This video, part of the Nokia IDEAS PROJECT, explains how to increase relevance on platforms including Twitter and Facebook
Transcript of video: Data Gathering Allows Platforms to Serve Customers Better
I think the key element of technology will be that we manage to convince people to give us data, which allows the relevance function of the system to serve them better. I always say that the 1990’s was the decade of given a set of data, what insights can I get, whereas the 2000’s is the decade of given a problem, what data can I get in order to solve my problem. Let’s say the problem of relevance is not solved by yet smarter algorithms. We have reached the ceiling there, but it is solved by people coming up with smart incentives where people see that, “Hey, if I show you something about myself, then I will be served much better. My attention will be rewarded more richly, and I’ll be disappointed less”.
Enroll Consumers in Helping Themselves
My view is that successful companies will see that the consumer is not their enemy. It’s not about snooping up behind the consumer, getting their digital exhaust, and then selling them stuff they don’t want. That’s not how it works. The successful companies will be those who manage to enroll the consumer in helping them and helping themselves. That’s how they will get people to share stuff, not because they want to primarily help the company, but primarily themselves. We see, in China, product development for cars being driven by consumers. As an example, there is a Japanese car maker who actually had a piece made for the car, by consumers, without having any say in that. People said, “We need this,” and someone stepped up and said, “Yes, I have a company in Guangzhou, which can produce it,” and there you are, not only user-created content, but also user created products. That’s part of what I see the future of communication to be.
Costs Have Shifted to the Consumer
The shift that has occurred is that the relevant costs to the recipient are now the dominant ones. If you think about sending out mail ten or twenty years ago, the cost was twenty five cents, which the sender had to pay. The intelligence used to sit on the side of the sender, for instance, Capital One carefully figuring out whom to target. But, with electronic communication, the costs have shifted to the recipient, our time, our attention, our cost to deal with the interruptions. My belief is that it’s not primarily a technology play, but it’s primarily a people play where people provide metadata, data where they predict how important their communication is for you, and then a model negotiates, over time. Given their reputation, how much you should be interrupted and whether given the situation you are in, which of course you devise measures much more finely than ever before, you should be interrupted or not.
Building Platform ‘Relevance’
I believe that progress in relevance to you, as an individual, is one of the key things to expect in the near future. For instance, take Twitter, Twitter organizes things by time. What a poor way; it’s one way, but it’s a very poor way. It’s understandable, but it doesn’t really help me manage my attention well. Potentially, Twitter knows a lot about my past actions; whom did I reply to, whom do I follow. It may also know how others reply. What do others think about my messages and what do I do in other networks? The people I follow on Twitter, are they also on my Facebook? Are they in my MySpace? Do I send emails to them? Taking all that information together, I believe, we can build a much better system, which shows the stuff which seems to be relevant to me, as opposed to just showing stuff in chronological order.
Discovery is the New Paradigm
We have seen the cost of communications, across the board, come down. That means a lot more gets produced by a lot more people. The necessary requirement, now, is that the sender, having an easy ability to reach everybody, needs to be matched by the receiver, which has some way of actually cutting through all the junk tofind those nuggets. So, in some way, it used to be that search was the paradigm where I go and I find something. Now, it’s more discovery. “Hey, delight me. Show me some stuff you’re interested in.” Why do people share things about themselves? I did a panel with Shoshana Zuboff and Esther Dyson, at the Fortune Brainstorm Conference. The upshot was that people like to spread their genes and people like to spread their memes. Both of those make people immortal, in some way, your children, in one case, and your ideas, in the other case. To be honest, I think the Web or let’s say Facebook, does provide for both of them. You find people who you can spread your genes with and you definitely find ways to spread your memes.
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