Improving marketing engagements with customers and internal collaboration are some benefits that Facebook’s Graph Search capability will bring to enterprises.

Graph Search-like technology can step in where the CRM (customer relationship management) database falls short – Jake Wengroff, social technologies analyst at Gleanster

Facebook announced Graph Search in January, saying it lets people use natural queries such as “people who like cheese pizza” or “friends born after 1979″ to discover content within their Facebook online network, or “social graph”. The capability is currently in beta and only approved users will have access to it, according to Facebook.

Commenting on the new feature, Jake Wengroff, social technologies analyst at Gleanster, an analyst firm, said Facebook is essentially injecting natural language processing functionality to its search algorithm so results can be delivered more intuitively and naturally.

The underlying concept of graph search has potential in the enterprise setting. This functionality has a strong opportunity in the enterprise space and will “galvanize” the social software industry to develop similar search capabilities for various purposes, Wengroff added. For example, an employee would be able to search the company’s social network to find out the relevant colleagues who had worked on a previous project using a query such as “employees in California who worked on exploration project X”. This helps them avoid having to trawl through multiple staff databases and cobbling the information together manually, he explained.

One can easily filter out people from across the company to see which employee is the best fit for a particular project, he added.

The same capability can also help sales teams identify who may be connected to a prospective customer. In this scenario, “Graph Search-like technology can step in where the CRM (customer relationship management) database falls short”, Wengroff noted.

Ken Mandel, managing director for Asia at Salesforce Marketing Cloud, said the idea of Graph Search is about giving users the ability to combine intent, social context and custom audiences. This is something any organization can benefit from, he said.

After all, an internal enterprise social network is a “wealth of present and historical intelligence” and having Graph Search-like capabilities makes it easier to locate the right executive in big, geographically-dispersed organizations, Mandel said.

Gavin Tay, research director of content, portals and social at Gartner, added that unlike most traditional enterprise applications, employees actually like using such using social functionalities, so it may have more organizational buy-in.

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