The Motley Fool Interview – Part 4

Customers Pay the Bills

The most intelligent telephone companies are about to become banks, and it’s not clear to me how the banks stop them. I recently met with some bank owners and their responses to how technology is changing their business and their customers’ expectations was shocking.

The Changing Nature of Big Data: Global Networks

We are entering a world where a small retailer, next year, will have more intelligence at their fingertips than Wal-Mart had two years ago. Facebook is going to be a universal consumer database, and it’s going to have more data than anybody in the history of the world, and it’s going to be interesting to everybody on Earth.

So we decided to build a universal market database with all this information in it. We take that Facebook data, we join it with Google data, with Wikipedia data, with Apple data, with government databases, clean it, deduplicate it, turn it around and then offer that as a service.


The Motley Fool Interview – Part 3

Mobile Devices as Fashion Accessories

You put a PC underneath a desk, you don’t care that it’s loud and it’s hot and it’s a power hog and it’s heavy, and it’s an ugly beige cabinet with screws showing. You just want it to be $400 or $500.

On the contrary, you put a phone in your pocket, and you sleep on it or next to it, so you care whether it’s hot. You care what it looks like. You care about the battery life. You care about the radio. You don’t have to be a genius to run Apple Computer. You just have to, every year, make the product a bit lighter, a bit more elegant, a bit faster, and make it a better battery.

So for those who think the price point of mobile devices will taper down and follow the trend of the PC, think again. The truth of the matter is, when the technology goes from being a utilitarian, vocational brick that I put under my desk to being a piece of clothing, a fashion statement, an extension of your personality, a piece of jewelry, at that point, they can hold that price point forever.

Technology: The Companies That Get It

Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple all get it. They understand the power of mobile technology. Google and Amazon are the two hardest working companies in the business while Facebook and Apple are the two child prodigy geniuses.

The Motley Fool Interview – Part 2

Mobile Mercantile Network

We’re moving into a world where the mobile merchantile network will encompass five to six billion people. When products dematerialize into software, the cost of transmitting these goods goes to zero. When your software is on a global network, if you win the first billion people then you will win the next five billion. And these first billion all have something in common, they all spend in convertible currency, generally dollars, and they all embrace American technology. They’re going to spend in dollars. They’re going to embrace American language, American culture, American technology, American values, American ways of doing business. If you can’t win that market, you’re probably not going to stay in the business.

The End of Identity Theft

There’s 100 million organizations in the world that have obsolete credentials. Everybody from the Social Security Department to the 15 million small retailers in India and the five million small retailers in the U.S. Everybody’s got an ID card. None of it works.

A Social Security Card has your name and a bunch of numbers on it. Anyone can use it. A healthcare card is easy to counterfeit. There’s $220 billion in credit card theft every year and there’s a trillion dollars worth of fraud and vice in the healthcare industry, insurance industry, and other businesses. But once you dematerialize your ID, whether it be a credit card, student ID, passport, healthcare card, or driver’s license, into software running on a smartphone, you can’t lose it, you can’t tamper with it, no one can steal it or counterfeit it. Mobile technology will obliterate identity theft.



The Motley Fool Interview – Part 1

Happy New Year! The Motley Fool, a multimedia financial-services company, recently interviewed me about The Mobile Wave. Here are a couple of the first segments. More segments will follow.

The Mobile Wave Will Dematerialize Half of the World’s Economy

The Mobile Wave will do what the Internet Wave could not do, obliterate industries. The Internet Wave affected 350 million white collar workers, 15 hours a week. With the Mobile Wave, we are going to see six billion people running software on a smartphone, 150 hours a week, that is 10x easier to use and 10x more powerful than any application on a desktop. Mobile software today is 100x better and 1000x more ubiquitous than web software was a decade ago. The impact of this will be the dematerialization of half of our civilization’s economy into software.


