Forrester_logo_2009.jpgThe phrase "enterprise listening platform" doesn’t exactly speak for itself. Most people don’t necessarily know what it means or how to select a platform that is appropriate for them. Thanks to a new Forrester report, we can better understand what’s available and what is worth investing in.

Listening for Social Insights

Of course, when we say "enterprise listening platform," we mean social media monitoring. Social intelligence can tell us lots about what customers, and prospective customers, are saying about you, your brand and services so you can use the data to improve and innovate as necessary. Yet, collecting and reviewing the data can be intense, so having a platform that can do it for you is helpful.

According to Forrester, there are a few platforms that stand out among the hundreds of platforms and services available. However, as social media evolves on a regular basis, it’s important to understand that what’s available today may change tomorrow. In fact, since its last evaluation, Forrester found significant changes within the social intelligence landscape, including:

Mergers & Acquisitions

Additionally, though Radian6 still operates under its same name, it now sits under its parent,, following the 2011 acquisition. 

Listening as a Service

Listening is all the rage today, with many of the world’s largest technology companies having launched listening technologies. Both Adobe and SAS launched social analytics offerings, IBM now offers Cognos Consumer Insight and Google Analytics adds more social media analysis to its web analytics offering every day. 

Methodology & Criteria

Forrester examined past research, user need assessments and vendor and expert interviews to develop a set of evaluation criteria against which it rated nine vendors, grouped into three high-level buckets:

  • Current Offering
  • Strategy
  • Marketing Presence

Each vendor evaluated also met the following criteria:

  • Selected vendors must have $10 million in annual revenue from their listening offering or at least 100 active customers.
  • At least 40% of the selected vendors’ customers must be $1 billion-plus companies -- or they must have a minimum of 100 enterprise customers.
  • No more than 40% of the vendor’s business can come from a single business line, such as public relations or market research.

Catch the Wave

As a result, it found that Radian6 and Visible Technologies lead the market, thanks to two key strengths: Broadly functional dashboards and innovative road maps. As well, Forrester rated Attensity, Converseon, Networked Insights, NM Incite, SDL and Synthesio strongly, each for a different reason.

  • Converseon because of its social research practice
  • Synthesio due to its international strengths
  • SDL for its social data quality
  • Networked Insights for its strong connection to the media world
  • Attensity for its ability to handle a variety of data
  • NM Incite for its strength in consulting services

Of course, Forrester's evaluation should be used as a guide. Only you and your company can decide which is the right tool for you and your audience. Enterprise listening tools can help you glean information about your users, but it can't tell you exactly how to meet their needs. Those looking for a magical solution will be disappointed. However, those looking for assistance to help them keep on top of conversations, questions and community management will probably find it among these nine tools.