Fulfilling SAP’s Vision for the Social Enterprise

Blog | December 12, 2011 by SAP News

SAP has an expansive vision of what social media can mean to the enterprise—a vision  that’s far different from what companies are doing today, which is barely scratching the surface of social media possibilities. Our vision is to integrate and embed social media insight and analysis into nearly every enterprise process. We want to go far beyond adopting social media analysis technology and applying it to a single function like marketing; we see instead dozens of scenarios where incorporating social intelligence into applications and functions can benefit companies. Our goal is in fact to “socialize” decision-making within the enterprise by incorporating social media intelligence into the widest possible range of processes.

Basing Decisions on High-Quality Information
If we’re going to support companies in making important decisions based in part on social media analysis, we need to make sure that the data we use and insights we glean are highly accurate. To ensure that, we needed to find a technology that delivers the high-quality information our customers require. Through our new reseller agreement with NetBase, SAP is selling and supporting the SAP Social Media Analytics application by NetBase, which can help us realize our vision and deliver significant value in a number of areas to our customers.

This application for social media insight and analysis combines the benefits of traditional business intelligence (BI) with social media analytics. It is easy to use, has output that’s easy to consume, is very flexible, is easy to integrate and has a proven API we can use to extract data and load it into SAP applications. It’s also an extremely accurate tool that gives users a reliable way to understand online brand equity, compare passion and generate deep insights that answer their “why” questions. The high quality of its insights and conclusions is vital because they will be used as key factors in critical business decisions. We selected it over alternative technologies for those reasons, and because we see it as the best possible fit for a social media application that complements the SAP solution portfolio.

Used in conjunction with SAP applications,  SAP Social Media Analytics enables the socialization of enterprise applications, allowing customers to benefit from the combination of BI data and other internal applications with data and insights from social media. Processes in which we envision embedding the social intelligence capabilities provided by SAP Social Media Analytics into SAP on-premise and on-demand applications include BI, CRM, product lifecycle management (PLM), supply chain, demand management, marketing, collaboration and more.

We’re convinced that the products resulting from our agreement with NetBase will bring increased value to our customers, offering a superior choice beyond other social media analytics solutions currently available. For example, the NetBase solutions:

  • Offer deeper and more accurate insights. Not only do they provide positive and negative sentiment at post level, like other tools, they also automatically categorize market opinions, emotions, behaviors, preferences and attributes about any subject.
  • Are easier to use and do not require super-user intervention and complex tweaking and tuning, as is required for solutions from most competitors.  For instance, what takes 10 minutes to accomplish in NetBase solutions can take more than an hour in other solutions.
  • Deliver greater value by providing immediate access to an unlimited number of brands and subjects, thanks to ConsumerBase, a massive social intelligence warehouse that includes more than a year’s worth of normalized data.

With this application, we’re addressing much more than marketing processes, and will socialize a wide range of enterprise processes by embedding SAP Social Media Analytics. Our vision is to create a social enterprise with benefits that permeate an entire company.

Applying Social Intelligence to a Range of Functions
Few enterprises today are using tools to get social media insights and integrate them into their operations.  SAP Social Media Analytics enables companies to glean those insights quickly and examine them side by side with internal information on a number of business functions in order to look for confirmations and correlations.

We have been working to define our social media vision for more than a year, and we continue to discover new scenarios for integrating social analysis into the enterprise. Here are just a few examples of ways in which corporate customers can benefit from the use of SAP Social Media Analytics:

  • Account executives can use the application to discover what customers are saying about brands and products, and use that intelligence to plan communications strategies.
  • Marketing managers can use it to evaluate the reaction to marketing campaigns and shape future campaigns.
  • Product managers can use it to obtain feedback on new products and their features, and learn how to improve them in the next version­—or even find which features of a competitive product consumers like best.
  • Operations managers for consumer goods manufacturers can use it to help plan production schedules to meet rapidly changing demand from retailers.
  • Customer support and PR staff can use it to receive alerts if there are issues with a product or support policies that are generating negative buzz in social media.

The list could go on, because understanding the online conversation can pay dividends across the full range of business functions.

Delivering Immediate Value to Customers
In addition, SAP Social Media Analytics met our criteria of being able to deliver immediate value to our customers. For many other social solutions, that was a shortcoming. Once a user selected a topic to analyze in social media, he or she had to start from scratch at that point to build their own data warehouse of social media content gathered over time—perhaps six months or more. But NetBase already has ConsumerBase, a huge database with a full year of social media history. So if users want to develop and launch a product quickly, they can mine that database for insights that can shape product development, product positioning, marketing campaigns and more. They can also look at what the reaction was in social media to the launch of a competitor’s product. This delivers immediate value; users don’t need to spend six months accumulating statistical data.

A large retailer, for example, that’s selling thousands of brands can look at existing ConsumerBase data to analyze consumer reactions to the hundreds of brands they sell. They want to see what consumers are saying about those brands—and about brands they don’t sell—so that they can decide which brands they should order and in what quantity. Integrating social data with its qualitative slant into their decision-making gives them more insight than simply looking at quantitative sales figures. This kind of decision-making is another example of the benefits of socializing enterprise processes.

Combining social media data with BI data, as SAP Social Media Analytics will do, enables enterprises to examine the same question from different angles and find answers that neither type of data provides when considered alone. Another excellent real-world example involving Greek yogurt flavors can be found in Lisa Joy Rosner’s blog.

Delivering an Innovative Solution Extension
SAP will resell the NetBase solutions as a solution extension product. Developed by independent partners, solution extensions integrate easily with SAP software – offering cross-solution and cross-industry functionality that complement SAP solution capabilities. To ensure the highest quality, SAP tests, validates, approves and supports market-leading solutions, assuring customers of SAP quality, commitment, support and greater return on investment. Customers don’t need to use SAP BusinessObjects BI solutions, SAP BusinessObjects Explorer software or the SAP HANA platform to benefit from SAP Social Media Analytics, but we see that future integration with those products could provide a unique level of benefits. Users could in fact expect many more integrations with SAP applications. We could even develop an application that enables users to graphically display social media insights on an iPad to make a display of results simple and portable, as shown in the screen shot above.

We’re happy to team with NetBase, further extending SAP’s social enterprise vision.

 Denis Descause is global business development lead for Ecosystem and Channels at SAP. Follow him on Twitter: @denisdescause.

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