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They're Slamming Your Company. Are You Listening?

IBM software lets you monitor online chatter to protect your reputation

Companies today need search technology and analytics to cope with the massive amount of information being generated online, says Marc Andrews, director of strategy and business development for unstructured information at IBM. "One of the biggest challenges is there's so much information out there that it's difficult to determine which issues are significant," he says.

The software can tell whether discussions about your company are negative or positive.

The software can tell whether discussions about your company are negative or positive.
While a variety of firms offer business-intelligence services designed to monitor public opinion, Andrews contends that existing approaches are ill-suited to today's pace of information creation. He also says that service companies often have a narrow focus, such as analyzing call-center logs or consumer surveys.

In some cases, the software will no doubt deliver insightful information about new products or trends in perceptions. In others, it hardly seems necessary. Technology may spot problems, but the best brand defense continues to be great products, ethical behavior, and stellar service.

The IBM software relies on multilingual text analytics from Nstein Technologies Inc. to identify popular topics of discussion and analyze online posts. Because it can categorize information based on topic and context, the software simplifies the process of finding specific types of information, such as criticisms of products or finance-related posts. It also lets businesses incorporate and analyze news content from Factiva, a provider of business news and information. The software requires IBM WebSphere Information Integrator OmniFind Edition, an enterprise-search software platform. The price ranges from $100,000 to millions.

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