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Social Networking


Submitted By harman771
Words 15628
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David A. Smith
Chief Executive
Global Futures and Foresight
November 2010

Social Networks
The next generation

Chris van der Kuyl
David Smith

Executive summary


History of social networks in the digital age in the UK.
The present state of social networks.
Innovative uses of social networks in today’s society o B2C - Business to Consumer o B2B - Business to Business o P2P - Person to Person (Peer to Peer) o G2C - Government to Citizen
Key trends shaping the future of social networks
1. Broadband penetration
2. Rise of mobile technologies
3. Ambient technology - the 'internet of things'
4. 24/7 lifestyle
5. Data expansion
6. The future of the net: web v apps
7. Geo-spatial and augmented reality technologies
8. New era of mass communication
9. New business era
10. Trust
11. Education
12. Older social networkers
13. Gaming and virtual reality
14. Government intervention
Tomorrow’s consumer o B2C - Business to Consumer o E-Government and the 'Big Society' o Educational networking o Social studies o Gaming and virtual worlds
The evolution of social networks o Technological progress o Business models and revenue streams o From the web to the street o Privacy/security/ permissive marketing o Digital Asset Management o Longevity of digital assets o Impact on advertising
Changing Britain

About the Author










Social networking has become more than just how we keep in touch with our friends online. It has changed the way people communicate and how we go about our daily lives. Social
Networking’s growth shows no signs of abating and organisations are also using it in more sophisticated ways to communicate with, and learn about, their customers. The many new ways we use social networking has meant an increase in online information. Our online presence is growing - what and how we share and protect this information is more important than ever. Organisations, too, must consider how they use this data to interact with people. The
‘Social Graph’ is rapidly becoming the most important piece of anyone’s online persona. The use of an individual’s social graph is at the heart of almost every new company and idea around the online world today. Collectively, we need to debate online privacy related to social networking and how we open up access to new content – from newspaper archives to cherished family photo albums - only then will we move towards realising the full potential of the internet and social networking.
But how will advances in social networking actually impact how we live our lives? Picture the scene
- you’re scheduled to meet up with a friend at a football match, your diary will connect with your current location and your mobile device will tell you that the fastest way to get there is on a bus which is five minutes away. Two minutes later


your device sends an alert to say that your friend has boarded the bus two stops away. When you both get to the football match, augmented reality technology will allow you to hold your mobile device up to the crowd and will display arrows above the heads of all your friends. As well as your usual match day mates you notice your best friend from school twenty years ago is in the crowd and with a quick use of ‘instant chat’ you find out he’s back from Australia for a few days. With the simple use of a location based ‘check in’ service you can easily arrange a venue for your post match ‘meet up’. Just before the final whistle the venue sends you all a message offering you the first round for free to celebrate your team’s win. It really will transform our lives!
Not only will we live our everyday lives digitally, but we’ll also share more about ourselves online than ever before. With this comes a greater responsibility to safeguard our privacy and to protect and preserve our own digital footprint.
It is becoming the norm for people to reveal their daily lives online, but social networking sites have been criticised for how poorly users’ privacy is controlled. We need to start taking control of our own privacy and for this to happen social networks need to simplify privacy controls, making it easier for us to understand what we’re exposing and to whom.

What about preserving our digital footprints? The success, or failure, of individual social networking sites will rest on their ability, not just to serve the here and now but, to store and protect memories and to enable users to move as freely through the past as the present.
Precious moments will be lost forever if we do not take steps to protect our personal history. Today’s social networks are anarchic and have not been built for the long term.
That’s fine if people are living in the moment but there comes a point when an event transcends from the here and now into something they may want to look back on. We need to protect our data for longevity or we’re in real danger of becoming the lost generation.
Our ancestors had a physical record of their memories, captured in hand-written letters, postcards and well-thumbed family pictures, but almost all the records of our children are online. There is a huge need to digitally store public information and historical documents for future generations. At brightsolid we have been at the heart of this drive to digitise the nation’s history and recently announced a ten year project with the British Library to digitise up to 40 million pages of historic newspapers. We’re collaborating with the publishers and rightsholders to help them take full advantage of the revolution in digital technology, for the benefit of us all. We could all make more of this huge opportunity if copyright laws were updated.


As we make available more and more content on line, we’re helping to create a rich archive of amazing data, opening up new and exciting ways for individuals to express themselves and tell their own unique story. People will be able to find their family history, document and build their own memories to record the stories of their lives, and what’s more, keep it under safe lock and key for future generations.
So ask yourself, what would be the first thing you’d rush to save if your house was on fire? If it’s your precious memories in the form of photographs and letters then isn’t it time you had a digital shoebox for them, safely tucked away online, so that you never have to make that choice.

Technology and it’s take up and use by individuals and business has transformed how we run our lives and our businesses over the past sixty years. That rate of change is accelerating as we find new uses for ever more capable technologies which can be applied to more areas of our lives than imagined even ten years ago. Today we are learning and being trained to be capable members of the workforce using communication technologies deployed by some of the finest universities in the world. The increasingly imaginative ways we will be using technology over this next ten years will shape every aspect of our lives, from dating, to work, to leisure, to being an engaged citizen.
We think nothing of accessing information from the internet via Google or the Apps (applications) world and expect relevant information to be presented in useful formats within seconds. Our interconnectedness is truly global and at the same time we wish to develop and preserve our connections with our friends and family and also with our history and our past. As Alvin Toffler prophesied back in the 1970’s, we would create the mechanisms to organise, control and connect our planet, whist at the same time we as individuals would value our closest contacts and our communities would become increasingly important to us.
This report sets out to raise some of the exciting opportunities and some of the key challenges that social networks, our society and businesses serving that society will face through the rapidly expanding use of these powerful social media tools.

Chris van der Kuyl
Chief Executive Officer brightsolid David A. Smith
Chief Executive Officer
Global Futures and Foresight


“When media change, human relationships change.”

Michael Wesch, media anthropologist1


Executive Summary
Explosive growth
Building on technologies that surfaced in the 1970’s and 1980’s, social networks emerged in the late years of the 20th century. They have since grown to encompass almost a sixth of the global population, and in
May 2010 attracted more UK internet traffic than did search engines. As a communication medium it is now firmly established, with around twothirds of Britons using it to keep in contact with friends and family.
Getting to grips with social networks
For years this growth failed to deliver many profitable business models, whilst organisations failed to capitalise on social networks’ potential. However, innovative uses in the business world, private sphere and even governmental realm are now appearing. A number of factors
– not least the need to discover new markets, enhance the bottom line and save money - are becoming increasingly important in the globally connected world that social networks are helping to foster. However impressive the impact of social networks so far, we can only consider ourselves at an early stage of their progression. Individuals
People are engaging with social networks both in and out of the home, at whatever time of day suits them and where allowed, in any circumstances. Being in touch with those people that matter to us is at the heart of the human condition.
Over two billion people are connected in the top forty social networks today

and by 2020 we expect that up to five billion people around the world will be online and most will connect via social networks.
Changing internet and how we connect In May, 2010, for the first time in the UK, there was more traffic across social networks than searches on the internet. At the same time, we saw a rapid growth in accessing information on the internet through the semi closed worlds of the apps (applications) facilitated, for the most part, by the success of
Apple’s iphones and ipad tablet. The government plans to facilitate access to 2 mbps (million bits per second) broadband for everyone in the UK by 2015. By 2016 we are forecasting that there will be twelve million
1 gbps (thousand million bits per second) lines in the UK - these lines are fifty times faster!. What we can be sure of is that the current form of the internet and how we use it is not at the end of its evolution.
Gaming and virtual worlds
Massively Multiplayer Online RolePlaying Games (MMORPG’s) attract huge participation to their rich game playing worlds. The popular ‘World of Warcraft’ game had over twelve million subscribers as at October
2010. These games are very visual and there is huge engagement between the individuals who take part. On the other hand social networks have the capacity to involve huge numbers of people in group activities but offer relatively little opportunity for engagement. It is

clear that this will not remain the same for long - as social network operators seek to inject game playing and participation in increasingly realistic virtual worlds where participants can explore, learn and even fight together. When once we might have phoned our friend, today we might text one another, tomorrow it will be common to ‘go for a walk together’ in a virtual world, irrespective of where we might be in the world. These changes are likely to impact how we engage with our friends and family, our teachers and even our government and transform the engagement models in the process. can even gather together to selfinsure ourselves against all manner of risks. No longer would we need an insurer to gather a large group to spread risk across. They may be needed to provide the services around managing the premiums, claims and reinsurance. How much lower might the claims be inflated by and how many fewer fraudulent claims might we see if we knew each other and knew who was claiming.
These ‘village like’ environments can connect us in joint endeavours in new ways which will proliferate in the coming decade.


