A short time ago, I started exploring the significance of industry on an economy; the role that it plays in creating awareness of, drawing talent to, engaging capital on behalf of, and focusing a community around, innovation and entrepreneurship.
If you’ve read here before, you know I’m something of a Druckerist, a student of Peter Drucker, Austrian-born American management consultant, educator, and author who largely contributed to the philosophical and practical foundations of the modern business, who famously said, “culture trumps strategy.” Industry is, perhaps, nothing more than the professional culture of an economy.
Evidence of that, for me, was in discovering that some of the “industries” Austin highlights (ahem), aren’t industries, while others of great significance are overlooked, misunderstood, or unsupported or promoted. Critical to understanding an industry is just that, understanding. Social Marketing is not Social Media and Social Media isn’t, alone, Social Networks. Arguably, the Social Networking industry, with Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, is in Silicon Valley. But is everything related to social there? Is that where the magic happens throughout? Not by a long shot. The mistake economies often make in misunderstanding “industry” is applying too broad a definition (social media), or one that is merely a context or stage.
Characteristics of an Industry
All of that, of course, begs the question of what makes a part of a local economy more than just an aggregate of like businesses? When or how does a group of businesses evolve into an industry? My own definition, by way of vast minutes of concentrated study, industry is a matter of:
- Economic center of respective GDP
- Job growth within
- Available venture capital
- Active IPOs or acquisitions
- A healthy dose of competition
- Brand awareness as the industry
- Thought leadership
- Source of innovation and invention
- Topped off with the fact that industry is typically named after after its principal product: the automobile industry; the steel industry. (Hence Marketing or Media really failing to be an industry in the context of Social; marketing isn’t a product but an activity or service whereas Media, as a product, refers to produced content such as that which we consume via TV or radio)
How often have you heard that “tech” or “startups” are in Silicon Valley? Tech isn’t an industry, it’s a consideration of every business; as is marketing. Startup is merely a stage. We have to define the principal product.
To wit, Austin is, arguably, the eCommerce industry. Commerce is the first place my exploration of industry took me. If we were to define a commerce industry as broadly as “online shopping,” we can’t identify wherein thought leadership, innovation, and invention exists. Shopping is what people do, it isn’t a product. Minnesota, Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Dallas, and more are all major centers of online shopping. But when we distinctly define segments as eTail (or online retail), comparison shopping, and eCommerce (infrastructure), we can look for talent, capital, and an ecosystem in the respective industry.
So too, is how we should think about social media.
Austin and Social Marketing
Who would have known when one of the first individuals I met in Austin, turned out to be [then] Socialware CEO, Chad Bockius, that, he’d kick off my journey with social in Austin. Still a novice to Austin, bright eyed and bushy tailed, I had the honor of meeting Chad when I knew very few people in town and having my mind opened to the implication of Social on the finance industry. Socialware though, is squarely in social marketing, is it not? Socialware enables every professional within an organization to use social compliantly and effectively to market and generate business from customers and prospects. Marketing. What’s the social marketing landscape in Austin then?
- Main Street Hub (getting more customers through Local social)
- Mass Relevance (helping brands, media and agencies connect with audiences by integrating social media with marketing and advertising)
- Social Distillery (helping companies achieve increased brand awareness and deeper consumer engagement)
- SpeakSocial (getting people to talk about your brand)
Perhaps even Bazaarvoice, which connects brands, retailers and consumers in the world’s largest shopper network? Marketing. Don’t misread my point in clarifying Austin’s incredible ventures in social marketing; each of these are game changing companies in positions of leadership. In distinguishing them, they help us understand why Austin is the home of the Social Intelligence industry – there is a difference, though arguably too a dependence, between marketing and intelligence.
Of course, the distinction isn’t always clear, Bazaarvoice, for example, connects brands, retailers, and consumers with robust analytics = intelligence. So…
What is Social Intelligence?
Starting with the traditional definition, social intelligence is one’s capacity to effectively negotiate complex social relationships and environments. We’re not talking about an industry there but an individual’s Social IQ; one’s ability to handle and leverage relationships and social environments. And yet, the definition of the industry is buried within there.
When that definition is applied to user experiences, we might first think of maps, search engines, or directory-like platforms that enable us to navigate complex environments. Facebook might even spring to mind, after all, Facebook helps us negotiate complex social relationships, doesn’t it? But that’s only half of the picture, social intelligence involves our capacity to do that – our ability and capability – for that, we need data, by way of experience or analytics. Google Analytics, KISSMetrics, and Omniture pop into the picture.
But analytics platforms aren’t intelligent, they present data and require that we users interpret what we’re being shown. Analytics platforms lack the experience to help us negotiate complex environments. They lack direction.
Businesses working in Social Intelligence enable the ability to understand the motives, emotions, intentions, and actions of other people and motivate and influence the behavior of individuals and groups.
No? What does that look like?
