Silicon Valley-based social analytics provider NextPrinciples was named a winner of SAP HANA’s One Innovative App Contest for its event-monitoring and analytics Insight-to-Action platform, which processes and delivers social analytics in real-time for large organizations.
SAP’s HANA is a big-data business computing platform, and the contest was designed to bring value-added to it.
“SAP said we have this hammer called HANA, we need to build some nails. They wanted companies that are solving tough problems,” said Ted Sapountzis, NextPrinciple’s head of marketing and product management.
Social analytics, it turns out, are a pretty tough computing problem to solve, particularly in real-time when the information is most useful and particularly for large corporations that manage several global brands.
Computers like information divided into clear categories and sorted into orderly databases. But that is not how humans converse on social networks, with our “LOL”s and emoticons. Meaningful social analytics monitors need to gather up all of that messy information from different social platforms and translate it into something a computer can understand.
“We’re getting to the stage with social where we need to tap these new [big-data] technologies,” said Sapountzis. Thanks to HANA, NextPrinciples delivers social analytics 300 times faster than traditional architectures can, the company claims.
The tool simplifies its own task by asking the user to set rules to filter social information by date and by a range of hand-selected keywords. Using that guidance, it generates real-time visualizations to show which users are mentioning which keywords and how information is flowing across those users’ social graphs.
For a large enterprise, analytics also have to be delivered in a clear, actionable way. (In large numbers, humans act more like computers: Without clear commands, we quickly run amok.)
NextPrinciples allows users to add to the rules an action that could be taken. For instance, any tweet or Facebook post mentioning a Product A could trigger an email sent to Tom, and any tweet or Facebook post mentioning Product B could trigger an email sent to Maria.
The dashboard also makes it easy to grab the information and use it. In addition to allowing engagement on several different social networks from the dashboard, NextPrinciples connects a user’s profile name on one social platform to his or her name on other platforms, giving the client company more information about that person. An influential person might be the subject of a specific rule, for example.
Finally, whatever happens on social media can be imported into the customer relations management database so the company has a complete record of its history with a particular customer.
Sapountzis provided an example of what his company’s technology has allowed its customers to do. A large pharmaceutical company had faced a number of product recalls several in 2010. Consequently, there was a trigger in their social media monitoring for that product. Last month, an allegation emerged from an influential social media presence that there was another problem in the same product line.
“Obviously, they need more help than just social media,” Sapountzis acknowledged.
Still —this is what constitutes a happy ending in the pharmaceutical industry, so smile! — the company was able to catch the reports before the story blew up. It got out ahead of the story and saved millions of dollars.
So which company was it? Sapountzis could tell me, but then he’d have to kill me, he joked. But this writer bets the company knows who he is, thanks to increasingly powerful social data analytics.