The Social Media Evolution is an incredible opportunity: but needs business management’s understanding of why and how!

March 18, 2010
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The recent explosion of the numbers of users on social networks and using social media has proven to the business community that “word-of-mouth” is much stronger than simple brand or product advertising. This has, surprisingly, been true also in the area of product introductions (of high-tech such as the iPhone or specialized media such as TV/Sports). We are approaching the level of direct communications that is similar to the rise of automobiles in the post-World-War II period of industrialization and distribution in the 1950s-1970s.

 

Interactive applications, social-media, and even company-owned websites will endure more easily than their real-estate-prone predecessors. Banking, insurance, retailing, airlines, auctions, books, media, music, television, sports, and even job hunting have all been transferring quickly to utilize the internet as a major source of new business or a major channel for getting to customers (or networks of customers) through deep and advanced analytics (BI). Connection IS power!

 

Recently, a blog article by Mark Smith, the CEO of Ventana Research, focused on their view of the massive and permanent changes to our personal

The recent explosion of the numbers of users on social networks and using social media has proven to the business community that “word-of-mouth” is much stronger than simple brand or product advertising. This has, surprisingly, been true also in the area of product introductions (of high-tech such as the iPhone or specialized media such as TV/Sports). We are approaching the level of direct communications that is similar to the rise of automobiles in the post-World-War II period of industrialization and distribution in the 1950s-1970s.

 

Interactive applications, social-media, and even company-owned websites will endure more easily than their real-estate-prone predecessors. Banking, insurance, retailing, airlines, auctions, books, media, music, television, sports, and even job hunting have all been transferring quickly to utilize the internet as a major source of new business or a major channel for getting to customers (or networks of customers) through deep and advanced analytics (BI). Connection IS power!

 

Recently, a blog article by Mark Smith, the CEO of Ventana Research, focused on their view of the massive and permanent changes to our personal and BUSINESS USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA. He is at: (www.twitter.com/marksmithvr ) Mark stated that “Social media collaboration, like any activity related to marketing or interactions in general, is best assessed through measurement. Figuring out how to measure social media interactions and effectiveness has been no easy task for technology providers as measurement is easy only in comparison to the challenge of truly understanding its effective value. It’s not dissimilar from the challenge marketing organizations face in striking the right balance of quality and quantity in the business opportunities (“leads”) they generate…”

 

Teradata has been working with several advanced analytical and data gathering software firms to bring together and integrate customer and prospect data to ensure a better understanding of actions and reactions. These analytical systems, formally known as Enterprise Data Warehouses (EDW), have now become Active DW’s. What does this mean? They are collecting data, not in batch, but, in minute-by-minute streams and integrating it directly with other customer data.

 

Why do firms collect, integrate, and analyze data in such fast processes? Well, it seems clear, from many company’s recent successes that providing relevant offers, on a timely basis (sometimes with seconds of the initial data collection and analysis), at the point of contact, with the right product, at the right price, through the right channel….is NO longer a dream.

 

This is the reality of advanced analytics and integrated data warehousing that is now Active in collection, loading, analyzing, and using near-real-time (NRT) information. Most firms needing such technologies have been latent in gaining their management’s understanding and acceptance of this shift in requirements. Many firms are still using BI and DW as a way of reporting on the past periods. They have not realized that reporting provides only data for viewing (and maybe learning); but active data and new visualizations are providing for operationalizing BI/DW and therefore managing the present and the future.

 

Yes, you can use analytics to actually predict the future, if you maintain hoards of past historical behaviors, transactions, buying patterns, trends, web page looks, click-throughs, and also textual data that your customer can give you regularly to tell you about them or their needs.

 

This brings us to think how the future use of Personal Digital Assistant (PDAs), now sold also as iPhones and Nokia special phones, will allow business to drive customers through offers and opportunities. Banks and airlines can benefit from major cost reductions, increased customer take-rates on marketing/sales offers, and avoiding competitive forces stealing their customers.

