The Rise of Task-Based Social Networks

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This deck describes the rise of Task-based social networks--a new kind of social network that will be built upon the Relationship-based social networks that are now forming or have formed across the …

This deck describes the rise of Task-based social networks--a new kind of social network that will be built upon the Relationship-based social networks that are now forming or have formed across the world.

This is part 2 of a 2 part series on Global Ubiquitous Connectivity and its impact on society at large. The first part can be found here on Slideshare or at:

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  • 1. The Rise of the Task-Based Social Networks (Meant to be read not presented—in full slide mode) By: Victor Cho Version 1.0 Updated March 2012 1
  • 2. My offer to you: 3 parts 10 to 20 minutes of your time At least 3 gold nuggets* (and if I deliver, you’ll share?) For the 10 minute version: ignore the voice-over commentary on the bottom (you’ll lose some context and depth but you’ll get the general gist). For the 20 minute version: read the voice-over commentary as you go. *A gold nugget is something useful enough to carry with you moving forward. So let’s get to it. 2
  • 3. First, some necessary foundation… To From Many BtC BfC BxC BtB BfB BxB CxC There is a sister deck to this one called “Global Connectivity and the New Business World of Connected Value Flows”. It is available on my blog at In it, I introduce the BBCC Value-Flow Matrix. Reading it before this deck will definitely give you more insight--but if you haven’t read it that’s OK. The one key thing you need to understand from that deck is that CxC (read C many C) stands for experiences that connect customers with 3 other customers.
  • 5. BtC BfC BxC BtB BfB BxB CxC Let’s play around here for a bit. In Part I of our story, we are going to go a little deeper into this little but significant quadrant of the BBCC value-flow matrix: the C many C sector. As I mentioned, it’s the core engine that drives some of the fastest growing companies in history. In fact of the top ten companies that reached $1B in sales fastest, five of them had/have CxC engines helping them lift (Capital IQ circa 2011). 5
  • 6. CxC = Network effects, flywheel effects, positive feedback loops, viral, social, <insert terms here> A flywheel I think it’s safe to say I don’t need to go into the nuances of why CxC based experiences are good things when they are working (there is probably a decade+ of commentary on this subject). But at the highest and obvious level: they can scale incredibly fast and they can create enduring competitive position (all using other people’s energy). 6
  • 7. Powered by CxC – – – – Information aggregators (Wikipedia) Communication tools (eMail, Instant Messaging) Product exchanges (eBay, Craiglist, Airbnb) Relationship-based social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) If you peel the onion on CxC you’ll find a rich host of highly varied business models and customer experiences where the customer scale is powered primarily by CxC value flows. I have listed some of the major ones here and there are of course others. But first, let’s drill down further into the relationship-based social networks. 7
  • 8. Relationship-based social networks are networks where: 1. The social exchanges primarily build relationships 2. The connections are persistent. Relationships and persistence are the two key terms here. If a network fundamentally relies on connections between people where the nature of their relationship is important and those connections are persistent, I would put it into this bucket. 8
  • 9. This is not Highlander “There can be only one…” For some reason many people believe that relationship-based social networks will coalesce into a single worldwide winner. I am not in the camp. Because these networks are grounded in relationships we will continue to evolve into a world where we have unique networks that solve for our different relationship circles. One or two of these may converge over time—but there will not be only one. In fact I see four major types today. Let’s walk through each one. 9
  • 10. The 4 relationship-based networks #1 My personal network Facebook • I connect to you: because I know you • I publish: personal updates, photos, etc. • Motivation: staying connected Of course, we’ll start with the monster. Yes, there are many things that you can do on Facebook that transcend the above things (and I’ll discuss more about the layers of innovation that will spawn on top of these networks in a couple of slides). But at the highest level of value this is the core of the Facebook value proposition. 10
  • 11. The 4 relationship-based networks #2 My business network LinkedIn • I connect to you: because I have worked with you • I publish: work related updates • Motivation: career management The venn overlap between your business relationships and your personal relationships is significant but not complete. Therefore a second sphere of networks (or ultimately a single world-wide network) will emerge that codifies those relationships. Because the primary task motivations differ I contend these networks will stay separate. 11
