In this report – The Forrester Wave Listening Platforms – Forrested evaluates several listening platform vendors. Using 76 evaluation crtieria, Forrester found that Converseon, Nielsen, and Radian6 are the leading vendors. As the need for social intelligence intensifies, companies will continue to invest in listening platforms, while expanding the number of use cases addressed. In evaluating nine vendors, Forrester focused on the strengths and weaknesses of each vendor. The key areas of focus were: user experience, dashboards, data quality, consulting, text analysis, data source coverage, and social media outreach tools.
Understanding the customer in the world before Web 2.0 was a relatively straightforward task – but the emergence of Web 2.0 has brought an explosion of social channels including blogs, wikis, forums, social networks and an array of social media. Today, customers have a loud and clear voice where they openly share ideas, perceptions, and problems about products and companies. They create trusted communities and powerful, influential constituencies. The voice of the customer (VOC) is therefore expressed in different forms through different channels. These channels are insight rich, with a wealth of untapped customer intelligence. Traditional technologies are unable to access or decipher the unstructured content upon which today’s customer conversations and insights are built.
Business Analytics refers to the skills, technologies, applications and practices for the continuous exploration of data to gain insight that drive business decisions. Business Analytics is multi-faceted. It combines multiple forms of analytics and applies the right method to deliver expected results. It focuses on developing new insights using techniques including, data mining, predictive analytics, natural language processing, artificial intelligence, statistical analysis and quantitative analysis. In addition, domain knowledge is a key component of the business analytics portfolio. Business Analytics can then be viewed as the combination of domain knowledge and all forms of analytics in a way that creates analytic applications focused on enabling specific business outcomes.
This Article by Michael Hugos titled “Social Media front ends plug into enterprise applications” touches on one of the evolutionary social business paths that I believe is inevitable. Mr. Hugos describes a scenario where social media such as FaceBook and Skype become the user interface and connect to appropriate in-house systems using SOA. He states: “People already know the user interface for these social media platforms so the learning curve is not hard. And the new system runs on all sorts of mobile devices like iPhone, Android and iPad, and it stays current as new devices come out because the social media vendors (FaceBook and Skype in this case) do that job for us”.
In this Recent Article, Collective Intellect CEO Don Springer talks about social media and text analytics. Mr. Springer provides some industry research:
- 127 million people, or 57.5% of Internet users, visited a social networking site at least once a month in 2010. Not only is the number of users growing quickly, but also the audience demographics continue to widen.
- The growth of unstructured data is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 62% through 2012.
This social phenomena that started with Web 2.0 and accelerated with the explosion of FaceBook, LinkedIn and Twitter, is at its core a platform for communication, interaction and relationships. It will usher in a new era of innovation. Terms like crowd sourcing, the wisdom of crowds and collective Intelligence, all speak to the notion that innovation is not an organizational function, but the ideas of an organization, community, or society.
After defeating the two biggest Jeopardy champions of all time, people are buzzing about IBM Watson. Reactions range from excitement over the possibility it represents, to fear over the potential impact on society. Count me among those who believe that this technology will have a positive impact on business, Government and humankind. With every new game changing innovation, there is always fear over the potential impact on humanity. However, a machine will never have wisdom. It will never have the ability to invent, have empathy, or match the knowledge and ability to reason of a smart, experienced human being. But this form of advanced analytics will help us perform better.
In a recent Blog Post titled Where is Business Analytics Going? I describe the compelling reasons for the growing use of advanced analytics – and the challenges that organizations face in realizing value from their efforts. The Retail Industry may be the poster child for business analytics, as they face some very compelling reasons to expand their analytic footprint. Ventana Research believes that the retail industry is going through a transformation, as volumes and sources of data continue to expand. They state that “Retailers are just starting to realize that understanding and influencing customer conversations on the Internet in social media channels is a necessity and that it requires a new type of analytics that can process text and phrases that reveal consumer sentiment and opinions of their brands”.
Business Analytics will continue to gain traction in every industry, and several key factors make this a foregone conclusion:
- The expanding universe of data and the opportunity and risk that it represents
- The growth of social channels
- The growth in mobile interaction and resulting need for analytics
- The critical need for customer intimacy
- The growing need for differentiation through innovation
- The rapid escalation of complexity that surrounds business today
- An increasing focus on value creation, growth and revenue generation
- The critical need for smarter decision making
- A continued increase in computing power that makes real time analytics viable
- The continued delivery of new and improved advanced analytic capabilities
- The movement to make advanced analytics software business user friendly
Craig Rhinehart leads the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) Archive / Governance and Content Analytics lines of business for IBM’s Software Group – I’ve worked with Craig in the past. In a recent Blog Post titled “What is Content Analytics? Alex”, he provides a perspective on the technology behind IBM Watson and the future of data management and analytics. Watson is taking on two former Jeopardy champions in an upcoming episode.