Dim Future for the PC

The market understands smartphone trends but it completely underestimates the tablet. We are headed to a world of six billion people with smartphones augmented by ten to twelve billion tablets. Everybody with a phone will have a smartphone and everybody with a smartphone will have a tablet. We will see four to six billion vocational tablets embedded everywhere, in cars, boats, planes, assembly lines, classrooms, hotels, etc. The PC is 3 to10x more expensive to operate than a tablet. So why not eliminate the Dell computer and give everyone tablets? The Mobile Wave will create some knowledge workers so there may be a place in the market for PCs but the best days are behind it and the future is looking dim.


Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Mobile Everyday

Black Friday has come and gone. And what images did we see on the news? We saw mobs of people flooding stores. We saw people getting trampled. We saw battles for the last toy on the shelf. We saw lines, lines, and more lines. We saw exasperated mall workers who have been working since 3am.

And amid all this chaos, we miss the real story. The real story this year is mobile shopping. PayPal saw a 190% increase in mobile device transactions from this time last year. By the end of 2012, global mobile shopping will reach $254 billion, and as customers begin to trust mobile transactions, mobile shopping is predicted to reach $730 billion in the next 5 years.

Retailers who don’t make the transition to mobile offerings will lose today, and those who don’t leverage the mobile wave as a whole will lose tomorrow. Yes, as a retailer, you must create a mobile billing system, a mobile catalog, a social-mobile application that allows for gifting and viral couponing and sharing and everything else social. But that is only the first step. That is business survival now. Making your business mobile is the short-term call to action. The fact that brick-and-mortar stores were hijacked by Amazon is old news; these stores will largely die. An Interactive Advertising Bureau study recently reported that 53% of consumers who have stopped to make an in-store purchase have done so as a result of browsing on their mobile phones while in the store. Once again, old news.

The big picture here is the amount of data being generated from the Mobile Wave. Look at the numbers. There are 1.1 billion global mobile subscribers; worldwide mobile transactions will surpass $171.5 billion this year; 30% of all time spent on mobile devices is on social networking applications, and there are 30 billion pieces of content shared on Facebook every month. We should all benefit from this exponential growth of data.

At my company, we are aiming to leverage today’s mobile, social, cloud, and big data trends. I think every customer database on Earth is now obsolete. People just don’t know it yet. If the people that operate your customer relationship management  (CRM) system don’t know it’s obsolete, then they’re either stubborn or out of touch.

People have been collecting customer comment cards for 30 years. They’re tracking in-store behavior. For corporate executives, your customer view is largely limited to when they’re in your store, or using your service, or in your bank. You don’t know anything about them outside of those experiences. Yet you can now gather ten to a hundred times as much data out of the Facebook cloud as you collected from your traditional sources. And you can synchronize it every hour and access it via your mobile device in seconds connecting to the cloud.

The examples of sample behavior are endless. When a woman gets engaged, within two minutes, she tells her friends. We have, via Facebook, a nearly perfect registry of everyone getting married, everyone graduating, everybody changing their name, everybody traveling on vacation. When someone decides he likes a new musical act, he tells his friends within a minute.  There are currently 540 million monthly active mobile Facebook users with the ability and willingness to update personal data instantly. Anyone who still thinks that his or her CRM systems are up to date after looking at this real-time database is living under a rock.

I understand that there are privacy concerns when it comes to Facebook, and I’ll be addressing those concerns in a future blog post. But my point today is that companies should be looking to synchronize all of their customer data with Facebook. Once those permissions are granted, you’ll have a complete 360-degree view of your customers. And twelve months ago, you couldn’t have done it at all. The opportunity here is to turbocharge your CRM systems while gaining deep insight into your customers and your fans.

This infographic serves as a gift guide for consumers. The insights are based on data derived from more than 17 million Facebook users’ “likes” across a number of gift-related categories.

That’s the idea behind our Wisdom product. Look, there are 20 million organizations that have customer analytic systems. They have 20 million different databases. We created a system for all 20 million of them. We built a universal customer data warehouse pulling out of the Facebook cloud, enriching with Wikipedia, with Google, with Apple, and with government data sources, such as the Census. Our idea is to provide this actionable insight to every company on Earth.

So here we go. This is wisdom. It contains more than 17-million profiles in its database. There’s a 20-terabyte database that’s updated every hour and accessible via the Cloud. Who are our Wisdom users? They live in 143,660 cities. Among them, they like 1.7 billion things. So now I’ve got a pretty statistically interesting sample of the world. I mean this puts any survey or poll to shame.

