February 3, 2014

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Future of Social Media and Innovation in Technology

The landscape of business is changing. We are on the cusp of the ‘post-digital era’, and the confluence of emerging technologies is creating new possibilities for businesses, consumers, and technology vendors. Numerous technology trends, such as social media, analytics, mobility, and cloud computing are integrating relationships between customers leading to increased collaboration among stakeholders. The ‘post-digital customer’ has resulted in cataclysmic changes in buying behavior leading to ripple effects across business and technology. Social media, increasingly accessible through smartphones and tablets, enables customers to keep track of a wealth of information at their fingertips.

The technological revolution has taken the world by storm. As many as 2, 00,000,000 PCs, 1,200,000,000 smartphones, and 1,400,000,000 tablets have been shipped across the world. People spend upto one hour on their smartphones every day. It is an era of multiple connected devices and the world has truly gone digital. Digital spend is up by 20 percent. The way ahead indicates wearable devices, connected cars, mobile wallets, mobile health, connected television, mobile advertising, and everything-as-a-service.

Whenever we head to a movie or the shopping mall, whenever we travel by bus or plane or car, whenever we make investments, we operate in markets dominated by big business. Through expenditures on research and development, enterprises have generated new technologies and new products, which have triggered far-reaching social and cultural transformations.Today digital and social media is, among other things, institutionalizing a new currency, changing the way people bank, saving lives, and helping organizations acquire and retain talent.

The future of money is radically changing. The explosion of online shopping has transformed how business is run. Cash has been replaced by debit and credit card transactions at brick-and-mortar retail stores and establishments. So the question now is what is the future of payments? Consumers' digital identities are transcending media boundaries and entering the real world. In the coming years, it won't be about cash or credit, but rather PayPal, tweets, or something totally new.

Peer-to-peer payment systems and digital currencies were introduced as open source software in 2009 by pseudonymous developer Satoshi Nakamoto. A cryptocurrency uses cryptography to control creation and transfer of money. Users send payments by broadcasting digitally signed messages to the network. Participants (miners) verify, timestamp, and record transactions into a shared public database called the block chain, and are rewarded with transaction fees and newly minted bitcoin.  Bitcoin is a digital currency you can use for personal transactions or business at high speed and low cost. Compared to credit cards or other financial tools, your identity is safer from theft. Bitcoin is decentralized and generated through open-source software, so the system is transparent, priced on the free market, and belongs to no one person or organization. ZYNGA partners with bitpay to accept bitcoin for its popular games, such as Farmville.

Traditional banking has undergone a sea change and has experienced digitization. The Kaching mobile payment app makes it easy to make multiple types of payment from an iPhone, such as bill payments through Australia's Bpay, MasterCard PayPass payments at the POS, payments to friends through email addresses and mobile numbers, and payments through Facebook. CBA has now announced integration of its existing payment features with a new flagship app.

An interesting example of how innovations in digital and social media are saving lives is the development of a YouTube video named “Dumb ways to die”. The video features a catchy song, funny lyrics, and a safety message to raise awareness and get pledges to reduce the growing number of accidents on the Melbourne Metro.  The campaign resulted in 21 percent reduction in accidents year-on-year during the same period. With 60 Million YouTube views, the video has earned media coverage worth $60 Million. Another instance of how social media is being harnessed to save lives is the work a fledgling non-profit organization dubbed Real Time Crisis is doing to help the mentally ill, 24 hours a day on social media. They reach out to suicidal patients through social media such as Twitter and extend their support and help.

A common problem faced by organizations is how to prevent attrition, fight the renege rate, and boost pre-joining engagement. HCL designed an interactive game to familiarize candidates with HCL’s ideapreneurship culture and its core values.  When candidates competed against one another in this social gaming platform, the overall renege rate was down by 6 percent within a quarter, 62 percent of the candidates approached played the game and joined, and the chances of non-players dropping was 10 times higher.

Another revolutionary move by HCL is “the coolest interview ever”. (www.coolestinterviewever.com) where the entire job application process is conducted on Twitter, including the rollout of the offer letter. These are all examples of how social media can be used as a force multiplier on strategic business functions such as hiring, retention, finance, and supply chain.  The future of social media and innovation in technology is here and we’re experiencing it every day!