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This was originally published on Tom’s Tech Take on August 8, 2013:

IBM has been building and investing in data crunching products for the better part of half a decade. Not only have they acquired a number of data analytics and business intelligence companies, such as Cognos and SPSS, but IBM Research has been heavily engaged in developing key algorithms for analyzing all types of data including social media data. Since IBM has had all the parts to provide a social media analytics solution, it was only a matter of time before they fielded a product in this space.

The stakes were high for IBM. IBM has consistently stressed the role of analytics in large enterprises as part of its “Smarter” initiatives. To simply slap together a collection of products and call it social media analytics would have been opposed to their core messaging and done a disservice to their large enterprise customers. In other words, they needed a fully integrated and bulletproof product that was fit for the biggest enterprises on the planet. It could not have looked or acted like a bunch of piece parts, especially the user experience.

Recognizing this obligation, IBM has taken the time to weave these separate assets into a unified whole that competes with the top social analytics packages, looks like a single cloud-based social media analytics product, and retains the power of the individual Cognos and SPSS applications. IBM Social Media Analytics hits all the high notes for social media analytics including sentiment analysis, topic trends, share of voice, etc. with excellent filtering, drill down, and analysis capabilities.

The SPSS and Cognos components (which are bundled with the IBM Social Media Analytics software) provide considerable flexibility in how data

is analyzed and viewed. IBM integrates social media analytics into the total business intelligence of a company and not just as a specialized marketing package that ignores the rest of the company BI needs. The effect of this BI approach is the ability to think of social media analytics outside of the marketing box. This BI mindset presents customers with the opportunity to consider using social media data as part of legal risk management, supply chain management, and many other non-marketing functions. It changes the conversation about “social media” from a strictly sales and marketing one to a corporate wide discussion.

As a social media analytics package, IBM Social Media Analytics contends with the others in the high-end of the social media analytics space. What it doesn’t yet have is the tools to engage customers and other constituents through social media. It’s important for IBM to have tools to create response to the data but only to meet the needs of a narrow constituency – marketing professionals. The picture for social analytics is much broader than that and IBM Social Media Analytics is well positioned to meet this more expansive set of needs.