People intensive services are expensive. Over the past sixty years automation has driven out much human activity from manual work and is now set to repeat this amongst professional and managerial roles. In the UK we are struggling to maintain outdated models of delivering education to our pupils and university students. The future of mass education will involve large-scale use of on-line resources over the internet and socialising over social networks.
These facilities will replace much of the mass delivery of information to students, reserving the role of teacher and tutor for the more important, interpersonal and individual guidance of their charges.

Many existing business processes will be challenged by the power that individuals have through their connected strength. We’ve hardly seen the start of this ‘revolution’. The last major shift caused by access to the internet was, disintermediation, the power of individuals with access to services normally brokered to us via agents. Now we buy airplane tickets, book holidays, buy car, life, pet and holiday insurance over the internet and now prefer this to using a human intermediary. Social networks are allowing us to take part, as individuals, in large scale projects where we can contribute a small part to a large outsourced task.
Social networks enable us to use the scale of our connected network to bulk buy or band together to leverage our collective size. For example; we


Older networkers
Government is seeking to reduce its operational costs and engage more closely with its citizens. Social networks are increasingly being engaged to facilitate both of these

aims. The size of the over 50 years of age population in the UK is growing rapidly. The over 85 years of age population has doubled in the past twenty five years and is set to increase by 250% in just the next twenty years. It will be vital that these older citizens get on-line and engaged with the many resources the internet has to offer, as quickly as possible. The most vulnerable people in our society can be ‘included’ in so many ways, if they can be shown how to join and engage in social networks. ‘Big Society’
The coalition government is keen for people to become increasingly active to help resolve some of the issues we face in the UK. As individuals, we often feel our contribution can’t make a difference. Social networks have the power to facilitate mass engagement around issues we are passionate about, as strangers seek to build a better world together.
Helping everyone in our society to have access to the internet and by so doing, find new relationships and engage in matters of concern to them with like-minded people is vital if we are to develop a society where we feel valued and included.
Ambient technology
By 2020 we expect to have over
22 billion devices communicating over the internet. As we will be connected to it through many devices, our use of technology to communicate effectively blends into our surroundings. For example as we walk down a street it’s possible for

our diary to connect with a bus stop and tell us to stop right there and wait 30 seconds for the right bus to take us where we want to go. In the same way will may be able to connect with our friends, family and business associates in new ways that might have only happened by chance today.
The issue will be one of privacy versus utility - which is likely to be one of the most discussed and argued over issues of the coming decade.
Some organisations are now discovering the power of facilitating connection between their staff and their business partners through social network technologies. Others are more concerned about the potential distraction for staff and a fall in productivity and yet others see social networks as a threat to information security. As with all new technologies, if they can be called that still, there are threats to the status-quo but we learn to harness the benefits of these new tools and minimise their risks and by so doing realise their true disruptive potential.
Social media, as we might collectively describe these social connection tools, offers a real opportunity to facilitate improved communication and increased productivity, across our enterprises. Increasingly organisations are fragmented and distributed, often across wide geographies and now that we are working in a more mobile fashion we need to harness social networks to allow groups to connect in both an organised and viral way.

Recent studies are indicating that allowing staff access to their personal social networks at work can increase their overall productivity and that those who are allowed to use these tools to do their job are less likely to leave.
Facilitating personal access certainly shows employees that they are trusted to manage their time properly and also that they can be trusted not to divulge proprietary information to outsiders. If we allow people to send e-mails with attachments, then we should also allow people who use social media, as their preferred communications method, to use these tools. The job at hand is to protect sensitive data from moving inappropriately, not limit the communication channels we use.
After all, there will be many new and currently unknown communications technologies employed by business’ in the coming years. Rather than fearing new technologies, we need to become quickly confident in their use and exploit them to our advantage.
As open-source innovation and cocreation become familiar means for firms to innovate their products and service offerings the role of social media becomes more critical.
Firms that have embraced these collaborative ways of surfacing new ideas, understand that the greater the size and diversity of input the higher the likelihood is of imaginative and break-through innovation happening. Social networks provide

the transport layer on which new ideas can flow into the organisation.
Procter and Gamble built a network of over three million contributors to their product innovation process and moved from one of the lowest to one of the highest new product success rates in their industry.
Our workforce and consumers are all living in a more mobile and spontaneous environment today, frequently facilitated through technology. Smartphone sales are rapidly replacing ‘normal’ mobile phone sales. At the same time mobile broadband coverage and capability is increasing rapidly. Laptop computers, notebooks, netbooks, mobile phones, smart phones and now tablets - popularised through the explosive take-up of the Apple ipad - are facilitating our 24/7 mobile world. The challenge for business is to harness these technologies for advantage. New business models
Social networks, cloud computing
(where the computing power and data storage takes place on the internet), ambient technology
(pervasive technology that’s all around us that knows who we are and where we are - if we let it), mobile and combinations of information coming together to provide new products and services
(mash-ups) are changing consumers expectations of service and changing the business models organisations deploy. These models have the capacity to transform how we

communicate, sell and connect with our staff and customers in the future.
Data explosion
So how will we cope with all this information about where people are, what they are doing, in what mode (business or leisure) and what they are saying across their social networks and through a variety of technologies. We will be recording the data we send - words, pictures, video, sounds etc, but we will also capture our ‘mood’ our facial expression and tone of voice, where we are and maybe even who or what is happening around us - our context.
Successful companies will know how to manage this information to their advantage. The question today is; Where will the storage capacity come from and who will own the information? Data analytics will need to move on rapidly to keep pace and we will need to consider how long this information should persist and who should have access to it. We will also need to consider new forms of copyright and business models that reward more open behaviours in the future as we seek to share this rich data between individuals and organisations.
New stakeholders
As we are very aware, our customers are increasingly listening to other people’s opinions about our organisation’s performance and our products and services. Tweets, social networks, blogs, advisory sites, buying portals and e-mails are all ways that people are sharing their opinions about brands, for good or

ill and can have a major impact on the perception of their brand and therefore its value. It’s now time to consider these social networkers the next major stakeholders in our firms.
No longer are they the concern of the marketing and IT departments but now need to be considered in the development and implementation of the organisations strategy at the highest level.
Where next?
It is generally agreed that the next step of progression is towards mobile social networking. Rather than just using a mobile interface, new GPS and geo-location systems have the potential to radically enhance the wealth of data, generated by social networks – with tomorrow’s industry winners emerging from those who better adapt their business models to it.
The expansion of technology and social networks to effectively blend into our surroundings seems quite likely – which if combined with more mobile applications, has the potential to revolutionise human behaviour, commerce, industry and government. The explosion of data this will generate will be truly transformational should the ability of analytics keep pace. This new platform of data would herald the dawn of a new, more efficient economy, better able to cope with future challenges of an ageing population, economic problems and declining corporate profit. The advent of social networks has left the world better off, yet in many ways the benefits have only just started to be realised.


An estimated twothirds of Britons use social networks more than face-to-face to keep in touch with friends and family10.


1. History of social networks 2.1 The present state in the digital age of social networks
Social networks in themselves are not new to us, but social networks, in the sense most people refer to them today, represent an enhanced, more efficient and more effective version of what previously occurred in the offline world. Throughout this paper the term is used to refer to the electronic form popularised by MySpace, Facebook LinkedIn, ecademy, Friends Reunited, and many others. It was with the advent of the 21st century that saw the explosion of
UK social networking. Facebook, launched in February 2004, now has the largest network both in the UK and across the globe and Friends
Reunited launched the first social network of its type in the UK in
October 2000. Impressive growth was recorded when social networks expanded their share of total UK internet visits more than threefold between November 2005 and
October 20071.

