I was just reading an interesting post by Marie Wallace on the use (or not) of Social Analytics in the Enterprise. Here are my thoughts…
The issue with Social Analytics in the Enterprise is that, in itself, it solves a problem that most companies don’t realise they have. It’s one of these “middleware” things that needs to be used by applications that solve problems to get investment. Of course, down the road, if companies end up with a plethora of different solutions embedded in different applications is a problem, they will maybe move towards a generic platform. But to start with, they are not likely to invest.
Fixing Enterprise Search is solving a problem that companies know they have (although willingness to invest in it is mixed), but the question is – do you build social analytics into a search solution (it’s a bit of a stretch, but that could work as search is analysing all the sources used for social analytics) or does internal Social Collaboration evolve to solve the search problem by applying analytics to content users produce and tag (as they consume) and therefore make the Enterprise Search problem go away?
There are other well understood enterprise application domains where Social Analytics is needed, but mostly they are being addressed by Social Collaboration platforms (expertise locations, knowledge management, team collaboration) – so these platforms need to become the delivery mechanism for Social Analytics.
I do see that there is a domain of management problems which do not have an associated software solution where Social Analytics can help – like Business Transformation, Acquisition Integration, Process Optimisation, Talent Management, Workforce Flexibility, etc. Here Social Network Analysis can support decision making and help direct organisational change. However most of these need more that just Social Analytics to understand the situation, they need a Social Collaboration platform to put the required changes into practice.
So, I don’t think Social Analytics is a product category that enterprises will buy into, in itself. It is just something that Social Collaboration platforms need to do exceptionally well – as it will become increasingly important as a differentiator for them in the future.