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Mining the Information Stream

by on ‎11-19-2009 04:09 PM (2,019 Views)

Social media seems all the rage today, and many ACT! customers have enjoyed both our social media features and add-ins as well as our webinars discussing these features and our newly published Social Media White Paper for ACT! 2010.  But as a Product Manager I get asked by customers if the existing crop of social media players will be around long enough to make it worth a business’s time to begin using them.  Considering the fluid nature of popularity and the unclear business plans of these sites traditional information integration from these sources can seem like a risky venture.

Stewart Brand once said:

On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time….”

The deluge of information available thanks to social media sites, decades of blog and personal page hosting and peer to peer sharing networks indicates that freely distributed information seems to be winning the struggle  outlined above.   Though the information battle is far from over, all of this information suddenly so “free” has created some problems.   Now that valuable, game changing piece of information is competing with potentially thousands or tens of thousands of related pieces of information and finding that one useful piece can be daunting. 

The good news is that with all of this information the potential for finding even more “golden nuggets” of information is greater than ever.  The bad news is that for a lot of professionals tapping into all of this “free” information is like trying to fill your gold mining pan from a waterfall, the sheer volume alone can scare you off.  While the context provided by the information source helps to funnel the data into streams that are a bit more manageable, jumping from information source to information source isn’t the work practice most people have in mind when mining data.

Here at ACT! it is our great honor to work on ways to extend  the information architecture that’s helped millions of people for over 20 years organize information and make those pieces of business changing information readily and easily accessible to help accommodate fluid information sources.  We’ve researched ways to surface information from these sources without forcing data integration, and allowing for information source changes without disrupting contact information.  At the same time we’re looking to support more granular information capture and integrating data directly into ACT!’s contact record. 

Letting a user select the streams likely to contain the most valuable information and tying that information together around a contact makes ACT! the perfect tool for managing the deluge of information from internal sources (Accounting or ecommerce tools) and web based services (Facebook, LinkedIn, Google).  

The Web Info feature of ACT! 2010 was built with this type of contact related information consumption in mind, allowing users the flexibility of removing streams that are not relevant and adding ones that are.   From Google searches or driving directions to Accounting data integrations, and plenty of uses in between the Web Info tab gives users of ACT! the power to access information from multiple sources an easy click away.  My favorite feature is the Attach Web Page feature, which takes a snapshot of the web page at that time and stores it into ACT! history – That way if the page info changes, or I want that information while I’m off line (I’ll often save a few articles on a client so I can read them on plane rides – yeah I’m that cool guy everyone thinks has internet at 30,000 feet).

We’ve worked hard at reducing that barrier of entry in integrating the wealth of information available into ACT! and doing so in such a way that mitigates the risk that some of these information sources will change or disappear in the future.  The features so far in ACT! are just the tip of the iceberg in the effort to tap into the larger information sources and make those “golden nuggets” actionable to ACT! customers. 

by Bronze Super Contributor
on ‎11-19-2009 06:41 PM

Thanks for the update, I see a lot of potential with these features, espicially if we can combine them with existing features such as relationships in ACT!


If we could 'visually' see the relationships data (see for more) and drill down into the social media/web pages related to a contact that would make for easier research on contacts.