Digital Intelligence and Social Media Research
The rapid evolution of digital communications technologies has also brought about a revolution. By enabling the dissemination of information, knowledge, ideas and opinion to a universal audience; and direct and immediate exchanges between individuals and groups, as well as organisations; it has supported research and technological advancement, social and political change and the expansion of the knowledge economy. In so far as 'knowledge is power'1 this opening of Pandora's Box has also tipped the balance of power from where it once was, in a number of directions, with perhaps unanticipated consequences. So, as a source of strategic and commercial intelligence, what may be harvested from the digital environment has suddenly become extremely important.
Structured and unstructured data
At the same time and as part of this process, the digitisation of knowledge has proceeded at an exponential rate. This has included the formal, structured publication of resources and archives; in part as an intentional democratisation of information supply; in part to reach and give access to the distributed, specialist or global communities to which that material most relates; and in part because digital solutions make the storage, cataloguing and retrieval of data and digitised content possible on a massive scale, whilst being practical, efficient and cost effective.
Business Intelligence in all its forms is enabled and empowered by this situation. So long as the right tools are used to leverage and distil the huge amount of information that is available and assist with its insightful interpretation, the digital environment yields valuable insights, offers extensive reach and gives quick access to knowledge; thus supporting informed judgement and strategic thinking in fast moving, increasingly competitive, global markets. In the Knowledge Economy, it is what you know that differentiates you from the competition. Today's intelligent business has to stay permanently ahead of the game in order to be sustainable.
Sifting social media; crowd sourced market research that is reliably objective; competitor intelligence that clearly identifies strengths and weaknesses; thought leadership that establishes credibility and influences opinion formers; horizon scanning for identifying business opportunities, forward planning and risk management including awareness of disruptive technologies; brand 'friending' to maximise retail sales and retain loyalty; pre-emptive product development; spotting long tail markets; and the relationship management of 'intervention marketing' to turn negative situations into good PR; are the new imperatives. This means listening to the digital noise, distilling meaning through concept analysis and digging for gold among the nuggets of information that are retrieved.
As a consequence Digital Intelligence and Social Media Research have become the new 'capital' of the Knowledge Economy.