Spiders And Elephants – Social Connections And Big Data Will Determine The Next Big Winners And Losers

I’ve been following a couple of 2011 developments that together may determine the next big technology winners and losers. To get your click, I’ve been obscure in my title.

Spiders refers to the battle for control of the webs that connect us all together. Google won the first race by connecting webs of content, and now the second race is on for control of the social web. Facebook dominates the personal market, while LinkedIn has carved out a niche with professionals and now challenges its big cousin. Finally, latecomer Google (anybody see the irony?) may just sneak up on both by capitalizing on their respective weaknesses.

So what?

Consider this: The winner will control the web of social data. What people like, who they know who likes similar stuff, and where these potential customers are. This is powerful stuff that companies are just beginning to figure out. For example, a mobile app identifies five people in your condo complex who are big scuba divers, and one is on the boat trip with you right now. By helping you make connnections, the app’s developer can now sell marketing data to dive boat charters that then can offer you a group discount to come back together with your other new connections. Clearly, the company in control of this data will be in the center of a market worth a mind-blowing amount of money.

Elephants is an allusion to Hadoop and Horton, two pachyderms that represent that growing interest in big data technology. Eric Baldeschwieler, former Hadoop project leader at Yahoo and now CEO of Hortonworks, went so far as to state, “. . . We anticipate that within five years, more than half the world's data will be stored in Apache Hadoop.”

While I neither support nor refute that statement, it is a mighty big claim that illustrates a shift in data storage and analytics. The coming avalanche of geolocation and social connection data needs to go somewhere, and the elephants are making a big play to be the file storage and analysis platform of choice.[1]Of course the elephants will face competition, as big data does not equal Hadoop, and other regular data alternatives exist.

Spiders and elephants underscore two battles that, taken together, will shape your future architecture — like it or not. Where and when you place bets will determine if your company is a big winner or an also-ran over the next five years.

I’m doing research this quarter to address these trends further: 1) a CIO paper to demystify big data, and 2) an update to the The Top 15 Technology Trends EA Should Watch: 2011 To 2013. I look forward to your feedback.



Multi-Channel Customer Intelligence

In my opinion, aggregation and analyzing data to draw business insights and for organizations to tweak their business strategy based on these insights, will determined the winners and also-ran over the next 5 years.

The true benefit of aggregating structured data (weblogs, social CRM, application data) and unstructured data (social applications such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, customer comments and product reviews) is being able to derive actionable insights such as determining 'product improvement ideas' or 'future trends' as well as providing a feedback mechanism to channel these insights back into the business.

The key to successful subjective analysis is in empowering and training the personnel at various customer touch points to ask probing questions of customers and flag answers which require deeper analysis. Flagging specific 'key data points' will allow actionable nuggets of information to be highlighted and stand apart from the sea of information.

Additionally, forming a deep relationship between people interfacing with customers at multiple touch-points such as social media channels, customer service channels, websites etc. and subject matter experts, such as product managers and designers who are within an organization, will allow for business insights and relevant data to be captured in 'real-time' rather than 'after the fact', which will lead to better understanding of customer behavior and opinions.

More content on this topic is available on my blog http://nitivaish.wordpress.com


Niti - thanks for comments. Do you work for Slalom consulting? If so, say "Hi" to Beth for me.

Regarding your comment - absolutely, this is the promise of social data integration with CRM, MDM, BPM, EDW/analytics etc.

This blog is highlighting that over and above that general truism - the company that wins at securing and become the 800# gorilla of social connection data will be in a position to really influence the rest of us trying to capitalize on that data for our companies. Social connection data paired with geolocation data might just ecplise every other kind of social information (Twitter, etc.) in its important and disruption to the market.


Thoughts ....

You are correct, I am with Slalom Consulting - we have a couple of Beths in the office, let me know which one I should reach out to and I’ll be sure to convey your ‘Hi' :)

I love the metaphor of spiders and elephants! Interesting thought that over time ‘one’ company will evolve which will secure all the social data. Personally I believe that a new breed of companies / tools will evolve which will focus on collection and analysis of data describing people, events, behaviors etc. such as check-ins, social graph, likes, dislikes, favorites, recommendations, payment, data in CRM etc. We are seeing flavors of this today but overtime the tools will become more sophisticated and will be capable of ‘subjective analysis’ such as connecting-the-dots to infer product improvement ideas and trend analysis.