A new center has been launched at the University of Arizona to help businesses understand, harness, analyze, forecast and make real-time decisions with the billions of datasets being generated from social media sources.
The center, called INSITE, will offer business intelligence and analytics, both of which include a broad category of applications and technologies for gathering, storing, analyzing and providing access to data.
INSITE's function will be to help users make better business decisions at a time when data is being generated in unprecedented volumes and becoming strategically critical to enterprises of every size and type.
"In today's world, it is not enough for companies to track their sales, marketing, financial and other internally generated data," said INSITE's founder Sudha Ram.
"They need to combine their internal data with external sources of data such as blogs and reviews about their products, Twitter and Facebook comments, as well as YouTube videos and data from wiki based discussion forums, to develop insights for improving performance and remaining competitive," said Ram, UA's McClelland Professor of MIS at the Eller College of Management.
Business intelligence applications include the activities of decision support systems, query and reporting, online analytical processing, statistical analysis, forecasting and data mining.
Fueled by new Web technologies, companies such as Google, Yahoo and MSN are routinely generating upwards of 20 petabytes of data each day, which amounts to approximately 6 billion digital photos or 20 million four-drawer filing cabinets filled with text accumulating daily.
"Social media provide so much more than a conversation. They offers industry – private or public – the option to gather feedback from users, see the trends, anticipate and assess what is happening and the ability to react to it as it is happening," Ram said.
Ram also said a "paradigm shift" is occurring, resulting from massive traces of human activity on the web from billions of users that offers businesses the ability to capture, in real time, the pulse of humanity.
The new center will develop techniques, algorithms and technologies to extract actionable insights from the data for INSITE member organizations.
Ram and INSITE are looking for organizations to become members and have begun discussions with a national organization that is looking for help analyzing data from Black Friday and has been approached by another national organization looking to see what a campaign with Foursquare will yield.
INSITE membership includes the following benefits:
- Cost effective, highly leveraged research along with business intelligence techniques and models
- Advanced copies of research results and publications
- Proprietary position on technology transfer licensing
- Access to future customers, including students involved in INSITE's research and to an interdisciplinary faculty with a broad spectrum of research
- Semi-annual advisory board meetings
- Opportunities to collaborate with researchers and business officials on proposals in response to government funding initiatives
Various membership levels and costs exist, and are based on two-year commitments that will be matched through funds raised through the National Science Foundation and other agencies.
"At the UA and within Eller, we have a great opportunity to help industry analyze what is happening. We have the faculty expertise and the students who are being trained as data scientists for the future. We have a pipeline of techniques and people ready to help bring solutions to data and social media analytics needs."