In May 2010, social networks attracted more UK online traffic than search engines for the first time.
Social network site traffic increased to
11.8% of all total UK traffic – up from
10% from May 2009, whilst search engine traffic declined from 12% to 11.3% 3. Friends Reunited alone reached 1 in 4 UK adults in 2009, tallying over 3 million unique visitors each month and seeing a million messages sent between members each month.4
Traffic alone, however, doesn’t convey the importance that online social networks are assuming. When actual time spent on the internet is considered, they account for 23% of total time. That equates to 13 minutes and 36 seconds of every hour online, notes Nielsen. This represents a 159% increase from time spent on social networks back in April 20075.6

Taking time out on social networks provided workers with a mental break that ultimately led to 9% productivity increase.

Not surprisingly given the high percentage of online time spent on social networks by people, access is an increasingly important issue for businesses to address. As much as 6% of UK employees admit to spending an hour or more every day using social networks at work for non-professional use. The associated decline in productivity could cost
British business as much as £14

billion a year7. Such figures may be used as justification for restricting access, but equal evidence exists that this may be premature. An April
2009 Australian study found that taking time out on social networks provided workers with a mental break that ultimately led to 9% productivity increase, to say nothing of the potential benefits of using professional oriented sites such as
Suspicion, as to the benefits of allowing employees access to social networks at work, could be due, in part, to the reticence of many firms to actually realise the broader benefits of social networking. The top 50 companies in the 2009
Deloitte Fast Tech, a list of the fastest growing technology companies in the UK, don’t necessarily use social networking well, though 90% have a presence on two or more social networks8. However ‘…. The most successful brands will be those that embrace and learn to harness social media rather than underestimate or fight against its influence9.’
Despite the potential and in some cases, realised potential for many organisations, social networking in 2010 still remains most popular amongst individuals. An estimated two-thirds of Britons use social networks more than face-to-face, to keep in touch with friends and family10. Increased familiarity is also changing behaviour – an estimated
80% of adults with social network profiles are likely to restrict access to others, compared to 48% in 200711.


2.2. Innovative uses of social networks in today’s society
B2C (Business to Consumer) 12
Despite the reticence and lack of know-how, in many companies’ attempts to get to grip with the medium, examples abound of successful social network and media integration. Domino’s Pizza reported a 29% increase in pre-tax profits to £17.5m in July 2010, largely owing to an increase in e-commerce. The company notes that this area had seen 61.4% growth in the same period and that it now accounted for nearly a third (32.7%) of all UK delivered sales. One of its recent (July 2010) promotions encouraged Domino’s patrons to ‘check-in’ – using GPS on their phones - at their locations, even though none of them offer dinein services. The first effect was to increase foot traffic, which eliminated costs associated with delivery, whilst a viral effect was created when a user would check-in at a Domino’s location, sharing their actual location with their friends, exposing them to the Domino’s brand.13.

B2B (Business to Business)
Social networking is essentially a communications tool, and one that can be just as effective for business to employ internally as it can for external marketing or research and development (R&D).
In 2008, Cognizant Technology
Solutions, a US-listed outsourcing company, introduced a new internal communications system based on the principles of social networking sites. Within months most of its ‘…

under 30-year-olds who fall into the so-called “millennial” generation, were migrating to the new system en masse.’ 14 The system’s popularity equates to a lower attrition rate amongst active users of the software. It is about one third of the level of staff who seldom use it. Internal use is also leading to a new business proposition. ‘Clients are increasingly asking them for help first to understand the trend and then to write and implement software, incorporating it into their businesses15.’ Nor is Cognizant unique; Infosys, a leading technology service provider, has set up its own collaboration software, iEngage. This social network platform enables easy collaboration between engineers when they are writing programmes.
Given the international nature of business, this also enables virtual networks to coalesce regardless of location, allowing greater R&D input as well as potentially reducing the need for business travel.

P2P (Person to Person/Peer to
Social networks and communities are also innovating at the peer to peer level. Online investor communities exist, such as Investorvillage and SocialPicks that empower users to cross-compare their investment portfolio’s performance to their peers, as well as professional analysts and the like. SocialPicks website claims, it is ‘Social Networking for
Serious Investors.’


Crowdsource-generated financial content is also available through networks such as Tip’d and Smarty
Pig, an innovative online bank that uses viral networking as a platform.
‘Users create a free Smarty Pig account and set specific saving goals
(e.g. £3,000 holiday fund by August
30). Smarty Pig then calculates how much users should contribute, each period, to reach your goal. The interesting part is that it then allows users to openly share their saving goals in social networks with family members and friends, who can make contributions towards their goals17.’
Social gaming is also growing rapidly. Colloquially, games on social networking sites are called social games. Some differing definitions include: Multiplayer games that utilise the social graph, i.e. a player’s social connections, as part of the game. Examples: Parking Wars,
PackRat Games in which the main game play involves socialising or social activities like chatting, trading, or flirting. Examples: YoVille, Pet
Society. Turn-based games that are played within a social context or with friends. Examples: Texas Hold’em
Poker, Scrabble. Competitive casual games that include friends-only leader boards. Examples: Who Has the Biggest Brain? Word Challenge
These games have the advantage of having access to information about the player in order to target the game to their needs and preferences and it also leverages a person’s connections giving ‘instant’ access to potential game players.18


G2C (Government to Citizen) 19
The UK Coalition government set out ‘The Spending Challenge’ in mid
2010 in which it asked members of the public to ‘…help shape the way government works.’ As its name implies, it acted as a forum for suggestions on what services and programmes could be cut, and how. The website noted (retrieved
September 1st 2010) that ‘…over the past month, members of the public submitted more than 45,000 ideas and registered over 250,000 votes for ideas put forward by peers that they liked. The website states that ‘…a number of ideas may have the potential to deliver efficiencies over the longer term, so we will continue to review these over the next few months.’
Critics noted the propensity for bigoted ideas to appear and some noted that simply asking the public what they think won’t necessarily achieve wide participation and discussion. However there can be no doubt that The Spending Challenge experience will be improved upon in an era where government is increasingly pressed to provide more service for less cost.20.
Indeed, at the heart of the present governments ‘Big Society’ initiative, is the desire to stir the UK population to action to help address some of the nations challenges. Social networks will be at the heart of enabling likeminded citizens to act collectively and therefore with increased impact.

By 2016 there will be over 12 million superfast broadband connections
(400mbps to 2 giga bps
(thousand million bits per second) in the UK.23

3.1. Key trends shaping the future of social networks
1. Broadband penetration

2. Rise

of mobile technologies

In the UK, two thirds of households now have an internet connection21.
Despite the previous government’s broadband promise, the Culture
Secretary Jeremy Hunt said it was not practical to meet Labour’s previous pledge to get rural areas hooked up to a minimum of 2Mbps (million bits per second) broadband by 201222.
Due to a shortage of funds, the
2Mbps minimum won’t happen until
2015. However, some forecasters are predicting that by 2016 there will be over 12 million superfast broadband connections (400mbps to 2 giga bps
(thousand million bits per second)) in the UK.23 Increased broadband penetration suggests there is plenty of room to grow social networks as more and more people access the internet at faster speeds.

UK citizens are spending more time than ever connected to the internet, partially due to the growth of mobile internet browsing through
Smartphone’s (mobile phones that act like computers) and more recently
‘tablet’s (Highly mobile larger screen touch screen computers) like Apple’s ipad.. Smartphone ownership in the
UK grew by 81% in the 12 months to May 2010, from 7.2 million to
12.8 million (or around a quarter of the population). Time spent on the internet on the go has now risen to
1.3 hours a month, and has caused a 240% increase in data sent over mobile networks. Another factor is a rise in longer 24-month mobile phone contracts to 63% of all new contracts in the second quarter of 2010, compared to just 3% in the same period in 200824. With Smartphone handset prices already below £150 and set to halve in the next one to two years, we should expect strong growth in their take-up and use.
At the turn of the year we will see

a plethora of copy-cat, ipad-like, devices hit the streets which will only serve to accelerate our demand for mobile high-speed connections.

