SHARE-Unisphere Research Study: Adoption of Social Media BI on the Rise

SHARE-Unisphere Research Study

Social media network-based business intelligence represents the next great frontier of data management, promising decision makers vast vistas of new knowledge gleaned from exabytes of data generated by customers, employees, and business partners. Mining data from Facebook, Twitter, blogs, wikis, and internal corporate networks potentially may surface new insights into impending market shifts, patterns in customer sentiment, and competitive intelligence.

It’s a rich opportunity not lost on today’s organizations, a new survey of 711 business and IT managers from across the globe reveals. A majority of respondents are either planning to collect and analyze data from both proprietary and public social media networks, or are doing so already. However, managers are unclear as to the specifics of these efforts, such as determining how much data will be collected, how the data will be managed, and what kind of data will ultimately be most useful. This reflects the fact that social media BI is still in an “early adopter” phase.

The survey, conducted by Unisphere Research, a division of Information Today, Inc. and sponsored by IBM and MaristCollege, covered members of SHARE and GUIDE SHARE EUROPE, two predominant user groups of primarily large IBM systems. The majority of the respondents (65%) are IT professionals with the balance representing line-of-business, management, and other business functions.

The study finds that 30% of respondents are already monitoring proprietary social media networks, and 53% are monitoring public social media networks in some fashion.

A large majority, 72%, of line-of-business respondents indicated that their organizations are monitoring social media networks, reflecting great awareness of the importance of understanding information flow and engaging social media networks. Top business functions employing social media BI include sales and marketing (64%), public relations and communications (38%), IT (37%), and customer service (34%).

Planned investments in the area of social media network monitoring continue to trend upward year over year, according to the survey. Nearly 60% of respondents indicated that they expect to increase social media monitoring over the next 1–2 years, while 21% indicated it would be 3–5 years. Only 19% did not expect it to increase at all. Nearly one quarter of the sample say their monitoring will increase “significantly” over the coming year. (See Figure 3.)

Customer relationship management is the primary application area seeing the most social media BI activity. Business initiatives targeted by social media data collection and monitoring include brand reputation management (46%), marketing communications (45%), and customer service (44%). One-fourth even intend to soon integrate social media metrics directly into their business processes. Interestingly, one-fourth also report they would employ social media business intelligence platforms to respond to a brand crisis.

The majority of respondents indicated that the collection, integration, and management of social media data into existing BI platforms was not a challenge to the organization. Only 16% overall indicated that they may have difficulty employing their current BI tools to process and measure this new type of data. However, since social media BI is still in its infancy, it remains to be seen how well current BI tools actually adapt to this new environment. Tellingly, because social media BI is srelatively new, there isn’t a lot of internal analysis taking place yet. Only 23% of organizations currently collect and analyze data from these networks, or even from their own sites.

In addition, most respondents, 60%, did not know how often this data was being collected within their organizations. Only 20% of the sample base is collecting data continuously or on a daily basis, and 11% are collecting data weekly or monthly. In addition, the overwhelming majority of respondents, more than 80%, did not know how much data was actually being moved. Furthermore, nearly all of the respondents, 95%, indicated that they did not know what the current SMN data storage requirements were for hosting in their organization.

Still, while social media data remains an untapped resource, and while few respondents are aware of the quantity or using the data being generated, most intend to eventually integrate this kind of information into their marketing and business operations.

The Executive Summary is available at SHARE members may access the full report.