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.

The Global Rise of Social Media

As the Internet gains momentum worldwide, firms are using social media to undertake international marketing campaigns. Because social media are cost-effective, even small firms can market offerings to market niches around the world.

Leveraging social networks can be especially effective in emerging markets and developing economies, where consumers may be less receptive to traditional Western forms of marketing communications, such as TV and print advertising.

Some cultures appear to lend themselves especially well to social media marketing approaches. For example, collectivist cultures characterized by a high need for social affiliation and respect for peers are likely to value the brand-oriented interaction available through social media. China is one of the top users of e-mail and social media worldwide, and the Chinese tend to exhibit a strong preference for online media that enhance social relationships. The market for credit cards in Russia is still emerging, and finding information on the credit worthiness of cardholders is challenging. Banks leverage social sites, such as Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki, to identify potential users with strong potential credit ratings.

Marketing communications using social media represent the new frontier in international marketing. Social networks are considered increasingly critical to any interactive marketing communications program. Marketers aim for brand engagement; that is, they want customers to develop a personal relationship with the brand. Social media represent perhaps the best means for achieving this closeness.

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