The OpenReq team uses the vast amounts of data generated by Twitter to find ways to understand customers better.
Users of the Twitter microblog share a vast amount of information on various topics on a daily basis. In short messages, or tweets, users express their thoughts on such things as products and services.
Customers of a software company may, for instance, tweet feature requests or report bugs. This is all relevant information to the company’s requirements engineers, product development and marketing department.
Many companies are exploiting the opinions presented by their customers and the general public on Twitter. Some have established specialised Twitter accounts to receive and respond to customer support requests. The data generated by the microblog has also much to offer to research.
As the discussions on Twitter can be quite extensive and unstructured, and are by no means limited to companies’ official accounts, companies, product development teams and scientists are keen to find ways to analyse the data efficiently.
Researchers in the OpenReq team are using natural language processing (NLP), a field of computer science, to process automatically the vast amounts of data, such as that generated by Twitter. With a technique called Named-Entity Recognition (NER) the team screens tweets about products and services. They try to discover what topics users discuss and whether they are requesting new features for a product or reporting a malfunctioning.
In the OpenReq team, the technology transfer centre of the Department of Informatics at the University of Hamburg (HITeC), Engineering Ingegneria Informatica S.p.A. (ENG) Italy and WindTre, the second largest Italian telco operator, work together with the data generated by Twitter. WindTre is particularly interested in using NLP to understand their customers better and quickly react to or even predict social media buzzes.
Even though Twitter has already established itself as a communication channel between companies and their customers, introducing new and more sophisticated analysis techniques will allow different stakeholders benefit from Twitter even more. Moreover, in future, with the help of what teams such as OpenReq do, companies may respond to their customer needs better.