3. Ambient technology/internet of things
In 2009 the Internet had around 575 million host computers. Right now, the number of web-enabled devices sits at around 5 billion26. By 2020 it is forecast there will be 22 billion web-connected devices in the world.
When this happens we will essentially be living with ambient intelligence27
- electronic environments that are sensitive and responsive to the presence of people. This denotes embedding intelligence and an
IP address in everything from the refrigerator to the interior of office buildings to public places. Deutsche
Telekom for one is targeting €1bn in sales from “intelligent networks” by
201528, a goal partially facilitated by increasing urbanisation.
By 2020 our environment will know where we are, why we are there


and who we might be meeting and why (if we use electronic diaries) and what’s around us that might be of interest to us. Imagine being made aware that a distant relative is sitting on the table next to you in the coffee shop you’re in or that a close friend is just fifty yards away from where you are. It raises the question of what information you want to be presented with and what degree of privacy you want for yourself.

4. 24/7lifestyle 29
A recent study found that as many as
73% considered a mobile phone as an essential gadget to take with them on holiday, 87% actually used a mobile whilst away and nearly half (46%) of them relied on text messages in order to keep in touch with friends and family back home30.
No longer does going on holiday mean getting away from it all either, as more than half of those in the survey (59%) felt the need to access the internet whilst away and used the hotel’s computer or a nearby

Privacy versus utility
- to receive pertinent, useful offers to help you achieve your goals versus our desire for anonymity, security and privacy.

internet café to do so. A 24/7 lifestyle indicates mass potential for ‘always on’ social networking. The possibility of effective mobile social networking also suggests that the percentages noted above are likely to rise.

5. Data expansion
The falling costs and increasing penetration of technology are combining to provide a massive increase in data and in data analysis possibilities. Diseases can now be mapped, crime predicted and trends analysed. Difficulties have arisen, and may continue to rise as data generation accelerates. Data security and privacy are being adversely affected, as is the ability to access and retrieve some stored information.
The sheer weight of data is also implicated in obscuring otherwise visible trends, as shown by the models utilised by those at the heart of the global financial crisis.
IDC, a global provider of market intelligence, notes that there will be around 1750 exabytes (an exabyte

is a million terabytes or a billion gigabytes) of global information created by 2011, but available storage will only be around 800850 exabytes31. It is quite likely that until the gap can be closed, social networks in general will be unable to evolve both in terms of their business model and in terms of the utility they provide for their users.

The web does not represent the pinnacle of the digital revolution.

6. The future of the net: web v apps We are witnessing ‘…one of the most important shifts in the digital world32, where the web is being discarded in favour of semi-closed platforms. The iPhone model of mobile computing is one major factor and the world of apps is being increasingly preferred by consumers to the web’s search and HTML technology. Not only is the app based internet more direct and efficient than the web based net, but it is also proving ‘…easier for companies to make money on these platforms.’ In short the web does not represent the pinnacle of the digital revolution. 17

By 2020 global internet access will have risen to nearly
5 billion users, but its use is likely to have evolved34.

7. Geo-spatial and augmented reality technologies
Over 12 million people in the UK already have devices that know where they are, most of which also have a camera and high quality video screen. Today we may only be using them to gain discount off our meals when out, using sites such as ‘Vouchercloud’ but tomorrow we will be engaging in a richly integrated, geo-positioned world where tailored offers can come to us as a consequence of the ideas and thoughts we might have expressed in conversations in our social networks.
Again the issue is one of privacy versus utility - to receive pertinent, useful offers to help you achieve your goals versus our desire for anonymity, security and privacy.

By 2020 it is expected that artificial and virtual reality will have become more embedded in everyday life.

A survey of hundreds of internet leaders, activists and analysts found that33 by 2020 it is expected that artificial and virtual reality will have become more embedded in everyday life. 55% of surveyed experts said they mostly agree with the statement that in 2020, ‘many lives are touched by the use of augmented reality or spent interacting in artificial spaces.’
If augmented reality is embedded and can rely on some mobile GPS type technology, social networks could evolve into an even more useful business tool, and an ever more pervasive social one.

8. New era of mass communication Today’s internet has 1.73 billion users. This compares with a world

population of 6.7 billion people. By
2020 global internet access will have risen to nearly 5 billion users, but its use is likely to have evolved34. Not only is access growing but utility of the internet is deepening at a faster rate, so that by 2012 the internet will be 75 times its size in 2000 with over
400 times the traffic, mostly due to the rise of online video35.

9. New business era
Emerging from the deepest recession since the 1930’s, business is looking to innovate, cut costs and increase the effectiveness of its communications and marketing processes. Social networking technologies, web mashups (an application that combines content and functionality from a variety of sources) and cloud computing (that’s where your business systems run on the internet, not your company servers) are amongst the ten most disruptive technologies. They will shape the information technology landscape, and hence the business landscape over the next five years36.
One possible outcome is that ‘... the business organisation of the future will be virtual37.’
A 2010 study by BT global services found that 65% of businesses agreed virtual working would help their people achieve a better work/life balance and more than half (55%) felt it would ultimately result in happier staff, and this suggests that businesses are slowly changing their views on essentially devolving operators out of the office space. This social benefit is in conjunction with proven tangible

The fastest growing sector of the population is the over
50’s age group which is also the fastest growing group in our society for using social media.

gains –such as those experienced by
BT. The company reckons its flexible workforce saved it £500m in building costs and 100,000 tonnes of CO2, as well as contributing to a 30% rise in productivity since implementing flexible and virtual working practices.38 10. Trust
The social landscape has changed and the relationship between brands and consumer has fundamentally altered because of the way consumers connect. So much influence (and insight) is now in the hands (and tweets, posts, votes and updates) of the consumer. Consumers aren’t always paying attention to marketing messages but they are paying attention to each other. More than
40% of consumers go online to check reviews and consumer feedback before purchasing consumer electronics. 60% of those going online have visited a social network, with half going back every day.
23% of social network users expect

companies to listen and respond to what is said online39

11. Education
Roughly 100,000 of the 12 million high-school-age students in the
US attended 438 online schools full-time in 200940. Some analysts think explosive growth may occur relatively quickly, with one estimate suggesting this figure may rise to 50% of all courses by 201941. This would correlate to the expansion of wireless broadband, which will probably reach
3-4 out of 5 people on the globe by
2015-201842. Increased connectivity will not only facilitate greater flexibility with regards to the physical locale in which learning occurs, but also how the learning occurs and from which information source. Several top universities in the UK – Universities of
Oxford and London and of course, the
Open University offer online courses.
The social context in which higher learning has traditionally taken place is engendered through social networks for enrolled students.

With older users rapidly getting online and getting connected via social networks, living longer and owning over 80% of the UK’s personal financial assets this group’s expectations will need to be increasingly considered. 12. Older social networkers
The fastest growing sector of the population is the over 50’s age group which is also the fastest growing group in our society for using social media. In August a Pew Internet report showed that the group aged
55-64 grew by 88% and aged 65 and above even grew 100%, in the use of social networks.
According to a poll carried out by
Age UK, over six million people in this age bracket who have never gone online.43 The Government’s new initiative, ‘Get Digital’, will help over
620,000 older citizens get online by the end of March 2011.
Lord McKenzie, said:”Technology has

changed so fast that it has left many over 50s feeling left behind. This programme is about bridging the digital divide. The internet will make it easier for people to keep in touch with their families, shop online and access a wide range of services.”
Martha Lane Fox, Champion for
Digital Inclusion, commented: “More than 10 million adults across the
UK have never used the internet, and worryingly 4 million of this group are also socially excluded. Of this group 39% are over the age of
65 and missing out on the many opportunities and cost efficiencies that the web has to offer.44
With older users rapidly getting online and getting connected via social networks, living longer and owning over 80% of the
UK’s personal financial assets this group’s expectations will need to be increasingly considered.

