Many companies are finding that the social networking of their current and potential clients can be more important than the sale they might make to that client. This new way of utilizing the power of prediction and network analysis is becoming the new way to market by utilizing social networks.
An article in the Economist outlines the idea. Using network analysis software, companies can make predictions about all kinds of things in regards to their customers, users, or clients. What the software is specifically looking for in most cases are “influencers” – those who often make decisions that move other people with them.
A telecomm in India, for isntance, uses the power of predictive analysis to see who has influence with a fair number of subscribers and then targets advertising and special deals directly at those influencers. By doing so, they’ve greatly reduced their desertion rate by keeping those who influence others to change networks happy.
Corporations use it to find the most influential people in their makeup so they can utilize those people to move forward an agenda or program.
What analysts have found is that those with social influence in a given setting, be it amongst friends and family for telecom or in the corporate infrastructure, have things that can be pinpointed and then exploited. For instance, most “influencers” are people who send and receive a lot of messages, but whose outgoing messages are often longer than their incoming and whose networks are large. An influential person in the office, for instance, will likely make numerous calls to delegate authority or find out information and those outgoing calls will be long. Incoming calls are usually questions being asked of the influencer and will be shorter. The same goes for most text or email messages as well.
Software to analyze these trends and a lot of other data is entering the main stream and the technology is booming. Gawker attributes this as the reason Facebook, Google, and others have been loosening their privacy constraints and opening up more network data. There’s a lot to be had (and money to be made) by tapping into these social networks.
The inclusion of social networks into the data mining already the norm at most businesses, especially retail and online sales, is an obvious next step. Even governments are in on the tech, using it to track everything from white collar thieves to terrorists.
According to the Economist, the next step in predictive analysis is to look at even larger segments of society to predict everything from Hezbollah rocket attacks to guiding counter intelligence operations.