Social Intelligence in Austin
- Dachis Group – Real-time marketing analytics software
- Circle Media – Connects fans with Sponsors by listening to social data
- Umbel – Analyzes audience traits across properties to match the most valuable segments with the most valuable advertiser leads
- Spredfast – Visibility across every area of social media programs and every level of your business
- Polygraph – Mines every public interaction on Facebook to deliver new experiences, intelligence, and real-time analytics
- People Pattern – Automates the collection & analysis of audience data to activate high-value personas
- Affintus – Helps you make better hiring decisions by knowing what the top performers in jobs look like
- Compare Metrics – Adaptive eCommerce based on what visitors like, seek, and sort
- Civitas Learning – Analyzes student decisions and outcomes to generate personalized, real-time education recommendations
- Offergraph – Analyzes customer’s likes, check-ins, and tweets, as well as social trending content, to understand affinities
- Blacklocus – Delivers actionable merchandising data by combining market price data with that of online customers’
An industry? The industry? Keep in mind, industry is not evident in business success/growth alone but requires thought leadership, liquid capital, talent, patterns, growth, and attention.
Of course, it should go without saying that Socialware, Mass Relevance, Main Street Hub, and Bazaarvoice all play a role in social intelligence so again, the clear distinction is not as important as a basic understanding of the distinctions. In fact, the success and growth of those very marketing companies is more evidence of an industry: a related industry. Certainly, arguably, Bazaarvoice is in social intelligence more than marketing, so bear with me on the distinctions and chalk up those significant companies as evidence of capital, growth, and the economic impact of Austin in this space.
And thus, evidence of industry is found not just in the aggregate of companies nor within the healthy competition for customers (as well as talent and capital) by brilliant entrepreneurs and professionals between companies, but in the very companies themselves…
People Pattern was founded by Spredfast alum Ken Cho
Home Depot looked to Austin’s Blacklocus last year and acquired what has become the headquarters of Home Depot’s Innovation Lab
Circle Media recently merged with S3i which specialized in digital and social data-driven intelligence in sports and entertainment
Spredfast closed a series D closing $32.5M just a few weeks ago
The founders of Offergraph moved to Austin, as did the team behind Blacklocus, and Civitas Learning
We can even look to various individuals at those companies and others. Bryan Menell was involved in the early days of Dachis Group and is now one of Austin’s most engaged startup evangelists and advisors. Jason Baldridge, Ken’s co-founder in People Pattern, reminds me of those jokes about people actually being Rocket Scientists: he’s also Associate Professor of Computational Linguistics at UT. Peter Kim is one of the industries most well known thought leaders, co-author of Social Business by Design. Dave Evans, author of Social Media Marketing: The Next Generation of Business Engagement lives out near Lake Travis. Warren Cardinal a web developer and founder of Lucid Crew, wrote an incredible piece about Social Intelligence in Small Business. For what it’s worth, I moved here, and helped develop the early iteration of Fliptop, which connects social data to your CRM, in Silicon Valley before arriving and, yes here, have been consulting with Dachis Group.
Oh and today, Sprinklr announced their acquisition of Dachis Group
“We are so excited to join Sprinklr in building the largest independent end-to-end Social Relationship platform in the world. Austin has been Dachis Group’s home for the last 5 years, and will continue to be a major hub for Sprinklr going forward,” shared Brian Kotlyar, VP of Marketing at Dachis Group. “A big part of what motivated this deal is the experience and expertise in Social Business and Social Intelligence that resides in Austin at Dachis Group.”
Sprinklr, cloud software for brands that want to manage their “Social Customer Experience” across their internal silos/ teams, departments, divisions, and locations, might be thought of as an industry player distinct unto itself. Arguably, perhaps, more accurately a marketing technology, you might think of Sprinklr as akin to Zoho; putting everything in one place, in one environment. And they looked to Austin’s expertise in Dachis Group.
“When Jeff [Dachis] and I met a couple of months ago, we both quickly realized that our teams were chasing the same rainbow. A vision for social bigger than any other,” adds Ragy Thomas, CEO and Founder of Sprinklr. “A belief that social would transform how business is done. The entire business – not just marketing.”
Last November, Sprinklr completed a $17.5 million Series C funding round led by Battery Ventures and Intel Capital. With the raise, the company then set out to add another 100 employees by mid-to-late 2014, and continue its international expansion
Dachis Group’s social, real-time marketing analytics and optimization technology is to be integrated with Sprinklr’s existing platform within the next three months while Dachis’s social consulting practice will also be added to Sprinklr’s services enablement work.
Clearly, while Social Networks are born of Silicon Valley, Social Intelligence is in Austin.
Interesting and progressive stuff here. Will definitely be revisiting to pour over this some more. Thanks for writing.
Well thought out Paul. I’m liking Social Intelligence much more than “BIG DATA” since it defines the true derived value this industry provides – use people data to understand people, in order to motivate and influence people / groups (shortened version of your definition). Reminds me of what the Market Research Industry used to stand for, however, with the vast amount of data sources, at much lower costs, and better analytical platforms, that industry is getting disrupted and may eventually follow the path of the Dodo bird.
Great article. Your pen always makes me think further. This text recall me the book, I’ve read a few months ago, Where good ideas come from, Steven Johnson. Now with this article it’s clear the difference between San Antonio and other cities since the mindset of the people in each city.