Martin Harrysson, Estelle Metayer, and Hugo Sarrazin published an article in McKinsey Quarterly titled ”How ‘social intelligence’ can guide decisions.” The article offers fresh, thought-provoking ideas about the importance of social intelligence in making strategic decisions. Key points from the article are bulleted below.
- Social media is providing companies fresh strategic insight
- As social technologies mature and organizations become convinced of their power, we believe they will take on a broader role: informing competitive strategy.
- We aren’t suggesting that “social” will entirely displace current methods of intelligence gathering. But it should emerge as a strong complement.
- Social technologies can play a surprisingly central role in how information is sourced, collected, analyzed, and distributed.
- To reinforce this diversity of thought, companies can embed analysts across the organization in functions ranging from strategic planning and product development to R&D, customer service, and M&A planning.
- Social media can also provide windows into the plans of competitors, suppliers, and customers.
- But socially astute analysts will need more, such as the ability to manage and engage an online community of trend spotters and, above all, the curiosity to reach out for novel sources of expertise.In effect, they must become hunters of information rather than gatherers.
- Few analysts deploy tools robust enough to draw useful insights from the turbulent new streams of social data. Most use older-line approaches taught in business schools—such as standard SWOT analyses or those employing Porter’s five forces—and often find themselves improvising.
- We were also interested in the half-dozen new analytic techniques employed, including “buzz volume,” to isolate relevant messages about the company’s brand and those of competitors; “discussion topics,” which distilled a random sample of messages about the company and each competitor and arranged them by the topics that arose in discussions; “qualitative insights,” targeting notable quotes from the messages; and “consumer sentiment,” categorizing messages as positive, negative, mixed, or neutral
- New social software now on the market lets companies rapidly, even automatically, curate highly pertinent information—from news sources, Web discussions by experts and influencers, freshly minted market data, and customer feedback.
- This software allows companies to produce “micropublications” that can be dispatched to decision makers instantly.
- External sources, such as paper.li and Flipboard, automatically generate targeted news-letters on a particular subject in attractive and intuitive formats.
Social media can help companies overcome some limits of old-school intelligence gathering, which typically involves collecting information from a range of public and propriety sources, distilling insights using time-tested analytic methods, and creating reports for internal company “clients” often “siloed” by function or business unit.