Mining Social Networks For Profit

Spoke ScreenEveryone knows that the value is in the network. SNA is a wonderful tool for academic and I am using it to map my local webs of commerce. The folks at Spoke however are doing this one step better. They have the typically enormous and touted list of key decision makers and influencers at companies around the world. Nothing short of a big Spam list there. However, on joining the network, you contribute your own contact list. Again nothing revolutionary in that…but here’s where it gets interesting. The little client that harvests your contacts for Spoke also measures how connected (inbetweeness in SNA-speak) you are based on frequency and nature of contact based on your email history. Sure its not flawless, but when you overlay this with all the other participants they are building one mega web and are creating a potentially rich map of influence flows. It raises some serious privacy and trust issues, but it is clearly pushing the envelope one step beyond. Many CRM apps are out there trying to build similar webs in an automated fashion, but generally require huge rejigging and manual creation of hierarchical relationship by thew user. Few actually automate the process, let alone start to weight the results through contactedness (not connectedness) mining. Intriguing.

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