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Power Play

A practical, specific action guide in the face of large market trends

The social spark

In this Power Play, Deloitte provides a Digital Enterprise perspective on "Reengineering business intelligence" from Deloitte’s Business Trends 2013

As the volume of social data being generated expands exponentially with each passing week, companies seeking fresh insights into their businesses sense opportunity. The combination of massive amounts of data and new tools for making sense of it all has the potential to fuel new growth, new products, new markets, and more.

So it’s no surprise that leading companies are redesigning their business processes to harness the full power of social data. Using new business intelligence engines that blend data from social media with other external and internal data sets, these forward-thinking organizations are moving from decision making aligned with traditional budget cycles to decision making that occurs almost in real time. This allows them to anticipate and manage strategic risks more effectively and quickly capitalize on emerging market opportunities.

With so much social data at hand, companies that ignore the insights hidden within social information may be giving up their competitive advantage to those with the tools and wherewithal to pounce on this opportunity.

Transforming how business operates

Business intelligence that combines social media data with other external and internal data sources can boost business performance and lead to breakthrough innovation. But in order to create a significant impact, companies should consider integrating the analytics and insights into their standard business processes and work flows. Treating the new business intelligence capabilities as a simple bolt-on to existing systems and processes can be a valuable first step; however, it is unlikely to provide the full benefits of an integrated approach.

Why act now?

These days, business leaders are hungry for new insight, regardless of the source. In the past, they may have turned to internally-focused historical data – sales trends, past profitability, and more. But now it’s possible to harness the power of the crowd to generate more timely insights to inform decisions that need to be made right now. Ten years ago, that ability was little more than a pipe dream. But now that it’s a reality, the pressure is on for business leaders to be the first to put it to work.

Social data not only presents many classic big-data challenges, it also introduces specific issues in highly sensitive areas such as privacy. But the insights that come from social data can be well worth the challenge.

What to do

What not to do

Strive for mass intimacy.
For decades, companies have been trying to develop a more intimate understanding of their customers. Now, thanks to business intelligence and social data, companies are able to achieve what seems like a paradox: individual customer intimacy on a mass scale. Businesses can now understand a customer’s needs and behaviors even better than the customer does – and can generate that level of deep intimacy for the entire customer base.

Don’t raise the data quality bar too high.
Good data should be the goal. But in analytics, it’s not always possible to achieve the standards of data quality that may be desired – nor is it always necessary. With the ability to combine social data with other sources of data, it’s possible to generate useful insights from information that you may have avoided only a few years ago. So target high-quality data. But don’t get hamstrung by it.

Prepare to innovate. Insights from social data and business intelligence can enable new innovations.
For example, some companies are taking customer intimacy to a whole new level by turning their biggest fans into “fan-bassadors” – enthusiastic consumers who represent the company in social media forums and real-world promotional events in exchange for little more than the honor of being associated with the company they love so much.

Don’t start without defined goals.
Exploring new data sets can lead to new insights. However, starting without strategic questions, clear hypotheses, and well-defined metrics can drastically reduce the usefulness of those insights.

Put things in context.
Mashing up social data with enterprise data from ERP systems and other sources and then framing the resulting insights within broader issues and trends can improve understanding and decision making.

Don’t create frameworks without context.
Using off-the-shelf social data analytics tools that track key words, volume, and sentiment allows a company to listen in on external conversations. However, those tools often do not include a business context, which tends to result in an incomplete analysis.

Suketu Gandhi
Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP
+1 312 486 3590

With all the hype about analytics these days, it’s natural – and healthy – to ask whether social data-driven analytics is just a passing fad, or if it’s the real deal. You’ve probably already guessed our view: I believe social data is well worth the hype. Why? Because it can provide business insights that are difficult or impossible to obtain from traditional data sources.

If you’re wondering where social data could have an immediate impact on your organization, consider these three areas.

What consumers are talking about today on social media can help companies predict the market needs of tomorrow, including future demand levels and product requirements. It can also uncover emerging problems or customer complaints before they become headline news.
Social media can help a company understand how its employees are really feeling so it can fine tune talent management programs and address problems early. It also provides a mechanism that enables employees to collaborate on solving interesting and important business challenges.
Social media can help a company understand how its employees are really feeling so it can fine tune talent management programs and address problems early. It also provides a mechanism that enables employees to collaborate on solving interesting and important business challenges.

If insights like these are worth pursuing in your organization, keep in mind that this isn’t just a matter of buying new technology. Taking advantage of these types of insights requires more than just bolting some fancy analytical capabilities onto existing systems and business processes; it requires changing how the business operates by integrating social data analysis and business intelligence into the company’s day-to-day work flows.

As used in this document, "Deloitte" means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

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