Social Analytics in the Enterprise

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.

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3 thoughts on “Social Analytics in the Enterprise

  1. this comment may be a little bit aside, sorry for this Stuart. I know you are addressing the "in the Enterprise" and I am talking in this company more about the Social Media. But I thought this is interesting anyway so I want to share.I recently read this sentence from Gartner (but also from Forrester and J. Battelle): "Local is to Web2.0 what search has been to the Internet".Beyond the sentence in itself, what the meaning of this sentence is makes me thinking. Since the internet, companies understood that they needed to seriously consider the importance of showing up at the top of the first page in Google whenever someone was searching the internet using some specific keyword combination. And, thus, companies now pay people to do this job. In the future companies will likely pay people to understand how to contextualize and personalize their B2C and B2B interactions. The same way I think that companies will slowly understand the importance o Social analytics. I am not sure that Social Analytics will completely replace the traditional Search engines. I think that, like we humans do in real life, sometimes we need to get to the concrete. A traditional search engine (when not biased by ads…) may deliver the concrete that many people need. And that Social Analytics (and the relevant search that may be derived from this) may deliver an additional level of simplification which will require trust.In today’s turbulent economy the outcome is not that foreseeble

  2. Stefano, Thanks for sharing your insights.It’s going to be really interesting to see where parallels with social networking/media on the public Internet apply in the enterprise, and where they do not.Consider this thought too. If Facebook applied analytics to all of the content its users share (after anonymising it), what percentage of the queries that Google gets could they answer sufficiently well for their users to be happy with that?The challenge that search engines face is that there is no "right" answer. There are usually just lots of answers with varying degrees of usefulness. As long as the user get a sufficient answer, there is no need to be complete or search all sources."Good Enough" is sufficient.Stuart

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