Incorporating Social Media

By Samuel Greengard Print this article Print

Organizations are awash in data. However, tapping into this valuable business resource to achieve maximum advantage requires a clearly defined strategy, along with the right technology solutions.

Incorporating Social Media

Companies are also looking to incorporate social media into their big data models. Matrix, a Milan, Italy, Internet and online business-services provider, helps companies—from auto manufacturers to restaurants—define their digital strategies and handle brand engagement and reputation management.

Using SAS Content Categorization and SAS Text Miner, the company is able to provide sophisticated monitoring and analysis capabilities revolving around Web crawling, social media conversations and other activities, notes Alessandro Petrella, sales director at Matrix.

The company continually collects data from more than 500 news feeds and online sources and then drops the information into a Netezza data warehouse appliance. Matrix then runs the data through the SAS software to cleanse and categorize it using a set of established business taxonomies. It tunes its algorithm and adds new data elements regularly.

The database now exceeds two terabytes, and its ability to monitor sentiment and attitudes about a company grows daily. “We are able to process data in a fast and effective way,” Petrella says.

A recent survey of business executives conducted by consulting firm Ovum found that up to two-thirds of respondents cited improved operational and strategic decision-making processes and better customer service as the most important business benefits of tapping big data. No less significant: Interest in big data now extends beyond larger enterprises. The firm discovered that 38 percent of companies maintaining data warehouses in the 1 terabyte or higher range have revenues below $50 million.

Ovum expects that big data requirements will become even more pervasive over the next two years, as organizations continue to look for ways to better analyze customer segments, prevent churn, manage public transportation networks and handle myriad other tasks.

Accenture’s Curtis says that all organizations—and specifically IT departments—must understand the dynamics of big data and then develop a clear strategy for both implementing and managing this data over time. He recommends modeling data strategies after those used by companies such as Amazon, Google and Yahoo!, which operate some of the world’s largest data centers and “offer a glimpse of the future of computing.”

Curtis also suggests that technology and business leaders work together to understand big data in a holistic way. “There’s a mutual education process that must occur,” he points out. “Alignment is absolutely necessary to carry a project forward.”

Although big data is still in the early days, it’s a trend that’s here to stay, Tata Consultancy’s Viswanathan states. “Companies are accumulating more and more data, as consumers turn to smartphones, tablets and other digital devices,” he says.

“Organizations that tap into big data and use it effectively are positioned to create a clear competitive advantage. They’re able to understand issues and trends in a way that wouldn’t have been imaginable only a few years ago.”

This article was originally published on 2012-01-17
Samuel Greengard is a freelance writer for Baseline.
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