You’ve been sleeping under a rock if you haven’t realized that what’s said on Twitter, Facebook, wikis, YouTube videos, and personal blogs has a big impact on what people think about a brand.
And there’s no shortage of companies developing technology to monitor this ever-changing buzz. But they often target those in public relations and marketing.
Buzzient, at the Cambridge Innovation Center in Kendall Square, takes a different approach. Its Web-based software is pitched to those in a company who make decisions about which products to offer to consumers, and what features to offer within those products, says chief executive officer and founder Timothy Jones.
Buzzient has been self-funded since its inception and is cash-flow positive as of this year, Jones says.
He was first alerted to the massive amount of data available in the Internet cloud when he was an MIT Sloan fellow working at the school’s Center for Digital Business, where he analyzed and determined pricing for Google’s enterprise-level business apps. He started working on Buzzient in 2008, and in early 2009 it attracted its first customer: Motley Fool.
“Coming out of the crash, they were interested in what people were saying about different asset classes,’’ he says. Buzzient’s software helped Motley Fool, which publishes investing research online and sells in-depth reports, understand what information consumers were looking for, Jones says.
Another customer is PerkinElmer, the Waltham provider of research and diagnostics technologies. Jones says the life-sciences company uses Buzzient software to monitor which diseases or medical conditions Internet users are talking about.
A Seattle healthcare marketing firm, Appature, develops technology for tracking and measuring customer input for companies in the pharmaceutical, medical devices, and wellness spaces.
The Buzzient software uses natural language processing to crawl the Internet for keywords relating to a brand. One thing that distinguishes Buzzient’s technology, Jones says, is sentiment analysis, which turns qualitative statements into quantitative scores. In other words, rather than just gathering a slew of tweets on your brand, it rates how positive each tweet was to create an overall score.
“We’re turning words into numbers and allowing you to basically visualize those in our application or in an existing CRM [customer relationship management] system,’’ he says.
Just as companies started adding e-mail addresses to customer databases, many brands are tracking a caller’s Twitter handle, to get a more vivid picture of what they really think and are saying on the Web, often before they even call the 800 number attached to many products.
Buzzient says it can help integrate that buzz more seamlessly into a company’s customer database.
Buzzient’s software can help companies track things at a micro level, such as a brand’s specific product lines, or at a macro level to gather a sense of their wider market.
One application of Buzzient on this macro level is eyeing potential acquisition targets, Jones says. It helps companies see what other companies in their industries are up to, and alerts them to names they might not have considered as competitors, based on which brands show up in Buzzient’s Internet-crawling software.
Buzzient’s prices reflect its level of sophistication, says Jones, saying that his company isn’t one of the many “cheap and dirty’’ analytics software providers. Buzzient software subscriptions cost from $500 to $41,000 per month, with the average price at $5,000.
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The World Economic Forum — the body behind the annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland — has released its Technology Pioneers list for 2011. Eleven out of 31 companies on the list are in or near Xconomy’s home cities.
The forum singles out companies that represent “the cutting edge in innovation and are poised to have a critical impact on the future of business, industry, and society.’’ An honoree must demonstrate visionary leadership and show all the signs of being a longstanding and sustainable market leader — and its technology must be proven.
The selection committee includes technology and media executives as well as officials from governments, universities, and nongovernmental organizations.
This year’s honorees will be recognized at a meeting in Tianjin, China, Sept. 13-15.
The companies from New England are:
■ Adimab (Lebanon, N.H.) — Antibody-based drug discovery and optimization.
■ Digital Lumens (Boston) — Efficient LED-based lighting systems.
■ Ion Torrent (Guilford, Conn.) — Rapid semiconductor-based genome sequencing.
■ Medicine in Need (Cambridge) — Reformulating drugs and vaccines for delivery in developing countries.
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Newton-based ExtendMedia, a maker of video software, will be acquired by the networking giant Cisco Systems. The companies have not released financial details of the deal, which is expected to close in early 2011. ExtendMedia’s Newton office will remain in operation as part of the deal, and all of the company’s employees will join Cisco.
Wavemark, a Littleton maker of radio-frequency identification tags for tracking hospital inventory, has raised $3.9 million in equity-based funding. The financing includes the conversion of some notes and will be put toward working capital for the company, according to documents filed with regulators.
This report was compiled by the editors of Xconomy, an online news website focused on the business of technology and innovation. For more New England coverage, visit www.Xconomy.com/boston.