'Ultraviolet data' necessary for biz insights

Companies not extracting and mining such "missing" data, which might be more important to gain transformational insights for their businesses than their existing data analyses, industry insider says.

SINGAPORE--"Ultraviolet data", or information that is not captured by companies currently, is the key to social media marketing and, particularly, in helping companies understand one's audience better. However, the challenge is in extracting and pulling the data together to gain relevant insights.

That was the view of Marshall Sponder, founder of WebMetrics Guru, who was a keynote speaker at the Asia-Pacific ICT Summit held here on Tuesday. Ultraviolet data, according to him, is defined as information that companies cannot see and may not know to capture, much of which is generated by online users on social media platforms.

Examples of such data include "check-in details" and the accompanying user comments of the destination, as well as information generated during a "temporal axis". The latter instance refers to when people speculate about things that are going to happen, he explained.

This "missing" data can be more important than the information companies are already collecting, Sponder noted, adding that current data mining done by companies may be providing diagnostic information with no real insight, which hinders them from "telling a coherent story" to consumers.

In order to extract the ultraviolet data, he suggested companies do a data audit at all levels of the organization. This would involve looking through social media mentions, house data systems, e-commerce data, call center and customer service logs, financial, geolocation, and financial data, he stated.

There are challenges in extracting and making sense of such data though, he warned. For instance, what people say online may not correspond to what is happening in the real world, while it may be difficult to determine the location of where the data was created. Companies may also face issues in segmenting their data on different storage platforms, he added.

Furthermore, he said since 90 percent of unstructured data stored globally are in silos, organizations might find they have no strategy for pulling the data together and mining it in an "insightful and actionable" manner.

As such, Sponder advised companies to start planning for analytics implementation such as knowing what measures to track and understanding internal needs to provide each business unit with the right analytics tool. Public relations executives, for example, may need specific tools for monitoring how customers respond to brands online, he noted.

The WebMetrics Guru founder added: "Always strive to collect more data instead of less, and to track your competitors' customers because they have an interest in your industry and are an untapped resource."

Unready to step out of digital communications "comfort zone"
In a separate panel discussion held today in conjunction with the summit, Charlie Pownall pointed that many companies in Asia still have concerns over their digital engagement plans.

The managing director and lead digital strategist at Burson-Marsteller Asia-Pacific said while many were going online to engage with consumers, companies remain concerned that they have no control over what is said about the brand and are unable to stop "bad stuff" from circulating on the Internet.

Loren Shuster, country director of Singapore and emerging markets at Google, who was also a panelist, added that in Singapore, there are many avid users of digital and social media but companies are lagging behind in engaging them. While more people used the Internet than watched television or read newspapers, companies would still rather invest in traditional media marketing than go digital, he observed.

"Consumers are moving online and that is where they can be reached and engaged," he stressed, adding that companies should not fear digital communications.

The only way to influence and build long-term trust with consumers is "to be there", be active in conversations, and be transparent and authentic, the Google executive suggested.

Before going on to social media, though, Shuster advised companies to start with the basics, namely search engine optimization (SEO). He said understanding SEO was fundamental as it offers the company an opportunity to capture the individual who is looking for information.

After all, online search is what users turn to today to research on a product or a service before purchasing it, he noted. As such, only when a company establishes its online presence via SEO that its foundation is set and it can move on to engage its audience using social media, Shuster said.