Analysing the internal social graph

In an interview with a journalist last year, I described the as yet unrealised potential to apply the same techniques used in social media analytics on the Web to the social collaboration systems inside organisations:

Microblogging is great for maintaining a cohesive work environment among geographically dispersed offices, says James Dellow from the social business consultancy [Ripple Effect Group (formally Headshift)].

‘With access to microblogs, executives can be in touch with what’s going on across the whole organisation. In a virtual sense, the CEO is sitting next to the employee.’

In the future, Dellow says enterprises will be using data analytics to pick up issues, trends, and opportunities from microblogging conversations.”

Like it or not, this vision is steadily making its way into reality. Some vendors, such as Socialtext’s 360 recommendation engine, had already started to implement specific tools to help staff navigate their internal social graph.

During the last year, Yammer has announced a series of integrations with 3rd parties who bring the possibility of deeper social analytics to social intranets:

  • Their Kanjoya integration offers “Emotion-aware sentiment analysis of conversations on your network”
  • Their latest integration is an integration with Klout, who are “beginning the process of ingesting data from Yammer to create a Yammer-specific Klout Score”.

At this stage we should still be cautious about the quality of insight that tools such as Kanjoya and Klout actually bring, but as we have found with social media anaytics a macro and micro view of social activity can be complementary to making business decisions. For example, at best the accuracy of automated sentiment analysis technology today is typically rated at 70%, but in practice our experience shows that the figure is lower because of the need to take into account the dynamics of culture and language.

More immediate benefit may come from combining these tools with existing social network analysis techniques and other methods, such as corporate ethnography, to understand what is really happening inside your organisation’s social graph.