Tag: data

The 4 Big Businesses of the Internet

 

If we take a step back and review the evolution of the Internet and the exchange of data on a global level, we can see quite clearly which big businesses have stood out from the pack and whose evolution will significantly determine our future: content, big data, banking, and wireless communication.

Content

Content is the foundation of the web, and without it there is nothing. Its evolution has been amazing considering that 25 years ago, computers were black and white and very few could even play a basic video. Content on the web has been the source of global interconnection. Not too long ago, web pages were filled with text, they were ugly, and offered little more than hypertext or links. Nowadays, websites, mobile phones and TV tend to display less and less text in favor of more photos and videos. Content is becoming much richer and more audiovisual thanks to increased bandwidth.

Bearing that in mind, content becomes one of the big businesses of the Internet, and its creation just as much as its distribution will play key roles in how our future progresses. Although, there is of course still much progress to be made: multiplatform, organized, localized content, on demand.  

Having spent 25 years on the Internet specializing in content, I see infinite possibilities for business development. Content, and especially its monetization on the web, is only in its infancy and I still cannot fathom how Google is capable of maintaining YouTube without having any clear use for it. Thinking about those millions of videos occupying hundreds or thousands of terabytes with content that contributes nothing to the company makes my hair stand on end… I can’t understand that their only way of monetizing the platform is with ads that almost nobody sees, thereby making YouTube completely obsolete in my opinion.

Content creation on the Internet is mainly accomplished in two ways: the first, and most used, is by the user who feeds content into the platform (YouTube, Facebook, Instagram…) and the second, is the company that creates its own content, be it through outsourcing or through its own creation (media, newspapers, television…). Neither of these methods of content creation has evolved much in the last 3 or 4 years due to the fact that, despite having more technical capabilities and bandwidth, few advances have been made in terms of monetizing content.

Monetizing is no easy task since users are all too accustomed to “everything free” and that has led to the failure of many paid models, leaving few alternatives to inserting ads into free videos. Personally, I believe that the tendency for users to expect “everything free” will change. At this time, an average user may perhaps utilize 99% free content, but in the future they will tend to demand higher quality and be open to the idea of paying for certain types of content so long as the cost and method of payment also evolve to adapt to the modern digital consumer.

If we analyze this last comment, we come to the drastic conclusion that only a handful of companies will be able to control the content business on a global level. The business strategy here is volume, with flat rate models or low fees for on demand downloading from huge quantities of users. Therefore, I believe that the next concept to be revolutionized is “Home Content”, where there is still plenty of room to grow, to evolve, and still much to offer in the content business. Computers are completely obsolete while mobile phones are peaking in terms of design and usability leaving little more to be offered that would be truly revolutionary. But, the house, our home, is still by and large in its infancy.

The TV watching experience must change radically and content is the basis of the entertainment business at home. Companies like Movistar TV are betting big on controlling this content.

Big Data

Another one of the big businesses that the web has brought us is the information that the user generates while they interact with content. The new age of digital knowledge opens a large door in the world of marketing because the way we understand sales has changed from a global to a personal level. La individual level data that the Internet offers is astounding. This information is a global superbusiness where big Internet companies see a true goldmine.

Understanding the user and how they interact with technology and content is of the utmost importance in order to analyze their consumer profile. There is still plenty of information from users to be soaked up. In my opinion, hypercontent is key to the evolution of big data, the next step in understanding users’ actions and interactions with content.

Banking

Banking still hasn’t really taken off in all the ways that it needs to. Payment systems are undoubtedly a cornerstone to the evolution of the digital world if we want to make the Internet a great business. From my point of view, many banks are completely oblivious to what is about to happen.

I don’t understand why Google hasn’t developed its own personal funds manager or something similar to Internet banking. Or why not a platform of credits to close the circle of Gmail, YouTube and the Play Store? Or an application to set up direct deposit and payments for payslips and bills?

With millions of users, Facebook or Google would have much more credibility with younger users than many of today’s banks. Furthermore, with their huge masses of users they could offer conditions that banks would never be able to keep up with. I see an excellent opportunity to completely redefine what being a bank really means to the digital user. Young people speak a different language than that of traditional banks.

Wireless Communication

The companies that have suffered the most given the changes over the last 20 years are surely those of telecommunications, namely wireless carriers. Slaves to infrastructure and networks, they must adapt their offers to user demand. In fact, we have gone from pricing plans where voice was king and we spoke about cents per minute to flat rate data plans that made SMS messages a thing of the past. The big providers have had to adapt and adjust their offers to the demand generated by successful startups, who determine the consumption habits of these carriers’ clients.

