This past week - I attended the Big Boulder Initiative in Boulder Colorado. The meeting was the third in it’s history and comes at a pivotal time in the development of Social Data. I’ve been following the development of organizations using social data for the past three years and am finally relieved and happy to see it mature in it’s ability to provide meaningful insight and affect the bottom line. 

The Big Boulder Initiative is a "is a trade association wholly dedicated to the advancement of social data in businesses and organizations of all kinds”. It addresses everything from privacy and trust through data quality and ROI. Perhaps one of it’s most impactful purposes is to bring together thought leaders to share case studies and and share how people are leveraging social data for the good of business, non-profits, and global community development. This year key case studies ranged from leveraging social data for selling Dell and CocaCola to the development of systems that detect early awareness of flooding in third world nations.

A short term challenge for the industry is the continuous shake out of organizations that support it (i.e. Twitter acquiring Gnip, consolidations in the thousands of existing dashboards) as well as building awareness of its benefits. The long term challenges of privacy and the ethical use of social data will always be here.

As far as the trends in use of social data - here are the things which we saw at the conference and areas CompassRed will be focussing on:

  • The industry is starting to see more companies understand the importance of social data evidenced in part by the development of departments that sit between the CMO and the CIO and focus solely on the acquisition of social data and it’s use beyond traditional PR and advertising.
  • The recent acquisition by Twitter of Gnip puts a lot up in the air. What we know so far is that massive social data producers (Tumblr, Disqus, VK, Sina Weibo, etc.) are starting to see the their data more valuable than they had before and are therefor pulling it closer inside and see it as an asset to their advertisers (and their balance sheets).
  • The combination of social data and sensor data is very much on the horizon. Automatic, FitBit, Nest, and all Internet of Things (IoT) will start to integrate social data with their platforms to provide interesting value.
  • The “Right to be Forgotten” law in the EU makes all of us scratch our head and wonder what will be the long term impact. If the EU is successful about implementing this - could America be the place where we get the real true story through a simple google search? And what impact will that have on social data?
  • At the Big Boulder Initiative conference, Justin DeGraaf from Coca Cola made a great public service announcement that all platform/dashboard developers should consider: "Justin closed by challenging the audience to employ more use cases when demonstrating the business application of their products… eye candy isn’t enough. This is certainly something vendors should take to heart when pitching major brands like Coca-Cola and Dell in the future!”. Bottom line - when developing technology - make sure the “So What?” is considered - how is the service going to sell more Coke?
  • Finally, combining social data with external data sources shows even more value than the data on its own: something we’ve been preaching for a while. Whether it is just monitoring it for financial insights or combining the data with weather related information to affect supply chain - the data combined with other insights can be disruptive to any industry. As more organizations begin to gain an understanding of social data and social data context, we’ll see exciting insight into all areas of business.
AuthorPatrick Callahan