  • 12. The 4 relationship-based networks #3 My follower network Twitter • I connect to you: to hear your voice • I publish: my own voice • Motivation: staying informed Fans and their followers (by far and away the dominant share of traffic going through Twitter today) have a relationship, albeit less robust than a personal or business connection. In many ways this sub-class of network creates the illusion of relationship but it’s a relationship nonetheless. 12
  • 13. The 4 relationship-based networks #4 My company network Yammer • I connect to you: because we work at the same place • I publish: company relevant updates • Motivation: higher work performance The fourth and final type of relationship-based network, the company network, is in a relatively new stage of industry formation with lots of players (Yammer, Chatter, etc.). Despite the early stage I believe the eventual codification of the intra-company connections is inevitable. 13
  • 14. Relationship-based social networks My personal network Facebook My business network The social exchanges build relationships… LinkedIn • I connect to you: because I know you • I connect to you: because I have worked with you • I publish: personal updates, photos, etc. • I publish: work related updates • Motivation: staying connected • Motivation: career management My follower network Twitter  My company network …and the connections are persistent. Yammer • I connect to you: to hear your voice • I connect to you: because we work at the same place • I publish: my own voice • I publish: company relevant updates • Motivation: staying informed • Motivation: higher work performance And here’s all of that on a single slide for those of you that might want a cheat-sheet on this for the future. 14
  • 15. Despite their size, relationshipbased social networks are just beginning to set the foundation for what is possible. Relationship-based social networks are plumbing in many ways (or maybe ‘foundation’ is a better term). Their impact will be massive but we are at the earliest stages of tapping the value that will come from them. Let me describe why. 15
  • 16. …requires us to codify: To optimally enrich peoples’ lives … 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Who you are What you’re doing Who/What you know What you can do Want you need/want What you have This might feel like apple-pie and ice-cream but bear with me for a moment (and ignore the possibility for information abuse). I always think in terms of optimal (what I call “Nirvana”) future state and then work backwards. For a moment, imagine a world where the collective set of organizations in the society have codified all of the things on the right for every person and can act upon it. This make-believe world would be a great place: we (the people) would always be matched with the best products that solved our needs; we would be offered the right services exactly when we needed them; we would always know what is happening to the people we care about; we could be instantly connected to the people we needed to be connected to, either virtually or physically, at the moment of need… and so much more. 16
  • 17. There’s power in ‘owning’ these dimensions… $50B+ market revenue shift 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Who you are What you’re doing Who/What you know What you can do What you need/want What you have To truly own the codification of any single dimension creates massive opportunity. For example: why has Search Advertising been so successful? In overly-simplistic terms, the search industry is codifying #5 real-time. In the past, marketers attempted to match products and services by crude correlations with #1, #2, and #3. But it’s so much more efficient to simply go straight to #6 based on people’s self-professed need in the moment. But what does this have to do with social networks? 17
  • 18. Social networks are starting to partially codify #1 through #3. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Who you are What you’re doing Who/What you know What you can do What you need/want What you have The various relationship-based social networks are finally beginning to codify these foundational areas at mass-scale. Because these networks are based on relationships they are great at codifying who you are, what you’re doing, and who you know (the general coverage is represented here by the length of the blue bar). They are poor (today) at determining what you know or what you can do (the focus of the final section of this deck). And they are very far from being able to hone in on what you need/want relative to search. 18
  • 19. The next frontier is to unlock what people know and can do… 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Who you are What you’re doing Who/What you know What you can do What you need/want What you have THE NEXT FRONTIER There has been an explosion of innovation on top of the Facebook platform because for the first time these underlying and foundational data dimensions are being exposed in an open way. Parallel innovation will ultimately arise on top of the other dominant relationship-based networks. It has already happened on top of the key search providers and the ecosystems they are building around need/want codification. And of course the codification of ‘stuff’ was one of the first to be solved. But as you can see--there is a big gap (and opportunity). 19
