By Simon Bond

By now everyone has read, seen and heard enough about the US election so I won't waste this precious space with just another view, other than to cast your minds back to June where we wrote the following: "So now we come to today and people’s astonishment regarding the rise and rise of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders and Co. Well get this, the people who lost their jobs and their Millennial kids are still angry, in fact they are seething with pent up rage and they are looking for someone to stick with a pitchfork. And they have found them, the current group in Washington".

Remember the old Japanese proverb "study the congregation before preaching your sermon".

Finding growth

I am just back from another visit to Asia where I met with companies that are basing their strategies on, and growing their businesses with technology, specifically cloud computing, thanks to the increases in connectivity.

One business that started in 2010 with seven people now employs 1,500. The founder told me that this time next year, he expects this number will be closer to 5,000 people. And even more impressive is the statistic that he told me about staff turnover, it averages less than 1%.


Another of the fellows I was meeting with, at one stage, cast his eye across the room and simply said, all this you see - it's simply the tip of the iceberg, and you have no idea what's underneath - but I do.

Accelerating changes

The changes that are underway right now will continue to accelerate. Three of the people who were at a dinner for 20 that I attended are currently undertaking a PHD in an internet related field, and speaking with each of them gave me cause to just simply stand there and shake my head in amazement at what is coming down the line. It's only just begun.

I continually warn people about "giving away" their data and personal details, as the more advanced technology becomes, the more pervasive it becomes. Consider the following. 

According to IDC, worldwide revenues from big data and business analytics will reach $187 billion by 2019, up from $122 billion in 2015. Yet, that number only accounts for a fraction of big data’s actual value, neglecting its “digital dark matter” impact on productivity. It’s a problem so substantial many believe global GDP growth is skewed as a result. As the Obama Administration wrote in its 2016 Economic Report of the President: “Taken together, missing GDP from digital dark matter could be substantial.”

In August, WhatsApp updated its terms of service, making “Share my WhatsApp account information with Facebook” a default setting for all of its 1-billion-plus users. This data including photos, phone numbers, online statuses, profile names and more — and will be used to improve the quality of targeted advertising across Facebook’s portfolio of mobile and web products, the exact situation the European Union feared when reviewing the acquisition. And in October, the European Union's consumer protection authority sent a letter to WhatsApp expressing “serious concerns” and requesting the messaging app halt the data collection in Europe until the advisory group completes a “preliminary investigation.”

EU concerns

Looking at 2016 digital ad revenues, it’s clear why the European Union is concerned. Over the first half of the year, the U.S. digital advertising market grew from $27.5 billion to $32.8 billion. Combined, Google and Facebook accounted for 103% of that growth. Spending on all other websites and apps declined by 3%. And data is central to that ever-increasing dominance — Google and Facebook are able to promise the most value to advertisers because they possess the richest information about the most consumers. WhatsApp data promises to increase Facebook’s already monopolistic power over the digital ad market.

The rise of conversational commerce will, for the first time, allow Facebook to turn WhatsApp into a lucrative e-commerce and advertising platform. AI enabled chatbots are being rapidly deployed, allowing brands to converse with consumers around purchase decisions and incentivising Facebook to offer brands the sponsored placements and direct response opportunities necessary to maximise reach.

Only recently, Facebook announced it will deploy “sponsored messages” on its other dominant messaging app, Messenger. There is little doubt WhatsApp will soon follow. And mining WhatsApp data is the key to successfully executing this transformation as without rich user data, advertising cannot be effectively targeted to meet user preferences.

In the emerging and frontier economies, the rise and rise of connectivity via social media makes us look positively pedestrian. We continually ask ourselves "where will growth come from?" 

Thanks to the Internet and social media the answers are more and more likely to be found in places like Vietnam and emerging Asia.