Article originally published on wired.com October 31, 2014
On October 29, 2014 IBM announced a historic partnership with Twitter. The partnership joins Twitter data with IBM’s analytics and customer engagement platforms. To me this seems like a rather important partnership, as it takes one of the largest global social media platforms and pairs it with a preferred analytics solution. To date, there have been a variety of independent tools used to mine through data using the Twitter API. Now there is one enterprise level service that has robust predictive capabilities as well as very good data visualization. If there were “Huge Data” this event would qualify as Twitter has billions of rows of data, and IBM has some sophisticated data analytics capabilities.
What does this mean for smaller players in social analytics?
If I were working for HootSuite or SproutSocial, I would immediately be on edge. When large companies like IBM enter the space and form relationships like this, it can spell doom for smaller companies. They have the capabilities to pour a lot of funding into the product, and the relationship could lead to exclusive views of data that just aren’t offered anywhere else. Still, small to medium sized businesses likely can’t afford IBM so there will still be a niche space.
Will this disrupt enterprise solutions?
The short answer is yes. Enterprise solutions like the Salesforce Marketing Cloud or Adobe’s Marketing Cloud will certainly be impacted. Enterprise level solutions will have to make sure they can keep up with what IBM is doing. But in the long term, IBM has already been a player in the same space so this probably won’t be as detrimental as some might think.
What does the future hold for social analytics?
I compare what we are seeing now to what happened in the web analytics space 10 years ago. Back then you had a few enterprise level solutions like Omniture and Webtrends, and a large number of mid level solutions like Hitbox, Fireclick, and Coremetrics. Over time, the smaller fish were gobbled up by the bigger fish in the sea. Omniture acquired Hitbox and Visual Sciences, eventually to be purchased by Adobe. IBM eventually acquired Coremetrics and Unica. The final piece was Google’s acquisition of Urchin, which was renamed Google Analytics.
I expect things to follow a similar path, where the large companies like IBM, Adobe and Salesforce will continue to acquire smaller social analytics tools. Eventually Google will enter the fray, and if they offered a free service similar to Google Analytics, it’s game over for anyone who can’t keep up with the enterprise level offerings.