  • 20. Part I Summary: Relationship-based social networks are the foundational plumbing of many future experiences, but are still at an early stage. They will enable tremendous innovation but they cannot easily solve problems that transcend relationship. Make no mistake--the advent, scaling, and ultimate dominance of the various relationshipbased social networks is a tremendous milestone. But in the grand scheme of the change we are living through today, these networks will be just a bullet (albeit a foundational one). In the next section of this deck I will describe a future bullet that is equally if not more exciting: the rise of task-based social networks based on what you know and what you can do. 20
  • 22. Networks that help me… 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 BUILD RELATIONSHIPS COMPLETE TASKS We just lived through (~circa 2006-2011) the initial rise of the relationship-based social networks. The result of this phase of market evolution is that we are better connected to a myriad of people (friends, business contacts, fans, co-workers, etc.) than ever before. On the ‘better connected’ spectrum we have taken a quantum step forward. However, on the ‘getting stuff done’ spectrum we are very early stage of improvement. The next wave of innovation (what I call task-based social networks) will address this gap. 22
  • 23. RELATIONSHIP BASED SOCIAL NETWORKS TASK BASED SOCIAL NETWORKS The social exchanges primarily build relationships The social exchanges help someone complete a task The social connections are persistent VS. The social connections are temporary We had previously defined the highest level characteristics of the relationship-based social networks around two simple parameters. Task-based social networks can also be described with this same framework--but they are fundamentally different in the value they provide. Tasks based networks are hyper-tuned to solve very specific tasks where the social connections are temporary. 23
  • 24. Multiple Task-Based Network Types: Expertise or specific knowledge 2. “What I know” Expertise Directories Expertise Communities Skills or resources 3. 4. Resource directories Resource communities Individuals Value provided 1. Groups “What I can actually do or provide” Provided by Task-based social networks also sub-divide into different types. I have found one of the more useful distinctions to be the position on the above 2x2 matrix. On the Y axis, what is needed to solve the task; and on the X axis whether the ideal solution is provided by a single person or multiple people. I’ll give examples of each block next. 24
  • 25. Type 1: Expertise Directories 1. Expertise Directories What it is: Networks that connect people to individuals with specific knowledge that can solve their problem or answer their question. Examples: • • I need help from someone who knows <<blank>>  I’m the best person to help you!         Expertise directories have been around for a long time (I was personally involved in one of the first around 1998). They are still in a fairly formative stage because the algorithmic codification of what you really know (and more importantly how that knowledge actually compares to others) is a very hard problem to solve--much harder than codifying who you are. 25
  • 26. Type 2: Expertise Communities 2. Expertise Communities What it is: Networks that connect people to groups of people where the collective set of knowledge provides a superior answer or solution. Examples: • • Yahoo Answers • iVillage communities I need to know or understand <<blank>>  Together we can give you a better answer.        Expertise communities have also been around for a long time. The key salient dimension here is that the input of the community or group provides a superior solution (either because the best answer rises to the top or the group interacts and iterates to make the answer better). The customer experiences here are still crude vs. what they can be in a Nirvana future. 26
  • 27. Type 3: Resource Directories 3. Resource Directories What it is: Networks that connect people to individuals with specific skills or resources that can solve their problem. Examples: • • • I need help from someone who can do or provide <<blank>>         That’s me. There are a myriad of targeted resource directories that have reasonable scale and traction today. This fragmentation is a natural outcome of some fundamental user experience and business model constraints, which I will describe in Part V. 27
  • 28. Type 4: Resource Communities 4. Resource Communities What it is: Networks that connect people to groups of people where the collective set of skills and resources provides a superior answer or solution. Examples: • Xprize Foundation • • • I need to accomplish task <<blank>>  Together we can help you solve that problem better.        Resource communities deliver their value through single groups or even multiple competing groups. They provide some of the most exciting areas for future growth and innovation given we are just starting to scratch the surface of what can be done by collective vs. individual contribution and collaboration. 28
