March 26 by Paul O'Brien
Think back just a handful of years to when the big story about technology was “convergence.” Namely, everyone was interested and, frankly, concerned what the future would bring when all your services were bundled together and came through one source. Not just from a business sense, but how it would affect future usage.
Cut to today and with hindsight it all seems a little silly. Data and phone convergence went over just fine, and now we’re at the point (finally) where our televisions are becoming media and computer hubs.
Instead of worrying about hardware, the next convergence is a little harder to grasp. Between the cloud, big data, and social media, everything we do and own is heading online, with no end in sight. The very act of printing out a piece of paper and handing it to a coworker seems positively archaic.
So what does this mean for the future? Can we predict this movement a little more positively than the data convergence in the late 90s?
Currently, common software programs don’t have enough power to properly interpret big data. Whenever you see data from Facebook or Twitter trends, it’s usually from some powerhouse unavailable to the consumer public, inexpensively, as there is simply too much to go on. That’s to be expected, too, as services like Twitter and Facebook have hundreds of millions of users.
Naturally, saving this data in any sort of form short of nonsensical is a major task. How are you supposed to properly look through 150 Terabytes of pure info? Since Twitter’s “big data” is really only usable by Twitter, it’s saved in a way that’s used best by them.
Now, holding back the cloud if often only our ability to transfer information. A simple way to understand this challenge is to consider an analogy with which everyone is increasingly familiar. Sites and apps like Dropbox are great at sending fairly large amounts of data. But the highest they do now is 100 GB of data an individual for $200 a year; we’re starting to deal with vastly more data than 100 GB and our ability to store, move, and manage that data in the cloud has yet to catch up.
So what does this all mean for the future of convergence of data and social media? Like everything in business, it’s going to take more real money to get things going. As companies figure out how to truly monetize the transfer of big data from social media, it will become standard throughout every industry.
The cloud is still in its relative infancy. Even in this fast paced age where industries are born, grow, and die within a matter of months, cloud-based information transfer is still fairly new; Dropbox arrived in September of 2008.
The big factor besides monetization is the breadth, support, and value of APIs from sites like Twitter and Facebook. Given the cost of technical resources alone in accessing the big data that exists today, convergence is an expensive proposition; this will however change, as the cost of technology declines with continued adoption and innovation. Imagine what will be possible when hundreds of millions of individuals have the ability to engage big data directly, to mine and interact with vast amounts of social information – that’s when revolutionary innovations occur. It’s exciting to be at the forefront of that evolution.
Imagine a marketing platform not unlike Dropbox – pay a little, get a little taste of what’s out there. Pay a lot, and suddenly you have a tremendous amount of data to choose from when deciding your next plan of marketing attack. Consider, completely an automatically personalized and on demand Groupon through which local retailers and restaurants can tailor their offers to your particular interests. What if Pinterest could dynamically change what you see, from art in your home to the billboards on the road.
It’s out there, it’s next. Fliptop already transforms a humble email address into a complete digital identity for each of your contacts. It’s on that big data, that big companies revolutionize their marketing.
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