Amy A Laine

IBM Distinguished Market Intelligence Professional


Winner 2022

Amy A Laine

How did you get into social intelligence? What was your career path to your current position?

IBM began its focus on social intelligence in January of 2008. Given my 5 years within Market Insights, I was selected to serve as the market intelligence lead within the newly formed IBM Social Intelligence Center of Competency, being run by the CIO's office, beginning my commitment to it as well. Since then, we have grown tremendously in our understanding of social intelligence and the resources dedicated to its pursuit and measurement.    

What's your proudest achievement of your career to date?

There are many around the area of social intelligence, and many moments of pride derived from my incredibly brilliant teams with whom I've worked, the exceptional examples of collaboration and thought leadership and the continuous, open sharing of knowledge I've experienced. The proudest for me include the creation of the IBM Social Insights Certification Program with David Chamak and Paul Turnbull, the weekly meeting of the 'IBM Social Intelligence Center of Competency Social Metrics IVT' (with too many to name), and the IBM C.O.R.E. Social Program with Pauline Ores, Bill Chamberlin, and Susan Emerick.    

The 1st represents a global learning engagement that transformed personal learning through years' worth of work experience into institutional knowledge.    

The 2nd is a community that includes a broad swath of IBMers from around the globe that meets weekly since January 2008. The community serves as a 'penalty-free', open sharing of research, ideas, and best practices, and provides an opportunity for people across the business to connect and learn from one another.    

The 3rd reflects a highly effective multi-disciplinary team that was aligned with the business, provided vision, and enabled action plans derived from rigorous research.    

How is your organisation using social data to support business decision-making?

We use social data to 'test the waters' around our advertising, product launches and company announcements; as a 'canary in the coal mine' to alert us to potential issues; to discover intrigue during events and around sponsorships and identify the influential voices; on an ongoing basis around our master brand, sub-brands, and offerings; to determine the success of campaigns, product launches, and partnerships, and more ...    

Looking into 2022, what are your expectations for how social intelligence is going to support your organisation?

As much as social intelligence has supported IBM Marketing, Communications and Sales teams to date, looking at 2022, its role will increase dramatically with the exponential rise in available data - spurred by digital transformations across industries and a surge in social media usage driven by the pandemic. Rather than being positioned within isolated areas of the business or a siloed aspect of market research, social intelligence will be an integral function (and resource) across the organization.    

What's your view on how to develop social intelligence and get organisational buy-in?

Prove it's worth. Demonstrate the power of social intelligence by showing its impact on business KPIs - quantify actual lift or put a value on the effect that a handful of dedicated Subject Matter Experts can have on interest in a product or affinity toward a brand or attendance at an event... even a single individual's impact can be shown. That is how to get buy-in: Start small and show big impact.    

What piece of advice would you give to others working within organisations doing social intelligence?

I would say that social intelligence is best viewed in conjunction with other types of research rather than as a stand-alone metric - as well as an input and an output metric in that you can discover through social what should be included in a survey and confirm what is heard in a traditional quantitative study. Additionally, be sure you are including all that and only that which is relevant. To do this, always check your exclusions and your Boolean logic, and remember to be mindful of the 'voice of the customer', removing voices that are not (e.g., employee data), if that is your intent. Finally, form an interdisciplinary team of individuals to interpret data and glean insights as this can be illuminating and drive deeper insight (especially with divergent opinions).    

Where would you like to see the discipline of social intelligence going in the future?

I would like to see greater adoption of predictive analytics and innovative technologies as well as better integration with data science methodologies, such as Python for theme identification. I would like greater use of deeper level metrics, such as emotion analysis in lieu of sentiment analysis. Social is about people, and, as such, the more we can understand the people producing the online content - their motivations, needs, and desires, the closer we are to measuring the true intent of the audiences posting social data. I've benefited from the harnessing of unstructured online data in innovative ways through the IBM Debater which extracts brand advocacy/detraction around a given topic and the IBM Innovation Jam which offers an online brainstorming session with thousands participating simultaneously.    

What would you say to business leaders about why they should be incorporating social intelligence into their growth strategies?

It is an excellent way to get outside-in data and insights, and a great way to not only confirm x, y, or z ... but to discover! While this has been said before, it is even more critical to include social intelligence in your repertoire than ever before because people - your clients/customers and those who you'd like to have as your clients/customers and those who are influencing the hearts, minds, and wallets of your customers - are engaged socially; they are talking, and to not listen is at your peril, especially since there's an expectation that you are.

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