  • 29. Task-based social networks 1. Expertise Directories Networks that connect people to individuals with specific knowledge that can solve their problem or answer their question. 3. Resource Directories The social exchanges help someone complete a task…  2. Expertise Communities Networks that connect people to groups of people where the collective set of knowledge provides a superior answer or solution. …and the connections are temporary. Networks that connect people to individuals with specific skills or resources that can solve their problem. And here’s all of that on another single slide for quick reference. 4. Resource Communities Networks that connect people to groups of people where the collective set of skills and resources provides a superior answer or solution. 29
  • 30. Q: Why Should I care? A: These networks will allow you (a.k.a the world) to solve tasks: FASTER BETTER MORE EFFICIENTLY It’s a great question. I contend that we are at the earliest stages of the rise of task-based social networks that will fundamentally change how we live, work, get answers, and generally get things done in life. For me the maturation of these solutions is incredibly exciting and it’s why this has been and will be my professional focus. 30
  • 31. We are living through a fundamental shift in how we perform tasks… Tasks accelerated through networks How we complete tasks today If you really think about how knowledge and skills are applied to problems today it is horribly inefficient. The right resources and minds are not optimally matched to the problems or tasks. Eliminating this inefficiency can provide a massive multiplier to our productivity, output, and general well-being. I’ll give you a concrete example of this next. 31
  • 32. An example very close to home (for me): The evolution of personal photo-sharing At this point I think it would be useful to provide you with a more concrete example of what we’re talking about. I will use the personal photo-sharing market--as it’s a great example not only of how the relationship-based social networks have changed the game in many areas but also how task-based social networks can provide unique value above and beyond them. 32
  • 33. Personal photo-sharing has changed radically: Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 Pre 2005 2005-2010 2011+ Photo-sharing before the relationship-based social networks Enter relationshipbased social networks Enter task-based social networks Personal photo sharing is a great example because pretty much everyone does this on a week-to-week basis (and everyone is increasingly doing more of it given the proliferation of camera-phones). So hopefully you’ll be very familiar with the user experiences described as well as the pain-points that still exist. 33
  • 34. Photo-sharing Stage 1 (pre-2005)    I select you and send photos only to you Dominant methods: E-mail CD-ROM Early photo sharing sites Before the relationship-based social networks, sharing was a very precise one-to-one activity. I would select the photos I wanted to send and I would get them to you (and precisely you) via e-mail, CD-ROM, or even 4x6 prints. When the early photo-sharing sites spawned (and Ofoto was the earliest and biggest) they dominated this model for a brief window of time. The relevance for any given photo recipient was very high in this model. 34
  • 35. Photo-sharing Stage 2 (2005-2010)         I select a relationshipbased network and broadcast photos to it Dominant methods: Facebook As Facebook cemented its lead, photo-sharing moved to a broad broadcast model (I sometimes call this ‘photo SPAM’) where photos are streamed very broadly to many recipients who then filter them for relevance. It’s much less work for the sharer but the relevance for each photo recipient has taken a major hit. 35
  • 36. Photo-sharing Stage 2 (2005-2010) Relationship-based social networks took friction out of photo-sharing BUT left many gaps related to tasks. Yes, relationship-based social networks took friction out of personal photo-sharing but there are still huge gaps in the overall experience. In particular, there are many specific tasks that people want to perform with their photos that are still hard if not impossible for any individual to achieve. For example… 36
  • 37. An unsolved and common gap: Sam’s Wedding THE CONTEXT 200+ people at a wedding, at least half of them taking photos. Some get broadcast to Facebook but most don’t get shared. THE DESIRE Let’s collect all the photos from the event and make a Photo Book using the best shots. THE TASK GAP Days or weeks to collect all of the photos and find the best. Too much work for a single person. So Sam is actually my cousin and I personally lived through this example several years ago. This and many important shared events just like it were the driving impetus behind the release of new functionality at Kodak Gallery in 2011 that addressed this task-gap by tapping into the power of social groups. 37
