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Human Resource Essay

2507 words - 11 pages

How ‘social intelligence’ can guide decisions
By offering decision makers rich real-time data, social media is giving some companies fresh strategic insight.
NOVEMBER 2012 • Martin Harrysson, Estelle Metayer, and Hugo Sarrazin
Source: Business Technology Office

In This Article
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Exhibit 1: Social media is changing the old-school intelligence cycle.
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Exhibit 2: An explosion in new analytical tools gives companies new ways to tap expertise.
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About the authors
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But it should emerge as a strong complement. As it does, social-intelligence literacy will become a critical asset for C-level executives and board members seeking the best possible basis for their decisions.
In this article, we explore four distinct ways social technologies can augment the intelligence-gathering approaches of companies. As Exhibit 1 makes clear, social media has little effect on some aspects of the intelligence cycle—in particular, the need to identify priorities for exploration and decision making over the next 6 to 12 months, as well as the use of assembled information to make unbiased decisions. But social technologies can play a surprisingly central role in how information is sourced, collected, analyzed, and distributed.1

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From identifying data to mapping people and conversations
Social media creates a new information map. Competitive analysts today differentiate between primary sources of information (from experts, competitors, employees, and suppliers), on the one hand, and secondary sources (such as published data, articles, and market research), on the other. Social intelligence operates on a different plane, identifying people and their conversations in social spaces. Its logic is that if you can find the right “curators” and experts collecting and channeling vital, accurate information, that eliminates the need for extensive searches of traditional databases and published information. Identifying the right people ultimately should induce companies to join existing online conversations and even shape them. This real-time information may help preempt key actions of competitors or lead to adjustments of strategy.
The costs of navigating without a social-intelligence map can be substantial. Servier, a French pharmaceutical company, is a case in point. Its licensed diabetes drug, Mediator, was also used extensively off-label for weight loss. The drug was withdrawn from the French market in November 2009 after questions arose about its safety, including its role in a number of deaths. For years after Mediator’s launch, in 1976, there had been little news in the press, let alone medical data, that pointed to problems. By 2003, though, online forums were hosting hundreds of conversations among concerned patients. Not long afterward, doctors and nutritionists began weighing in with their concerns about the drug’s safety. These early signals were too weak for traditional Web analysis to spot by simple keyword scanning. But if the analysis had shifted to deeper “argument mining,” diabetes-related conversations among experts would have appeared, perhaps prompting action by the company. A retrospective analysis from French social-media researchers found that by 2006 the conversations mapped through argument mining had shifted heavily to discussions of the drug’s risks.2
The case of Mediator, while perhaps extreme, hints at structural...

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