Many organizations, as they hear the term "Social Intelligence" used more often in the business setting, are beginning to understand it is must-have insight for executing more informed decision-making in an increasingly socially networked world. But at the same time, because they may not fully grasp the concept of Social Intelligence or know where this information comes from, they are unsure how to leverage it for competitive advantage.
So, let's break it down. First, Social Intelligence, at its most basic level, is the ability of humans to interact with each other effectively. Applied in the context of today's business environment, Social Intelligence is what a company needs to maintain meaningful, productive relationships with its current and potential customers, employees, partners, and any other relevant group interacting with the organization-as well as with each other-through social channels.
Learning the hidden value and meaning of social data is achieved by using social analytics, but Social Intelligence takes it a step beyond this by unlocking this value and generating actionable insights that impact business strategy. From a technical perspective Social Intelligence refers to the tools and practices companies use to aggregate social data, which is collected by social media monitoring tools and social analytics engines, with existing data, such as from a customer relationship management (CRM) system. This aggregated data is then integrated with systems of records and real-time analytics engines. This process brings forth previously unknown or seemingly unimportant or unrelated detail about the businesses' customers, products, campaigns and even competitors. The end result: Actionable insight.
A Social Intelligence platform for generating this insight has three core components, which can come from a single vendor or multiple vendors. These components are:
- Social media capture - Think of this as the hunting and gathering phase. Social networks and communities are monitored for relevant information, which is captured and then brought into the enterprise.
- Social analytics - Next, business intelligence becomes super-charged. The captured social media data is processed by being "mashed up" with existing information. The insights created are then shared with other systems throughout the enterprise.
- Social Intelligence - At this level, manual (i.e., human) and automated processes are combined to ensure actionable insight is actually acted on.
Through the use of a Social Intelligence, an enterprise's social and business strategies become intertwined, and data collected from the social sphere is analyzed and used to generate tangible value for the organization. The process helps to reveal not only who a customer is, but also, what he or she may want-and even more important, how that customer feels about what he or she wants. The business can then use this Social Intelligence-proactively (this is key)-to predict and anticipate customers' needs and ideally, fulfill them.
Strong executive leadership who understand its importance and value as a tool for enhanced decision-making and customer service is also critical. When a business decides it's ready to move from social analytics into Social Intelligence, to succeed it must approach the process like any other important transition, by crafting a strategy, determining and documenting necessary changes, adopting change management techniques, putting in place a learning system and getting buy-in from key stakeholders.
Social Intelligence can unlock the potential the value of social data and help build brand affinity and accelerate business growth. As social communities continue to morph and grow those companies that take advantage of all that Social Intelligence has to offer will be better positioned to act on insights and get ahead of competition.