Twitter Unveils Official Consulting Partners: IBM Is First Up

IBM Has 10,000 Certified Twitter Data Experts; Twitter Wants More

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IBM has worked with Twitter as a strategic partner since October, and the relationship has helped the social-data purveyor recognize something important: Twitter needs more preferred consulting partners.

So, the much younger, smaller Twitter has approved the global tech giant as its first Twitter Official Partner, a new seal-of-approval Twitter is introducing today.

Twitter has partnered with a variety of approved data-tech vendors such as financial data provider Dataminr and social analytics firms like Crimson Hexagon. Until now it's categorized them as certified marketing-platform partners or product partners. Today, Twitter is rolling those into the Official Partner Program, and plans to accept additional consultancies into the fold.

"The certified product program is limiting in that it's just for products," said Zach Hofer-Shall, head of ecosystems for Twitter. The same goes for the marketing partner category, he said.

"We're signaling to as many companies around the world as possible that we want to educate them about the value of Twitter data," said Mr. Hofer-Shall.

Since partnering in October 2014, IBM and Twitter devised best practices for use of Twitter data by consultancies. The result is more than 10,000 Twitter-trained IBM consultants and a curriculum of data best practices. "This is something that we've never done with a company before," said Mr. Hofer-Shall.

Indeed, it was the acquisition a year ago of a former partner of Twitter, data management firm Gnip, which facilitated the partner program expansion, he said. Without the addition of Gnip's business team which has helped manage highly-integrated relationships with partners such as IBM, "We couldn't have had the depth of conversations that we've had," added Mr. Hofer-Shall.

"As for training, they really customize it for each audience," said an IBM spokesperson. "The people working on ingesting the data technically, the people that analyze it, the people that sell the solutions, and the people that deliver the solutions all receive different training."

In addition to training IBM consultants to help their own clients put Twitter data to better use, Big Blue itself integrated data from the social-messaging platform into its Watson analytics platform to enhance information used for data visualization.

"It's about the data source, but doing something more meaningful with that data source," said the IBM spokesperson, who stressed the company is focused on utilizing Twitter data for more than simply analyzing social sentiment towards brands; it wants to also inform enterprise decisions.

Expect additional consulting firms to join the ranks of preferred Twitter partners. "We're hosting other conversations" with consultancies, said Mr. Hofer-Shall.

Twitter will launch a new site to help clients choose partners which have been vetted. The company does not charge partners for the privilege of official status; rather, said Mr. Hofer-Shall, "It is incredibly selective. We tend to choose ones with which we've already had an extensive relationship."

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