Social Networking Analytics

SAP BusinessObjects Innovation Center has just unveiled a great new prototype called Social Network Analyzer (SNA). It aggregates existing enterprise data, using business intelligence techniques to display and discover organizational relationships

There have already been lots of products available to visualize public social networks such as Twitter. But up until now, there hasn’t been any technology designed from scratch to let people analyze corporate network relationships. ESN lets you import and aggregate all the corporate relationships between people that are already recorded in your business applications, such as:

  • Management hierarchies from your human resources system
  • Data on who worked on which deals, from your sales force automation system
  • Partner, customer, and partner supplier contacts along your supply chain system
  • People who work on similar transactions within your operational systems

If appropriate, this data can then be supplemented with other opt-in relationship data from employees, such as instant messenger contacts, twitter contacts, etc.


SNA can accept relationship information from any system, using a simple, open format (e.g. name of object 1, name object 2, type of relationship, category data) and stores it in a relationship-centric database structure. Once the information is stored, it can be used to filter and browse the connections between people. (In fact, it could be used for any kind of relationships between entities — companies, products, chemicals, etc.)

There are three main tabs available in the interface:

The “Refine” Tab

You can easily choose where to start the network analysis by filtering people on any criteria available in the underlying data base, such as geography, role, project, company, etc. SNA automatically aggregates and displaysdata about the chosen group. For example, you could filter using the name of a customer account. SNA would then display all the people who had some connection with that account, and a breakdown of their profile (by job title, for example). Groups of people (such as regular committees or existing cross-functional project teams) can also be represented and included in the network. When you click on an individual, you can see their details, as collected from multiple systems.


The “Explore” Tab

By clicking on any individual, you can view the relationships they are part of. By changing the drop-down menu, you can switch between different types of relationship (“reports to”, “worked on project with”, etc.), and choose different types of representation (standard organization chart, circular view, etc.)


The “Connect” Tab

The “connect” tab lets you determine the shortest number of relationship steps between various individuals, across the various different types of relationships available in the system.


At any time, you can collect people in the “clipboard” area by right-clicking their names. You can then email these people, or export their names (and other relevant details) to any other system.

The Benefits

SNA brings corporate business intelligence to the world of social networking. It can be used to augment and extends any existing enterprise 2.0 or social media strategies: helping locate experts in the organization, build communities, manage employee talent, or reorganize business processes. It’s ideal for collecting people to work on cross-functional teams or analyzing relationships with your customers or suppliers across the whole organization.

SNA can be embedded into any other application. Providing this type of collaboration functionality is a key part of the next generation of “business user” applications that use technology to help transform the daily processes of business people just as ERP systems have transformed operational processes over the last two decades.

Next Step: Try it Yourself!

SNA is a prototype today, and is covered by the standard licensing terms of the SAP BusinessObjects Innovation Center. Your feedback is strongly encouraged: what functionality needs to be added? What are the key areas where this technology could be the most useful. You can access and use the software yourself, using the SAP BusinessObjects OnDemand platform, at

Please send your comments directly to SAP BusinessObjects innovation center.


9 responses to “Social Networking Analytics”

  1. […] Social Intelligence, born as the social network analytics prototype from the SAP BusinessObjects innovation center (now SAP Research Prototypes), is now fully launched […]

  2. Russell Pearson Avatar

    Hi Timo

    has this been used with data from a jive SBS installation?


    1. Timo Elliott Avatar

      Technically, it’s completely possible. We have played around with it, but nothing official — we have to be careful to respect stringent European employee privacy rules about what data you are allowed to associate without explicit permission from workers’ councils, etc., even if the data is “publicly available” within the company.

  3. […] SAP BusinessObjects Social Network Analyzer came out last year, combining business intelligence with relationship data to create a “social intelligence” […]

  4. […] did offer some promise for the future, demoing a Social Network Analyzer, but that is just a prototype at SAP Labs at this point, apparently a long way from […]

  5. Bart de Witte Avatar
    Bart de Witte

    Dear Timo,

    Great Work! Does it also allow to discover the relationships contained in information sources, including cluster detection and centrality ranking?

    Being responsible for market development in the public area, I am used to build influence maps (using powerpoint). My influence maps vizualize reationships between my customer, the market and our employees and help me to define, track and present my influencing activities more efficient. I would be great if we could automaticly generate such visualisation based on information stored in SAP’s CRM, LinkedIn and XING. This would not make complex sales activities much more efficient.


    1. Timo Elliott Avatar

      Bart, I haven’t yet had a chance to look up cluster detection and centrality ranking, but I believe the answer is “yes”, because the underlying relationships database can be accessed using the BusinessObjects set of BI tools, which provide a full suite of sophisticated analysis tools…

  6. Venus Picart Avatar
    Venus Picart

    Regarding the prototype, what level of customization do I have as a user? For example, if I click on a contact and want to note that this colleague works on campus on Tuesdays and Thursdays only, is there a field available for that kind of customization?

    Also, aside from the HR system, what other sources can ESN pull information from?

    1. Timo Elliott Avatar

      Right now, not much customization available, since it’s just a prototype. In terms of information sources, it can be anything — it just uses a simple import mechanism, i.e. you have to be able to get the data from the application in the correct (pretty simple) format. But of course, SAP BusinessObjects Data Services excels at doing this, from any source, and we could imagine predefined extractors for common SAP and non-SAP applications.