SoMoLo Data – Social, Mobile, and Local
A Review of MassTLC’s “The Global Impact of Mobility” event this past Friday
MassTLC celebrated World Enterprise Mobility Day on Friday by hosting an event near MIT on the “Global Impact of Mobility”. The event included panelists from industry (Groupon, BT, Cisco, etc..), press (WSJ), VC (Highland Capital, Castile Ventures), and academia (MIT, Fletcher, etc…). It was a pretty diverse group with good insight into what happens to data when everyone has a more powerful phone in their pockets than what Neil Armstrong relied on to get to the moon (according to Prof Iqbal Quadir of MIT).
Let’s start with a local update. While I know many area peers in the tech industry in mobile, I didn’t realize exactly how hot mobile is in Massachusetts now. There are over 400 companies in the mobile space yielding a total of 30,000 jobs, the vast majority of which are with small companies. Pretty amazing.
After we all patted ourselves on the back for this, we took a wider view. Pedro Santos of Akamai noted that “if you want to understand mobile, visit Japan & S. Korea.” The real surprise though was the amount of discussion in the hotbed of mobile payments these days — Kenya. Nicholas Sullivan of the Tufts Fletcher School claimed that 70% of adults use a mobile payments solution such as M-PESA and stated that 20% of the country’s GDP moved by mobile daily. In fact, they have 25,000 mobile money agents (who help with transactions) in the country now, as opposed to only 1500 ATMs. Just as Skype had upended who is in charge of your calls (perhaps Microsoft in the future instead of Verizon or AT&T) this can dramatically change the landscape for banks and will determine who gets their hands on valuable mobile consumer data.
With this extended mobile data usage, are advertisers taking full advantage? Apparently not, according to Kara Swisher of the WSJ who noted that “Advertisers’ focus on mobile is still dramatically below what it should be.” Rest assured though – Groupon is on top of this. We heard from their VP of Global Partnerships, Michael Shim, that the firm is rolling out Groupon Now to take advantage of location data. Steve Whittaker of BT noted that with all this data, there is now a compelling use for the cloud for wireless. This would include collecting info in a city and then using cloud to process info at an aggregate level of activities and trends.
Where does this leave venerable Facebook, who recently announced their own Deals to rival Groupon? How can they too add “local” for the trifecta of Social, Mobile and Local? Sean Dalton of Highland Capital wasn’t too concerned for the Social Media juggernaut. He stated “Once FB acquires Starbucks, they will have assimilated all aspects of our lives.”