  • 38. Solving Sam’s Wedding problem with a temporary task-based social network 1. A user creates a group album in a single click via the web or a mobile device. Users solicit other users in-the-moment (or after the event) to join the group and contribute their photos. 2. A suite of mobile applications (iPhone, Android, etc.) allow anyone with a camera-phone to instantly send images into the collective photo pool. Join and contribute!    Group Album 3. Connected camera users can contribute real-time or stream the photos into the group album once they become connected. 4. Standard camera users contribute after the event via the web. 5. Everyone has full access to all images. The collective ranks and rates the best. One joint photo-book gets made that all can purchase or customize for their own. As you see, this specific solution from Kodak Gallery creates temporary or ‘ad-hoc’ network where the group and its collective set of skills and resources provide a better result than any individual could--which if you recall was my definition of task-based social network type #4 (Resource Communities). 38
  • 39. Photo-sharing Stage 3 (2011+)      Groups will pool photos together and add collective social value Dominant methods: TBD Various task-based solution providers Stage 3 will see a proliferation of solutions similar to what I have just described that will solve very discrete photo-tasks--leveraging the power of task-based social dynamics. These solutions may be unique new services or simply extensions layered on top of the relationship-based networks (I’ll speak more about this layering dynamic shortly). One note: relevance for all parties in this model reverts back to ‘high’. 39
  • 40. Part II Summary: Task-based social networks (based on what you know and what you can do) will be one of the next major waves of societal innovation, based primarily on CxC value flows. And we are at the earliest stages of their maturation. In the final section of this deck, I will tread into more dangerous territory and share some predictions related to the rise of these exciting new social networks. 40
  • 42. I know this is dangerous but I’ll do it anyway… Predictions are dangerous and I was very tempted not to put them into this deck. But abstraction without action is fairly useless in my mind--so I had to at least put in a handful of slides that might lead you to real opportunity. Please take this next section with a grain of salt and view it more as a thought-provoking section vs. a high R-squared exercise. 42
  • 43. 1 key question answered pondered Again, I’ll go back to a question format to close out this deck. I’ll wrap my predictions into a single question that I have thought about for quite some time. Exploring this question will take us down several different threads of observation, synthesis, and prediction. 43
  • 44. ? Q: Why isn’t there a monster in taskbased networks (the Google or Facebook of task-based social networks) and will there be one eventually? OK, so it’s a cheat (it’s really two questions). But it’s a doozy and exploring it forces you to look at the number of different vectors. The best way to do it is to delve into the market forces that drive to ‘monsters’ vs. fragmentation (with the help of some classic 60’s movie imagery). 44
  • 45. 1 CxC based value-flow systems tend to be winner-take-all. C (point for monster) Many of the biggest CxC based experiences are winner-take all over time. These markets often start with fragmentation but over time scale and momentum shifts into the dominant winner. For any given task-based market (e.g. finding contractors) I would argue this same dynamic will hold. 45
  • 46. 2 BUT, there are thousands of unique tasks that can be better solved with task-based social networks, some very micro in scale. (point for fragmentation) If you look at the breadth of where task-based social networks are beginning to manifest you see an incredibly long tail of solutions. Many are quite micro in scale and are even embedded in other experiences (tapping into customers to help answer support questions within Intuit’s TurboTax online flow is a great example). 46
  • 47. 3 Because tasks-based networks are based upon the knowledge or capabilities of people, the major relationship-based networks have a huge beachhead into tasks. (point for monster) To the extent that a dominant relationship-based network identifies key tasks that make sense to be solved within its walls that network can dominate that task. In this regard, I personally believe that LinkedIn has massive untapped opportunity (the task monetization potential of the business network is in many ways greater than any of the other relationship networks). 47
  • 48. 4 BUT, the relationship-based social networks can only absorb a finite number of tasks before degrading their core experiences. (point for fragmentation) Any major ‘platform’ that deals with a long-tail of offerings (Windows, mobile application stores, Facebook, etc.) has the ability to absorb core must-have functions (or in this case tasks). But the ability to scale that is limited. The market generally steady-sates to a platform supporting a long tail--with a small number of must have functions assimilated. 48
  • 49. 5 The matching algorithms needed to bring the right expertise or resource to bear against the right task is challenging and highly tuned per task network. (point for fragmentation) Finding people with expertise is very different from finding people with specific resources or skills, which is very different from finding people with time, which is very different from finding people with <<insert X here>>. You get the idea. Matching people to tasks is hard and task 49 specific.
