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SXSW 2014: IBM wants to help companies leverage social data

During SXSW interactive 2014, IBM tested a new experimental project, the "social business engagement center." At the intersection between data, visualization, interactivity and enterprise, the installation garnered a lot of interest at the trade show.

IBM social business engagement center
Nora Poggi

IBM wants to be a pioneer in social business and social engagement and the center was a way to show companies that social media offers a lot of business opportunities, if you know how to leverage its data. IBM partnered with startups that specialize in analytics and data visualization such as Mutual Mind and Mass Relevance, and used its own analytics technology, Cognos. The result: a visual, real-time data analysis using social media.

Seth Marquart, social business marketing manager at IBM, created the SXSW experimental installation. It included several screens, each one offering various opportunities. Among the most innovative: Leaderboard, built with Cognos by IBM, integrating Mutual Mind, which allows real-time visualization of 3 different metrics. Top 10 authors, keywords and mentions around your brand or topic of choice. Voices, created by IBM in November, "a Flipboard for the enterprise" according to Marquart, displays conversations by top influencers within a company. Sunburst uses a special Mutual Mind algorithm and analyzes feelings around a chosen keyword. Watson the supercomputer hasn't been integrated into it yet, but when it is it will surely greatly multiply its power. Lastly, Heatmap by Mutual Mind uses Cognos' API in order to map out conversations in real time.

The most popular board was Sytem U, created by IBM and unveiled a month ago. Enter a Twitter handle in the machine and it analyzes its personality, tone, the frequence and timing of its posts. Ideal for targeted marketing. System U allows you to target influencers and to manage your brand's voice.

This IBM experiment was pretty popular, and now it will be interesting to see if the company decides to commercialize a full-blown suite around social business. According to Seth Marquart, the SXSW project was meant to "change the mindset of companies stuck in non social ways, it's not just Facebook and Twitter, you can improve and build on your business. It was a showcase. we pulled in some of our technology and partners to make it sexy". Mission accomplished, next step is now to target companies and make sure they play the game.

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