Taking Up the Social Media Data Mantle

Loraine Lawson
Slide Show

Top Ten Best Practices for Data Integration

Use these guidelines to help you achieve more modern, high-value and diverse uses of DI tools and techniques.

As I wrote in my last post, IT needs to develop integration as a core competency, in part because IT is in a critical point in terms of defining its role within the enterprise and in part because there's going to be so much demand for it.


SaaS, cloud, Big Data-each of these mean more integration work for IT. But let's not forget the fourth newcomer on the enterprise data scene: social media data.


Gartner says the majority of consumers rely on social networks to guide their purchasing decisions and that three types of people influence the buying decisions of 74 percent of the population. Businesses want to know what those three people-defined by Gartner as mavens, connectors and salesmen-are saying, and, more to the point, businesses want to identify and influence people in those three roles.


IT has an opportunity here to not only help business users access that data, but to help integrate social media data into the business workflow and, as IT consultant Claudie Imhoff said, to provide insight into what the data means.


So far, that's not what's happening. On the contrary, research shows companies are moving in the other direction: Few companies have a unified, enterprise-wide social CRM strategy.


Transforming the deluge of social media data into a repository of useful information is going to require integration that's fast, focused and effective. Frankly, I question whether most IT shops are prepared to deliver that level of integration, especially when it comes to social media data. It won't be easy to integrate social media data into business applications, according to Gaurav Dhillon, CEO of integration vendor SnapLogic.


"I've been in the integration space for nearly 20 years, and the roadblocks to an effective enterprise data ecosystem have never been greater," Dhillon writes in a recent GigaOM article.


He sees five major obstacles to integrating social media data, including the fact that most enterprise apps still rely on batch uploads, rather than real-time updates, and that most IT pros really only know how to manage structured information from relational databases. The bottom line is that IT is unprepared to manage the deluge of social data.


But it's not an impossible situation, according to Dhillon. To start integrating social media data into your enterprise systems and BI tools, Dhillon suggests a three-step battle plan:

  1. Prioritize the sites with your marketing team to determine which sites best target your customers and competitors.
  2. Choose your data source connections carefully. Think about where integration with social data will make the biggest business bang. "Will social media activity be most valuable in the context of your CRM or marketing solutions, when it's combined with your sales or Web analytics tools, within your business intelligence or master data management systems-or all of the above?" writes Dhillon.
  3. Decide on a connection strategy. Hand-coding? A cloud-based tool? A hybrid solution? There are lots of integration solutions-including, you'll note, Dhillon's SnapLogic-that provide connectors with Facebook, Twitter and other major social networking sites. You just need to make sure they can also help you on the other end, when you're integrating with your on-premise app.


It's fairly straightforward, but as Dhillon writes in his introduction, "rarely do I hear real-world success stories about social media data in a business-to-business context."


IT has a role to play in changing that, and the first step is to develop integration as a core capability, whether you're doing that in-house or by working with an integration platform.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Sep 22, 2011 11:50 AM Larisa Bedgood Larisa Bedgood  says:


Great thoughts.  While social marketing is still new for many companies, those companies who choose to integrate the social imprint of their customers and prospects have a tremendous opportunity to gain new customer insights, repeat buyers, and customer loyalty. Social media such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are certainly part of the new fabric of our culture. Smart marketers understand the importance of interacting with customer and prospects on-line and integrating these social interactions into their marketing programs.    Thanks for sharing.


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