I can apply all the power I’d have in  $100 million worth of polling, but with Wisdom I can apply it to my local diner and to other places where my friends hang out. So we’re bringing it to everybody, small business and big business a like, and to the individual consumer and Facebook user, in seconds to their mobile devices.

The Holiday Shopping Guide infographic, right, shows consumers most “liked” gifts for the year. This is a simple example of the power of Wisdom. This data was derived from analyzing more than 17-million consumers and their preferences.  Using demographic data, we’re able to segment by gender and age and location and education level.

In conclusion, we should be thinking about the bigger implications of the mobile shopping trend. Cyber Monday will soon be referred to as Mobile Monday, and now is the time for companies to take advantage of the Mobile Wave.



Business Survival When Software Becomes Vapor

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”

– Arthur C. Clarke

I’ve always loved that quote from one of my favorite science fiction authors, Arthur C. Clarke.  In fact, I loved it so much that I put it on the back cover of our prospectus when my company, MicroStrategy, Inc., became public in 1998.  Of course, magic then was different than magic now.  In 1998, if you asked me where I was and I responded by rattling off my latitude and longitude perfectly, you would think “wow, that’s a magical person.”  Now you would just say “oh, that’s a person with an iPhone.”

The magic we see today, as the calendar winds down on 2012, is software moving from a solid form to a vapor form. With desktop computers, software exists in a solid form – one must go to a stationary desk to use it. With laptops, software transforms to a liquid form – one could use it along the Wi-Fi waterways. With mobile technology, software surrounds us as a vapor form – one can use it anywhere.

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Washington Ideas Forum 2012

Last Thursday, after returning from an early morning flight from Moscow, I spoke at the Newseum in Washington DC at The Washington Ideas Forum, sponsored by The Atlantic, Thomson Reuters and The Aspen Institute. This video of my presentation is a bookend to my three-part blog series on America’s future dominance – through software — in the global economy. I also dive into two areas of critical product development at MicroStrategy: mobile identity-validation and mobile cyber-security, both of which I’ll talk about in future blog posts.

America’s Future Dominance in the Global Economy

Part 3: The Destruction of Local Markets

In my previous two posts on the geopolitical implications of the mobile wave, I’ve discussed English language dominance over software and how software is primed to displace manufacturing around the globe. Indeed, the mobile wave’s geopolitical implications are enormous and I will be returning to them often in the coming months.  Today, however, I want to complete my three-part geopolitical series by examining the disappearance of local markets that is already happening and bound to accelerate as part of the wave. Let’s revisit the simple example of opening a house or apartment door with software on your mobile device instead of a key. Now expand that thought: If all locks and keys dematerialize to software then one day there’ll be a network that opens a billion doors. You don’t need to get keys from your local locksmith; your keys are on the network. And that network is probably developed by an English-language American software company. When you no longer need a location-based business to make and sell keys, then that is an example of the destruction of local markets. Continue reading

America’s Future Dominance in the Global Economy

Part 2: Software Replaces Manufacturing

As discussed in my last post, thanks in great part to the simplicity of the English language, the only truly successful software companies up to this point in the history of the world have been American companies, sans SAP which, one can argue, operates like an American company despite being based in Germany. American companies like Microsoft, Oracle, and Apple were at the forefront in the 1980s during the PC revolution and then the dot com boom gave way to more great American companies like Yahoo, Amazon, and Google.

Notwithstanding the success of these firms, we are going to look back at these companies’ influences in the 1980s and 1990s and judge them as miniscule compared to American software influence in the decade to come.

As mentioned in a previous post and to prove my point here, think about how and when you used the Internet in the 90s. You used it in an office, in a cubicle, 3 hours a day, 5 days a week. At its inception, the Internet only affected white-collar workers during the workweek. And even in the year 2000, 17 years after it’s beginning, only 360 million people worldwide had access to the Internet. That’s 360 million people out of the 6 billion on the planet, using the Web for 15 hours out of their workweek.

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