13. Gaming and Virtual Reality
Revenues from games played on social networks reached $639m
(£426m) in 2009, up from just
$76m (£50.7m) the year before. The market remains dominated by the distribution power and massive user base of Facebook, but this market is by no means a one network opportunity. Monthly, active users of games reached over 500 million at the end of 2009, from just 60m in
2008. The USA is the largest market for social games (games played across social networks), way ahead of second placed UK. Much of the

Much of the recent growth in the PC casual games market is now being driven by social games (games played across social networks).

recent growth in the PC casual games market is now being driven by social games (games played across social networks). A large majority of social games revenues are generated by sales of virtual currency and goods that are spent on and in games.
The market is forecast to be worth
$1.5bn (£1bn) in 2014 to more than double over five years.45
Virtual worlds have long offered people the opportunity to explore and build online ‘worlds’ where they can choose to play, fight or live together in harmony or at war. These
Massive Multi-player Online Reality games (MMORG’s) include ‘World of Warcraft’, ‘the Sims’ and ‘Second
Life’ amongst the dozens that exist today. As graphics improve and speech and video connect with these environments and social networks include more game-play we will increasingly see these virtual-worlds become more familiar to individuals and relevant to business. Already
IBM uses them for recruitment and meetings, CISCO for meetings and to host music concerts. Their use is only

as limited by our imagination and our ability to make money from them.
Social networks have the user base without generally having the tools for increased interaction amongst members, games and virtual worlds, on the other hand, have the capacity for greater interaction but are without the user base. We should therefore expect that social networks will move into the gaming and virtual world space aggressively over the next five years particularly as photorealistic avatars (moving characters in virtual worlds) become the norm. 46

Revenues from games played on social networks reached
$639m (£426m) in
2009, up from just
$76m (£50.7m) the year before.


The ‘Race Online 2012’ government initiative seeks to encourage and facilitate the up-to
10 million people in the UK without internet access. 22

14. Government intervention
The ‘Race Online 2012’ government initiative seeks to encourage and facilitate the up-to 10 million people in the UK without access to the internet. to get online. As David
Cameron, the Prime Minister, explains
“In the internet age, we need to make sure that people aren’t being left behind as more and more services and business move online”. A future important differentiator between the ‘have’s’ and ‘have-not’s’ in our society will be access the internet and all that it offers.

3.2 Tomorrow’s consumer
‘Social networking is to the current era what online access was just 20 years ago47,’ in so far as how we share and access information. If social networking does indeed prove as transformative as the internet itself, then many future features of such networks are two or three advances away from us and hence at present, unknowable. However, there are various traits emerging that may provide some idea how the use of social networks will evolve.
Undoubtedly ‘…, location-based mobile networks are the next wave of social networks48.’ A location based mobile social network will require presence, location and contextual information about the user. This will require GPS or triangulation technology as well as information regarding your ‘mode’ – at work, relaxing etc, both for the user and those around them49. Features such as SpotMe already exist in the meetings industry that allows, at a basic level, the ability to sort and browse through people in close vicinity and their purpose for being at, for example, a given trade show or conference. Thus the technology is, in many ways, already in place.
The issue remains however of one of privacy and security versus utility and experience. 600 million people will use their phones to tap into social networks by 2013; a more-than-fourfold increase on 2009’s
140 million50.

those revealing real consumer lives, will generate a fantastically rich opportunity for data analysis. Indeed, the ability of data analysis to scale effectively, and to generate business opportunities is perhaps the key determinant in the usefulness of future social networks. Such analysis could lead to improved personal recommendations at P2P, B2B and
B2C levels as well as the ‘…detection of opportunities for innovation, pattern recognition and problem preemption.’50
Such potential is reflected in the forecast that over 600 million people will use their phones to tap into social networks by 2013; a morethan-fourfold increase on 2009’s
140 million51. Reduced mobile prices have led to small handheld mobiles becoming the device of choice for accessing some sites in Asia. Mixi, one of Japan’s largest social networks with 18 million members, says that the vast majority of its traffic now comes from mobile customers who check in to get updates four or five times a day. 52

Such a move towards a more mobile based social network would impact various sectors. One facet impacting all sectors would be a coming explosion of data. How to take advantage of this data, whilst respecting privacy issues, will depend much on the future of data analysis. Large data sets, especially

Online communities will be the most important category of ‘non-traditional stakeholder’ for companies in five years’ time. It is clear that social media, far from being another channel, has and, will continue to, drastically alter the way consumers interact with brands.

Whether mobile or not, ‘… online communities will be the most important category of ‘nontraditional stakeholder’ for companies in five years’ time.’ Despite this, many companies are leaving it to public relations or marketing departments instead of incorporating new stakeholders into their strategic thinking at board level53.
One key obstacle that will need to be overcome is the fear of a loss of control. One commentator from an
Economist Intelligence Unit report noted that ‘…everything will get out there in the end.’ This point is reinforced from a 2010 report, which concluded that companies are spending ‘…vast sums protecting their intellectual property,’ yet better cost effectiveness would be achieved by simply distributing the information54. We will need to see new business models develop which will increasingly reward organisations for more open behaviour.

B2C (Business to Consumer)
In February 2010 it was reported that Unilever ‘…is to integrate social media into product development and insight55,’ following trials with brands in the UK and US. Gaining useful insight of consumer opinions is the objective, yet issues surrounding reliability of such input has encouraged Unilever to create inviteonly communities.
David Cousino, consumer marketing insights global category director at Unilever notes that ‘…even if a brand doesn’t want to engage with

consumers on that level, it will be forced to.’ To take advantage of social networks and social media however, a genuine desire for conversation and an acceptance of losing a large degree of control over the process are necessary. Initially,
Unilever used co-creation agency
Face’s online youth community
HeadBox to source a small team from around the world who created the idea for the two-part Lynx Twist fragrance. The online community was then used to generate additional ideas and discussion before it developed the best forthcoming ideas. Unilever now plans to develop this method in a bespoke fashion across its product range in other consumer sectors.
The prospects of co-creation are a major benefit resulting from business-to-consumer social networks if handled correctly. There is, undoubtedly, further progress to be made in this area. It is clear that social media, far from being another channel, has and, will continue to, drastically alter the way consumers interact with brands.

E-Government and the ‘Big
Public service delivery is the at the heart of the Big Society concept, and commentators note that social networks can play a big role ‘…both in creating contexts for more sustainable solutions, and in supporting the distributed participation that can give people a role in delivering them.’ It is widely thought that any effort must

Educational networking has potential across the whole provision of education, on both the supply and demand sides.

avoid the traditional input-output management thinking as such networks are complex and adaptive.
There are examples from which the Big Society can learn. One prominent organisation using social networks for social provision is the
UK organisation, Participle. The organisation utilises a mix of service design thinking, creativity and social network thinking – all of which add up to a culture that welcomes a broader set of ideas about problem solving - not a centralised, one solution fits all approach that we have seen over the last 20 years56.’
As part of its Southwark Circle project, Participle has ‘…pioneered the use of real-world social networks among older people to give them better access to simple assistance that younger, more connected people take for granted, whilst at the same time creating new opportunities for social interaction, friendships and meet ups.
Such simple, peer-to-peer services are not only cheaper than individuallyprovisioned services, but they also act at a more human level that helps

prevent isolation and the problems that creates57.’

Educational networking
Social networking sites, when reduced to their core components, are an aggregation of a set of Web
2.0 building blocks. The first sites that were constructed using Web 2.0 building blocks were often ‘casinolike,’ - opportunistic and chancy
- leading to a sometimes negative public perception as a waste of time. It is noted that ‘…There’s no reason why the same building blocks that built those social networking
“casinos” can’t be used to create schools, libraries, meeting halls, or teachers’ lounges, which is exactly what we’re starting to see happen today.’ Educational networking has potential across the whole provision of education, on both the supply and demand sides. From the students’ perspective, lifelong learning without career or life disruption is possible, often at a lower overall cost than on25

site learning. Educators meanwhile are better able to meet the demands for customised approaches to meet their students’ specific needs as well as participate efficiently in professional development opportunities. LearnCentral is one such site that is aiming to provide such tools for educators. Their website states that ‘…LearnCentral is a new social learning network for education…a free, open environment
(that)represents the next logical step of combining asynchronous social networking and the ability to store, organise, and find educational resources using live, online meeting and collaboration59,’ options. While still in its early stages, LearnCentral has the potential to make a significant historical difference in how educators work together for professional development in their own careers.
Bill Gates has noted that ‘…Great
Educators have always known that learning is not something that’s limited to the classrooms, or that should be forcibly undertaken under the supervision of teachers60.’
With social networks providing the platform for both the educational process and a basis for interaction, the technology is already in place for educational networking development.
Projects abound where important libraries of content are being digitised and made available on-line. A recent and excellent example is the decision to digitise and give access online to the Newspapers held by the
British Library. These sort of projects generate access to the content that the education system,

