In case you needed more evidence of social media penetrating the enterprise, this week semantic analytics company Attensity acquired social media monitoring solution provider Biz360. The deal will enable Attensity to tap into data, content, and conversations on the social Web, and will "open up the enterprise" to new Internet channels. At Attensity's core is semantic technology that intersects with business processes, such as customer service and customer feedback. By bringing social media monitoring into the equation, Attensity's chief marketing officer Michelle DeHaaff says it will enable enterprises to tap into unstructured data and take action on conversations outside the four walls of an organization,
DeHaaff reports that Attensity considered a number of listening platform players. "The thing that attracted us to [Biz360] is that they have managed to build one of the largest listening posts in the world," DeHaaff says, "And they do it in a way that's extremely scalable." Attensity's strength lies in the process automation and in leveraging customer data.
"The landscape of social media analytics is prime for M&A activity," notes Forrester Research Analyst Zach Hofer-Shall. "These technology vendors provide a unique answer to the challenge of keeping up with social channels, a space in which larger marketing analytics companies have struggled."
Attensity uses the acronym LARA to describe the four crucial social CRM pieces an enterprise should have in place:
The "actionable" piece, DeHaaff says, is where some other social media monitoring vendors stop short. "The thing that's missing is the ability, in a scalable way, to engage back with the customer," she says. When large enterprises are faced with truckloads of mentions in social networks, it becomes difficult to find the conversations of importance -- and it is even harder to make the nuggets of information matter in the enterprise.
"Opening up the enterprise to the social customer is a key tenet to our strategy," DeHaaff says. Forrester's Hofer-Shall states that the high point in this deal comes from that combination of data sources -- traditional customer data and social media conversational data. "Social media alone will only tell you so much, but integrating that data with other customer channels and into CRM systems provides a wealth of information for the enterprise," he says.
Moving forward, Biz360 will continue its operations under the Attensity umbrella. DeHaaff says they are in Phase 2 of bringing the technologies together thanks to a partnership established prior to the acquisition. Phase 2 involves integrating the listening solution into Attensity's summer release of Engagement 2.0. The third phase, according to DeHaaff and Tamairah Boleyn, marketing director at Biz360, is realizing the breadth and the vision of the tools to provide value and deep analytics to specific parts of the enterprise including the knowledgebase. "The power here will depend on how Attensity works Biz360 into its existing offerings," Hofer-Shall points out. "To 'open up the enterprise' they'll need to focus on tying the two companies together, combining social and traditional data, and building a real customer database around it."
To demonstrate that social media analysis is applicable beyond the enterprise, Biz360 recently launched Idolstats.com, a website that tracks conversations about American Idol contestants and delivers sentiment scores based on the chatter.
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