A recent briefing by Socitm, the representative body for people working in public sector ICT, has claimed that ICT heads would do well to investigate sentiment analysis further.
Sentiment analysis is a way of using technology to aggregate many individual opinions, attitudes and emotions to gain insight into opinions of whole communities.
Socitm’s Sentiment analysis: a useful technique report suggests that using this technique will be of much interest from both service development and technical standpoints now that many senior IT managers are now responsible for customer service and digital access channels.
The body claims that while it is unlikely that public sector organisations will be setting up their own sentiment analysis facilities, they may wish to consider buying into one of the many commercial services on offer.
The Socitm briefing aims to provide an insight into current practice with a view to helping readers to understand the potential of sentiment analysis, consider its relevance to their local needs and to formulate searching questions for use in discussions with possible providers.
This includes a description of how sentiment analysis is done and its key tools, such as data mining, linguistics and natural language processing (NLP).
It also explains how the rise of social media is delivering huge volumes of opinionated text in digital form which is particularly suitable for processing using these techniques.
However the Socitm briefing also warns that many pitfalls lie in the path of sentiment analysis, for example potential misinterpretation by computer systems of the way words and phrases are used in real life.
Despite these potential challenges, the organisations says public sector managers should still give serious consideration to sentiment analysis.