SAP Social Network Analyzer: Old Concept, New Horizons

A social network is a structure composed by interconnected elements. From a network theory point of view, the so-called “nodes” can be individuals or organizations and are connected to each other interdependently by various types of relationships.

The concept of a social network is not a new idea. In fact, the term has been used for over a century, although complex relationships between members of social systems have been out there from the very beginning of human existence. However, social network analysis is an area that is constantly evolving and has become a key technique in modern sociology. Other professional sectors are also interested in following the trends, such as marketing, information technology, communication, economics, geography, sociolinguistics, anthropology, biology, etc.

There are some factors that are definitely fueling this interest: the proliferation of social networks on the Internet (with a constantly increasing penetration rate) and the evolution of mobile devices (smart phones) that integrate most of these social networks in a single point of access.

The fact that more and more people are entering and storing data on the Internet makes it an incredibly good source for profiling, niche marketing, customer outreach, etc. Many companies have already started producing revenue thanks to their social networking efforts over the past few years.

There are many social network analysis tools in the market, but this article is based on the approach by SAP BusinessObjects. Social Network Analyzer (SNA), which started as an SAP internal tool, aggregates existing enterprise data to display and discover organizational relationships.

It automatically generates useful social networks that can be used to:

  • find and connect people
  • take actions based on individual/organization/company information
  • send an email, meeting request or call a person
  • build the right team
  • better manage and control processes
  • understand the relationships between suppliers and buyers
  • analyze people’s information and organization using BI tools
  • integrate social network information inside any application...

The tool allows users to get a deeper understanding of the contacts by using different features and filters. For example, the Refine tab allows you to filter your results by location, role, project, company, etc.

The Explore tab helps you to understand the relationships and connections to other individuals or groups, such as business contacts, teams and reporting hierarchy.

SNA is an interesting way to look at networks within or across organizations. An on-line demo allows you to test the product and see how intuitive and navigable it is. Follow this SAP URL to learn more: http://sna-demo.ondemand.com/SNA.jsp. It’s time to get social!