Big Data // Big Data Analytics
Commentary
8/3/2012
03:39 PM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Why Big Data Will Deliver ROI For Social Business

The public-by-default nature of social media is a boon to business--or will be, as we learn to cope with the volume of conversation.

As I've made the case before, the social world, by dint of a billion people engaging with each other around the clock, is now the richest source of open innovation, product ideas, marketing and sales opportunities, customer care capacity, and much more. One thing we've learned in the last eight years of the mass collaboration era is that, whatever an organization cares about, crowds can help us conceive of it, build it, test it, market it, support it, and fix it--and do all of that at scale.

For most of the social media era, we've not been able to manage this data effectively when the social platforms were not built and controlled by us. Even when we controlled the platform, the unstructured, informal, and otherwise messy nature of human conversation has been quite a hindrance in using automated tools to scale up. This made it difficult to maintain an updated and integrated picture of what was happening and which conversations really mattered to the business.

We now have a much better idea of how this challenge, namely the ability to establish a working feedback loop from the social world back to us, is going to be resolved. This largely falls under the rubric of Big Data, an umbrella term for a loosely related set of technologies, some old and some new, that let us quickly processes the vast data streams in our social environments, meaningfully analyze the freeform information within them, and zero in in the events, situations, and trends that are interesting to us and our businesses.

I've previously broken down the moving parts of Big Data as well as articulated how it supports the missing social business intelligence capability within most of our organizations. I've even stressed how these must be put into the hands of the average worker in order for real value to emerge.

To address this, an entire cottage industry of social analytics and BI tools have sprung up in the last couple of years to directly enable this scenario. You have seen the acquisitions by established players of companies like Radian6 (Salesforce), ProximalLabs (Jive), and CoreMetrics (IBM). Now it's time for practitioners to close the loop and get the ROI by tapping into the deep wells of knowledge and engagement that can drive forward very real business outcomes.

To do this, you will need data scientists that understand your business, technical capability (which may or may not be possible to outsource), and willingness to overhaul business processes like marketing, sales, customer care, and product development so that they'd be infused with the very latest intelligence and insight from the real world. This is harder than it sometimes looks, as I've explored in the cultural aspects of social business transformation. But as a new piece on Big Data last month on Harvard Business Blogs shows, disciplined and forward thinking organizations have much to gain.

Every company needs a social networking policy, but don't stifle creativity and productivity with too much formality. Also in the debut, all-digital Social Media For Grownups issue of The BrainYard: The proper tools help in setting social networking policy for your company and ensure that you'll be able to follow through. (Free with registration.)

Previous
2 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
robtyrie
50%
50%
robtyrie,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/8/2012 | 6:43:28 PM
re: Why Big Data Will Deliver ROI For Social Business
nailed it.
Deb Donston-Miller
50%
50%
Deb Donston-Miller,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/7/2012 | 11:11:39 PM
re: Why Big Data Will Deliver ROI For Social Business
I agree that when companies can take all of the information coming in from social media--mentions of their names and brands, suggestions, complaints, compliments, purchasing habits, etc.--they will make money off of social. Revenue from placed advertising is a piece of it, but I believe the big bucks are in the big data.

Deb Donston-Miller
Contributing Editor, The BrainYard
Dion Hinchcliffe
50%
50%
Dion Hinchcliffe,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/7/2012 | 5:45:36 PM
re: Why Big Data Will Deliver ROI For Social Business
Ellis,

Big data technology generally has to be timely in order to be useful. This is why we're seeing the advent of post-relational solutions such as Hadoop that can handle vast quantities of information in a short amount of time. In the near future, enterprises will be able to process everything bit of data they posses on timescales of an hour or even less. This will allow just-in-time decision making based on the sum of what an organizations knows, which in turn will have significant competitive impact to high value business processes that operate on these time and information scales.

While this might be mind-boggling today, it will be routine soon enough!

Dion Hinchcliffe
jdormont
50%
50%
jdormont,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/7/2012 | 1:54:11 PM
re: Why Big Data Will Deliver ROI For Social Business
Dion - this is so well articulated and the graphic helps to quickly perceive the concept. I still think that big data favors larger organizations that can invest in the right people (see more here: http://bit.ly/NY1btl), but that more organizations will see this as a priority and move to focus on analytics as a top level position and org priority (http://t.co/mLTrxyNC).

Ellis Booker
50%
50%
Ellis Booker,
User Rank: Strategist
8/6/2012 | 4:03:36 PM
re: Why Big Data Will Deliver ROI For Social Business
Dion,
How important is speed to the analysis of social media trends? In other words, is an analysis of gigantic data sets that takes, say, weeks or months still valuable from a run-the-business standpoint?

Ellis Booker
InformationWeek Community Editor
PJS880
50%
50%
PJS880,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/6/2012 | 2:03:44 PM
re: Why Big Data Will Deliver ROI For Social Business
It is nice to see that they are using the data for something that is of worth to business. The fact that companies can collect and analyze the data and possibly predict trend, fads, and other market spikes would obviously be good for business. Great point on how most of todayGÇÖs innovation and ideas are coming from the social media world. If you were a larger type business it would make sense to possibly hire a third party to collaborate the information collected, and smaller c0ompanies might find it more cost effective to establish an i9nhouse position to handle this. Like the article states though you have to have people who understand the data being collected and how to utilize all resources from that data. Has anyone or their company implemented any kind of social media policy and if so what are the key points that it focus on and why?

Paul Sprague
InformationWeek Contributor
6 Tools to Protect Big Data
6 Tools to Protect Big Data
Most IT teams have their conventional databases covered in terms of security and business continuity. But as we enter the era of big data, Hadoop, and NoSQL, protection schemes need to evolve. In fact, big data could drive the next big security strategy shift.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest September 18, 2014
Enterprise social network success starts and ends with integration. Here's how to finally make collaboration click.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.