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IBM Targets the Future of Social Media Analytics

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IBM (s ibm) announced a new product dedicated to helping customers perform sentiment analysis of social media data on Thursday, as well as a new program with the Yale School of Management’s Center for Customer Insight to train students in advanced data analysis skills. With businesses increasingly getting hip to social media as a way of connecting with customers, and with an industry-wide need for analytics skills, both the product and project are well-timed.

The new product, called Cognos Consumer Insight, is built upon IBM’s Cognos business intelligence technology along with Hadoop to process the piles of unstructured social media data. According to Deepak Advani, IBM’s VP of predictive analytics, there’s a lot of value in performing text analytics on data derived from Twitter, Facebook and other social forums to determine how companies or their products are faring among consumers. Cognos lets customers view sentiment levels over time to determine how efforts are working, he added, and skilled analysts can augment their Cognos Consumer Insight usage with IBM’s SPSS product to bring predictive analytics into the mix.

The partnership with Yale is designed to address the current dearth of analytic skills among business leaders, Advani said. Although the program will involve training on analytics technologies, Advani explained that business people still need some grounding in analytic theory and thinking rather than just knowing how to use a particular piece of software. “I think the primary goal is for students to learn analytically,” he said, which will help know which technology to put to work on what data, and how.

Within many organizations, he added, the main problem is that they’re not using analytics at the point of decision or across all their business processes. Advani says partnerships like those with Yale will help instill the thought process of using mathematical algorithms instead of gut feelings.

To advance these goals, Advani said IBM will provide both software and technical experts to help teach students. It also will connect students with IBM customers who want to improve their analytics efforts so both groups can work through the best methods for doing so. Working only with IBM software might be somewhat limiting on the technology side, but the practice in solving real-world problems with data analytics should be invaluable regardless the tools available.

We’ve been talking about the need for advanced analytics capabilities for a while now — highlighted by the high demand for data scientists — but the need spans all levels of business users. As Advani noted, even the U.S. Bureau of Labor has said analytics jobs will increase 24 percent over the next eight years.

Image courtesy of Flickr user James Sarmiento.

3 Responses to “IBM Targets the Future of Social Media Analytics”

  1. A product that reflects Customer needs as interpreted through the Social media….what a great thrust of IBM’s forward thinking. Would this mean IBM might employ college students with a post-grad education level in areas like Communications and Sociology? My son will have a PhD in that field this Fall, and I would love to direct him to this exciting new IBM endeavor! Tom is very knowledgeable of IBM and computer hardware and software in general

  2. It’s no brainer to see that social media is here to stay for good. Given vast variety of the existing channels to choose and stick with, it’s time for such a hot space to enter into a new category. There is a need for a portal to provide a quick and intelligent decision for both the consumer and the enterprise about their online connections.

    A Platform to Help us to Distinguish Our Quality vs. Quantity Friends, Fans, Followers, and Companies

    Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, Flickr and others have been doing a decent job of providing additional marketing exposure and even in some cases, additional revenue. However, as more and more social networking sites pop up, how do you manage your brand across all these channels? Maybe more importantly, which one of these sites should you select as the one that will help you best reach your target audience? The proliferation of the social media avenues is becoming overwhelming.

    This glut of information reminds me of the early 90’s when WWW was adopted broadly by the general public. Every company rushed to have a presence, to the point it became literally impossible to find the right information on the Web. That’s when a better generation of search engines – at first the Yahoo! and then Google – entered the market and helped us find the most relevant information by just typing simple keywords in their search box. If you had asked before Google launched, if there was a need for another search engine – most would have said no, we already have those….

    Then came Web 1.0 & 2.0 – Youtube, Flickr, myspace, Facebook, Twitter and countless others have turned everyday people into content producers, influencers and experts. We basically tripled down on the information overload How do you know which channels to select for deploying your social media strategy? How do you know which one is the right channel to let your fans and followers to find you, your products, and services? Most importantly, who is Joe Smith that is recommending that person, that company, that product?

    I hope my can accomplish such a mission. The site is not another social networking platform. Yet the portal to all your existing social media channels. The platform helps you, your fans, your potential clients to make an intelligent decision as to which company to connect to or follow via which social media channels and why? It’s free!

    CEO & Founder