There's a potential treasure trove of information in all those messages being exchanged on social networks.
That's what IBM believes as the company pushes new social analytics tools specifically designed to analyze that information. Today the company will announce that RTL Nederland, an entertainment company, is using IBM social analytics tools to monitor what people are saying about programs on Twitter and Facebook, and that Berlitz International, is using IBM analytics to improve its language training course for teachers.
According to Marcus Hearne, senior manager for product marketing within IBM's SPSS unit, IBM hopes customers will use the information gleaned from social analytics to drive predictive analytics applications. Hearne said that IBM is trying to take sentiment analysis by linking its recently introduced social analytic tools to its suite of predictive analytics tools so that a company can ultimately take action.
Analytics as a whole is moving past numbers, he said, as the technology begins to be applied to behavior. The challenge has been coming up with tools that recognize the context of words. For example, a customer-service document might contain the word "happy" a dozen times. It would be easy to conclude that this was referring to a positive experience until you determine that the word "happy" is actually preceded by the word "not" in every instance.
IBM is not the only company working on social analytics, which might have as much potential business value as any technology to come down the pike recently. After all, the problem with most businesses, especially the larger ones, is that they have no meaningful institutional memory about how specific customers feel about them, or what people are saying about them in general. Social analytics should give them a way to start correlating that information in a way that ultimately delivers more meaningful intelligence versus just another series of numerical reports that are devoid of any real context.