Social Network Analysis (SNA) surges into vertical markets, reveals Frost & Sullivan Survey

By Joanna Lewandowska

Social network analysis (SNA) enables organisations to explore and understand the social structure of their customer base. The first adopter of SNA was the telecommunications industry, primarily mobile communications, where customer data has a clear social structure. As SNA revealed its power in applications like churn management, other verticals have also started to take advantage of this tool. Frost & Sullivan recently rated the penetration of SNA in four key industries: telecommunications, retail, online gaming, and finance and banking.

“Over the past two years, the use of SNA has extended beyond the telecommunications industry,” says Frost & Sullivan Senior Industry Analyst, Saverio Romeo. “In fact, major SNA solution providers have expanded their SNA customer portfolios into vertical markets. SNA applications such as customer churn management, product marketing and fraud detection are becoming common in retail, online gaming, finance and banking.”

Frost & Sullivan’s survey covered eight SNA solution providers. A detailed questionnaire ranked the level of adoption from a score of 1 (low adoption) to 4 (very high adoption). As expected, SNA penetration in the telecommunications industry was medium-high – at least one point above all the other industries. Interviewees also suggested other sectors such as insurance, online advertising, and public administration as strong potential markets for SNA.

Frost & Sullivan predicts that during 2012-2014, the use of SNA in the telecommunications industry will grow rapidly, followed by the online gaming industry which will demonstrate a similarly high pace of growth. The retail, and finance and banking verticals are expected to experience medium-high growth in terms of SNA.

In Frost & Sullivan’s survey, SNA solution providers were asked to rank applications of SNA from 1 (never used) to 5 (always used) for different industries. In the telecommunications industry, churn management emerged as the top application of SNA, followed by product marketing and customer acquisition. Among other applications mentioned were identifying influencers, rotational churn, multi-SIM identification, and customer base segmentation.

In the retail industry, SNA was primarily used for optimising product marketing campaigns, concentrated on customer segmentation and product recommendation. Other applications mentioned in the survey were loyalty programme management and the use of SNA as a social media analytics tool.

Banking and finance market players used SNA for fraud detection. However, the low usage scores reveal that SNA adoption is still at an embryonic stage in this vertical. Other SNA applications adopted by this sector were customer acquisition, credit risk analysis and loyalty programme management.

Fraud detection was also the most used application in the online gaming industry. In this case, the usage scores were just above the medium threshold. Considering the use of SNA in the online gaming sector is a recent phenomenon, these scores show that SNA adoption is expanding rapidly. Other applications of SNA in online gaming included improving customer experience and increasing average spending.

“SNA is able to scan customer communities and interpret customers’ social roles and behaviours. In combination with predictive analytics, it can foresee trends and spot business opportunities,” summarises Saverio Romeo. “The telecommunications sector has shown that this functionality is valuable for several core activities including churn management and product marketing. Industries such as online gaming, retail, and banking and finance are starting to have a similar experience. This evolution will continue during the next two to three years, making SNA an important analytical tool.”

About the author

Joanna Lewandowska is responsible for the Corporate Communications at Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, which aims to enable clients to accelerate growth and achieve best-in-class positions in growth, innovation and leadership. The company’s Growth Partnership Service provides the CEO and the CEO’s Growth Team with disciplined research and best-practice models to drive the generation, evaluation, and implementation of powerful growth strategies. Frost & Sullivan leverages 50 years of experience in partnering with Global 1000 companies, emerging businesses and the investment community from more than 40 offices on six continents. To join our Growth Partnership, please visit

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