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What Is Social BI?

Think about the last time you made an online purchase – did you read reviews on Amazon? If you were buying on eBay, did you check out the seller’s rating before hitting ‘bid?’ Look up a restaurant on Yelp? If someone used an unfamiliar term in a conversation, did you check out Wikipedia to learn more? The idea that we can mine social information to make better-informed choices has permeated our lives. Social BI aims to bring that same power to making better business decisions.

There are key decisions made in corporations every day. In the past, executives would rely exclusively on data-driven systems. These were aggregated into Business Intelligence (BI) platforms, showing key data from all of the systems in the organization. The problem was that these systems were purely data-driven, and therefore backwards looking. They had no ability to incorporate real-time, rich, insightful knowledge – human knowledge.

The fact is that data systems simply cannot keep pace with the rapidly changing business landscape. Whether you’re trying to track time-to-market for a product, determining competitor actions, or forecasting sales of a new product, your people have important information and context to share. They talk about it in the cafeteria and in the hallways, but it’s not in your BI systems.

This is where social BI comes in. Like traditional BI, Social BI aggregates intelligence from throughout your company and presents a quantitative summary analysis to decision makers. However, in Social BI, the resource is your most valuable one – your employees and partners. This fundamentally changes the sources executives use to make business decisions by mining previously unavailable insight from across the organization to achieve unprecedented accuracy in business planning and forecasting.

Social BI empowers employees to share and socialize vital insights on key metrics. It enables leaders to tap the social intelligence of their workplaces to improve business intelligence. It drives better-informed and ultimately more profitable business decisions.

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  • Collective wisdom has its potential – no doubt about this. But let’s face it – the way you contribute at social sites, usually under anonymous nickname, and the way you would contribute at corporate site under your real name, and therefore exposing your knowledge and your personality to others’ judgment – is different. I would not share hurray-optimism that social behaviour in corporates is the same, but indeed finding a smart ways to unlock the potential is important.
    • These are excellent points.  While Social BI has its aspects that are, well, social, we generally protect anonymity at the forecast level.  That is, your colleagues may find out via profiles and leader boards that you are an active and accurate member of the system.  However, they will not be able to tell exactly what you forecasted.  This is done to ensure that the system is a safe place to speak truth to power.

      Corporations are surely not the same.  The stakes are higher and the game is far more complex.  But, there is much to learn from social web apps that can help us run businesses more effectively and with greater alignment.

      Thanks for the comment!