Oops! The input is malformed! What You Don’t Know Can Kill You by Blake Cahill - BeyeNETWORK Edición Español
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What You Don’t Know Can Kill You Building an Effective Business Intelligence Framework in the Era of Social Media

Originally published marzo 30, 2009

The challenge of business intelligence today is enormous: Companies are struggling to not only find and mine data but to also mold it into information that ultimately becomes actionable information used to grow their business.

In recent years, business intelligence (BI) has also come to rely on near real-time operational data found in systems, including enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), supply chain, marketing and other databases.

But there’s an emerging application that’s becoming even more crucial to business success: social media. In the 10 seconds it might take to read this paragraph, 20 blogs were created, 180 updates were posted to existing blogs and 12,500 Twitter “tweets” were sent. The velocity of conversations and the enormity of the world in which they fly is mind-boggling. With customers, journalists, hecklers, advocates, enthusiasts and 100 million of their friends participating in social media channels in ways that are directly relevant to your brand, understanding who is the most influential on a given topic, within a particular community, is critical.

At the same time, the Internet can provide leverage in the form of innovation insight, enabling companies to track potentially damaging issues or competitive intelligence and identify areas for product and service improvement.

Prioritizing interaction with those who have the most influence allows you to work smart, disseminate your message effectively and reach a broader audience with the same effort. But with a moving target like social media, that’s easier said than done. Unstructured comments and posts on blogs and social networks can form a vivid picture of a company, its brand and products  – a picture that can’t be encapsulated or understood without the right data capture, analysis and integration.

Companies today can take advantage of existing business intelligence tools to monitor, measure and engage with social media. These solutions maintain traditional corporate notions of data quality as well as consistent and dependable data and processes. They marry real-time insight into corporate reputation with social interaction to help enterprises protect their brands and build customer loyalty.

Let’s look at how this maps into traditional business intelligence areas.

Data Quality

In social media, data quality can certainly be elusive. Data is considered quality if it is used in decision making. But consider a blog post an executive stumbles upon, criticizing the company. In itself, the post casts the company in a bad light and can sway the thinking of many customers. But is the blogger an industry influencer or a gadfly? Should the executive rely on that isolated piece of data to make a strategic or tactical decision? How can BI clarify the situation for the executive?

Consistent data quality for social media business intelligence requires constant scouring of all the relevant channels and a filter that understands the context, tone of posts and comments, and judges them accordingly.

Data Management

The enormous amount of social media information and conversations that need to be pulled into the BI process doesn’t lend itself gracefully to Excel spreadsheets. Actionable business intelligence requires capturing, warehousing and visualizing the data so that decisions can be made quickly on how to react to the data. The framework for a BI process that incorporates social media data should be flexible enough to enable customizable core reports that are accessible, understandable and intuitive to stakeholders.

Data Integration

The savvy company understands that the complexity and real-time nature of the social media landscape requires a concerted response and a team of experts – rather than a point person – to respond to blog posts, queries, Twitter tweets and the like. This structure not only requires that complex information is integrated into a navigable dashboard but also that the dashboard enables stakeholders to be notified in various different ways through, for example, email alerts with recommendations.


The social media world differs in some respects from the traditional BI framework since it ideally facilitates real-time engagement with an audience. That Twitter comment about your company may come from someone with 20 followers, or someone with 10,000. If the BI solution has indicated the latter – someone with influence in an industry sector – company representatives need to engage quickly and respectfully to become part of the conversation, helping to shape influence and perception. Customer service today isn’t just about answering the help line; it’s about monitoring the social media conversation and reacting to inputs as well as building strategies and tactics based on the intelligence.


It can be hard to quantify the effects of poor business intelligence on an enterprise, but we know it when we see it. Social media today is a universe of real-time conversations that can have both beneficial and crippling effects on a brand. Word-of-mouth is considered the most influential way to spread brand recognition because people trust their peers more than any other information source. Adapting BI to social media can have profoundly positive effects on a business – and those who understand and grasp its challenges and benefits have a leading competitive advantage.

SOURCE: What You Don’t Know Can Kill You

  • Blake Cahill
    Blake Cahill is Chief Marketing Officer for Visible Technologies, headquartered in Seattle, a leading provider of social media analysis and engagement solutions.

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