at all levels, relies on. Their availability online further strengthens the case for decentralised and networked learning. A recent study found that while 70% of UK universities give postgraduates the opportunity to study off campus, only 40% offer distance learning for undergraduates61. Furthermore,
UCAS, the university admissions service, reported that applications to undergraduate courses at universities in the UK grew to 660,000 this year, up 11% from last year and that many universities also declared themselves full before A-level results were even announced. Social
Networks are therefore likely to become increasingly important in UK education as more students embark on distributed learning but still desire the social interaction that traditional, campus based, higher education provides. Social studies
The new role of social networks is still being figured out. Now in
UK academia, social networks also are being promoted as agents of social change62. At De Montfort
University in Leicester, Professor Sue
Thomas has been running a project designed “…to show how social media such as Twitter and Facebook can be used to connect the city’s disparate and diverse communities and networks.” Leicester has a uniquely diverse population with some 40% of the city’s 300,000 residents belonging to ethnic minority groups, and it is expected to become Europe’s first white

minority city by 2015. Deploying the power, ubiquity, and modishness of social networks to bridge and break down the barriers between ethnic communities, is an emerging area of study.
Whilst social networks are no panacea for every social, political or economic problem, the general tenets of increased interaction and collaboration, data generation and analysis, and ubiquity suggests that social networks will be used by almost all of tomorrow’s consumers, whether directly or indirectly in many of tomorrow’s products and services.

Gaming and Virtual worlds
We can expect that more social networks will introduce gaming to facilitate increased engagement between members across their networks, and even to extend their networks. At the same time the virtual worlds, as pioneered by such sites as Second Life in 2003, are set to move towards increasing interconnectedness of their worlds.
The number of gamers, the amount they spend and the time they spend taking part in games and in engaging with virtual worlds is set to grow rapidly to 2020 and will be facilitated through the increasing availability of broadband connections and the convenience of mobile technologies.

Virtual worlds, as pioneered by such sites as Second Life in
2003, are set to move towards increasing interconnectedness of their worlds.


The keys to technological progress undoubtedly lie in the ease of use and the value it adds.

3.3 The evolution of social networks
Technological progress

us a glimpse into the future of how we might be interacting with our social media soon.

‘In the future, we will be able to download information to a single small, but hugely powerful, device.
It will integrate everything we could possibly need - phone, credit card, music player, media player, high-speed internet access, hi-res camera, G3, GPS and so forth - into one unit.’ Given the trend towards embedding the internet into items, and by implication, social networks, it is likely that these devices will act as mobile portals for them. The keys to technological progress undoubtedly lie in the ease of use and the value it adds. The latter implies a degree of customisation and an increasing proportion of added value for contemporary people-oriented business, lies in its ability to adapt to the needs of individual consumers63.
This will mean the devices we use to connect to social networks and even the networks themselves will need to possess enough intelligence to learn by experience and be able to customise themselves to the way the individual wants to use them. In many ways the emergent technologies are already here mobile phones are now sophisticated enough to collect and analyse data on personal behaviour, and researchers are developing techniques that allow them to effectively sort through such information64
One possible result is the evolution of the avatar/homepage used to represent the social network user.
A ‘touchable holograph’ display has already been developed at the
University of Tokyo, that adds tactile feedback to 3D images65 which gives

It is suggested that any innovation in monetising social networks is limited by the ability of analytics to keep pace. This explains why the bread and butter business model of display and banner ads will remain a part of the business model for many years.67.
Since the potential for continued growth within social networks still exists, this precludes any drop in revenue from this source, but most probably further innovation in other areas will be needed to meet the predicted target.
One emerging revenue stream is to brand certain elements within an application. For example,
VentureDig, a micro-blogging platform for entrepreneurs, notes that ‘…LivingSocial is an application where users can make a list of their

Business models and revenue streams U.S social network ad spending increased 68% from $4 billion
(£2.53 billion) in 2009 to $7.5 billion
(£4.75 billion) in 2010, it is predicted to grow every year to about $38 billion (£24 billion) in 2015. The 2015 figure will represent approximately a third of all U.S. online marketing spending.66 For some time the biggest question was where this revenue would actually come from and how monetising the product would work.
To achieve this, social networks must overcome the ‘URL’ strategy, or’
Ubiquity First Revenue Later’ method.

favourite things. Big brands, like
Porsche, may want to get in front of their audience and have users speak about their brand in a viral, social networking space. Therefore,
Porsche will pay LivingSocial for each exposure (i.e. being on a newsfeed) to their audience.’68 Marketers have long known that personal recommendations are hugely important in purchase decisions.
Social networks are harnessing technology to accelerate this process by, for example, automatically alerting a person’s friends when he or she signs up to become the fan of a particular brand or product on a site.’ A similar model to branding certain elements is to run a freemium type service whereby the basic service is free but upgrades require a paid subscription. LinkedIn has managed to implement this model successfully and is said to have annual revenues of over $100 million (£67m).
One recently established revenue stream is through virtual currency; indeed in 2008 Tencent, which is listed on the Hong Kong Stock
Exchange, reported revenues of just over $1 billion (£667m), with $720m
(£480m) coming from online gaming and sales of items such as digital swords and other virtual goods69. This emerging model has become known as the Asian model. Similarly virtual gifts surpassed $1 billion (£667m) for
US users in 2009.
It is likely that social networking will broaden to include other types of networking too. For example, in
March 2010, a new application was launched on Facebook, which allows friends to transfer money to one

another. Currently, the application, called “Buxter”, can only be used for sums below £45 and for Buxter account-holders. It can be expected that the sums will increase and use of the application will become easier in the future70.
Business models revolving around the analysis of data, such as Twitter feeds, generated within social networks are also possible although progress could well be blocked by privacy issues. Given that the nature of social networks will continue to evolve and that the coming data explosion will create whole new platforms for analysis, it is quite possible that we are only at the beginning of an era of social network monetisation. ‘There is a pretty strong argument to be made that social networks are worth more than they are being given credit for71.’ ‘There is a pretty strong argument to be made that social networks are worth more than they are being given credit for.’ 71

The next big thing will be geo-networking apps, which use virtual data to broker real world encounters. 74

From the web to the street
Wearable devices - – for example a backpack or visor that can display chosen images and feeds - offering event experiences will become more common by 201272.. Whilst this is envisaged for the event industry, the technology would only require a bit of alteration to become applicable for wider public settings. Without a doubt, location-based mobile networks are the next wave of social networking73. Others note that this trend towards mobile usage is fuelling speculation that the next big thing will be geo-networking apps, which use virtual data to broker real world encounters74.


Privacy/security/permissive marketing Even if someone gives their consent to share personal data for a temporary need, there remains a need to ensure that data cannot be misused. It is argued that the only truly effective way is to develop privacy by design and not leave the issue to be considered after the launch of the given platform or innovative technology75.

By 2020, the
Digital Universe will be 44 times as large as in 2009.

Although privacy and social networks have remained wedded in the press, it is worth noting that all the photos uploaded, emails sent, downloading
MP3’s and other information generally shared on social networks accounts for only 10% of information about that person available in the
Digital Universe. The other 90% comprises credit records, surveillance photos, web-use histories and the like76. Nevertheless, taking liberties with personal information is not likely to generate good will.
It is estimated that by 2020, almost 50% of the information in the Digital Universe will require a level of IT-based security beyond a baseline level of virus protection and physical protection. The amount of unprotected data will grow by a factor of 90 between 2010 and 2020.
The failure to ensure the safety of data on social networks will mark out the losers of tomorrow’s social networking world.


