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Business News/ Companies / People/  Six trends shaking up our Internet economy

Six trends shaking up our Internet economy

Mohanbir Sawhney talks about key trends firing up the next generation Internet economy

A file photo of Mohanbir Sawhney.Premium
A file photo of Mohanbir Sawhney.

Mohanbir Sawhney is Professor of Technology at the Kellogg School of Management. His globally acclaimed research and teaching interests include marketing and media in the digital world. He spoke to the founders at Founding Fuel on a recent visit to India. Edited excerpts:

What are the key trends firing up the next generation Internet economy?

Trend #1: The rise of Asia and the emergence of e-commerce as a viable, large-scale, operator-driven entity out of China and India. This is a watershed event, given that Alibaba’s market cap is now greater than Walmart’s. For nearly 10-15 years, the infrastructure was not there in Asia. But now, for the next 10 years, it will be an Asian revolution. Of the 10 biggest e-commerce companies in the world, six may be from China and India. And you’ll see the pattern of acquisitions reverse now. You’ve already seen Alibaba make its moves.

Trend #2: In the Western world, a mobile device is now the primary screen. In emerging markets, the mobile-only customer, who has never experienced the Internet before, is taking hold. The default mode of interaction is becoming the mobile device.

Even in the US, two years ago, Facebook’s mobile revenues were close to zero. Now, it is close to 50%. That’s the same for Google, Alibaba and others.

This does a couple of things. Mobility isn’t just a smaller screen. It brings in geo-targeting, location; it brings in the possibility of targeting offers, based not just on individual profiles and preferences, but also on the basis of their situation and location.

Trend #3: We are likely to see the logjam in mobile payments finally being broken. Systems like Google Wallet have been around for a long time. But with Apple Pay, the phone will emerge as a bank, retail store and financial services institution, all bundled into one.

Trend #4: New forms of interaction are emerging with gesture, voice and emotion recognition. Gesture is going mainstream. The next generation will be around emotion recognition, and that will lead to a new level of personalization.

Trend #5: There are 12 billion mobile users now. We are going to get to 100 billion connected devices. That’s the next frontier, with the Internet of Things (IoT, or devices connected to the Internet). Everything you interact with will have an Internet protocol address; your clothes, your car, your devices—all will talk to each other, both in consumer and business-to-business (B2B) applications. This will mean smart cities, smart water, smart cars and smart health. That will lead to a new level of connectivity in B2B and business-to-consumer applications.

Trend #6: In e-commerce 10 years ago, all the data was transactional. All of customer relationship management was optimized around transactions. The new data is all about interactions, which allows you to do some rich behavioural profiling. It also leads to the technologies analysing Big Data and the resultant analytics revolution.

An unabridged version of this interview can be read on

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Published: 06 Apr 2015, 07:03 PM IST
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