Business - Written by Steve Guengerich on Thursday, February 11, 2010 12:20 - 2 Comments
Learn to Listen; then Listen to Learn
If you’ve been watching Don’s Twitter stream the past couple of weeks or read his recent blog posts, you’ll know that he was in Davos Switzerland at the Annual World Economic Forum. Among the many speaking and consulting activities, he represented nGenera at the launch breakfast of the GreenXchange.
I’ve written a couple of posts about the GreenXchange and a related sustainability workshop, in the run-up to Davos. What I haven’t talked about is an interesting behind-the-scenes aspect of the GreenXchange technology platform.
The technology platform itself is currently a working beta version, proving the GreenXchange concept, developed by Salesforce.com (with help from a Force.com partner), 2Degrees, and nGenera. You can view the “public facing” part of the GreenXchange at http://greenxchange.force.com.
What you won’t see on the website is a sophisticated “listener” capability that the GreenXchange platform provides to its founding members, through nGenera’s collaboration server.
Listening isn’t a new concept. Among its simplest forms is a stored search that gets “pushed” to you via e-mail or other messaging. Think Google Alerts, as an example. But, for modern brand managers, communications professionals, and marketing executives, listeners have become increasingly important applications, because of the ability for reputation to be shaped by parties external to your company, from your customers to your competitors.
In fact, listeners have become part of what is recognized as a “missing layer” of social media and collaborative application infrastructure. This layer of collaborative infrastructure fills the gaps left uncovered between the traditional IT systems management products, from vendors like IBM and HP, and the point solutions vendors of collaboration platforms, as shown in the figure.
In the case of the GreenXchange launch at Davos, we employed listeners primarily for the purpose of an external monitoring activity, to track, rate, and analyze the sentiment of the articles, posts, and other communications that were being generated by the announcement.
Specifically, we wanted to analyze the spike in activity found on the web pre-Davos and post-Davos. So, a listener was created to listen for the combination of “GreenXchange” AND any of the following words or phrases: World Economic Forum, WEF, Davos, or Annual Meeting.
The listener was first run on 1/22/2010; however, we exclude results from the first run because it pulls results from very early time periods and typically finds a very large number of web clips. We ignore the first run and measure velocity on the second run forward, so that it will provide meaningful metrics.
The next screen shot demonstrates the distribution of keywords based on the listener criteria. It is showing that GreenXchange and Davos have the highest key word matches.
This figure also shows that we had a total of 900 unique web clips that had been found since we ran the listener on Jan 25th that matched our criteria. It also shows that we had a total of 995 occurrences, meaning that there was some duplication of web clips across various channels.
The next screenshot, in the figure below, shows us the velocity between runs. What is interesting is that 34 unique web clips were found on or before Jan 26th prior to the launch and over 935 new web clips were found since the launch on Jan 27th, as of Feb 2nd.
This screenshot also shows the top scoring or most popular content (articles), including articles posted on websites like businessweek.com and eqentia.com
The next screenshot, in the figure below, shows an example of the web clips that were retrieved from various channels, such as Yahoo, GoogleNews, and Bing. The score indicates our confidence that this article matches the search criteria and that this content is relevant.
The sentiment shows our confidence that this web clip is either positive or negative in sentiment. All but one in the example, appear to be positive with varying degrees of confidence. This sentiment can be corrected, with the sentiment engine adapting and becoming more accurate over time.
The web channel, publish date, domain, and keyword match are also listed. And we assign a status so that you can easily filter on new content that was discovered on the most recent listener run.
The next figure simply demonstrates how convenient it is to click through the listeners results, directly to the source content. In this example, one of the articles that came up as popular content was from businessgreen.com entitled “Just share it – top brands usher in era of green co-opetition.”
The next figure further shows this click through feature, invoked by clicking on the magnifying glass to the right of the article link and view the content within the listener.
After previewing the web clips, you can decide to add them as content to your collaboration platform and request that others inside your organization, or who have been granted secure access to it from outside your organization, can comment or collaborate on the content. This action is taken by clicking the “Add” link next to the magnifying glass.
Lastly, the figure below shows an activity history. For the GreenXchange listener illustrated, the first run occurred on Jan 22nd, with 141 web clips returned to build the baseline. But as mentioned earlier, we ignored that result set, for velocity tracking and trending going forward.
For the first several days after the GreenXchange launch, we found over 100 new, unique web clips during the daily runs, on average, with some tapering off in recent runs.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, social media listening is just one component of the “missing layer” of collaborative infrastructure. Other capabilities built into nGenera’s collaboration server include:
- Policy management – Use listening technology to detect non-compliant email (port 25) and web interaction (port 80), either on the Internet or internally, and set policy rules to allow, quarantine or block this traffic
- Social metadata aggregation – continuously build rich profiles from multiple sources (Active Directory, SharePoint, HRIS, social networks, esp. Facebook, user-provided), continuously track relationship strength between profiles, and continuously aggregate log-level activities from a variety of integrated services
- Federated search – Provide ranked search results across all elements of the collaborative environment (internal and external)
- Basic collaborative metrics – Aggregated statistics of tightly and loosely coupled services
These capabilities and others – like powerful analytics engines and more sophisticated reporting – are clearly meeting a demand that large enterprises are more aware than ever that they need. In addition to nGenera’s collaboration server, vendors like Radian6, Socialware, and a number of others are helping to build this sector of software that is bound to be very lively for some time.
But, when you consider the near-term cost and potential long-term damage to one’s brand – like what we’ve been seeing with the auto recall struggles of Toyota – it’s easy to understand why “learning to listen” in new ways using these tools has become an imperative for doing business.
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