Microsoft Now Monitoring Tweets From IT Types With "Pulse"

Microsoft's British office is embarking on an ambitious new project to find out just what IT workers and developers think of their iconic products.

Microsoft has embarked on an ambitious social media monitoring project designed to gauge IT professionals' and developers' opinions on the company's products. The software giant opted to bring in an outside monitoring organization, Synthesio, to create a customized listening platform for Microsoft UK. The proprietary platform, called Pulse, allows Microsoft's British headquarters to compare feedback from industry professionals to more general Microsoft chatter scraped from social media and web forums. Pulse evaluates both user feedback voluntarily submitted to Microsoft and general industry-specific chatter picked up on the web. The project launched seven months ago, but has only been made public now.

As part of the project, Microsoft and Synthesio are monitoring several techie-specific web destinations such as MSDN Forums, Overclockers UK's web forums, and The Register's forums. Content provided to Microsoft by the Pulse platform specifically excludes articles and blogs written by journalists and Microsoft employees. Pulse is part of a larger Microsoft project to boost internal net consumer satisfaction metrics.

Befitting a company of its size, Microsoft has a massive social media, web monitoring, and brand evaluation operation—both in-house and through external partners. Redmond has been quietly working on a Facebook and Google+ competitor, and their well-regarded research laboratories have conducted fascinating social media studies. In addition, Microsoft has their own social media monitoring tool called LookingGlass.

However, Pulse is specifically aimed at understanding one certain market segment—the developers and IT folks responsible for those sweet, sweet enterprise software purchases. As Microsoft UK's Vaqar Khamisani puts it, "Improving the customer experience and driving higher customer satisfaction is something that everyone at Microsoft is measured on. The Pulse project with Synthesio enables us to take a mountain of unstructured feedback—both solicited and unsolicited—and turn it into valuable actionable insights. Being able to tap into, and make sense of, the fresh, authentic voice of our customers is a powerful driver for positive change, and something which could revolutionize the way we meet the needs of our customers in the future."

Catriona Oldershaw of Synthesio adds that  "The results are extremely valuable, providing a more complete view of the consumer psyche, and enhancing the efficiency of data sharing among all departments within the enterprise to ultimately provide a better product."

Synthesio is a France-based company that's part of Paris' rapidly growing tech scene and caters towards multinational social media monitoring. Other clients who use Synthesio for social media monitoring include Toyota, Johnson & Johnson, H&M, and mobile giant Orange TeleCom. According to Synthesio's Ben Farkas, Pulse is "currently running in the UK, but is being watched closely by Microsoft (Redmond) which is always open to taking innovations developed by its country subsidiaries and scaling them globally."

Microsoft is in the midst of a long-term reappraisal of their own social media monitoring and engagement efforts. According to a keynote presentation at Atlanta's iStrategy conference by Worldwide Digital Marketing senior director Katrina Klier, the company has experienced a 54% year-over-year jump in social media engagement.

For more stories like this, follow @fastcompany on Twitter. Email Neal Ungerleider, the author of this article, here or find him on Twitter and Google+.

Add New Comment


  • Wize Adz

    All they have to do is ask me.  I'll talk for hours about what's wrong with Microsoft's customer experience WRT enterprise software and deployments that suit the needs of my organization, rather than what Microsoft kinda guessed that I might maybe want to do...

    And then the fact that they make almost no substantive effort for interoperability with competing platforms (such as Linux and Mac OS X)  means that, when I need Linux, I really want to throw Microsoft out of the window.Alas, they've made it quite clear over the 20 years or so that listening to guys like me isn't really worth their while.  And, even when I do get to bend the ear of one of their engineers, they only have the ability to influence their own product -- not the product where the real problem resides.  Yes, the things I I'd like to see changed are fundamental and harder to fix than changing the wording in a dialog box.  But, I also am the guy who runs hundreds or thousands of computers at a time, so maybe they'd like to listen to me the same way any other customer would listen to a fleet operator.