Tuning your insight engine

Short Takes...on Analytics

A blog by Doug Palmer, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP

When members of the CMO Club were interviewed recently about social data and their businesses the results revealed some interesting trends among marketing executives1. While the vast majority of CMOs (89 percent) say social data has influenced their decisions, more than half2 still don’t know or don’t see ROI across many social media tools. Deloitte's 2012-2013 LinkedIn poll3 of executive leaders and managers found that fewer than half of decision makers (44%) view social data alone as adequate for making strategic decisions. 

Therein lies both the challenge and the opportunity.

We know social data is important; we know it’s affecting business decisions beyond sales and marketing. But we also know that social alone is not transformative. It is by combining social data with other data sets both inside the enterprise (such as financial, enterprise resource planning, and business intelligence systems) and outside (such as traditional media, insights from industry analysts, and human intelligence), that you can obtain new context for your insights.

Right now, your competitors are likely doing one of two things. They’re either “doing” social or they’re “leveraging” social. They are either myopically focused on collecting “likes” and fans on their Facebook page and followers on Twitter, or they have a broader strategy focused on deploying advanced analytic tools and human expertise to answer increasingly complex questions. If your business is focused on doing social, it’s time to get busy leveraging social.

Leveraging social data and signals requires a combination of human and technology elements that together create an insight engine. This engine, made up of the following components, can be finely tuned to power more timely, accurate, contextual, and meaningful decisions.

  • Advanced technology: Advancements in data science – including natural language processing, computational heuristics and semantic systems – are rapidly enriching the fuel for the insight engine.
  • Organizational talent: Data scientists, change agents and making the case for social data by examining, understanding, and interpreting the data, then presenting it in actionable ways.
  • Data tailoring: Insight engines allow users to peel the layer of the onion when it comes ascertaining fact-based decisions—which may be fed by 140-character Tweets and other social signals, thousand-page enterprise reports, or internal IT systems.
  • Contextualization: A mashup of social and ERP data can deliver timely context for decision making.
  • Workflow integration: The process of disseminating insights should factor in the ability of the organization to absorb and respond to them.
  • New outputs and devices: Options for information consumption are ever-changing as new outputs replace traditional reporting and visuals in delivering timely insights.

Building and tuning your insight engine will be an iterative and ongoing process. Throughout the insight lifecycle, social signals can be incorporated in new ways. How is your business preparing to tap into social data to enrich decision making?

1 Robert Berkman, “Chief Marketing Officers See True Value in Social Media,” MIT Sloan Management Review, September 20, 2012,, accessed February 1, 2013
2 Bazaarvoice, Press releases 2011, "Bazaarvoice and CMO Club Survey: CMOs Focused on Strong Insight, Strategic Use of Social for 2011",January 27, 2011
3 Deloitte conducted a LinkedIn poll survey from November 29, 2012 to January 4, 2013 of CXO, VP, director-, and manager-level employees at companies with more than 5,000 employees, across numerous sectors.

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