Is Microsoft just testing the waters with Social Listening?

By Sooraj Shah
12 Mar 2014 View Comments
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At Microsoft Dynamics' Convergence 2014 conference, the software giant unveiled a new tool - Microsoft Social Listening - which it would provide to professional licence fee payers at no extra cost.

Further reading

The feature, which Kirill Tatarinov, executive vice president of Microsoft Business Solutions, believes is "revolutionary", will be incorporated into the Dynamics CRM platform later this spring.

It is the result of Microsoft's October 2012 acquisition of Netbreeze, a social analytics and monitoring platform, which the Redmond, Washington based company has used as a base for its Social Listening software.

"Netbreeze have done something revolutionary. It listens in to a broad range of [social] channels, and Microsoft can give them access to even more. They build listening technology that can generate sentiments by listening to innate languages, of which it supports 28," Tatarinov told the media at Convergence 2014.

The software will allow companies to analyse social conversations by measuring sentiment, for example, and reacting accordingly. It also allows users to keep track of products, brands, competitors and global campaigns in real-time in a bid to better understand their clients and their businesses across the internet.

Bill Patterson, Microsoft's senior director of planning and strategy, told Computing that Microsoft's product was "surprising people with how much richer it is [in comparison to the NetBreeze product]".

"We are really taking the product and making it much greater than it was," he claimed.

But with UK retailers such as Debenhams and B&Q recently stating that they weren't convinced about the benefits of social analytics, is Microsoft just testing the waters to see if end-users can find any real value from the tool, by offering it for free?

Computing put the question to Tatarinov, who said that Microsoft views it as "an essential ingredient with what our customers of Dynamics CRM would want to have".

But does that mean that customers are asking for that kind of tool?

"Well some of them are, but at the same time we're helping others to get educated on how essential it is for them to do a better job in engaging with their customers by listening to those social channels," he said.

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