Sumit Sharma

Archive for the ‘Social Networking’ Category

My Observations from the GigaOm Mobilize conference 2011

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Proliferation of Mobile Devices:

  • Today, 60% of devices consumed are smartphones – moving into the heart of mainstream adoption.
  • 55% of time on device is on apps. 14% texting, and only 6% on voice. The computer really is shifting to the hand-mobile is here. New paradigm: “Always on, always with you” media consumption.

Emergence of HTML5:

  • Slide Share announced they are moving from Flash to HTML5 platform.
  • Future is going to be a hybrid model of HTML5 and Native applications on mobile phones.
  • With HTML5 and CSS3 you can build a rich app, without native experience and ship much quicker, and test quicker.
  • Combo of CSS3, Javascript and HTML5 is powerful though it’s not there yet – bottom line: Still building native apps
  • If you want apps to be more than read only, then you do need to give them offline capabilities…so that’s a limitation for pure HTML5 usage.
  • There is a difference between the consumers vs. enterprise because enterprise apps need to be disconnected but work at the same time. (Offline operations).


Impact of Tablets on Enterprises:

  • Mobile is quickly becoming a first class citizen in enterprises
  • Today there are 1000s of corporate deployments of iPads.  Enterprises are starting to have “tablet strategies” around user consumers. The tablet affords a whole new kind of workflow that enables greater efficiency. All SFDC sales reps carry iPads, none have PCs.
  • Tablet has impacted how people build web apps – lots of 1 page apps that have micro refreshes within page instead of multi-page apps.
  • It’s not just about BigData, but about real time analysis – everyone is hiring data scientists.
  • Bandwidth is almost unlimited and ubiquitous: so mobile bandwidth is accelerating Cloud adoption. Businesses that have never done connected ecosystems, mobile etc. have opportunity to get into the economics. Cloud is good for everyone.


Mobile Apps and Tablets will cause Disruptions to Telco Provider Business Models:

  • Tug of war happening between mobile apps data consumption and carriers’ bandwidth limitations – (demand/supply mismatch).
  • Some carriers are being punitive on undisciplined applications – so will need some middleware to manage that: Unmet Need. Cloud integration and ecosystem of network and hosting done by carriers- default for most applications is to develop responsibility on application quality so that networks don’t shut them down.
  • Paradigm needs to change from charging for bits and bytes to charging for services and values. This unlocks value for both parties.
  • China Mobile has 650M users. Need to scale, bandwidth constrained right now. Need technology innovation there to manage scale.
  • Trend: Mobile app builders that are bringing development to “citizen developers” – will make 25% of biz apps by 2014.
  • M-Commerce is about So-lo-mo. Very easy to do this incorrectly  (contextual/serendipitous discovery)  –  especially if your customer isn’t ready.
  • “You become what you measure – if you pick the wrong KPIs you can become the wrong company”


Transformation of IT:

  • 2011 saw the birth of mobile and Cloud IT. IT has typically been known as the NO people. Need to be YES AND. Truly need to put business hat on.
  • IT needs to look at this as an opportunity, not as a challenge.
  • BYOD – bring your own device. How will IT perceive this? Does it mean cost reduction, or getting more productivity from every employee? Paradigm shift. Think about policy, security and compliance and then pick tools, support and processes against valid business objectives. IF you don’t set policy, your end users will. Now is the time for IT to seize opportunity.
  • IT spends time on how to secure things, keep lights on and control costs – Mobile/Cloud gives them chance to be thought leaders and empower and untether mobile apps that people can find valuable. Employees will start loving IT – CIOs need to help company leverage new tools.
  • Consumerization of IT or IT’zation of the consumer? Moving from a Parent-child model to a more equal standing (IT and Business/Users). This is beneficial- study shows that helpdesk calls dropped by half. Everybody wins.
  • There are two types of apps used in enterprises today: Prosumer apps or Consumer apps. – Company data and information are inside corporate apps and prosumer apps. Question is how do you enable discovery and distribution of apps, and enable governance of both types of apps. You miss it when you are just focusing on a single type of apps. (corp app vs. prosumer app).
  • Keep data containerized – that’s what’s happening on personal phones today.  Lots of technologies to do this coming up now.
  • Is the organization getting hijacked? No – it’s about the data. CIOs don’t want to manage devices, they want to manage data, policy, security etc.
  • The pressure it is putting on the C-level is extremely high, because they want to build apps that are cool, and not build clunky apps.
  • Mobile and Cloud will turn traditional IT and computing on it’s head. It’s about user experience (U-Ex). IT never focused on U-Ex before. Today Mgmt, security, apps are all intertwined because of U.Ex. Before – it was a specific segment of companies in the industry working on perfecting security, another segment of companies perfecting  management, and another segment of companies working on other applications etc. Now it’s all intertwined and they need to get it and it’s going to create another set of winners and losers. (On subject of intertwined: Apple’s Appstore does that – to preserve U.Ex.)
  • Mainframe àPC re-arranged winners and losers of the industry and PC à Mobile/Cloud will rearrange winners and losers in the industry. If you didn’t grow up solving mobile you’ll lose it.  Inevitable.

