Salesforce.com announced its intention to acquire social media monitoring company Radian6 for a reported $276 million. The acquisition will put the power of Radian6’s social media intelligence, trend and sentiment analysis into the hands of Salesforce.com customers, creating a direct link between social media monitoring, lead generation and customer relationship management (CRM).
This move demonstrates the palpable shift toward contextualized, real-time analysis across digital channels as a primary means of collecting business intelligence. But it also raises the larger, crucial question of whether brands are equipped to make sense of it all.
Real-time monitoring, moderation and measurement, in concert with the creation and management of content, is an enormous task. While tools like Radian6 offer an attractive, well-designed dashboard for the firehose of data, it requires a team of skilled analysts to interpret and apply the data at appropriate points throughout the sales cycle.
Making this new suite of tools meaningful is not a job for the summer intern or the sales representative. Rather it calls for an interdisciplinary team of marketing, communications, PR and sales professionals working together to turn analysis into measurable strategies and action items. All of it must work in concert with traditional media efforts like broadcast, print and outdoor in order to maintain a cohesive brand voice and identity.
Are companies ready? Simply having access to pretty charts and graphs may look great projected on the conference room screen, but unless they’re staffed with the people necessary to demonstrate ROI, it’s all for naught. The CEO ultimately doesn’t care about Klout scores and Peerindex numbers, they want to know how it affects budgets and the bottom line. Having unprecedented real-time insight into what people are saying about your brand is useless unless you can create meaningful content and interactions as a result.
It’s all akin to taking a child off a tricycle and putting him in the pilot’s seat of the space shuttle. All the advanced technology in the world is meaningless unless there are trained people to utilize it.
Software alone is not enough. An organized presentation of insights is not enough. The only way to understand people (and data about people) is with people. The right people, and lots of them.