 

This will also be true in the mobile telephone business, if those companies realize that one-to-one marketing is essential and that the content may be more important (for revenues) than the communication network connections (meaning the towers and the call fee collections). The world has changed in media and entertainment to provide cable, satellite, and now, PDA watching of major sports and all forms of entertainment. The mobile industry is hastily running hard to figure out what to do. Call prices are going down in many countries, the cost of the network remains the same or is going up (needing new bandwidth for internet connections and streaming of video), and the need for personalized, individualized, selective, and specially prepared offers will make a huge difference in their success or failure — as a company and as an investment.

 

Imagine if our automobile manufacturers actual spoke directly with their prospects and truly understood what they desired in an automobile and gave direct input to the design, manufacturing, and pricing. Then an interactive discussion on the merits of the automobile (from a trustworthy knowledge source) to educate the customer. And then to assist them with making the right decision, but not based on pressure-tactics, or sales prices, or even rebates. We all would be much happier.

 

Using analytics to inform your management about the number of tweets on your site, or even the numbers of people following your “tweets”, becomes almost irrelevant in a changing landscape and world of ideas that is forever dynamic. Active DW, with changeable models and analytics (that learn from themselves) will be the foundation of future predictive analytical visualizations, while also providing for instant recognition of opportunity and the offers to be made. This will take place in the utilities industry (with electronic wireless data collection from meter boxes), in the airline industry (seeing weather changes and people needing to change itineraries), and in other industries where dynamic environments drive people behavior changes.

 

This will also come true in elections, in countries that have large masses of people on social media networks, and use the systems to communicate news or changes in opinions about candidates or incumbents. Watch the 2010 USA Congressional Elections and see how many incumbents will use ‘social media’ to get to their voters. It will be astounding. This follows the great success of Barrack Obama and The Acorn Group plus the Democrats to truly exploit the social media method as a way of influencing voters. It was a great success. It is only the beginning. And there is little way to stop this movement or evolution. It is like the telephone of one hundred years ago. Eventually everyone will have one, first wired (it took about 80 years) and then wireless (most saturation points were achieved in most countries within 10 to 20 years).

 

So what can we all do to make this evolution a positive, useful, and a successful business opportunity? The first movement would be to collect immediate web data and integrate it with previous customer data. Second, to analyze this data and use it to sell products, manage services, deliver products faster, get to the market easier, make your marketing costs go down, and increase your revenues. We should jump on any and all examples and see if they fit our opportunity.

 

Many first initiators of a new technology become the winners. Sometimes the second round improves upon the first round, and you now have that opportunity. Don’t waste your time going through analysis paralysis on whether you need to do this. It will stall your calendar and you will waste more time and money instead of increasing your revenues. Each month or quarter lost, is lost money. Lost profits. Lost customers. And also loss of the future use of the internet/social channel by your firm with those customers. They will go elsewhere and never return!

 

Mark Smith has suggested (and I agree since these firms are Teradata Alliance Partners) to review recent white papers which help you gain knowledge. See: “Informatica Demonstrates the Value of Data for Every Organization”, and See: “SAP Broadcasts New Enterprise Software and Applications Strategy“, and SAS Institute “SAS Simplifies the Science and Use of Analytics in 2010“ . And as the foundation for advanced analytics and using these above techniques, learn more at “www.Teradata.com and search on “Integrated Web Intelligence (IWI)”

 

There are three things that you can do.

  1. Do nothing and your competitors will surpass you. “Beware of the Ides of March”.
  2. Use external resources to augment your present staff to advance your abilities to use the Social Media and even your firm’s website to better understand and communicate with your customers.
  3. Be a leader and engage proven vendors or consultants to ensure that you will not be reinventing the past. Let me know what you are doing or not doing.

Personal Note: My father would have been 106 years old today and he would not have believed what we are communicating about in this blog or even how we are doing it! Time is moving quickly!

I’m all ears on this one. Good luck,

Regards, Ron Swift, VP of Cross-Industry Business Solutions for Teradata Corporation