Business Intelligence (BI) is headed in a new direction – or we should say – the information that is mined for intelligence is coming from more than one direction in the form of conversations – social media conversations to be exact. Our Business Intelligence sources (CRM, analysts, and firms who provide “data”) are competing with new sources – Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other social media platforms.
Rob Karel, a principal analyst with Forrester Research, says that social media is continually growing as the preferred way large companies are communicating with several audiences – customers, partners and shareholders. He indicates these channels are the next big thing to be used in developing business intelligence strategies. They will become another “source to be mapped and integrated into analytic infrastructure.”
His colleague, James Kobielus, another senior analyst with Forrester, feels that this movement is not that new. Many traditional solutions already have incorporated the more “collaborative” or social technologies of “instant messaging, human workflows and shared analytic project libraries” into their solutions.
Adding this functionality and measuring this data really shouldn’t come as a surprise. Social networks are just an extension of the boardroom or sales meeting. Information is discussed and insights are formed. This almost real-time data can enhance the intelligence we gather from traditional resources.
Since Kobielus said this three years ago, BI products have been incorporating Web 2.0 into their architecture. Blogs, wikis, and even AJAX have made Business Intelligence a little less introverted. He notes three key areas for a further expansion of social BI applications: interactivity, content “marts” and information integrations.
Interactivity doesn’t stop with incorporating the interactive social media content sites of Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Kobielus predicts these platforms will serve as models for how BI vendors will create dashboards and reports for their solutions. We’re also seeing the need for solutions that measure the intelligence and ROI of these social media outlets as strategies firm up and big players move toward more social communication.
Content “marts” using social data and information from multiple sources including blogs, forums and the like are expected to give the traditional ECM vendors a challenge – either incorporate or get out of the space. Kobelius predicts the user-managed trend to grow and these social data sources to join the complex BI repositories.
As the sources of information expand, users can expect to have more intelligent BI solutions they can use to capture, monitor, mine, classify and predict, says Kobelius. And, the integration of data – from social media monitoring and analysis – will join the ranks of CRM and research reports. In addition, this data may change the face of how decisions are made.
Social BI isn’t the fleeting glance across the room. It’s a real market changer that can create new opportunities for not only BI vendors, but also give enterprise decision makers the power to make decisions based on what their customers and the market tell them.
Spotfire Blogging Team
Image Credit: Microsoft Office Clip Art