Written by Sumit

September 27, 2011 at 8:17 pm

Real time search to a whole new level

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Siri is a new company that can take in your voice command and spit out results to you in the hope that it will be relevant of course to your needs. I’d be curious to know what their sources of data are, and if its just cold directory data and coupling that with location and some other obvious pieces of data…
For starters in contextualizing users’ situations I’d try to create a function that incorporates at least some implications of location, time and micro events
…however if you were to think about it, they are missing a crucial piece of the puzzle, a social graph of some sort. I know I’ve argued about the over-hyping of social graphs before, and I still stick to my guns for that, however think about the importance of integrating popular ratings, what users possessing similar characteristics are doing and so on. Basically, tapping into LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter to access and build some sort of a similarity graph and categorize which bucket a user falls into, and then imbibing APIs from platforms such as Yelp to incorporate ratings as well. So the function would be:
Siri_Recommendation = f(location, micro_events, time, Social_Graph), where Social_Graph= f(social graph, ratings)

Again, its all about sharing, opening up platforms and then getting chomped on by Google, Facebook and the like because all thats unique about Siri in this case is they (better) have a kick ass algorithm (the Siri_Recommendation) or their voice recognition algorithm is so sophisticated that it captures tones, pitch and can incorporate that into the background context of the search – long shot.
Bye bye Siri, if not now, then definately later.

Written by Sumit

April 10, 2010 at 11:26 pm

Democratization of Data ahoy!

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I just came across a start-up, Anchor Free, whose main product is a Hotspot Shield. I think there is some serious disruptive potential here, and the big boys (FB, Google, Yahoo, MSN and other content, networking sites) had better keep an eye on what these guys are up to.
Anchor Free has the ability to track user activity across all websites, facebook, google, youtube, yahoo, msn etc. – this is exactly what I’ve been advocating in a previous post and they read my mind, ok whatever they startd before me but hey, great minds think alike. 🙂
What’s the “so-what” factor in all this? It is very subtle, and extremely pertinent: They have that knowledge that none of these individual websites have: that is, they know what users have been up to across the web, so basically taking all the silo’d website data, combining it into a huge apple crumble pie and voila, you have a full dessert, not just an individual slice. This gives one a much more accurate and all-round picture of who a user is and what their characterisitcs are. On top of all this heap of data from this cross website – aggregation, Anchor Free also knows their users and so they can cross referenc activity with user profiles and this becomes even more powerful. Venture Capitalist, Raj Kapoor, has written about the value of having informaiton about user activity and how much money can be made from selling/licensing this data.

If I was the CEO of Anchor Free, I would spin off an advertising/marketing business where they make use of all this data which if they continue to procure, they’d be HAUTE!!!!

Written by Sumit

March 19, 2010 at 10:21 am

Why Google Buzz isn’t working for me

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A couple of days ago I can’t remember where I read/saw this but they compared Sergey/Larry to Mark Zuckerberg:
Sergey/Larry: when you meet them, there is an awkward moment and not sure what to say or do…
Mark: he’s more of a “whats up man” kind of guy, and will give you a hug…

Enough said.

In my last post about whether analytics should be treated as a science or an art, I argue that there is an aspect of creativity and actual understanding of human psychology that should go into the algorithms producing data before us…Take a look at my friend list on buzz…out of the 26 people that are following me on day 1 of its launch I have only 5 truly relevant people…that is people I consider good friends and whom I’ve interacted with in the last 6months at some level. Once again, using the silo’d data set of gmail correspondence, Google has, to its utter embarrassment, taken liberty to go at this alone with out Facebook, Twitter and without analyzing other activities I do.
Of course, I’m not saying that Google should be producing friends out of the blue to me (I for the record wouldn’t find that creepy but I know 99% of you would – in fact I think that would be a great experiment) – in fact don’t these dating websites do that as well? – (read: we have double standards but thats a point for another time) but at least they need to stop being so robotic about it. You can’t just use plain math to hook me up with people, Google!!!
FB isn’t perfect, but you need to learn from there…give a hug, smile maybe and loosen up (just like Mark).

