Visible Technologies Upgrades Platform to Mine Social Listening Posts


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As social media usage has ramped up, it’s become increasingly clear that there’s value in all that chatter. If only you can identify what’s significant. Few companies have the resources to personally monitor what consumers are saying, although some have tried — e.g. Comcast and JetBlue.

This is a perfect job for technology to monitor social media conversations (e.g. blogs, Twitter, Facebook), use text mining to figure out the user’s attitude (sentiment) and topic of conversation, and then prioritize and route to someone in the organization to handle.

But what do we call this category of technology? Blake Cahill, SVP of Sales and Marketing at Visible Technologies says “there is no one term that encapsulates how social data can be handled.” He notes that Gartner refers to this space as “Social Media Monitoring” and Forrester uses the term “Listening Platforms.”

And then there’s “Social CRM” where CRM vendors (Parature, RightNow, and many others) are increasingly integrating monitoring capabilities into their suites. And at least one social vendor (Lithium) is also in the monitoring game. Let’s play buzzword Bingo!

Listen, understand, act

Whatever buzzword you prefer, what we’re talking about is mining information from social listening posts. And then hopefully doing something with that insight. To that end, Visible Technologies, which Forrester regards as a “strong performer,” just announced a re-launch with a more consistent naming convention. According to the press release:

  • truVOICE: Previously called TruCast, the flagship product is an enterprise-class solution with advanced data collection, cross departmental engagement workflow, approvals and tracking of social media conversations.
  • truPULSE: An on-demand listening tool for rapid social media monitoring and analysis of online dialogue to provide organizations a quick and robust way to identify the topics they want to explore deeper.
  • truSEARCH: A rich repository of social media data to intuitively investigate what is important, with key-phrase drilldown, topic discovery and conceptual search functionality.
  • truINSIGHT: A comprehensive set of professional services and reports that help companies holistically track and measure social conversations to make more timely and informed business decisions.
  • truREPUTATION: A full suite of online reputation management services that provide individuals and corporations with an effective way to comprehensively manage their reputation in search engine results through assessment and measurement, protection and repair.

I provide this list to help illustrate to the CRM crowd that there’s a quite a lot involved in a comprehensive SMM suite. CRM vendors oftent tackle the monitoring job with a more narrow purpose — e.g. to create a case in a customer service system.

In terms of new function, Visible Technologies also announced truPULSE to enable real-time monitoring using RSS feeds.

CRM and SMM vendors — friends or foes?

While CRM vendors will build in social monitoring capability, it certainly looks like there will be a market for social listening platforms that can be used across the enterprise.

Visible Technologies was initially founded in 2005 and focused on Search Engine Management, but then decided to surf the social wave and build a more comprehensive platform. Other key players mentioned in the The Forrester Wave™: Listening Platforms, Q1 2009" by Suresh Vittal include Biz360, Dow Jones Insight, J.D. Power & Associates, Nielsen Buzzmetrics, Radian6 and TNS Cymfony.

I’m planning a longer article on this subject later this year and will have customer examples and more commentary about best practices and vendor positioning.

What I hope and expect to see will be more collaboration between the CRM suite and SMM suite vendors. There’s value in both, and enterprises would be wise to start thinking about how to integrate the newer social mining with transactional systems they already have. You can call that “social CRM” if you like. I do.


  1. Bob – It was so great speaking with you about the social space & where things are headed in relation to what CRM vendors are doing. The key for organizations is putting people and processes to work around the technology and listening, servicing, and interacting with their customers. We look forward to connecting you with some clients for you other story.

    Speak more soon. Appreciate the insightful post.


    Blake Cahill
    SVP of Marketing
    Visible Technologies

  2. Greetings Bob:

    As you called out, SMM solutions include several complex components and must scan a very large universe of content.

    I would go so far as to say that the core competency of SMM is something that very few if any CRM players will be able to address as ultimately required and as available through companies with a SMM focus.

    SMM-lite solutions added by CRM vendors to their offerings may meet the needs of some customers in the short term, but ultimately I have got to believe that most customers will not accept the relative inferiority and limited scope when compared to what is available from SMM vendors.

    Similarly, I believe that content defined by SMM systems as relevant for support or sales follow-up will be best served by CRM solutions with that focus rather than trying to take on those functions in a SMM solution.

    The good news is that most vendors should be positioned to utilize Web services to greatly simplify and expedite the integration between CRM and SMM solutions.

    Chuck Van Court
    Founder and CEO
    Fuze Digital Solutions


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