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Is Social Media Useful for BI?

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An article over at Computerworld says that, while users of Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites continues to grow exponentially, there is some question about the value of the information that can be gleaned from them.  So is the information from social media sites useful for BI?

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  • I would say that social media is potentially useful within BI projects. I've talked with a couple of enterprises who are planning to integrate / embed social media feeds into some executive dashboards, to provide relevant contextual information alongside quantitative analyses (charts and graphs). Particularly if the social media "chatter" can be filtered (based on key words) or summarized (statistical data about the social media), it could add meaning and improve decisions. But, gone too far, it could easily just be a distraction, too. As always, it's all about good implementation.

    Brian Gentile
    Chief Executive Officer

  • I agree with Brian's comment. In addition, I think that the way in which people use social media can be expanded towards BI use, providing more ease of use and collaboration in order to make BI more accessible to a larger audience within the organization.

    When looking at analytics specifically, and industries such as media or retail, the ability to integrate data from social media sites and identify what people are talking about and what is making news can provide valuable information. But even these types of uses need to be managed so that the company actually gets value from integrating data from social media into their overall BI environment.

  • As a marketer, I definitely have the need to get summary statistics of social media mentions of our company and competitors by day and channel.

    The challenges are a)there are so many channels currently, b) whether there are API's to query those numbers, and c) the counts have to be stored in database for a BI tool to be able to present.

    It sounds like a good SaaS startup opportunity to specialize in this domain and centralize all the data, but the couple that I have seen that in this space haven't gotten past the simple content clipping capabilities.

  • Great point, Mark. Information gleaned from social media sites can be useful for BI, depending on how you use it. Unfortunately there are a number of tools that "haven't gotten past the simple content clipping capabilities" or provide a marketer with some technology without showing them how to use it properly.

    We focus on the analysis of the data, meaning evolution over time of the volume of buzz according to topic and subtopic, sentiment analysis for articles, tags within articles, and each topic and subtopic, geolocalization (we manually check the sources in our index to ensure accuracy), etc. and are able to integrate social media into our communications and marketing strategies.

    We would agree with Brian, though, that "it's all about good implementation." Social media is simply one more channel that marketers and decision makers should be aware of, as it can have serious implications on their business, as proven by the "United broke my guitar" and Domino's fiascos.


  • I think you're all correct on the data front. There is a lot of value to be harvested from social networking data. Companies the are embracing social business tactics are seeing everything from sentiment analysis to geospatial information that they can leverage to better run their companies. I think what the ComputerWorld article left out was the need to integrate the tools not just the data into business intelligence.While the data will deliver value the real payoff for business intelligence is in providing a seamless platform that helps knowledge workers utilize social networking practices within the scope of their business work. John Thompson was quoted in the original article and has posted a great extended comment on this at the Analytic Response blog

  • Certainly, social media is useful for BI. Companies have always struggled to know the performance of their product and how it is doing in the marketplace. The conventional way they followed was by conducting surveys and generating report on top of it. This data is readily available on such social media sites, we just need to use them for BI. The challenge here is more prominent because BI was traditionally working on data warehouse which has old data. However, with the use of social media sites, the need is to get the real time data and carry out analysis on it.

    I agree with comments of Mark and Michelle on the need of SaaS model here. The SaaS model will cater to solve many challenges arising due to unstructured data. However facebook, twitter are just few examples, the need today is to capture all the prominent social media sites. Eg. Orkut is similar to facebook and very popular in India, Brazil and many parts of Europe. And when we consider all such applications the need to mine huge amount of data and doing I18N on that data and report should be essential part of the requirement.

  • user-pic

    I fully subscribe to Brain and Mark's views,
    Social Media as a technology has matured erupted into great proposition, providing companies with original, varied, and intimate ways of reaching customers that were once thought to be impossible, can enterprises be left behind without making use of this platform which gives an insight into these customers and what they are saying in public domain and provide them the right engagement opportunities.

  • There is no doubt that social networking on the Internet has fast matured to the point where it is an essential part of our daily lives. Millions of us are using various online social networks to help achieve better personal and business visibility, but can we use this information to add value to our organizations through BI? I think that organizations will be able to draw long-term value from social networking if they use it correctly. Social networking should not be underestimated as a business tool – the important thing is just to know how to leverage business from it. an interesting post entitled "Social Media and Business Intelligence" can be found here http://bimehq.com/business-intelligence/social-media-business-intelligence-2/

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