Social Media Monitoring: Bespoke, Tailored, or Off the Rack?

TailorSo much of the public discussion of social media monitoring and analysis focus on commercially available platforms that are more or less ready to go to work. Somebody has to set up the queries, and there may be some dashboard configuration, but the tools are generally pay-and-go propositions. A recent article points out that some companies are going for something much more customized to their needs.

In its big list issue on companies doing IT well, Information Week mentioned Toyota's new social media and CRM tool:

The tool took 60 hours to develop, largely using software Toyota already had. Oracle Endeca Discovery handles data discovery and search analytics, WiseWindow and DataSift aggregate social data, and Lexalytics analyzes sentiment.

Toyota is using the tool to improve customer service, product forecasting and quality, and lead generation. It plans to feed information to dealers in the future.

If the usual model is off the rack—software-as-a-service from a single vendor, up and running with minimal configuration in minutes, hours, or days—this is custom tailored software, using the available APIs to combine the strengths of multiple products and vendors. With so many companies offering the building blocks of social media analysis, a mind-boggling near-infinity of combinations could be assembled to do—well, what would you want to do?

The opposite of off the rack is bespoke, which in this context means completely custom software development. Even using some of the open-source components that everyone uses as important building blocks, it's a lot of work. Unless you're in the software business (or might enter it), I'm not sure why you would bother. It's hard to think of even narrowly specialized applications for social media analysis that don't have someone trying to address the market.

Custom is expensive, which is why the volume market goes for off-the-shelf products. But given a hint of what one company is doing to tailor a system to fit their needs, I want to know more. Do you know other examples that people can talk about?

Photo by Douglas LeMoine.

About Nathan Gilliatt

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  • Voracious learner and explorer. Analyst tracking technologies and markets in intelligence, analytics and social media. Advisor to buyers, sellers and investors. Writing my next book.
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