Six Key Decision Criteria to Take on Social Business Intelligence Solutions

I’ve been involved in social media monitoring and social business intelligence (SBI) for some years now and I believe the latest statistics said there are more than 200 vendors of these types of tools.  The challenge is that technology follows business, not the other way around.  So where to start?

SocialMediaToday proposes five key decision criteria to consider when assessing the social business intelligence solutions:

1. Quality: The first key decision point for an SBI solution to deliver valuable insight to your organization is to ensure the relevancy of the data; in other words, filter out the noise, spam and irrelevancy resulting in a clean stream of data.

2. Action: The value of intelligence is greatly diminished if it’s not actionable. Relying on keyword “buzz” or sentiment to gauge markets, products or competitors from social media does not deliver the insight to impact or influence because it is not specific or actionable.

3. Complexity: Today, companies need to ask incredibly complex questions to find very specific answers from social and open source commentary related to their markets, products, consumers, prospects and competitors.

4. Speed: Getting the right answer too late is worthless. The value of intelligence is held within the speed of getting answers to countless complex questions.

5. Expertise: Despite all the technology advancements, companies still need to consider partnering with experts who can inspect, analyze and understand the intelligence to help extract the value to a corporation.

My Insight:

  • Important. Now excluding keywords is not that difficult anymore, so the real challenge for the users of SBI solutions is to make the data stream relevant but not too narrow or too broad that the organization either misses intelligence or has been put up with too much intelligence which is inefficient.
  • This is again a trait and skill from SBI users mainly. What is important, what needs to be actioned on in relation to business goals and so on. In terms of operational actionability, if the SBI tool doesn’t have a workflowing system, thought this is what you need, then that’s a pre-condition.
  • The challenge with keywords is that they don’t show the underlying differences, context and what more. Here again, skills are key to identify them.
  • In my experience this is a resource question and a business question. First the latter. How “real-time” should real-time be to your business? Is a good respons 6 hours later good enough or should it really be in 5 minutes? Organizations are a bit scared up by this real-timeness and of course in relation to Customer Service that might be really important but for many organizations, there is a resource issue for social business intelligence. Surely not for the big global corporates but these are just a fraction of all businesses.
  • Bingo. Expertise. My advice is: have a market researcher to look at your data. Marketers, as I’ve experienced because I don’t have the market researcher skills, don’t analyse and don’t have the skillset to properly analyse (unstructered) data.


The sixth decision criterium is to have the right context. Think of capabilities to actually take advantage of social business intelligence solutions. Non tech-savvy employees or non-market researchers won’t be able to effectively exploit the SBI investments. Think of having the right adapted processes to take advantage of SBI (fits with point 4) and an open culture that actually supports sharing and visibility.

Below you will find a strategic view of social business intelligence by the DachisGroup. The point that caught my particular attention is “Big Analytics”, the challenge to aggregate different datasets, connecting the dots and create a holistic contextualized understanding. Social business intelligence is just one of the many business intelligence sources.

Social Business Intelligence: The Future of Listening from Enterprise 2.0 Conference