I am excited to share that SAP AG and NetBase today announced that SAP will resell NetBase solutions which can combine traditional business intelligence with social analytics to reveal insights that drive business results. SAP Social Media Analytics by NetBase enables the socialization of enterprise processes and applications and offers a wider and deeper perspective on a range of activities, from product development to marketing to customer support. The agreement further extends SAP’s social enterprise vision.
Recognizing the Dawn of Customer to Business (C2B)
Do I really need to make the case that social media is now a fact of life? Two-thirds of the world’s internet users are now on social media, one in every nine people on earth is on Facebook, YouTube generates 92 billion page views per month, and there are an average of 250 million tweets per day—including several from my great aunt Millie, who’s almost 90 AND even business people talking about the vendors with whom they work.
So what does social media mean to business? Everybody is interacting via social media, whether they’re posting opinions on Facebook, following associates on Twitter, commenting on blogs, or gathering in forums to talk about everything from needlepoint and diapers, to their suppliers or even enterprise software. All that interaction gives businesses a tremendous opportunity to listen to, understand, learn from, and collaborate with customers.
As a marketer in high technology, I’m in a position to see trends early, and it’s clear that social media is ushering in a fundamental paradigm shift. The old model was one where businesses created products and communicated from the inside out; what social media has done is to flip that model. At the end of the day, no matter what business you’re in, your customer should be at the center of your strategy. Companies getting ahead now are ones where information and insight often flow from the outside in. Instead of the traditional business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) models, consumers are now in charge, and smart businesses have already started to run on a CUSTOMER to-business model, or C2B.
Co-Innovating with Customers
In the new C2B business model, enterprises assimilate information about customers and markets from the outside in, rather than from
the inside out. Doing that makes companies more responsive to customer needs because decision-makers have an accurate picture of what those needs are. And it makes companies more agile because they have a real-time view of how their business is perceived. Beyond that, running C2B gives companies the ability to co-innovate with customers and act as a whole to better satisfy them across a range of functions, including market research, product development, HR, PR, marketing, business intelligence and customer service.
But to get maximum value from integrating enterprise data like business intelligence and social intelligence data, companies need to
avoid having internal functions each work with different social media tools the work off different data sets and different methodologies – a scenario that leads to the dreaded silos of information. SAP Social Media Analytics by NetBase provides a better approach by enabling companies to create a single source of structured, normalized social media data; in other words, leveraging an enterprise social platform.
Discovering That Vanilla Is So Last Year
The first step to running C2B is therefore to establish an enterprise social media platform. The next step is taking data to the next level of integration—integrating social data with data residing in existing enterprise BI systems. Companies are starting on this process, which I call a “heterogeneous join” between data in internal BI systems that tells you what happened in the past and social media data that tells you what’s happening at this very moment.
Many companies are experimenting with this in a manual, improvised process, but one of the best examples is a NetBase customer that makes Greek yogurt, which is a popular product because it’s considered to be healthier than regular yogurt. The company wanted to find out what its top-selling flavor was, so they researched that question using their BI system and found out the answer was vanilla.
But this forward-thinking company is running C2B, so they wanted to see if social media data confirmed that answer or not. By analyzing social media data on its brand, the customer discovered that, in fact, consumers’ were buzzing most about pineapple.
To understand why the answers didn’t match, the company did further research on social media content and found out that this is what’s happening: A consumer would buy the pineapple flavor at a retailer, like it, and go back for more. But because the flavor was in limited production, it would be sold out. So the consumer would go to two or three other retailers and not find pineapple there either, because the flavor was also in limited distribution. So the consumer would buy vanilla instead, which was reflected in the sales figures.
The analysis thus revealed that although pineapple had in fact become the most sought-after flavor, internal data was still saying it was
vanilla. If the company had looked only at its historical data, it would have concluded that vanilla was the favorite flavor and would have missed the opportunity to charge a premium price and/or sell much greater quantities of the pineapple. Armed with this information, the company is increasing its production and distribution of pineapple yogurt.
Finding Valuable Insights
While some say there’s a good deal of fluff in social media (okay, they’re right), there are also valuable and unexpected insights with measurable business value. The yogurt story is a solid example of how integrating social media data with existing enterprise data can uncover insights and revenue opportunities that you would never think to look for and are unlikely to find using traditional research methods.
No matter what business you are in, embracing the inside-out model and running C2B and integrating enterprise BI systems and social media analytics is the future, which is already here. Next-generation businesses should think about collaborating with customers, to develop and deliver innovative products and services. SAP Social Media Analytics by NetBase gives SAP customers the tools to become one of those next-generation companies today.