2014: Year of Grand Aligned Convergences

marshallsfigure-3I predict 2014 will become the year of social data integration and data alignment – a “Grand Aligned Convergence” of sorts – something we’ve never seen till now.

A recent Altimeter report on social data intelligence by Susan Etlinger found social data has been, and still is, largely isolated from common business use cases such as customer relationship management, business intelligence and market research, in the average enterprise-class company.

I predict in the coming year, businesses will become more successful with social data ROI (playing upon the increased use of “big data” and “social data” projects). It’s becoming easier to align social data with in-house and third party datam improving their businesses performance, customer satisfaction and ROI.

The alignment is further fed by mobile technology and the evolution of analytics platforms such as Google Universal Analytics that are maturing and extending their coverage to integrate omni-channel activity and multichannel attribution on one hand, and the evolution of contextual real time mobile retail communications such as iBeacon on the other.

In fact, in 2009, I noted the grand alignment we are about to see, based on a Jeremiah Owyang blog post about the future of the social web.

Until now, the main stumbling block to enterprise convergence analytics across various use cases was a gap in social data platform maturity. But the real gap today is how businesses are (or aren’t) “aligned” to ideate, collect, analyze, understand and then, use data — whatever its source or type. Altimeter calls this “Social Maturity.” Aptly (for this column), Altimeter’s 6 stages of Social Business Transformation ends with stage six, “Converged” (ibid, page 7).

While web and social analytics platforms were created to assist marketers in the process of making better business decisions through providing better data (that drives insights and hopefully can be acted upon), no platform, alone, solves business problems, unless business processes are aligned and employees are empowered first.

Inspired by the Altimeter report on social data intelligence, I explored the correlation between social data integration in Fortune 1000 companies on one hand, and the number of deployed analysts who were working with social data on the other. The research was executed using filters on a highly tuned LinkedIn query. LinkedIn is an excellent way do market research for certain types of questions, because of its wide adoption within the business world by employers, employees and job seekers.

My main finding: just 1/3 of 1 percent of the employees were analysts who worked directly with social data integration (much less than the 1 percent rubric I outlined in a previous ClickZ article.

Over the last two years, McKinsey released several findings on the use of social data. Their 2012 paper The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies outlines the value social data has for various sectors of the US and World Economy.

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Figure 1: Source (page 10 of the downloadable report).

There’s enough of a correlation between my research and McKinsey’s findings to see the overlap.

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Figure 2: WebMetricsGuru INC and Marshall Sponder, derived using LinkedIn data queries, November 2013. 

Businesses deploy employees to work with social data where it is clearly important to the bottom line, such as retail, insurance and health care, whilst with other sectors such as chemicals and construction, not so much.

As we close out 2013 and move into the New Year, a new era of convergence is upon us, right on our doorstep. Let us all embrace it and learn to leverage the changes by integrating convergence analytics into all business processes, for all it can offer us in 2014 and beyond. 

To all my ClickZ readers — a most happy, profitable and converged New Years!

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