* Jennifer Leggio is on vacation
Guest editorial by Blake CahillCompanies and social media are on a collision course—with positive benefits. Thanks to the Internet and its increasingly social nature, the amount of information and conversation data existing today is breath-taking. We’ve certainly become more than familiar with the impact social conversations can have on companies and their brands, whether it be the Dove Beauty Campaign or the Motrin mommy blogger fiasco. At the same time, companies are also increasingly savvy about more traditional data collection (finance, sales, etc.) and its impact on business intelligence—getting credible information more quickly into the hands of operations managers and sales reps.
However, as companies build and integrate their business intelligence platforms they often neglect to include vital product and business feedback found in social conversations. Social data is arguably the most challenging to integrate into a BI platform because it’s is so fluid and unstructured. A quick check with Google may tell what hot topics people are searching for, but all the free Web tools available can’t accurately tell what folks are really talking about. That chatter in the ether is affecting purchasing decisions, making it crucial for companies to begin listening and integrating this data into their BI platforms. Social media is no longer an amusing world we can view from afar.
Many companies grapple with the social media world, especially with traditional notions of data quality. Just how comprehensive and reliable is social data? Social media intelligence solutions are increasingly sophisticated at data capture, integration and presentation (however, many are still only a step up from RSS feeds with a different presentation layer). Organizations are just now beginning to understand the need to integrate these perception periscopes into their existing BI and measurement platforms, building cultures and structures to move on the actionable intelligence quickly.
At the same time, social media intelligence vendors are starting to tackle the problem of integrating social media into their overall business intelligence offerings. Take Omniture’s announcement on Thursday. Omniture, which makes business optimization software, is continuing to increase its Genesis Network of partners. The company understands it can’t be all things to all people and that best-of-class point solutions benefit from integration, whether it’s data discovery, email management, measurement or metrics.
Really smart people have spent the past decade innovating individual point solutions to solve issues in PR measurement, Web analytics, customer service and other areas. Increasingly, companies today are looking for competitive advantage and can get closer to their customers by listening and learning from them online. But these efforts typically are done off to one side within a company, be it IT or marketing. Firms like Omniture and others realize that social media data needs to be part of an integrated BI approach. Only then will companies achieve the data democratization that gets structured, real-time information into in the hands of people on the front lines of business.
Blake Cahill is senior vice president for Visible Technologies, based in Seattle, a leading provider of social media monitoring and engagement solutions.