A Few More Conference Highlights from Day Two

Posted: May 26th, 2011 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments »

The rain held off for the walk into the Dublin Convention Centre on day two of TM Forum’s Management World 2011, and with no sign of royal or presidential visitors, at least everything outside the centre seemed relatively normal and calm. Inside the centre, however, it was a different story. The buzz that was so evident on day one was still around, and at 9:00 a.m., the uphill escalators were packed with attendees eager to listen to the interesting keynote sessions in the auditorium.

The morning’s keynote on innovative players and future-looking directions for the industry was very well attended. Nick Ogden, CEO of Voice Commerce, gave a “Jobs-esque”, abstractive guide through his history and experiences within the communications industry and its paralleled evolution alongside device and subscriber innovation. The presentation culminated with an extraordinary vision of introducing ATMs in the home kitchen! Actually (and thankfully), it was a clever association to the average user’s need for round the clock access to his or her money, and how the other round-the-clock appendage (the smartphone) could be used to access it more freely.

Facebook's Colm Long

  • Over 500 million users worldwide (during any 30-day period)
  • More than 50% returning on a daily basis
  • The largest photo upload site on the Internet
  • More than 30 billion pieces of content shared every month
  • #1 application on smartphones

Yes, you guessed it—FACEBOOK.
As an avid social media enthusiast, I was keen to see the next eagerly awaited keynote presenter—Colm Long, head of Facebook’s EMEA operations. (Even if you are not a fan of Facebook, you have to admit that the facts are astounding.)

Colm explained that most common photo upload sites are very narrow in their focus compared to Facebook’s features. He pointed out that although they offer the ability to share photos, they are still restricted to closed user groups defined by the user, but for true social interaction, it needed to be much more open, and the mechanisms created within Facebook enable that. Tagging was a truly innovative creation that empowers the “socially-sharing generation”.

On another common topic, Colm highlighted the gaming industry, which is essentially fragmented in terms of the consoles used and (other than Xbox Live) the dependence of players to be co-located. Facebook’s exposure of Mafia Wars, Farmville, Cityville and countless other social gaming experiences have proven to be extremely popular! The aim has always been for these games to be “social by design”—Farmville and Cityville have a run rate of 70 million+ users, where people will buy “virtual nothingness” just to be social! What is key, however, is that the evolution of this string of social gaming has unwittingly created a massive demographically segmented target audience for direct marketing—although Facebook are not so keen to overly exploit the monster it has created.

The innovative technology being leveraged within Facebook has now started to make its way into commercial models, with the embedding of social techniques to create lucrative opportunities for Zuckerberg and crew, without exploiting their ever-growing subscriber numbers. Giantnerd, Ticketmaster, Eventbrite, ticketfly & GAP… are all leveraging the instant personalisation techniques. There’s a delicate balance between target marketing, personalisation and turning users off the Facebook application. It’s important to understand the user through interpreting his or her selections and navigation choices, plus his or her subscribed interests and social groups. It’s about tailoring and optimising the customer experience—a theme repeatedly seen here at Management World. But what’s next for these Facebook giants? Are they planning transformation into MVNOs?

“Not part of our strategy…we don’t want to become a 100,000 person company,” Colm stated. “We would rather partner and focus on our core competencies, of course.”

How about their revenues? How do they actually make their money? (The question we are all curious about!) 
Revenues come from traditional methods, such as banners and adwords, but working with BIG brands is a better approach (see above). Application developers who credit Facebook every time they get a transaction done via their application is a good source of income for them, and they expect e-commerce to potentially hold some interesting opportunities, too.

Looking forward to sampling more presentation delights during day three.