in terms of social networking with Indonesia ranked as the second-largest Facebook market globally and the Philippines boasting the biggest year-on-year growth of Facebook users.

A comScore report in August also revealed that Indonesia had the world's highest Twitter penetration, while a TNS survey in October pointed to Malaysians as the world's heaviest users of social networking sites.

Consumers in the region, Mullins said, are "already sold on the social message" and it is only a matter of time before enterprises become more social. In Singapore, which is seen as a technology leader in the region, a broader set of organizations, beyond just early adopters, have already embraced the use of social media, he added.

At the end of the day, insights from social networking sites can provide a more complete picture of a consumer, noted Mullins. In some parts of the world, the information available on these sites may be more accurate than citizen data held by governments, he pointed out.

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