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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The new social Business Intelligence

I have previously written about how social software can be used for BI  (Using blogs and RSS-feeds for better decision makingBI is about more than informationDecision Support using an Enterprise WikiBI on social networks) and find the potential of a more "social" BI truly exciting. Social network analysis, social media monitoring and text analytics on content feeds present some interesting new developments within the field of BI. 

Business intelligence must be transmitted, communicated and shared in order to be useful and actionable.

Knowing who talks to whom has always seemed to be interesting if you are tracking gossip or want to know how a rumor got started. But these days social network analysis – as this burgeoning discipline is called – is very much center stage in a number of extremely important applications, especially in the government as it seeks to improve its intelligence capabilities.

Let's start with the fact that business intelligence must be applied if it is to be useful, and it needs to be actionable. In most cases, this implies that the intelligence has to be transmitted, communicated and shared. Whenever the terms transmission or communication are present, we are sure to find that some network must exist to enable the transportation of the bit structure underlying the information that makes up that business intelligence.

Enter social network analysis. Today it is getting a very significant amount of attention because it is a powerful tool in improving the nation’s intelligence capabilities, especially our fight against terrorism. If we can find who talks to whom, through the study of communication links and patterns, we might be able to connect the dots and find the bad guys before they do harm. This leads us to carry out business intelligence not only on the content of the communications, but very much on the structure of the network, its topology and in the identification of the key nodes.

Twitter has proven, for me and others, to be a fruitful source of leads, information and eventually sweet, sweet moolah.

Let’s take the case of a person I know who always searches for mentions of his company’s name with Twitter Search (formerly Summize.) He recently saw a post  recommending his company and one other in response to a query about the best resources in his industry. He tracked down the original questioner, responded, thanked the person who recommended his firm, and opened the door to a potential new client.

Simply put social media monitoring can pay off. As a long term strategic tool you need to know what people are saying about your brand as well as your competitors. Twitter Search makes it easy by allowing you to subscribe to an RSS feed.

At the end of the day, information is a good thing, especially when it is actionable.

The rapid pace and high volume of twitter messaging has upped the stakes for BI on content feeds. BI on content feeds: that would be stuff like monitoring and mining sentiment from social media for reputation and brand management, which you can do with text analytics on RSS and Atom feeds and Web pages.

SQLStream and other, similar products are turning content feeds into BI. Those feeds are now one more type of source that enterprises can and should consider in the quest for competitive advantage.

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