Designing the World of Customer Experience

From Data to Social Wisdom

“Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”

– T.S. Eliot, “Choruses from ‘The Rock’”

“Drinking from the Firehose”

If you’ve ever spent too much time reading RSS feeds, twitter streams, blogs and Facebook updates, you understand the analogy of trying to “drink from the firehouse.”   There is simply too much information for one person to take in and the future of the web is in providing better filters.  A good framework to understand networked communications and interactions is with systems thinking.

The first step of any successful social media strategy is to listen.  This helps you understand the conversations in your area of interest and allows you to make an appropriate, better-informed response.  Currently, there are over 150 Social Media Monitoring Software packages available.

These applications pull in open data streams and return relevant information to the user by taking into account such things as sentiment analysis, user influence, and real-time insights.  Social CRMs are also an effective way to tackle the issue of “intimacy at scale.”  As excellent as many of these technologies are, they can only take you so far in understanding the richness of the online social marketplace.

Because of the human element of the social web (feelings, emotions, and meaning), not everything can be measured and managed through technology.

Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom

In the early days of the web, it was all about eye-balls and click-throughs to measure success. But in the social media world of “web2.0″, there are more nuanced factors to consider.  The DIKW Pyramid is a framework used to understand the functional relationship between Data, Information, Knowledge and Wisdom.  Data and Information deal with technology, but Knowledge and Wisdom are where the human element comes in and must be considered to make the best decision.


Raw and unstructured – it has no context or meaning.


Data that has been given meaning by way of relational connection.

The application of data and information; answers “how” questions.  Human understanding comes into and asks “Why?”

Evaluated understanding.

Context  & Understanding

Commonly used in systems intelligence and knowledge management, the DIKW Model of Innovation shows how context and understanding are related.  Only once you understand Knowledge can you forecast the future.



It can exist in any form, usable or not and has no meaning.


A look at past data to understandrelations.  This provides answers to “who”, “what”, “where”, and “when” questions


A look at past information to understand patterns.  How does collective intelligence fit into the flow between people and objects?


An evaluated understanding ofprinciples to make future decisions.  This calls upon levels of consciousness and human attributes like moral and ethical codes.  A broader understanding of knowledge uses the insights gained to make recommendations about future decisions.

Wisdom is the ability to increase effectiveness. Wisdom adds value, which requires the mental function that we call judgment. The ethical and aesthetic values that this implies are inherent… unique and personal.[18]

Social media monitoring technologies look at past events and manage real-time data, but the next level is how to predict behavior and prepare an appropriate response. This is where knowledge leads to understanding and begins to form social wisdom.

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