To sum it up, John Battelle couldn’t have said it better in his blog about Buzz:

Buzz does not let you do pretty much anything at all with Facebook. Buzz tries to find your friends and connections through algorithms that watch what you do on Google services, then lets you add more, but through the lens of Gmail. There are two things wrong with this: Algorithms, and email. Facebook didn’t depend on either to create its initial value. Instead, it let humans pick other humans, which honestly, is what social is all about at its core.

Written by Sumit

February 11, 2010 at 6:42 am

Posted in Social Networking

What blog sites need to do…

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With a great deal of humility, I would like to offer some advice to WordPress (the operator of this blog site), and I hope they follow it….
First of all, just for a minute please put aside fears and doubts regarding privacy, security, practicalities of how to get there. Now let me set some context…There are hundreds of thousands of bloggers out there, many of whom I’d like to occasionally read some interesting points of view. The important assumption is that following one person’s blog and each and every one of their articles is like only wearing a single item of clothing all year round, boring and after a while it becomes stale…’it’ being your relationship with that blogger’s articles. That blogger may continue to churn out all sorts of cool articles but they aren’t always going to be what you want…yes there is that element of being starstruck and feeling the need to read each and every article written by Bill Gates but I don’t think thats an very good diversification strategy , at least from a personal relevance perspective…

Which brings me to the point of this post: Lets access those 100s of 1000s of bloggers, out of whom at least a handful will post something that will be appealing to you…Question is, how?!?
Here is my suggestion of how:
1. Get to know the reader. Yes, WordPress – get to know who I am, what I’m interested in, what my background is, what I’m writing, who I hang out with and all that.
2. Get to know your data. Again, WordPress…get to know what your writers are writing, categorize them in meaningful ways that can be easily federated with other blogs and articles in various news sites – you won’t regret this because in the long term they too will be able to make easily constructed API calls to you as well.

Thats it, you know your readers and you know your content. Match made in heaven. Here is what happens now that you are in this enviable situation:
I get presented with cool articles from people that I didnt know exist, based on the WordPress intelligent algorithms. Yeah right, if Google and FB still can’t get relevance right good luck…but at least you konw what direction to head in and the steps needed to get there…

Know me. Know what I write. Now repeat this for every other user and article.

Written by Sumit

February 10, 2010 at 11:15 pm

Some thoughts on Digg

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I’d like to offer my perspective on Digg so far since I’ve started using it only recently and will admit that I’m not as active on it as I think I’d like to be. I think one of the reasons is because there are too many choices for me to choose from in terms of sharing what I read or come across and to some extent, I’ve invested so much in some of the choices that I don’t feel like changing unless Digg offers some higher value to me… I’m already a Facebook user and am also fairly regular on twitter so I’d probably post what I like onto Facebook or tweet them – I know there is the interface into Facebook via FB connect but what would truly incentive someone to do that when they can really just “Faceook” something? Facebook, through its Facebook connect platform, has put itself into a position to where it has one up on the Diggs and Stumbleupons of this world because on top its knowledge of what we like or prefer, it has an extremely well established social network. Digg isn’t going to compete with Facebook as far as social networks are concerned, and so to increase user ship I think Digg will need to overcome the following challenges:

1. Increase penetration and omnipresence across the internet: Lack of a uniform, mainstream population that are Digg customers…if Digg truly wants to become the de facto aggregation tool, known for providing trusted relevant content to us, it  ideally needs to increase its presence and breadth across the web because it needs to accurately analyze our overall web activity, not just activity/article/webpage that happens to have an associated Digg link which appears to be where the majority of Diggs come from. This entails for the Digg icon to be available almost wherever we browse and whatever we do. And if it can’t be everywhere, then at least Google, Facebook, Delicious, Yahoo, Aadvark, Fark and StumbleUpon and many other such services will need to share their APIs AND data with Digg so that it can have access to the vast amounts of data concerning user activity and related information spanning across these entities in general.  What Digg needs isn’t only just API sharing, but data sharing – to clarify, API sharing allows Digg to build an interface into Facebook but thats helping Facebook more than Digg since Facebook gets more data at Digg’s expense. Rather, data of Facebook users’ activity needs to be shared as well.