Digital asset management 77
In 2009 the Digital Universe grew by 62% to nearly 800,000 petabytes
(one petabyte equals one million gigabytes) and in 2010 the rate of growth is forecast to be almost as high, to 1.2 million petabytes, or
1.2 zettabytes (a zettabyte equals 1 trillion gigabytes).
Extrapolating this growth means that by 2020, the Digital Universe will be 44 times as large as in 2009, whilst the growth of files will outstrip even that, at a factor of 67. By way of comparison, the number of IT professionals is forecast to grow by a factor of 1.4 whilst storage is forecast to grow by a factor of 30.
Hence, we have a growing gap between the amount of digital content being created and the amount of available digital storage.
In 2009, if people had wanted to store every gigabyte of digital content created, they would have had a shortfall of around 35%. This gap is expected to grow to more than 60% (that is, more than 60% of the petabytes created could not be stored) over the next several years78.
Using reasonable forecast assumptions on cloud services, it is possible to conclude that as much as 15% of the information in the
Digital Universe in 2020 could be part of a cloud service – created in the cloud, delivered to the cloud, stored and manipulated in the cloud, etc. Even more information could
“pass through the cloud,” that is, be transported using a cloud services email system or shared community, be stored temporarily on disk drives in the cloud, be secured via a cloud service, etc. By 2020, more than a third of all the information in the
Digital Universe will either live in or pass through the cloud. Despite the various benefits, not least of which is cost, the migration to cloud services could further muddy ownership issues. The central questions to be clarified remain: who owns the data in networked systems and who will protect and preserve it and for how long? As our ability to store more information has dramatically increased, the lifespan of the mediums we have developed has decreased. Longevity of digital assets
As our ability to store more information has dramatically increased, the lifespan of the mediums we have developed has decreased. Stone tablets, in use some eight thousand years BC have lifespans in the region of 4000 years.
Oil paintings, in use from the year
600, last centuries, whilst modern colour photographic film from 1860, lasts decades79. As technology has advanced, the density of data storage on analogue and, subsequently, digital recording media has increased.
The downside of packing in data is that more of the information will be lost if just a portion of the recording medium becomes damaged.

It is said that the internet never forgets. In the US, the Library of
Congress announced in 2010 that it will be acquiring, and permanently storing, the entire archive of public
Twitter posts since 200681. Owing to potential litigation and of past deeds continuing to haunt an individual, the emerging trend is to deliberately compromise digital data quicker than would normally be the case.
Google not long ago decided to render all search queries anonymous after nine months. An app called
TigerText allows text-message senders to set a time limit from one minute to 30 days after which the

In a 2009 paper, IBM noted that
‘…relatively little has been done to ensure that digital records are accessible and usable far into the future.’ Trying to use a floppy disk today exemplifies the problem – there are very few media that can read them in operation and even if they did, it is likely that some, if not all, of the information will have decayed80.
There is also an implication that ensuring long-term usability is not necessarily a static process. Rather, it may change over time as the intended use of the stored artifacts changes. 31

The balancing of mining data on one hand and its reduced lifespan on the other holds forth several commercial, technical and ethical challenges that social networks will need to address.

text disappears from the company’s servers on which it is stored and therefore from the senders’ and recipients’ phones. Jeffrey Rosen, a law professor at George Washington
University, writing in the NY Times notes that ‘…expiration dates could be implemented more broadly in various ways. Researchers are developing a technology called
Vanish that makes electronic data
‘self-destruct,’ after a specified period of time. Instead of relying on Google or any given social network to delete the data that is stored ‘in the cloud’,
Vanish encrypts the data and then
‘shatters’ the encryption key. To read the data, your computer has to put the pieces of the key back together, but they erode as time passes, and after a certain point the document can no longer be read82.’
Whilst this trend may ensure enhanced privacy, even encouraging more data sharing, the tipping point comes with social networks’ current business models. The balancing of mining data on one hand and its reduced lifespan on the other holds forth several commercial, technical and ethical challenges that social networks will need to address.

Impact on advertising 83
Social networks have the potential to provide better value than mobile alone because 1) ‘…they get an immediate insight from what individuals are saying about their brand, 2) they can identify and understand the influencers of a brand, product and service and work to provide them with the best possible information – allowing them in turn to promote the brand through their own trusted networks and 3) because they will be able to shorten development cycle times as real time information about a product can be fed back to the brand, rather than conducting lengthy primary market research behind one way mirrors84.’
• The transformation from brand led advertising will be driven by individuals selecting what brand information is allowed to reach them. 32

• Each individual will have a digital cog which matches the needs of the individual to their brand affiliation. • We will see individuals identifying brands which match their own needs or interests and granting them permission to reach them.
• Successful brands in 2020 will be those which collaborate with individuals, including them in communities and ratings of their products or services.
• From a mobile advertising point of view, brands/advertisers are yet to come to the party. Within their budget for advertising there is no separate line item for mobile. • With the establishment of industry agreed metrics, the next development along the way to
2020 will be that reach will be overtaken in terms of value for advertising measurement.
• In order to achieve this transition from reach to value it is essential that more is known about the audience. Here we will see a greater reliance on preferences.
• Facilitated advertising - the greater the understanding about individual’s preferences, and way of life, will translate into a deeper relationship between the brands and the individual.
• Peer advocacy in the future will develop to include monetising these recommendations.
It will progress beyond good citizenship to share recommendations or cautionary notes into a mechanism which is rated. • Network influencers will be incentivised through financial rewards, for example, where they have clearly contributed towards a converted purchase85.”
Notes Andrew Gill in a review of a white paper from
Acision and Ogilvy, Mobile
Advertising – 2020 vision.’

3.4 Changing Britain
The composition of tomorrow’s social network users is changing.
The number of single occupancy households is expected to increase by almost 20% to 26 million by 2026
(from 2006)86 for example, suggesting a greater utility in the notion of social networks. At the same time Britain is ageing. The oldest age group is likely to grow the most quickly with the number of Britons over 85 set to more than double over the next
25 years from 1.3 million in 2008 to
3.3 million by 2033. The numbers of centenarians is set to rise from
11,000 to 80,000 by 203387. Onethird of British workers will be above the age of 50 by 202088
The current projections show that the current UK population of 61.4 million would rise to 71.6 million by
2033, passing the 70 million mark by 2029. 55% of the 10.2 million projected rise in the UK population over the next 25 years will come from a natural increase in births over deaths and 45% will be due to more people coming to live in Britain than those emigrating89. Indeed by 2030,
8% of the UK workforce will be from an ethnic minority. Half of all new jobs over the next 10 years will go to people from ethnic minorities90.

by YouGov, Hewitt has calculated the gap between current behaviour and the likely reality as £1.2 trillion – equivalent to 80% of the UK’s GDP in
2008. The age at which people can claim the state pension needs to rise to 72 within 20 years if it is to keep pace with increases in life expectancy, says the Pensions Policy Institute.93.

One-third of
British workers will be above the age of 50 by
2020 88

The older workforce of tomorrow may be more aware of social networks than the eldest generations of today, but given the possibility of social network tools underpinning internal business communications and government service provision, there is clearly a risk of a misalignment of technology platforms and employee skill sets.
Business response aside, it is clear that social networks should be easy to use, intuitive and devoid of any complicated procedures.

Advanced population ageing is also likely to impact government provision for the elderly as well as the business world. About two-thirds (62.9%) of private sector workers are not saving into a pension91, and there is a stark gap between individuals’ expectations regarding their income during retirement and the likely reality92.
Based on data from a survey of 2,000 people over the age of 18 conducted

Government in
Britain and across the world is increasingly being forced to provide more with less.

3.5 Conclusions
New issues will arise, perhaps most notably around the expected data explosion- how to safely and effectively store, categorise and analyse the data will define many features of tomorrow’s social networking world.


