ORLANDO: Enterprises need to start taking advantage of the "wisdom of the crowds" available though social media information, or risk missing out on huge opportunities to boost business, according to the MIT Centre for Digital Business.
Andrew McAfee, principal research scientist at the organisation, said at the Lotusphere 2011 event that there will be major business productivity benefits associated with the use of social media analytics, which he dubbed the "digital boost".
Businesses can use information available from social networks to solve the broadest problems in a cost-effective manner, McAfee said.
The key to solving problems in any environment is diversity, he told delegates. Problems need to be presented to individuals with different abilities, backgrounds and interests, he explained.
"The way to make progress is not to drill down and rely even more heavily on the people who solved the last generation's problems. It is instead to throw that problem out there more broadly and see who's available to help," said McAfee.
This is more important than just trying to get as many eyeballs on the problem, and is where social analytics comes into play.
McAfee gave the example of how Twitter has helped to answer the long-standing open question of how successful a newly released film will be at the box office.
"One way of predicting the box office is to watch the Twitter feed, [where] you can get a very quick and accurate read of whether the film will have any staying power or will disappear after a big opening weekend," he said.
Although there are huge volumes of data generated by people expressing themselves, the ability to start sifting through this material is becoming crucial to businesses.
"If you want to be a leader in your sector or industry, I think getting social and being confident of the results is the right way forward," said McA fee.
With over 78 per cent of consumers trusting peer recommendations, it is paramount for businesses to monitor this information, which is outside the company firewall, added Christopher Dziekan, vice president of business analytics at IBM.
"[Enterprises] that want to retain and grow customers have to attack that kind of information. It is not a luxury to wait 90 days or 120 days to see how sales are doing. You need to get a sense of this data and what people are saying right now," he said.
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