Long Tail Markets, Social Commerce and Open Business Models


I'm attending the session on Longtail Markets, Social Commerce, and Open Business Models. The panelists are Philip Evans, Boston Consulting Group (moderator) Greg Steltenphol, adina, Glenn Fogel, Priceline.com, Mark Greene, IBM, Karim Lakhani, MIT Sloan School of Management, and Jean-Francois St. Arnaud, My Virtual Model, Inc.

The discussion quickly moved to whether users will be interested in open identity or not. Glenn Fogel says that his customers just want to get tickets and reservations and move on. Priceline has 17 million customers. They've collected data on these, but most of them didn't volunteer it by filling in preference forms. They gave up this data as part of a transaction. Bingo!

Is this a question o friction? Might not the right infrastructure make people more willing to share information? I have given Amazon all kinds of information about myself over the years. I've done it both voluntarily and indirectly. I do it because I want a relationship with Amazon. As a customer, I enjoy the benefits of having Amazon know things about me, so I willing give them data. (I just bought a book last week from my recommendations list, for example.)

I a longtail world, who has the information about the consumer? Does it go to the user? Is there anyone who scales to that level? Greg Steltenphol talks about correlating levels of participation with access to data within systems.

There was a discussion of whether we should trust for-profits or non-profits more with our identity information. Someone made the comment that for-proifts have an incentive to maintain data, while non-profits do not. As a consequence, the data might deteriorate.

Jean-Francois St. Arnaud showed off a retail model system that shows people how clothes will look on them. Clearly, to build such a model, they have to get a lot of personal data about people. Interestingly as I looked around on their site, I noticed that I had to sign into a particular retailer to create a model. I'd rather have a model that I can send to retailers so I don't have to create it over and over. Apparently this happens because the account you create at one of these retailers is universal and can be used at another.