Unlike data on actual purchases, social-network data is literally out of anyone's control. It ranges from static Facebook data to rapid-fire information in tweets. If a chain can track such data and react to it in real time, that could make huge-data analysis useful—even if it means merely spotting customer complaints bubbling up. But it would be especially useful if the analysis lets a retailer see almost everything customers are interested in. The fact that Big Blue is claiming to be able to tackle those mountains of data while it is still in its native format makes this announcement even more intriguing.
Mining tens of petabytes of data may sound like overkill for most retailers, but on May 20 IBM announced new tools for analyzing that level of data in less than a second. The move is really not too much overkill. As retailers start searching social-networking sites to flesh out their CRM data on customers, adding huge amounts of data from mobile on top of more facts being retained from M-Commerce, this capability could prove a lot more useful.