2. Lack of matching of people and recommending what someone like me might like, lets not confuse this with using my social graph though … I’ve already shared why I think the notion of using our social graphs to gauge our interests is probably a misconception. If we were to focus onto matching commonalities between users, and maybe not just based on social networks and commonalities of Digg histories, but based on other characteristics – more thought needs to be put into this which brings me to my third point…

3. There is little or no ability to map out other variables that come into the physical and mental worlds…i.e. integrating time of day, location, micro events, macro events, state of our mind and body and thousands of other variables for accurately understanding context to name a few: retail, dining, music etc. The more the better. Of course all this depends on the prevalence of sensor networks and advancement of sensor oriented gadgets. My argument that humans don’t just exist in the online plain means that aggregators and search engines will eventually need  to bridge the physical and mental worlds. Basically, extracting as much context as possible, and recognizing that context doesn’t just come from analyzing online activity in terms of what we “Digg”, but should also encapsulate our activities in the physical world, and even more – what goes on in our mental state…are we happy, sad , frustrated, curious, stimulated while making a “Digg” ? Imagine if Digg has all this information available to correlate our Diggs with in order to better understand the context of why, where, when we Digg.

Written by Sumit

February 5, 2010 at 6:35 am

Lets combine our social and professional networks

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This note is about the need to consolidate professional and social networks.

In the theory of The Big Shift, John Hagel has spoken about the need for individuals to develop trust based relationships in order to foster a culture of collaboration and information exchange resulting in tinkering and productive friction. I agree – I’m more inclined to sharing ideas with someone I can trust and get along with, and this trust factor is enhanced by social commonalities.
In this regard, I do feel that it makes more sense for sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook to converge towards a common platform and eventually consolidate – it just makes perfect sense. The case will be made even stronger for the future generations and here is why: (Link to my LinkedIn sustainability article).

Ellen Levy noted during a Supernova09 panel, people will have 3 options in filtering their data: brute force, artificial intelligence or social graphs. I believe that the latter two options can’t be separated since social graphs, as we know them today, don’t contain enough relevant information. The networking services today are operating in silos and have very specific information and I think that all this information should ideally be merged before we can extract meaningful relevance.

Coming back to the fact that I separate my Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn networks: right now they are all separate, and until and unless Facebook can share user data with LinkedIn and Twitter, I will need to migrate all 3 social sites to get meaningful information. Why do I need to go to all three sites for my information? Perhaps its because of different activities and interests at different ages leading us to becoming hooked on a certain platforms and before we know it we’re members of several social and professional network sites.

My activity on LinkedIn started off because I received a few invitations from professionals who at the time were early adopters of. As more people such as myself started joining, we were trying to start a professional network because it was the only place where we could. However, at the same time, we found ourselves joining Facebook for staying in touch with friends and family. Facebook then went onto evolving from a networking service to a entertainment platform so now we’re on Facebook to play games with each other in addition to the original reasons why we joined.
We then joined twitter because it became this powerful tool to stay in touch with the same friends we have on Facebook, however in a much more efficient manner. Another reason we joined Twitter was because it was a way to get insight into the lives of famous people and professional role models. It became a forum for learning and knowledge transfer – a new advertising platform for bloggers, thinkers and innovators to share their ideas. These are three very distinct reasons why we are members or these three social networks.

Now if there was a way for us to merge our LinkedIn networks with our social graphs, and do so in a way that fostered meaningful relationships between people with commonalities that extend beyond professional affiliations that would make a lot of sense.
A huge factor in getting to know people and develop networks is why people go to business school. Think of activities we pursue in business school as a giant Facebook community – we drink, party, eat and enjoy social and cultural events. We then use each others networks to grow our networks and explore areas of our career that we’re interested in. This in my mind, is an example of why Facebook and LinkedIn need to share information with each other. In order to estabilish that professional connection, or introduction, I need to get to know someone and have a beer with them or share a joke with them…Why are business deals made on the golf course, or in that luxury box during a ball game? Its that social and cultural bond.

Right now, which networking site has the upper hand, who controls the value? Is it Facebook with its social graph and a majority of humanity with its ever increasing membership base of 350M members?
 Even if there was a consolidation of networks, our social graphs will only be a single element of what we need to help filter information. There are so many other dimensions such as affiliating the context of location, time and our social, extra-curricular and professional preferences to our decision making algorithm. Social networks are definitely crucial however, there is an assumption that they are accurate reflections of our preferences which may not always be true, nor should they be treated as the primary set of reference points in filtering information to us. Limiting choices to us based on social graphs may limit serendipitous moments. Rather, we need to look at ourselves, our own behavior and figure out what we are like and using other data sets such as social graphs, we make filters that are much more richer in their logic and design.

If we start from Facebook social graphs, and use them to create LinkedIn relationships, wouldn’t that sound easier?

Written by Sumit

February 2, 2010 at 8:56 am

Posted in Social Networking