Business analytics vendor SAS Institute Inc. unveiled a new tool called Social Media Analytics (SMA) at the SAS Global Forum in Seattle this week. The enterprise-level solution gathers both unstructured and structured data to provide businesses with insight, measurement and forecasting in the social media space.
Only five per cent of the data in the world today is structured data – the other 95 per cent is unstructured, said Jim Davis, senior vice-president and chief marketing officer at SAS. “The reality is that the unstructured data can make a very big difference in our business,” he said.
Davis unveiled SMA during the opening session of the conference. SAS didn’t say whether a version for small and medium-sized businesses was in the works, but the company recognized its potential.
“The social media analytics solution that we showed could have a strong appeal to not only big businesses but also smaller business as well … the vast majority of that data is in the public domain and is accessible,” said Davis to a group of Canadian media the next day.
SMA’s predictive aspects are what differentiate it from the rest of the market, according to Davis. A lot of the other tools are historic in nature and very similar to traditional BI tools, he said.
“We focus a lot on industry-specific solutions, but this one has a strong horizontal appeal, up and down the spectrum,” said Davis.
SAS has worked on sentiment analysis for the last two or three years and is over 90 per cent accurate, said Jim Goodnight, CEO of SAS, to the Canadian press group. “We will move into more predictive use of this information as we go forward. This is just a start, but it’s a huge start,” he said.
SMA is a hosted solution that collects and analyzes data from multiple online sources like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs and forums. Real-time results are displayed through Web-based dashboards, reports and alerts.
“All you need is a browser to take advantage of it,” said John Bastone, global product marketing manager for customer intelligence industry and solution marketing at SAS. “There is no install of any software, there is no capital expenditure of any kind to get it up and running.”
The tool provides information on sentiment – whether the conversations are positive and negative, where the comments are coming from, when they occurred and even the content itself. It also displays influence – who is talking as well as their reach.
A blogger with 5,000 followers, for example, may actually reach 15,000 people while a mainstream site with 10,000 followers might influence only half that many.
SMA’s archive extends back two years and then maintains a continuous archive of online data, which allows enterprises to “understand trends and update historical analyses,” states SAS. The tool also looks forward to “forecast future volume of social media conversations and then predict their impact on the business.”