Business Intelligence Tools to Understand External Online Data

If there’s all this great information in big data, why do we have such a hard time getting to the part with the deep business insights? One issue is related to getting a better handle on influence.  But it’s also about structuring and tagging data in a way that allows you to see connections not only between people, but also concepts, companies and innovation.  For a long time, companies have been conducting business intelligence on their internal data, but now a few start-ups are tackling the task of conducting external business intelligence using publicly available data (social media, PR reports, investment disclosures, etc.).

Quid and Recorded Future are two such companies, and they are raising money and building teams to tackle this very real problem of pulling insight out of all this digital data floating around in cyberspace.  Large corporations, especially those in the technology sector, are using their services to analyze competitor moves, trends in the sector, opportunities for growth and acquisition targets, while traders at financial firms are using these services to analyze events, media-flow, and market behavior to adjust their trading strategies.

It’s always easier to see these things with concrete examples, and there is a great example using Smart TVs on Recorded Future’s website to provide a glimpse into the possibilities.  Imagine you are a corporate strategist at Samsung trying to map out the Smart TV landscape.  You know that people are talking about Smart TVs, and you could probably use a social media or traditional PR listening tool to figure out which forums and which blogs are discussing the topic.  But then what?  What about all of the financial documents, analyst reports and predictions that exist across other channels.  And how do you figure out how it all maps out in terms of sources, relationships and timing?

These tools essentially take as much publicly available content as possible and apply complex natural language processing to identify specific references to ideas, people and events.   These references are then structured and organized by things like time, topics and concepts.  By visualizing this data onto a dashboard that can be played with and manipulated, a corporate strategist at Samsung can now quickly see which companies are currently investing in SmartTVs and where the largest sums of investment are going to.  If he or she wants to find out how soon Samsung needs to begin thinking about R&D or a possible acquisition target, that can be done as well.


As the volume of data and the speed of innovation increases, these types of services will become a necessary tool for any strategic minded professional who wants to get validated insight into the future.

While Quid is currently not available for trial, Recorded Future offers those who are curious, a 15 day trial of the service.  Even if this is not exactly your thing, it’s worth seeing where we are headed.  Let me know what you think.

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