Realtime search and shared data services come together?

In my perennial search for the NEXT BIG THING I have recently been writing about shared data services and realtime search.  This morning I find the two spaces might be coming together.  Salesforce.com’s Service Cloud, perhaps one of the best examples of a service which shows the potential for sharing data, has announced that due to demand from their 6,800 customers they will integrate Twitter by the summer.

This move has got others wondering whether Twitter can be the basis of a social CRM, and there are a number of companies like CoTweet pursuing this opportunity.  I think there is definitely value in companies mining the realtime data stream for customer service and even sales and marketing, but I think the real value in realtime search for Twitter and others will be unleashed by consumer facing services.  (Note that ‘realtime data’ includes, but is not limited to Twitter – e.g. Faceconnector is already using Salesforce to mine Facebook data for CRM purposes.)

With a nod to VRM thinking, I think that consumer services which allow you to monitor and interact with the realtime feed on your chosen topic area over a period of months will create a lot of value for both the consumer and advertiser. 

As an example, on the consumer side tools that mirror the slow process of moving towards major purchase decisions that we all have offline (dipping in and out, periodic periods of intense research, focusing in when we happen to be in the room with a relevant expert, sharing information with co-decision makers) would be very useful and I think are only possible now that we have Twitter and Facebook to work with.  For the advertiser the information generated by this search process is very valuable, obviously for retailers of the subject of the search, but also for related products and other products a similar person might buy.  E.g. if I spend six months investigating cars and home in on Audi and Mercedes that is of obvious interest to the car companies, and to insurance and finance companies, but also to other brands whose target customers drive these vehicles.

The nod to VRM comes because the data generated by the realtime search is a kind of personal data store and I suspect the right privacy model is to give the user 100% control of this data and which parts of it are made available to advertisers.  Possibly even to the extent of allowing them to choose which brands they will give access to – business model TBD.

  • It's definitely moving in that direction. It doesnt have to be that advanced either though, as consumer facing apps that elicit the right responses from its users and incentivises them to do so, whether it be through social status (ego) or other, will contain the keys to the data that companies will be very interested in. Facebook is already moving that way with their “like” extension as that certainly creates a database or interests or intensions that can be mined / targeted and therefore commercialized. It will be interesting to see this play out versus privacy concerns, particularly when you add location and time to the equation.

  • Iain Henderson

    Hi Nic, yes in VRM world we are investigating/ building around precisely that scenario. The working terminology is 'volunteeered personal information', i.e. that which the individual generates in going about their various buying processes and which is currently lost to all parties. It has nowhere to go at present as to be realised it would have to sit behind someone else's terms and conditions; in short we are building the tools (tech and standard agreements) that enable individuals to make that information available under their control. We have one proof of concept up and running which shows 'VPI' flowing from an individual into a real CRM system; the tech is the easy bit – agreements and deployment take a bit more organising.

    If an individual can very clearly articulate and share their buying intentions and the various facets of that then yes I think there will be a market for that.

  • The interesting bit you point out is the persistence of presence, the ability to link actions together by a specific individual over a period of time to get a more reasonable and true look into their intent. Browsing history and cookies were just a start; Twitter and Facebook (and blogs, and delicious, and any site where we create and curate content) helps to piece together the story, but as Iain points out, the next step will be tools based on the VRM philosophy that will provide the reasons (and incentives) for people to provide a clearer view into their actions. Right now we hide our intent in varying degrees of plain sight, but I'd hazard a guess that we'd change our behavior if we could see the value.

  • The interesting bit you point out is the persistence of presence, the ability to link actions together by a specific individual over a period of time to get a more reasonable and true look into their intent. Browsing history and cookies were just a start; Twitter and Facebook (and blogs, and delicious, and any site where we create and curate content) helps to piece together the story, but as Iain points out, the next step will be tools based on the VRM philosophy that will provide the reasons (and incentives) for people to provide a clearer view into their actions. Right now we hide our intent in varying degrees of plain sight, but I'd hazard a guess that we'd change our behavior if we could see the value.

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