There is skepticism in some of the comments left by readers. As Craig responds, everyone is entitled to their opinion. Having seen first-hand what content analytics can do, Craig is not overstating the potential for this technology. In fact, he just scratched the surface of the many business applications that will benefit from this technology. Insight uncovered by this technology will drive better decisions, deliver better and faster innovation, and help companies reach new levels of operational excellence.
I recommend this very well written Blog post.
After some very bad and well-publicized business decisions drove a subprime mortgage meltdown and the near collapse of the auto industry, many would agree that methods for enhancing decision making are greatly needed. Findings in a recent MIT Sloan special report support this notion. Senior executives want their businesses run by data-driven decisions. They want to understand optimal solutions and take action quickly; but as the authors point out, this is no small task. They suggest that in order for insight to drive action, the insight must be closely linked to business strategy, easy for end users to understand, and embedded into organizational processes.
Are you listening? All of the communication occurring in social channels can challenge our listening skills. How are we sure that we are listening in the right places? What should we be listening for? How can listening translate to tangible benefits for my business or organization? Those are only some of the pressing questions that companies are attempting to answer. As companies move down the inevitable path of co-creating products and services with customers, social channels will become an increasing source of ideas and innovation. The business imperative for customer intimacy will drive many company strategies over the next decade.
In this article by Stanley S. Litow titled How to Save America’s Cities with Data Analytics, Mr. Litow describes a very interesting scenario: Companies and civic agencies developing innovative partnerships with city leaders that leverage data to make better decisions and address the greater good.
Mr. Litow touches on the growing reality that billions of transistors will be embedded in everything from police records to parking meters. City leaders can analyze the resulting data tsunami to gain new insights, and perhaps find ways to make their cities work better. This perspective underscores the notion that data from an ever growing number of sources represents a pathway to better decisions – and it’s not just limited to corporations.
In this report from The IBM Business Value Institute titled Meeting the Demands of the Smarter Consumer, it is easy to see the impact that the smarter consumer is having on the retail industry. This is a broader indicator of the challenges facing all businesses and governments and underscores the need for customer intimacy as a business imperative. This to me continues to highlight that our current social and data-rich state represents both tremendous opportunity and considerable challenge. I recommend this report for its insight into this growing phenomena.
As 2010 winds down, it is time to look ahead to 2011. I have high expectations as the calendar turns, and I believe 2011 will be the year of adoption. I believe we’ve reached a point where cash will come off the sidelines and I expect to see technology investments focused on revenue generation and value creation. With that as a backdrop, I’ll Label 2011 as the year of collaboration and intelligence – the two areas that I believe align very well with pressing business priorities. So here are my thoughts on 2011.
This Press Release from Verint continues the Social Media and customer service drum beat. The recurring themes are:
- A growing challenge to identify, collect and act upon data delivered through an expanding number of customer communications channels
- The need for an aggregated and unified view of customer data across all channels
- Analysis that delivers insight drives rapid and informed action
- Companies are not equipped to analyze the interactions that occur via email, chat, social media, forums, etc.
- There is a heightened need for text analytics. Solutions that mine interactions and feedback across multichannel customer communications – including email, chat, blogs, review sites, social media and other text-based channels – continue to emerge
- Workflow delivers insight to the people that are best equipped to manage issues, address specific customer service concerns, or get ahead of negative sentiments in social media
Customer support is evolving to handle an ever-growing number of channels. Social media interaction is playing an expanding role in how companies provide support to their customers. I believe this Press Release from Attensity gives us a view into the future call center. As the press release points out, social media is quickly becoming a key component of customer care strategies.
CEOs believe that the time has come to reinvent customer relationships. That’s one of the key findings in IBM’s 2010 CEO Study titled “Capitalizing on Complexity”. This belief is based on the following observations:
- The world is massively interconnected, thereby making customer intimacy a priority
- Customers have more options due to globalization and dramatic increases in available information
- Differentiation will come from innovation and co-creation with customers
- The information explosion presents a great opportunity to develop deep customer insights
So predictive analytics has entered the world of politics?
In his Blog post titled Rock the Vote with Predictive Analytics, Timothy Powers explains how predictive analytics supports a political campaign. Well that makes great sense – advanced analytics has supported marketing efforts for years, and isn’t a political campaign all about marketing to voters?
Widely recognized CRM visionary Paul Greenberg just published a report titled Contact Center 2011 – Back to the Future. Mr. Greenberg has talked about Social CRM or CRM 2.0 for quite some time. In this report, he discusses the impact of the social customer on the contact center. Here is a summary along with my perspective.