IBM’s new CEO, Virginia Rommety,┬ásees opportunity as cloud computing expands to many realms and more companies leverage the information from web-based sources to make strategic decisions. How can general information gleaned from the web provide strategic guidance to exploration and production? What are the uses of non-technical information? The answers may surprise you.

What used to be looked at as simple data mining has now become more complex and mission-driven, with a look to predictive patterns, and not simply views of the past and historical performance. An important consideration is the fact that information is dynamic and reflects activity in real time.

It’s much more than simply predicting consumer behavior and purchasing patterns. It also reveals ideas, attitudes, values, even commonly-held misconceptions. Looking at patterns of social traffic (tags, meta-tags, key words, hash tags, emergent folksonomies, etc.) with social networking, and also the trends in content in the blogosphere can yield very important information about what people are thinking, saying, perceiving.

Webfeeds and enabling content generators that syndicate feeds via various aggregators makes information dissemination very easy. It also makes analytics more challenging because the information gathered could be a bit misleading. The webfeed (often XML-based) contains content items that link to websites and deliver information.

New mobile apps (especially for iPhone / iPad) quantum-leap the information dissemination process, and change the way, places, and contexts that people receive their information. They also exponentially increase the traffic / flow of content, which can yield amazingly specific insights.

Information from news, blogs, social networks, media sharing sites, and more can be used to gauge public perception and guide public relations / marketing / community-building / humanitarian efforts.

In addition, geographical information systems also monitor spatial data, which, when combined with cultural, commercial, and environmental (weather, etc.) information, can help make responsible and cost-effective decisions of many kinds.

Unfortunately, with the deluge of information comes fraud, deception, and a potential loss of privacy.

The information could be mission-critical when it has to do with issues of the environment, safety, urban planning, and transportation.

Here’s an example: Hydraulic fracturing: what’s today’s view? how does the public perceive mission-critical issues? Follow hydraulic fracturing and aquifer contamination? earthquake generation?

** Twitter traffic / key words

** Web-published news / blogs / articles (stumbleupon, etc.)

** Media-sharing (Flickr, youtube, ustream, etc.)

** Social Discovery Engines (stumbleupon)

** Social Bookmarking: digg, reddit, stumbleupon,, blinklist, newsvine, tailrank

** Social Networks: Linkedin, Facebook, Orkut, Bebo

Last 5 posts by Susan Nash

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