Yesterday, I spoke at MIT Sloan about Web 2.0, Mobile Web 2.0, Convergence and changing business processes - which was a great experience. Thanks to Maya Rand and Aaron Rackoff of MIT Sloan for facilitating this talk.
As usual, I get many insights from discussions at such talks – especially with the clued on folk at MIT
Here is one. It’s a question – I don’t have an answer yet!
I believe that future mobile services are leaning towards the Long Tail principle. An example of this is an MVNO in a box. In my talk today, I gave an example of an MVNO in a box i.e. a Mobile Virtual Network Operator – that could be created for small groups of people (small communities). Depending how strongly you identify with the community, you would want to ‘show off’ a phone (mobile of fixed line) affiliated with that community.
This is a contrast to the heavy, top-down approach to MVNOs we see today in the industry (hence I called it MVNO in a box). In itself, I think the idea of small communities having their own networks (be they fixed, mobile or a combination thereof) is interesting
But this leads to a wider question
Each of us identify with more than one community – and at any point, we may want a specific affiliation to be dominant
Here is an example.
Currently, the Cricket world cup is being played in the West Indies. India has a strong cricketing history. But .. With the proliferation of cable TV in India, India now also has a sizeable population who follow the English Premier league(soccer) – and by extension, soccer in general.
There is a proverbial story of the ‘Indian’ Brazilian fan who is a part of the Brazilian contingent in the soccer cup – happy with his ‘new’ affiliation. Of course, this person could also be a ‘cricket’ fan but at a specific time, he happily ‘belongs’ to his ‘new’ tribe supporting Brazil.
So, this leads me to think :
What does it mean from a marketing perspective when we belong to more than one community? Is there a primary affiliation(A cricket fan who also happens to be a Brazil supporter) or many affiliations which we may adopt at a given time(personas)?
If you consider my example: The obvious primary affiliations could be Mobile, Innovation, UK.
But there are many smaller affiliations which are also of great personal interest to me!
For instance: ZZ top, Sopranos, David Attenborough, Tom and Jerry, Tintin, Snoopy(Charles Schulz) – because I am fan of all of these.
These become almost like keywords(as in describe yourselves in 50 keywords)
Once you accept that we belong to multiple communities, then knowing our affiliations, we have to consider two related questions
a) Degree of affinity : How can we find members of our own tribe when they are loosely affiliated and
b) Degree of communication : Having found them – how can we communicate
And more interestingly, can we dynamically identify such tribes using a mechanism like Tags, Bluetooth, Location (leading to the idea of Mobile Social Software – the topic of my talk at the Digital Visions program in Stanford last year )
Note that this is more than segmentation(a much more familiar concept to the Telecoms industry). These ideas relate to using community affiliations dynamically to create adhoc tribes in P2P mode
So, the questions are: when we have more than one affiliation(identities),
a) How do we know which mode we are in(dominant identity)
b) How do we dynamically find others who are in that same mode (degree of affinity)
c) How do we communicate with them?
d) What is the social/marketing/communications impact of the same?