Is Social Technology Leading?

by Jay Deragon on 11/19/2008

There is a proliferation of new technology emerging throughout all technology sectors. For those of us consumed with social technology we have to wonder if it really is the “killer app” that leads all technology. Technological value can be a measure of adoption. Using that measure it appears as though the long tail for social media is very long fuled by human demand for information..

David B. Yoffie writes This is an evolving landscape, with much growth remaining, Yoffie said. Of 6.5 billion people in the world, about 1.5 billion have Internet access, more than 300 million have broadband access to the home, and 3 billion have cell phones, a growing number of which offer Internet access.

What these statistics suggest is that “the most precious currency today is information,” said panelist Jim Breyer, an early investor in Facebook and a director of Wal-Mart Stores. “Each year there is more information created on the Web than in all the previous years combined. Investment initiatives are around participating in the information flow. We [at Accel] are interested in companies that help us understand how to structure information, communicate, categorize some of that self-generated information, and then act on it.”

A sticking point currently for businesses is spanning the gap between the physical and the digital world, he continued.

“Right now there are significant problems understanding how to take what we are getting at point of sale in the physical world environment—very valuable info on customers—and how to integrate it with all the information that is being generated on the Web. To date, there is no company that allows one to take quickly all this information ‘in the cloud’ and integrate it with the vast arrays of
information in the physical world.”

Difficulties aside, Breyer said the promise of technology meant that innovation to solve a problem could arrive from any quarter: prominent companies, nonprofit enterprises, “two students in a dorm room, or mothers or fathers after they have done their school pickups.” He continues to be impressed by businesses that start with little capital—anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000—yet get to scale quickly and build new applications on the Web.

Sleeping by the cell phone

Just as technology is influencing society, society is increasingly making demands on technology, said Sue Decker of Yahoo!

“The way we live, love, communicate, and work will influence technology, and the greater population will be exercising an increasing amount of control,” she said. Decker cited statistics suggesting that in 2007, 12 percent of newlyweds met online. In addition, of the users in the United States, half sleep with a cell phone or other electronic device nearby, and married couples usually do not share cell phones.

Innovation will serve people who want simplicity of technology usage. As the network gets larger it becomes less relevant to individuals, she said, so people want to organize their experience according to their own interests. “Companies that will do pretty well will create a dashboard of simplicity that is very open to the whole Internet, not just to the company it may be associated with, and will
elevate social connections in a way that drives dollars.”

Given these perspective and others it would seem that the next wave of social will be centric to social commerce. This will answer a lot of questions that many business leaders have today. Afterall, business runs on economic fuel and as soon as any technology demonstrates how to gain more fuel the masses of business leaders will demand its use for the fear of missing out on any revenue.

Given our current economic conditions it would seem obvious that the creative juices of the many feeling the economic downturn will likely produce the innovation needed to move to the next wave. Stay tuned fo 2009. It is going to be interesting.

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