“Rethinking Analytics for the Social Enterprise,” a new research report written by author and business innovation expert, Don Tapscott, and his colleague, Mike Dover, sounds like it was written for Salesforce.com and its followers attending Dreamforce this week.
In fact, even though Salesforce.com recently gave up on its intent to trademark “Social Enterprise,” according to the IDG News Service’s Chris Kanaracus, it’s still at the core of Salesforce’s cloud-based apps-plus-social strategy.
Tapscott, however, was presenting the findings from his research at the ASUG SAP BusinessObjects User Conference last week—with nary a mention of Salesforce.com. (SAP sponsored the research, and you can download it here.)
The report is effusive about “robust” and “real-time” analytics packages that can tap into today’s social media platforms to “respond accurately to changing consumer sentiment.” The platforms include such stalwarts as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Over the course of 26 pages, Tapscott and Dover make the case for “why active listening to conversations on social media as well as disciplined analysis of all structured and unstructured data is so important.”
In one form or another, businesses have had “analytics” for decades. But the scope has been too narrow and the technologies too crude, the report asserts. In addition, the embrace and utilization of one-time niche social media websites, which have grown into global phenomenons, have been bungled by most companies. Tapscott and Dover write:
Many attempts to introduce social networking for employee collaboration have failed because they were not aligned with business objectives. Companies begin adopting social software without a clear vision of what is expected and what is necessary to succeed. Most have not addressed the complex people, process and organizational issues of change.
Though the report names no IT vendors, the solution appears to be a refocused, reinvigorated business strategy heavily influenced by social media buttressed with “new analytics” technologies (which the authors detail step by step in the report). They describe the technology this way:
Integrated suites of business intelligence tools as well as risk management and performance management applications now arriving in the marketplace have been shown to improve the pace of an organization, speed up innovation, reduce internal transaction costs, and make work more efficient—often contributing to employee satisfaction and retention. Such suites are becoming the operating platform for the 21st century enterprise.
The report is not all empirical advice and theoretical exposition. Tapscott and Dover name customer case studies that illustrate where and when real-time “new analytics” combined with a targeted social layer can provide richer customer insight and feedback—and business value. (ASUG members will notice that some of the customer success stories the authors cite are long-time BusinessObjects customers.)
The authors contend that their “research suggests growing evidence that firms transforming themselves into social enterprises perform better. They have lower transaction costs and a higher metabolism. Decisions, when collaborative, tend to be better and more likely to be implemented. They are more innovative as they harness the intelligence of uniquely qualified minds outside their boundaries. And enriched with intelligent data, they can manage risk better.”
The overall impact of the report and its advice are compelling, but those not riding on the “Social Enterprise” bandwagon will likely be skeptical of some strategies. For instance, it’s probably not going to be a blueprint for companies still upgrading to ECC 6 or dealing with a move to BI 4.0. And your old-school CEO and CFO (who both need to be on board for this type of change) might scratch their heads at the report’s enthusiasm for and colloquial use of terms such as corporate social networks, wikis, ideagoras, crowdsourcing, collaborative filtering, decision dashboards and RSS feeds.
Nevertheless, the report is both a reality check and glimpse into a future that might already be here for many of today’s top businesses.
“Most of what you need to know about your brand and the demands of your market is being discussed every day on social media platforms,” Tapscott and Dover conclude. “Smart companies are not just actively listening, but communicating back—and most importantly, using that data for competitive advantage.”
To watch Tapscott’s keynote address at SBOUC, visit ASUGonline.com.