  • 50. 6 Many if not the majority of people will begin their task search with a major search engine. (point for monster) The major search providers have a significant leg-up in this department. They control the defacto starting point (the search engines) that people use to start their task research (remember, they control the door to ‘what I want’). A very common flow will be: I start my task search at a search engine and end-up in a different task-based social network to solve it. 50
  • 51. 7 Finally, the existing monsters have or will have very deep pockets. Any significant stand-alone task-based social network can ultimately be purchased. (point for monster) This would result not in a truly home-grown monster (a la Facebook) but more a consolidation and roll-up of networks over time by an existing monster. Still, it would be a monster at the end of the day (or rather a diversified one). 51
  • 52. IMPENDING MONSTER? or IMPENDING FRAGMENTATION? Answer: a little bit of both So put it all into a synthesis melting pot and what do you get? For me, it paints a near-term picture of continued task-based social network fragmentation with some consolidation within task markets--with search playing a pivotal role in feeding these networks. 52
  • 53. Part III Summary: Task-based networks will proliferate into a long-tail of solutions. Within a given task domain, we should generally see winnertake-all dynamics play-out. Search will generally be the dominant entry point into these systems. And the major revenue generating networks will be consolidated by existing monsters over time. Phew. That’s a mouthful but hopefully you are still tracking. And with that, we will wrap this puppy up. 53
  • 54. THAT’S ALL FOLKS 54
  • 55. The Summary of Summaries: PART I The four major relationship-based social networks, driven by CxC flows, will create a key foundation for innovation. PART II Task-based social networks will fundamentally change how we accomplish tasks and are also at early stage. PART III Task-based social networks will be a long-tail phenomenon with ‘monsters’ playing a pivotal role. And here, in hyper-condensed form, is all of the preceding content boiled down to just three bullets. Hopefully they will resonate with you. If so this deck has achieved its goal. 55
  • 56. thank you A huge for your time. I hope you extracted at least three personal gold nuggets. And if you did, please feel free to share this deck with others. Yes, every unique deck will have a different visual for a gold nugget. How long can that last? 56
  • 57. Will there be more stuff like this? This is the first codification of what will become a series of thought decks from me. They will come very infrequently (yes you read that right). You will be able to find them at If you want to get notified when the next deck gets published follow me on: If I tweet it’s because there is new, substantive content posted. If you want to contact me directly for whatever reason e-mail me at: I would love to hear what your personal nuggets were. 57
  • 58. Two seconds and two slides about me: A.K.A. Who am I and why am I interested in this stuff? If you have read this far then you might be curious as to who I am. If so, here’s my life story in 2 slides and 20 seconds. 58
  • 59. 1995 focus = Connected software 2000 focus = Connected online networks In 1995 while I was at Microsoft it was clear to me that the Internet would fundamentally change software forever. I shifted my focus in that direction and took over the global online marketing for Microsoft’s Consumer Products Division. I have been working on connected software and Internet services ever since. 59
  • 60. 1995 focus = Connected software 2000 focus = Connected online networks In 2000 my passion further shifted into connected online networks. I have spent the last eleven years primarily focused in this area as an entrepreneur, advisor, and executive driving reinvention across a range of categories including: expertise, community, social-search, photo-sharing, and more. The POV of this and my other decks were formed and evolved over the last decade as a result of those experiences. 60
  • 61. EOM 61