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Interview: Embracing social media

Zafar Anjum | April 23, 2013
Shabbir Baliwala, solutions director for ASEAN, Compuware Asia, explains how organisations and retailers can cater to consumer needs through social media and make sense of big data.

Shabbir Baliwala

Shabbir Baliwala, solutions director for ASEAN, Compuware Asia

Shabbir Baliwala, solutions director for ASEAN, Compuware Asia, explains how organisations and retailers can cater to consumer needs through social media and make sense of big data.

How has social media changed consumer expectations from organisations including retailers (in terms of their interaction and engagement)?

Following the widespread availability of the Internet and an increase in smartphone penetration rates, social media has evolved to become an integral part of a consumer's online experience. Users can now interact with each other in a near-instantaneous environment, where they can research a brand or product before a purchase and provide feedback post purchase.

For organisations and retailers, this means that consumers expect a high level of interaction and involvement with the brand. Constant interaction, updates and education are crucial factors in mounting a positive brand image and maintaining customer loyalty.

How are organisations/retailers currently harvesting this information from social media and using it to their advantage?

We are observing that many organisations have started to monitor and keep track of their social media outlets to understand their customers' needs and collect feedback. This new level of customer input allows organisations to continuously improve on their products and services to cater to consumers' needs.

Also, monitoring social media allows organisations to keep a pulse on consumer sentiments, the 24x7 availability and immediacy of social media works two ways; for consumers as they are able to instantly provide feedback to brands, and for brands to be able to monitor up-to-the-minute trends and respond in real time to negate any potential damage to its reputation.
Are they doing it the right way? Can the process be improved?

While social media is an important platform, it can't be relied upon as the only platform for monitoring service efficiency. Therefore, we'd recommend that organisations adopt a proactive approach to monitor their service levels and benchmark their performance against industry leaders and competitors.

Are there any security or privacy issues involved in this process?

Social media is a public platform where any user can post comments behind a veil of anonymity. This can be detrimental to an organisation as they have little or no control of information posted or shared. Therefore, it is vital that they create processes and enforce guidelines to monitor their social media presence.

On the security front, as social networks continue to solidify their position at the heart of many brands' daily activities on the Internet, it has resulted in an alarming rise in cyber attacks on brands. Organisations need to modify or review their security policies on a quarterly basis.

There are so many sources of customer data today. How can companies sift through such massive amounts of data? How can they know what is valuable and what is not?

The pervasive nature of the Internet creates terabytes of data every minute, which is complex and challenging to process. This is Big Data in its purest form, and whilst difficult to analyse due to its sheer volume, the information gleaned from these statistics provide valuable insights to an organisation's user base; insights that will enable businesses to make an informed decision when rolling out a campaign or deciding on its user acquisition strategy.

Compuware Outage Analyzer uses Big Data to analyse billions of performance metrics globally, every day, to identify outages that can affect large number of users, as well as provide accurate insights on a website's availability and performance. This effective use of Big Data helps Compuware customers provide seamless experience to its users.

What tools has your company developed to help retailers in this regard?

Compuware's suite of Application Performance Management solutions offer our customers end-to-end visibility across the delivery chain to ensure that business critical applications provide a positive user experience at all times, in all locations, on any browser and device.


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