Social networks have brought many benefits and innovative opportunities for business, individuals and government to expand what they do and how they go about their business. This does not mean that privacy or data longevity have yet been conquered as issues, nor does it mean that every social network set up will prosper or that existing ones will lead the industry in its progression. New issues will arise, perhaps most notably around the expected data explosion- how to safely and effectively store, categorise and analyse the data will define many features of tomorrow’s social networking world. In many ways the social network (r)evolution is still in its infancy – saturation levels may be reached or near reached in many western societies yet the true benefits are only just starting to be realised. For example, open innovation, a process increasingly responsible for generating innovative concepts and applications for existing devices and triggering the creation of new products and service, is dependent upon collaborative and often dispersed efforts of many people. These people require a communications platform to host

interaction. The push towards open innovation is a result of economic and social trends, but technology – specifically social networking tools
- is enabling it to reach more people, harness a greater depth and breadth of ideas and so help to strengthen the process.
Government in Britain and across the world is increasingly being forced to provide more with less.
Social networking platforms enable more direct public communication whilst the potential for future social networks to enable a more efficient targeting of benefits, needs and even micro-economic policies, awaits.
Up until now social networks have been primarily about individuals.
As the scope of networks spreads, they will empower users with more features; witness the wave of new financial options channelled by social network use and the benefits delivered to educators and students. At the same time people are poised to begin the era of mobile networking; an era of deeper and increasingly more relevant networking. The potential for real time targeted ads flowing from your

Social networks may become increasingly blended with our surroundings, changing from a conduit of personal information into a basis for society.

current environment that are then relayed across your personal network is but one possible reality. However, if the past for social networks was the individual and the present is increasingly business oriented, the future could be said to be truly social.
Advancing technology will bring us SMART buildings, a plethora of internet enabled devices as well as embedded IP in most everyday items.
Social networks have the potential to capture and analyse this information
– in the future your network could inform you that your home’s windows are energy inefficient – leading to recommendations of suppliers generated by your own network. Thus in one respect, social networks may become increasingly blended with our surroundings, changing from a conduit of personal information into a basis for society.
Rather than replace face to face interaction, the embedded mobile social world could well enrich personal connections. The potential data that could be unearthed is truly transformative in its potential.

Imagine if our social networks of friends and contacts decided to excerise our bulk-buying power and pressured service providers and suppliers to increasingly do buisness on our terms.
The potential for social networks to transform established industries is myriad and we’re likely to see this happen in the next ten years.
Whether we get there or not will depend upon many factors – some of which cannot be affected by the industry. However with profits from social networks forecast to quadruple and almost quintuple worldwide between 2009 and 2013, irrespective of the developments mooted above, it would seem that the market is betting on a bright future.

Social networking platforms enable government to have more direct public communication. Future social networks will enable a more efficient targeting of needs, benefits and even micro-economic policies. 35

Social Networks
In 1980, CompuServe became the first online service that offered chat functionality. In 1982,
CompuServe provided wide-area networking capabilities to corporate customers.

Hi 5 launched in June
2003. Has over 80,000,000 users, WAYN was founded in
2002 – now has over
13 million members

Bebo launches in 2005 and becomes UK’s most popular network until late 2007.

2000 - Friends Reunited launched - grown to 23 million today
Twitter launched in 2006 .
Today has over 65 million tweets a day.

Habbo launches in 2000 and is aimed at younger teenagers. 118 million avatars created as of
June 2008

Freecycle, a UK charity launches its non profit network in 2004. As of March
2010, the membership stands at
7,090,000 across 4,775 communities

Social network revenue will grow from
Mobikade launched in July 2007. Social network about mobile phone community. Based in the UK

Myspace launched in 2003. 100 million accounts registered by 2006

World Wide Web officially launched in 1993

Faceparty launched in
October 2000.
Has over 200,000 users primarily based in the UK.

Launched in 1998, Ecademy has over 200,000 members as of June
2010, has 6,000 join up each month through word of mouth alone and is aiming for 10 million by 2050



Don’t Stay In launched in April
2003. Social Network concerned with clubbing, based in the UK.

Virtual worlds grew by 39% in Q2 2009 to an estimated 579 million users

Facebook launches February
Linked In launched in May 2003. Has over 75,000,000 users worldwide.

Wikipedia 2001


90% of fast growing
2009Deloitte Fast
Tech firms have social network presence Reaching 4.6 billion at the end of 2009, the number of cell phone subscriptions across the globe will hit 5 billion in 2010

Development Timeline
25% of enterprises will use social networking data to improve performance and productivity by 2015

By 2012, the
internet could be 75 times its size in 2000

940 million social network users worldwide in 2009

In August
2010, Friends
Reunited is
10 years old and attracts around 1.9m unique visitors a month Augmented reality goes mainstream in 2020

Broadband Britain?
12m 1gbit lines by 2016

Immersive Web: 3D worlds annual revenues of $8-10 billion in 2015.

Digital convergence By 2020, more than a third of all the information in the Digital
Universe will either live in or pass through the cloud Digital Universe will be 44 times as large as in 2009 (in 2020)

Mass of unprotected data to grow by a factor of 90 between 2010 and 2020.

Haptics technology mainstream
2020 – networks get physical

$400m in 2009 to $1,997m in 2013
Semantic web 2018 improves content access

600m people will use their phones to tap into social networks by 2013

May 2010, social networks attract more
UK online traffic than search engines for the first time.
Reality mining more common 2012
Ambient intelligence
2010-2020 renders computers ‘invisible’
Social networks underpin systems

Wireless broadband will probably reach
3-4 out of 5 people on the globe by

Human knowledge exceeded by machine knowledge
Evolving technological ecosystem

50% of business-led social media initiatives will succeed by 2015, compared to 20% of IT-driven initiatives says Gartner


By 2019, nearly half of all public high school courses (US) could be taught online, strengthening the need for social networks

Smart Systems predominate in houses, businesses, public spaces by 2018. 22 billion web-connected devices in the world by 2020
Emerging collective intelligence 2025



About the Author

David A. Smith

Chief Executive, Global Futures and

David is the chief executive of Global
Futures and Foresight (GFF). In his
30 year business career he has held senior management positions in both large and small organisations and has gained real insight over that time on how visions of the future, if properly engaged, can help organisations achieve significant growth and change. He has been involved in public sector, commercial and financial markets and has held sales, marketing and general management positions in companies such as the UK based DRG group and
Unisys corporation, the global US IT services business. Whilst at Unisys he held the position of Strategic
Marketing Director for their $2bn
(£1.34bn) global financial services business. Since co-founding The Global Future
Forum in 2000, the Unisys global think-tank and now Global Futures and Foresight, a futures research business helping business better prepare for the future, he has worked with many leading organisations around the world including; Henley
Business School, Chartered Institutes for IT(BCS), Marketing (CiM),
Purchasing (CiPS) and Directors (IoD),
Microsoft, NATO, INTEL, Siemens,
Cisco, CSC, Royal Mail, HSBC,
LloydsTSB, Reed Exhibitions, Lloyd's,


Mace and many other household names across a diverse set of industries in Europe, North America,
Africa and Asia.
As a regular international conference speaker and writer he has become recognised as one of the most influential future thinkers in our nation. He is a passionate believer that we are not victims of what the future might hold if we prepare ourselves in advance.
He has spoken on UK BBC, Middle
East TV, German and South African radio and appeared on the UK ITN
News channel discussing topical futures issues. His experience has shown him the powerful impact that glimpses of the future afford business and government alike as they seek to achieve their strategic goals. Research by Tim Hancock of Global Future and Foresight


86 87
93 Noted by U.K. marketing agency Wildfire
Robert Bryant of Deloitte UK Spending challenge – accessed September 2nd 2010’s-spending-challenge-fiasco BBC, July 2010
Techwatch, July 2010
LowcostHolidays Blog June 2010
LowcostHolidays Blog June 2010 ‘Pew: Most will access internet via mobile by 2020,’ by Mark Walsh, December 15th 2008,39024667,39193696,00.htm Management idea: The virtual organisation,’ November 23rd 2009
‘UK companies unprepared for London 2012,’ January 11th 2010, BT{8bfd9df3-9fea-4003-b99f-d741d2b8168d} By Lee Bryant
Future of Tourism ‘Are we there yet?’ by Mark Eveleigh, 2008
Sandy Pentland Michael Mascioni. Michael Mascioni is a market research consultant in digital media, and he writes freelance about digital media, video, and other subjects. Notes Andrew Gill in a review of a white paper from Acision and Ogilvy, ‘Mobile Advertising – 2020 vision,’ Notes Andrew Gill in a review of a white paper from Acision and Ogilvy, ‘Mobile Advertising – 2020 vision,’
Guardian, October 2009 Guardian, October 2009
Cattalyst: ‘How connecting with ethnic markets could benefit your business 2009’ ,
FT, August 2010
Hewitt Associates, May 2010
Independent 2010


copyright © 2010 Global Futures and Foresight Ltd.

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