Last week, Autonomy Corporation released its Autonomy Interwoven Social Media Analysis tool. The solution is powered by Autonomy's Intelligent Data Operation Layer (IDOL), the technology component that connects all sources of social media and analyzes the unstructured data for context and sentiment. This data is then fed into Autonomy Interwoven's Web content management (WCM) solutions (TeamSite, LiveSite or Optimost) to effectively make sense of the analysis. The interface, explains Tom Wentworth, Autonomy Interwoven's Web solutions evangelist and social media expert, is what will enable marketers to take what they've learned in the social media environment and deliver a better experience to the customer.
Prior to Autonomy's January acquisition of Interwoven, Interwoven was an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partner to Autonomy, a relationship that gave the engineering team a "head start" on the integration, says Annie Weinberger, director of product marketing for Autonomy Interwoven. Once the acquisition was official, both companies immediately began working on joint technologies like Social Media Analysis. "Early on, this solution was identified as a major opportunity, and the company focused its effort on preparing this solution," Weinberger says. Autonomy provides the reputation and brand analysis component, while Interwoven brings the ability to target promotions and offers to site visitors based on insight and trends, she says. Marrying the two has given rise to Autonomy Interwoven's meaning-based marketing capability that, Weinberger says, "would not have been possible," without the integration.
Suresh Vittal, principal analyst at Forrester Research, agrees that what's different about this announcement would have required a joint effort. "The ability to make a meaning-based computing technology available for applications around Web content management and online marketing is what makes it compelling," he says. "They're tying a listening platform with optimization technology. That hasn't happened today."
While tracking through natural language processing (NLP) and understanding sentiment is not a new concept, what this release introduces is the ability to connect insight to something that changes dynamically, says Nathan Gilliatt, principal at consultancy Social Target. For marketers, this proves exceptionally valuable as they are able to aggregate all the conversations about the company just by simply watching a dashboard, and in near-real-time, change the content of their campaigns.
The Social Media Analysis tool uses "intelligent connectors" to connect all forms of social media, from RSS feeds, to Twitter, to Facebook, to Yelp, etc. Moreover, Wentworth says that the solution is format agnostic-that is, regardless of whether it's a tweet, a video, or a podcast, the tool can analyze the content and sentiment. This comes in handy particularly in the unstructured environment of social media where tags, for instance, are far from universally defined or applied.
A "clustering" function allows marketers to group individual pieces of social media to create a visual representation of what's being said. This allows marketers to immediately identify what changes need to be made before any problems grow out of control. The threshold for action, naturally, varies depending on the company. Marketers can also attribute a "sentiment score" for each piece of content. They can cluster data based on sentiment scores to monitor both negative and positive sentiment.
Once a trend is identified, companies can engage in "adaptive targeting," which combines the trend with the customer's demographic and behavioral information, to deliver a more meaningful experience. The beauty of it is, "marketers don't have to do anything but watch the dashboard and watch the clusters form," Wentworth says. "What's important is that the data is available," he says. "Once you understand what the opportunity is, because it's in the CMS system, you can immediately make that actionable."
"We're seeing the first baby steps toward the system-level integration of these specialized functions," Gilliatt says. While the industry has been floating with announcements from vendors about integrating social touch points, Gilliatt notes that this is the first time he's seen one that "modifies web content on the fly based on what's being discussed online."
Social media is transcending the silos of the enterprise and delivering value beyond marketing and communications. "What comes up [in social] is inherently cross-functional," Gilliatt says. "Silos have to come down to do the social media stuff effectively." What's different about social media data is that it's coming directly from the consumers-and that's a lot harder to dispute than a stack of reports.
Vittal is particularly impressed by the scale and breadth of Autonomy Interwoven's IDOL server. With over 500 pieces of functionality, Vittal says that the next step for the company will be to package the complex solution in a way that makes it useful for the everyday users. "They need to get it to a point where they don't need a specialist [to run it]," he says. "It should be innately obvious."
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