Listening platforms — or social media monitoring, analysis, and engagement tools — are bringing massive amounts of new information to businesses’ marketing departments. These tools are also leading the way in the growth of social media information and access throughout organizations.
This means listening-platform marketing applications are here to stay and can tap the potential by which customers’ wants and needs can be better understood and, presumably, satisfied. Already users have recognized the importance of integrating listening-platform capabilities into their customer relationship management (CRM) systems. The value of combining social media and corporate customer data is also being realized. We expect that human resource management (HRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications will eventually be infused with information and intelligence from social media as well.
But the market for listening platforms is still young. Most providers have been startups that have sold Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions directly to line-of-business marketing executives, with little involvement from corporate IT. There has been some consolidation in the market over the past 15 months, however, and now the largest software and services companies are getting involved with acquisitions and partnerships.
Likewise, the products are maturing as well. Greater degrees of live, two-way integration with core corporate systems are starting to be supported. Weaknesses in the technology — such as the inaccuracy of sentiment-analysis processes — are being improved. And the payback from market research and audience analysis is becoming clearer all the time.
The implementation of listening-platform capability is as much an organizational challenge as it is a technical one. How will immediate marketing needs be balanced with longer-term corporate requirements? Will marketing or IT departments take the lead in selecting and managing systems that clearly empower the marketing function and organization? How will the leading technology providers ultimately incorporate listening-platform functionality within their core lineup of products and services?
The following pages will analyze how the adoption of listening platforms is transforming marketing departments, their relationships with central IT, and the core systems that run the enterprise.