It’s obvious that at this moment, data is the big business of mobile phone companies. But, what would happen if a company decided to offer free data in exchange for inserting ads? Where would that put mobile operators on the totem pole? Access to the web will be cheap and customer loyalty to a given operator won’t come from their current model of offers, but rather from their ability to offer bundled services like news, home automation, and localized content.

In conclusion, the big businesses that have emerged in the new age of digital communication are completely influenced by both innovation and by the demands generated by users themselves. The time is coming when we may rewrite many of the concepts we once thought would last a lifetime.

Internet Data is the Petroleum of the 21st Century

 

“Companies want to ‘get to know us’ in order to sell us products and services.”

I don’t know if somebody has asked why huge companies on the Internet invest millions in expansion, sometimes without having a clear or profitable business plan. The answer is clear: having users means having information and information is both business and power. In the 21st century, user data is turning into one of the most sought after items in business.

The web has a peculiarity that no other means of communication previously had. It’s not just the immediacy or even the interactivity, but rather it’s the way of navigating between contents, from one to the next, that has revolutionized the ways of connecting with the user.

Until the birth of TCP/IP and the World Wide Web, all channels of communication were linear. In fact, they still are. The hypertext or link that was brought upon by Internet browsing allowed users to choose their own browsing path through different sites based on their likes, searches, preferences or curiosities. The hyperlink offered non-linear navigation which allowed visitors to the same site to choose different paths and destinations.

Therein lies the business

Every time a user clicks a link they are telling us one way or another what it is they are looking for or what interests them. Being able to analyze that information, which at first glance doesn’t seem so important, is revolutionizing the way business is done in the world.

One company that has been able to take advantage of user browsing habits and interactivity with different pages and sites is, of course, Google. This company has had it very clear that they needed to offer basic services to the user (Gmail, Youtube, Google Plus, Google News, etc.), completely free, in exchange for the information that these services generated when being used.

But, not everyone knows how to get the most out of this type of data and make a business out of it. Information has become very complex and it has, above all, come to the end of its first phase.

In the case of Google, the strategy for capturing information has been to parse or analyze millions of web pages and capture the keywords used for searching. The equation is easy if you know what is being searched for, who is doing the searching, and where to find it. The searched item only needs to be shown to the user and a business is born.

In other cases, the use of cookies to analyze browsing habits and link clicking creates what is called Big Data. But the age of hypertext is coming to its end, since web content has less and less text and we are seeing more and more photos, audio, and video. The next phase of the information business is hypercontent.

What is hypercontent?

Hypercontent is interactive content, content that offers the user different alternatives to choose from. One clear example would be Instagram photos or Youtube videos and all the information that comes with them. The tendency we have see with companies like Google or Facebook is to develop technologies that monetize the content containing information (photos or video), since users show habits of wanting to read less and see more, which changes the model for capturing information.

While it may seem easy, it is quite complex to know what products, brands, services and experiences a photo or video may contain, and especially which users are interested in them. To know this, we need the photo or video to be tagged, archived, and connected to an action that piques the interest of the user when they interact with said content.

Tagging systems have evolved, but we have yet to see a global tagging solution for products and experiences that can encompass hypercontent. It’s a multi-million dollar business that will lead to an intelligent web of vertical data capable of knowing each individual user’s tastes and interests.

In the end, this data will mean the ability to make sales if we focus the business on e-commerce. Being able to sell to the whole world from just one place has completely changed the way we value the sales process. Proximity is playing less of a role while price becomes more important. Trying on or testing something where it’s sold is taking a back seat to recommendations and influences. Nowadays, you can sell any item to anybody in the world whilst only having to know what they want and when they want it.

Personally, I think that it’s a good thing for companies to know certain information about us. The way this information is handled is the key to making sure that the data we provide these companies is used our benefit in the end rather than being used against us.

From our incubator at Atomic Internet we are researching and developing technology for a global tagging system making it easy to tag any item found within Internet content, wherever it may be found and from any type of device. We will be able to store all the items that you see and like, whether it be from TV, on your mobile, or in a shop window. The evolution from networks to the Internet of things and the fact that all of it can be connected opens up a whole new area for business. When it comes to the Internet, this is only the beginning.