Social networking can make or break a brand

Informatica CEO Sohaib Abbasi says Twitter and Facebook have the power to destroy or build a brand

The power and pervasiveness of social networks has been further thrust into the public consciousness in recent weeks with the huge critical and commercial success of the film ‘The Social Network’, which chronicles the turbulent rise of Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, from awkward student to internet billionaire.

Therefore, it was very timely that Informatica chief executive and chairman, Sohaib Abbasi, used the platform of the company’s annual Informatica World conference in Washington DC to highlight how social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere could be utilised not only as a means of social interaction and commentary, but as a powerful CRM resource for businesses.

While few would doubt that social networking platforms offer businesses an opportunity to foster better relations with their customers and be more proactive, as well as enabling them to respond in real-time to customer issues, finding that relevant data amongst all the other irrelevant discourse is the real challenge. It is, however, a challenge that Abbasi says Informatica is well-positioned to meet.

“It is a very good point insofar as if there’s over 100 million consumers contributing the data, how will you assure yourself that it is of sufficient quality?,” he says. “That is why our data quality division is placed extremely well because the relevance of data quality will only increase if you’ve got hundreds of millions of people contributing the data.

“We will help our customers to ensure that they can keep up with the scale of the data, as well as ensure that it is of sufficient quality.”

Indeed, as recently as October this year, Informatica was cited as a “leader” by independent research firm Forresters in The Forrester Wave: Enterprise Data Quality Platforms, Q4 2010. The company was recognised for, amongst other things, its strong support for real-time data quality services, data quality monitoring and stewardship capabilities, and the quality of the experience shared by its customers.

To further enhance its capabilities in those areas, Informatica also announced at its conference that it was to partner with data management software and services provider, Cloudera, to provide customers with the solutions needed to address the challenges associated with managing large-scale data, including structured, complex and social.

With the likes of Twitter and Facebook now having the power to destroy or build a brand, Abbasi believes that any enterprise that decides not to engage in that manner is taking an enormous risk.

“The opportunity is clearly there for those organisations that want to have proactive customer engagement,” he says. “They need to leverage that (social) media. If, for example, their customers are using Twitter, they also need to engage with their customers through Twitter.”

It seems that the business world is getting the message, with social media adoption by the enterprise doubling every year. Additionally, five times more corporate data now resides outside of relational databases than inside.

Read about social networking in businesses.

“Today, more data is being captured outside of a relational database than ever before,” says Abbasi. “With social networking services, the innovations for data management and data processing are beyond relational databases. Relational database applications have improved productivity with business management applications.

“Now, social networking services enable organisations to go beyond business management: brand management. For business management, the data is about transactions. For brand management, the data is about interactions.”