At the end of every year people try and predict the developments of the next year. This month we’ll see lots of news articles and post “predicting the next wave” of social technology and the subsequent impact on business. So we’ll add our own predictions after reflecting on critical developments and our predictions for 2008.
In January of 2008 we wrote: “Will 2008 Be The Year of Social Commerce?”. We said “While social networks continue to grow exponentially the next growth curve will be driven by the holy grail of economics“, social commerce. There are many factors that drive social commerce but the primary one’s are the influences people have with people vs. the influence traditional media and corporate speak have over people. A shift in influence is moving towards people vs. institutions and traditional media. Vladimir Dimitroff writes “This convergence of stakeholder roles is perhaps the most significant aspect of the ‘2.0 phenomenon and the radically new business and economic thinking. Companies who are able to view the world in this way will become leaders in their field and set new examples for the entire global economy.”
Recently Adam Cohen wrote: Folks shy away from the term “social commerce.” Why? I asked the question on Twitter, “What’s the first thing that pops in your mind when you hear the term ‘social commerce?’” and I received quite a number of cynical (and humorous)
Here’s the danger: People want conversation in social networks to be genuine and to avoid overt marketers hawking their wares. Social networks bring people to connect, not to shop. But as technology evolves and people look to leverage their networks as information sources, invariably those networks will turn to helping each other make purchases. I, for one, take a friend’s recommendation as an important information source before buying – and I have to admit consumer ratings and reviews are helpful and important to me.
Did 2008 Usher In Social Commerce?
Academic research on social commerce has been conducted by researchers at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business. This research defines social commerce as networks of sellers/shops in online marketplaces, whereas social shopping involves networks of buyers/customers in online marketplaces and online communities. I think Doc Searls term “markets are conversations” speaks best to the term social commerce. Think about it. Commerce deals with the exchange of goods and services from producer to final consumer. It comprises the trading of something of economic value such as goods, services, information or money between two or more entities. Commerce functions as the central mechanism which drives markets. Markets are indeed conversations that drive commerce.
Trading information is actually a form of commerce. When you consider the billions of conversations which occurred in 2008 the information exchanged created new knowledge, new skills and in many cases an economic exchange between two or more parties. Consider how many businesses have shifted their advertising dollars to the social web. Consider how many brands are trying to engage in the conversations throughout the web. Consider what we are all learning from all this social stuff. Just consider the extent of “social commerce” which occurred in 2008. One could conclude that indeed we saw a significant increase in “social commerce” during 2008 and it will continue throughout 2009 with more precise economic definition and measures.
What Else for 2009 and Beyond?
The pace of innovation is increasing and all this social stuff is pulling more and more people to discover the possibilities (a magnet of influence). We have a new President who is and will continue to leverage social media as a primary tool for communicating with the public (a major influence on adoption). There already is and will continue to be a significant rate of adoption of social technology by businesses of all sizes (another significant influence). Continued economic pressures will spawn creativity aimed at doing more with less and enabling people to save time and money (the social web will play a major role). Besides these macro trends below is my list of other likely possibilities:
- Google, or someone else, will release “smart agents” which enable users to learn faster and save time engaging in relevant conversations.
- The demand for economic return will produce new revelations and new measures aimed at Enterprise 2.0. (Business processes will collapse and enterprise connectivity will be the new mantra)
- Social Media emphasis will shift from marketing and public relations to customer and supplier relationship models (Doc Searls VRM)
- Social Commerce will create a new definition of economic value and subsequently we may see the dawn of a new currency (ROI on Social Media will take on new meaning and measure)
- Convergence of social technology will cut across all devices and broadcast mediums bringing new meaning to the terms “always on”.
- Clueless Managers will continue demanding all this Cluetrain stuff without understanding any of it.
- A growth both in outsourcing of “social media task” and increased demand for social media resources will big demands for the limited few who have the knowledge.
Well those are the predictions of this humble writer. What is yours? What say you?