Did you hear that? That was the sound of Twitter making another huge, market shaking business decision. Building momentum from their test deployment of the new “buy” button, Twitter has inked a deal with IBM that could revolutionize business intelligence.
Though they seem like an unlikely pair, the team could end up being quite natural, as IBM’s vast processing power and far-reaching and extensive business and enterprise connections are a perfect complement to Twitters huge stores of data, the huge majority of which are sitting in data centers across the country, more or less unanalyzed. This partnership, and the tools it seems likely to produce, should turn out to be critically important to small businesses and executives in growth companies.
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The implications of this announcement could be far-reaching and potentially revolutionary. Twitter executive Chris Moody waxed enthusiasm when talking about the deal, calling its potential applications “nearly limitless” and even predicting that in the future, “Every significant business decision will have Twitter input.”
Data for all walks of life
Under the deal, IBM will gain full and unrestricted real time access to all public tweets, as well as and archives of past public tweets. The applications proper use of this data could be hugely significant. For instance, scientists could use analysis of Twitter data to learn more detailed information about how widely earthquakes are felt, giving more detailed information than is currently available, especially in less-studied areas. Or, health officials could use it like a Google Flu Tracker on steroids, providing detailed data on disease symptoms and transmission as they spread across areas.
Though data and information from Twitter has been used for these purposes before, they were all based on analysis of historic tweets, not real-time data.
A marketer's dream
It could also hypothetically be used to track reactions to marketing campaigns, with companies able to watch in real time how users react and speak out about their products, or to zoom out in scale and see the growth in tweets mentioning features of the specific campaign.
This would allow them to gauge how many business leads are a result of the campaign. Another potential application will evidence itself in election years, with election forecasts using data from Twitter to supplement traditional polling data. Imagine: live opinion “polls” of what people are actually talking about on their own!
The companies will work to jointly develop analysis tools and other services for business customers, allowing even smaller companies to take advantage of detailed information from the partnership. Currently, there is a large data analysis gap that allows larger companies with huge resources to hold a significant advantage over smaller companies when it comes to analysis of huge amounts of data.
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Between advantages they have in hardware and simply hiring one of what is a limited number of data scientists, smaller companies often find their analytical abilities outclassed. Tools developed through the IBM and Twitter partnership should help to level the playing field, with IBM’s business intelligence consultants being trained to interpret data coming from Twitter as well as their more traditional data sources.
Benefits for SMBs
Small business owners should pay close attention to upcoming announcements from both IBM and Twitter, as the potential early-adoption rewards are especially high here. Prudent utilization of this new business intelligence could provide small growth companies a crucial edge on the competition, so it’s best to stay alert and open to opportunities.
The announcement is just the beginning. The potential applications of high-quality data analysis available in tweets are hard to estimate. But it’s indisputable that IBM’s business intelligence game just got a lot better: it remains to see what they make of the opportunity, and how executives and small business owners take advantage of it.