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On Enterprise Social Analytics: hat tip John Simonds

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John is a smart guy, and in this post, Social Computing In The Enterprise, he briefly mentions what is going to be a key market over the next few years. It just doesn’t have a name yet.
In describing IBM’s new enterprise social software (that last one’s a bonus link from Burton’s Mike Gotta) tooling John makes a comparison against the del.icio.us, MySpace and Flickrs of this world:

It is easy to download the social tools, but with easy usually comes limited functionality or single purpose. For example, while you can share your del.icio.us links as many do publicly, the trends across a selected group(s) such as an organization are not trendable. Analysis of trends or the combination of information gathering within a company can help in identifying information and interests.

Blammo. Nailed. AR guy establishes industry analyst research agenda without even trying. John is absolutely right on.

We leave a trail of breadcrumbs with every enterprise search query, request for information from a colleague, email, or other declaration. Who are we talking to, about what? Who are the smartest people in the company, and who are the most helpful? where are groups that agree with the strategy, and are acting accordingly by sharing relevant content?
In an information economy people are the real life-blood. Information is only as valuable as the network it supports. But how do follow the breadcrumbs we find in our system logs?
But we’re going to need new ways to parse what Search guru John Battelle would call a database of intentions, and I would call a tag garden. The wisdom of the crowds will need to be measured and analysed.  We’re seeing some interesting advertising-led behaviour moniitoring and revenue optimisation plays emerge, according to Matt Marshall at VentureBeat (visa Battelle). The enterprise is going to need similar tools as we start to make use of the hitherto ignored but fantastically useful asset, the log file.

One of RedMonk’s clients LogLogic is doing some really interesting work using enterprise system log events as breadcrumbs to help with regulatory compliance through log management and analysis.  What I like about LogLogic’s play is that the it understands, and helps its clients understand, that the major challenges around compliance are not workflow problems but documentation and reporting oriented. I am not saying LogLogic is a social analytics player, but it is taking the kind of aggregate, analyse and report approach we’ll see plenty of in Enterprise Social Analytics.

In the interests of completeness I should stress that Microsoft has also built some tools into Sharepoint 2007, “to get the most from their powerful unstructured business networks, both inside and outside their organizations, thereby connecting with people more quickly and efficiently.”

Not sure about a broader social analytics play though. Traditional analytics vendors such as Cognos and Business Objects will almost certainly play in the space as well. The datasets are going to be huge.

So there you go – I was going to blog about this subject but John beat me to it. Enterprise Social Analytics. What do you think we should call it?
disclaimers: IBM is a RedMonk patron. Microsoft is a limted service client. Neither Cognos nor Business Objects is a client, but I have done an event with Cognos where I spoke to Business Intelligence 2.0.


  1. I’m prepared to take some stick on this but my observations about how the 3 big BI vendors, HYP, COGN, BOBJ are *not* approaching this space but instead concentrating on structured data/post event compliance suggests otherwise.

    HYP has an interesting roadmap about how data is visualised and contextualised but there’s no way that equates to understanding social analytics.

    There’s almost NO conversation by the majors that touches this space.

    “…major challenges around compliance are not workflow problems but documentation and reporting oriented…” That may be your client’s opinion but it’s not true in a number of important situations eg inability to discover compliance issues while in flight. Highly relevant in financial services, pharma, utilities. These industries would argue that in-flight discovery is exactly what they need in order to repair defective processes. Worth considering how Looking Glass achieves that.

    Documentation doesn’t make compliance issues go away per se. Documentation is what it is and even then of dubious value. The minute there is any change (and when isn’t there) the documentation is rendered void.

    Reporting as currently practiced is usually post event – not much good there either. That’s how the Big 3 are oriented.

    Planning and predictive has not been the wild success everyone thought it would because the 3 don’t have the mechanisms to successfully capture in-flight data which is a pre-requisite. Predictive matters because it allows the business to anticipate compliance failure. Very important at the IT level.

  2. At least the collection piece of the equation is being attempted by the attention trust. No Matter what you think of Steve Gillmor you have to admit the ideas he helped popularize around the attention economy are interesting if not ultimately viable.

    I run the attention recorder available from http://www.attentiontrust.org/services on my home and work PC’s in the hope that at some point the data will be worth something to someone. If someone comes up with an analytic engine that uses this sort of data then my dream will come one step closer to reality.

  3. i am a gillmor fan. i really like his hypermodal non referential JOhn Lennon communication gstalt Dylan desire down the mozambique. he is crazy as a fish, but many good people are.

  4. […] part of a strategy to more effectively span unstructured and structured content. You might call it enterprise social analytics. “We leave a trail of breadcrumbs with every enterprise search query, request for […]

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