Where Social Business Intelligence Solutions Evolve To

Yesterday I spoke about key decision criteria to take on social business intelligence solutions. Today I will take a solution perspective on how where social business intelligence tools might evolve to. There are bascially three types of social media monitoring and business intelligence technologies: Off the rack, Custom tailored and Bespoke.

I found this three technology types in an article by SocialEnterpriseToday.

Definitions

This is how the article defines the three forms:

Off the rack: software-as-a-service from a single vendor, up and running with minimal configuration in minutes, hours, or days.

Custom tailored: software using the available APIs to combine the strengths of multiple products and vendors.

Bespoke: software which in this context means completely custom software development.

The article mentions Toyota’s new social media and CRM tool:

The tool took 60 hours to develop, largely using software Toyota already had. Oracle Endeca Discovery handles data discovery and search analytics, WiseWindow and DataSift aggregate social data, and Lexalytics analyzes sentiment.

Toyota is using the tool to improve customer service, product forecasting and quality, and lead generation. It plans to feed information to dealers in the future.

Industry life cycle

Starting top down, in terms of the industry where social media monitoring and social analytics more generally are in, Gartner pointed out in their annual Hype Cycles that social analytics still needs to reach the Peak. This means that social analytics still has a few years to go in terms of adoption and reaching the Plateau of Productivity. Going through the Trough means that organizations will encounter challenges with (current ‘off the rack’ solutions) and there will occur a natural evolution by vendors to evolve their tools more into the customized direction.

Why? Because reaching the Plateau, technologies need to have proven themselves in a more effective and mature way.

Customer and market needs

Secondly it all depends on the customers and market segments that the vendor is targeting. Back then we targeted top 500 Dutch advertisers with our online marketing management system. These were customers with a big online budget. Just as with Toyota, these are organizations that likely want to have customized solutions in order to become and remain competitive. Another aspect was that many clients were pure online businesses, meaning that online channels were their lifeblood.

Other market segments can be SME’s, “Late Majority and Laggards” and so on, which wouldn’t benefit from this solution.

When we relate this to the importance of social media monitoring and social analytics within the connected and transparent digital economies, having a qualitative ‘nervous system’ in place is becoming increasingly important.

Not to mention the figures and place McKinsey has given to social analytics and business value from social technologies.

Value proposition

Thirdly it depends on the strategy the vendor takes. Is it one of Operational Excellence, Product Leadership or Customer Intimacy. Customer Intimacy focusses on bespoke tools, tailoring and customizing solutions for each and every customer.

Product Leadership and Operation Excellence are probably less customizable (depending on the definition of customization) in order to achieve its goals.

With the online marketing management system we operated a Product Leadership strategy with some extension to further customization for particular large clients. We had a high focus on retention and customer satisfaction. We invested a lot in training and continuous enhancements of the system in order to meet the markets’ and customers’ challenges and opportunities.

Future direction

I think based on the abovementioned considerations the biggest piece of the market will shift to wanting more “tailored” solutions to meet their demands. This specifically will be the case for large organizations and online, social and customer-centric organizations. For SME’s the “off the rack” solutions will stand longer because a) the needed investment is beyond their reach, b) it is less “critical” (in relation to certain variables such as market, innovation capabilities, alternatives, their customers etc). There will always be room for bespoke solutions, true 100% customized solutions with large revenues attached to it, but I don’t see this as mainstream.

I see opportunities for social monitoring vendors when offering APIs and possible assistance in integrating the API in the clients’ business systems. This is one of the many things a vendor can do when it comes to client satisfaction and retention. Next to the more technical support, there is the business support, helping the customer translate its business challenges and goals in sourcing the right technology and then using it in the most effective ways.

In a recent article on Forbes, the following was mentioned on Salesforce:

Panels agreed that while Salesforce has done well on the SaaS platform, it is getting a reputation in larger corporate accounts of being hard to customize and use.

In another recent report by Nucleus, the survey found a propensity to swith regarding CRM cloud applications. Nucleus examined the willingness of cloud customers to switch applications and found that 52 percent of CRM customers are willing to switch within the first six months of their deployment. This has important implications for both short-term sales strategies and the valuation of the overall lifetime value of a customer, as lost deals are deals to be won back for the next two quarters.

I do believe this counts for social media monitoring tools as well.

Conclusion

Based on my experience with product development, having tested quite a few social monitoring tools and the (technology-driven) business landscape we’re in, vendors will have to become a trusted advisor, both on technology and business level to serve clients as good as possible. This increases retention and satisfaction and enables long-term relationships. In the five years I was involved with the online marketing management system we had 0% churn.

What type of social business intelligence tools will get the most attraction?

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