We are in a Data Revolution.
Last year, people stored enough data to fill 60,000 Libraries of Congress (The Economist, May 26, 2011). Additionally, organizations are now capturing more detailed information about their employees and customers than ever before. From Wall Street to Walmart, people are buzzing about big data and the enterprise social graph.
So how does it work?
The easiest way to think about it is to imagine a large network graph. It’s made up of different kinds of “nodes”, which could be individual people, artifacts (such as docs, or discussion), and even topics and groups of people.
Now, add links that tie these nodes together in some sort of relationship. Those links could be explicit things like Bob follows Sue or Bob is a member of the IT group. But they can also be implicit relationships, like Bob is linked to cybersecurity as a topic because of his behavior in the community.
Now add the element of time. The picture above is constantly changing through the course of any given day. Nodes emerge or disappear as the company hires people, enters into a new partnership, or reorganizes a division. The strength of ties between those nodes flex or weaken like a muscle, as new relationships form and others decay. A competitor announces a major product breakthrough, which sets of a chain reaction inside your company. That can be expressed as a dynamic, multidimensional graph.