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How much are your social network connections worth?

Cliff Saran

Businesses should use analytical methods to measure the success of social networking and the value of social network users' relationships and connections, according to analyst Gartner.

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Gartner said that social network analysis delivers business intelligence that can determine whether social networking patterns represent business opportunities or disruptions. Organisations can use this information to exploit these patterns.

"Work is routinely conducted among employees, business partners and customers without a clear understanding of the positions that people play in the social network or a quantification of the value exchanges that occur," said Carol Rozwell, vice-president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. "CIOs, IT professionals and business managers need to look to social network analysis to achieve a Pattern-Based Strategy."

Gartner claims social network analysis supports a performance-driven culture, extending the traditional performance focus from measuring what happened in the past to focusing on leading indicators and using measurable results to drive desired behaviours.

Gartner has coined the term "Pattern-Based Strategy" to describe the discipline of actively seeking, amplifying, examining and exploiting new business patterns to capitalise on opportunities or avoid disruptions.

The analyst firm said there were three variations of social network analysis that can help businesses use a Pattern-Based Strategy:

  1. Organisational Network Analysis: explores the constraints, connections, communication and information flows among individuals, or nodes, in the network.
  2. Value Network Analysis: examines the transactions and relationships among roles that create economic value. The value exchanges are depicted as tangible and intangible deliverables.
  3. Influence Analysis: identifies influential people, associations or trends in the collective.

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