Smart social butterfly turned into software

I was at O’Reilly Strata last month, where I met Claude Theoret. Claude’s story is fascinating. He’s an astrophysicist turned consultant turned social media software pioneer. And he’s found a way to take his social and analytic skills and turned them into software.

Now, if you’re a consultant, you should be stoked at the thought of turning what’s in your head into a product that you can expand forever without ever worrying about time. It’s the joy of infinite solution-based consulting fees.

Claude’s Inner Consultant

Those of you who’ve read Discover Your Inner Consultant know that I encourage people to take what they love and find new and interesting ways to apply it. Claude’s got great networking skills and that’s shaped his career in some ways you might not expect. He helped found the astronomy at McGill University (known as Canada’s Harvard), then went on to work for CERN and French Universities, where he published articles in Science and Nature. Along the way, he got really good at crunching numbers and he already had great skills in connecting people. So, in 2006, he founded Nexalogy Environics, a firm with the goal to build  “the best strategic network intelligence firm in the market.”

Claude’s story of science expert turned social media expert intrigued me. After all, I’m a consultant, so anything to do with building expertise captivates my interest. And I’m a marketer, so social media really gets me fired up. But watching Claude in action was something else too – he’s that guy at a conference who seems to know everyone and who excels at introducing people to others who have their interests. (Thanks for all the introductions, Claude.) And the amazing thing is that Claude has found a way to use software to do that for other people. Imagine that you’ve tapped into the brain of a social butterfly – a really smart social butterfly. An astrophysicist social butterfly who knows marketing.

Turning consulting services into a powerful product

Originally a consulting services firm that helped organizations manage stakeholders, Nexalogy noes helps all sorts of organizations do risk mapping. What’s that, you ask? Well, let’s say you own a natural resources firm and you’re about to take on some new projects. Using Nexalogy Environics software, you can peruse social media – like Twitter or blogs, for example – to find out who’s been talking about that area or your firm. You can find out who’s a fan and who’s been griping. You can sort out the memes that emerge and then identify influencers and detractors. With that information, you can then seek to engage and educate those stakeholders about the work you’re doing. Given the breadth and span of social media, you can engage people who might not be able to show up at townhall meetings, perhaps because they live too far away or their lifestyles just don’t accommodate it.
(Now, as a consultant, I think this is really cool. Claude has productized his consulting services.)

What’s in it for consultants

If you’re a consultant, using social media tools like Nexalogy can help you bring new ideas and insights to your clients. An IT consultant can see what the big stories at major conferences are. A marketing consultant can review the online landscape, get a better understanding of an online brand, and do a better job. Claude notes that this provides a great opportunity for consultants “to look smart and value add”. He notes that Nexalogy’s going after the heavy hitters – enterprise users. But, even if you’re a start-up consultant in a small town somewhere, Claude says you can still tap into tools like Viralheat  before you scale up to Nexalogy.

New opportunities in brand evaluation

Social media software like this also means new opportunities in brand evaluation. You can scan all the blogs, Twitter and other social media and see what themes emerge, says Claude. You can find out how people are really relating to your product – and how they’re using it. You might find out some people are using your product in unexpected ways – ways that, if you brought their attention to more markets, would allow you to deepen your reach and expand sales. And you can do all this without having to read individual blogs and Twitter feeds – while still gaining information about how people spontaneously relate to your brand in their natural environment. That’s way more insightful than an artificial focus group.

Visual presentation of stuff you’d otherwise have to read

Nexalogy has some great examples of their online software in action:
 By the way, if you missed my coverage of Strata, you should at least never use 3D charts again without reading this.

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