The Future is Small Data CLICK TO READ

Just yesterday, Facebook acquired a small Israeli startup called “Onavo” for a cool $150 million. Onavo specializes not in big data analysis – which seems to be today’s hot commodity – but rather data compression and optimization (“small data”). Onavo is of significant value-add to Facebook because its optimization algorithms effectively make the product lighter on data consumption – a major boon to consumers in developing countries that pay a relatively large amount for cellular data – and effective analysis methodologies. In order for Facebook to keep growing, they need to keep growing their network while simultaneously making big data “smaller.”

Social networks like Facebook and Twitter are some of the most useful, updated, and heavily utilized consumer preference databases available – and marketers are constantly looking for ways to monetize on the action. For instance, Facebook has recently been wooing network broadcasters with consumer data reports to help broadcasters understand consumer opinion on their content.

For companies trying to understand foreign consumer preferences, especially in countries in which official data may be fudged or incomplete, it can be quite difficult to ascertain consumer preferences from a hands-off approach. Traditional information agencies such as the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) may not have the same reach that social networks do. Social networks, unfiltered by bureaucratic corruption, can bridge the knowledge gap for foreign companies without the risk of government book-cooking. That’s why Facebook needs to grow its presence in developing markets, to make it easier for people to online: to bolster its ad revenues and to deepen its potential as a treasure trove of consumer information.

Acquiring small data pioneer Onavo will certainly make it easier for citizens of developing countries to get online. The more people that are online, the more valuable Facebook becomes. I believe that Facebook, Twitter, et al certainly have the potential to surpass information-collection resources like the EIU, McGraw-Hill, and others at the consumer level – provided that they focus not only on getting more people online, but also making big data smaller. The Onavo acquisition is a step in the right direction.

This text was written and presented by Mr. Ryan Cunningham, Student at the McDonough School of Business of Georgetown University in the course on International Business (STRT-261-01) on October 17th, 2013.

In addition to the written work, the author also offered a very interesting presentation on the issue: Business Intelligence, Facebook, and Small Data.  You can contact Ryan here.

There Is Sunshine Above the Clouds (Part 10)

Part 10: Universities and Internationalization.

30 years ago, the essentials of communication were one of the main problems that CEOs had to face in their efforts with internationalization. New information technologies have brought progress leading to a substantial reduction in the transaction costs in international business. These changes in technology have been further helped by the establishment of English as the lingua franca in business and science in nearly every country in the world. This greater ease of communication already supports processes within universities through greater access to and transparency of findings.

Just like with cable television, however, it’s not just availability but content which is of major importance to the creation of value. In developing content, universities should concentrate on specific aspects in which to become multidisciplinary experts. Specialization has worked for firms, and will also provide benefits to higher education by allowing universities to provide more value added to society. It will also be important to provide the connectivity between business, research and policy. In the longer term, economic considerations or even profits by themselves are not sufficiently enticing for society to prosper.  Religion, family, culture, security and many other concerns are taken into account by voters and governments. Universities are the ones who can incorporate these multiple concerns into a systemic perspective, and thus set their thinking apart from others. They can also serve as the foundation for multilateral approaches. By doing so, universities can become the transmission belt for the internationalization of their economy.

Universities can also track international developments of knowledge, and attract or repatriate scientists from abroad as resources. Just as a soccer club attracts top level players to move into the higher league, universities can bring in international researchers to develop or fortify a strategically isolated position.

Others need to assist universities to achieve a more prominent role in international business. Firms and government need to recognize their stakeholder positions and be supportive with information, network development and funding. It will be helpful, for example, for governments to facilitate the granting of visas, the recognition of qualifications, and the issuance of residency and work permits.

Most important for all players, once they have recognized the urgent need to collaborate, will be the formation of a university memory. It would be a terrible waste to have to re-learn internationalization for every new generation of faculty members. Considering the universe is the core mission of universities. Their work on the accumulation and dissemination of knowledge about the world will let them play the societal role they deserve.

This post is the last in a series by Michael Czinkota of Georgetown University and Andreas Pinkwart of Handelshochschule Leipzig on international business research and the new role of universities. Find Part 9 here.