Friday, November 16, 2012

Who knows what to do with too much data?

Continuing the thought from yesterday.  I wrote about how too-much-data (TMD) problem is creating a new challenges for social network users of filtering out signals from the noises.  Although it's a partly self-inflicted problem, because of difficulties with not knowing what to filter out ahead of time, there are opportunities for creating solutions around solving the TMD problem.

There are three user stories that I see:

1. Keep up with important news from my friends 

As number of social connections increase on social media, everyone can use a little help with making sure that they are not losing important updates from their friends.  It's easy to miss the update even if I am offline for a couple of days.  Once missed, it is difficult to go back and follow through.  When there are always new things coming in, who has the time to stop and go back?  Instead a tool should retain those important updates and present them to me when I become available.  Think of a personalized newspaper that features all recent headlines from the friends that I missed.

2. Discover content from my topics of interest

There is a whole different type of content.  It is discovered content.  Social media is not just about staying in touch with high school friends.  It's also about finding interesting content from the network of people who share the similar interest.  As more and more people turn into content creator/curator, it is important to be able to discover content that matters to me.

I would compare this to the Sunday edition of newspaper.  This is not about reporting the latest news.  Instead it's about opinions, perspectives and reviews about wide ranging topics.  What is important is that the content must be stimulating for me.

3. Show me dashboard of things that I need to follow through

Social is a lot more than just sharing what I had for lunch or getting to discover cool content.  It's also about collaboration.  Many enterprises are looking at deploying social tools like IBM Connections, Jive, Yammer, and Chatter for a reason.  The reason is simple.  It's because old way of sharing information via email does not scale in a collaborative environment.

As social to collaboration transition gains momentum, TMD social media problem will become enterprise social collaboration problem.  And when it does, a natural evolution will be to create a dashboard to manage all the subscribed updates.  The personalized dashboard of social activity will report the incoming updates, highlight important ones, and create KPIs around what I want to focus on, such as my response time on important updates.

There are already solutions that address the user story #1.  Facebook EdgeRanking is one, and LinkedIn Network Update filter is another.  There are also standalone apps that help user filter out the noise.

There are also many discovery tools that deals with the user story #2.  Twitter Discover tab,, and Hacker News are a few examples.

We are still in early market for these tools.  There will be many innovations in this area as more users realize the difficulties of keeping up with people and discovering content of interest.  When the user adoption of these tools start to happen in mass and enterprises roll out collaboration tools, there will be an opportunity to help users manage TMD problem for enterprise.

Not everyone will agree how a simple dashboard should look like.
But everyone will look for one.

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