The internet is a global resource for the benefit of the many.
The Executive Vice President and CTO at Afilias, Ram Mohan is an influential stakeholder in how the internet is organized and managed. Not only does Afilias own and operate the top seventh top-level domain (TLD) .INFO, Ram is also a non-voting board member of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit entity dedicated to run the “natural resource” of the internet.
Because the internet infrastructure is not sanctioned by any government, non-profits such as ICANN define policies for how the “names and numbers” of the Internet should run, which involves a “bottom-up, consensus-driven, multi-stakeholder model.” The result is a business model that reacts to a wide variety of stakeholder interests and is driven by a creative auction-like system of new TLD submission.
Afilias’s role in this process is very interesting. Not only did Afilias enter ICANN’s auction with 30 unique TLD submissions (an activity which cost the company $185k for each submission), the company also performs and manages all back-end services for any winning bidder in ICANN’s auction. If Afilias wins the bid for any of these 30 TLDs, it’s possible that the company could have won the managing rights to a large revenue generating activity. However, this depends on the demand for each of these new TLDs; will the public see the value in a .RADIO TLD? If it does, Afilias stands to make a large profit based on the business models their customers create for each of these niche TLDs.
On the other hand, Afilias’s managed services division is easily their best laid plan to take advantage of the structure of the internet. Without any upfront costs (such as the $185k per domain submission), Afilias will provide all back end IT services for the companies participating in ICANN’s auction. Based on their standing with ICANN, any company that wins a new TLD will use Afilias’s services on a subscription revenue model.
Knowing of this managed services aspect to Afilias, it’s confusing why the company would choose to participate in a costly auction for new TLDs. Even though Afilias entered the internet infrastructure industry with their winning bid on .INFO, that business model is less efficient than the managed services model they currently are running. The company is betting high on niche TLDs that they hope will spur demand in the marketplace, but knowing how widely used .COM is, it will be difficult to change buyer’s behavior and move to a different TLD. The stakes are high and the potential profits are large for a winning TLD (such as .ME), but the consistent revenue generated from Afilias’s managed services activities is sustainable.
Indeed, the internet is a resource for the benefit of the many. And Afilias has positioned itself to greatly benefit off of the internet structure with its managed services division. As long as more companies participate in building and growing the structure of the internet, Afilias is guaranteed to incrementally share the successes of this global demand.
What do you think about the future of Afilias … or even of the future structure of the Internet?
The concept of big data is not new. We live in a world where each person creates endless data streams, and each digital product and service creates waves of information trailing behind it; the “big”-ness of data is the fact that so much of it is created every day. However, as more and more data points are created every day, the task of making sense of it all becomes a daunting task. This creates an unprecedented opportunity for businesses and entire industries to generate new insights and innovations form exploiting this big data.
The Fox School of Business’s Institute for Business and Information Technology’s Big Data Conference engaged industry and academic experts to discuss two key topics: 1) the potential of big data and the controversies related to its definition and value, and 2) best practices and exemplars for applying big data to transform how we view the world around us. The conference was organized around specific, practical examples, best practices, and state-of-the-art applications that demonstrated business value. Subtopics included fraud detection, customer trends, safety and compliance, media impact, and others.
Big data has the potential to disrupt many established industries from healthcare, to governmental activities. This changing “technological” factor puts extreme pressure on many cross-industry forces. For example: as the barriers to collect data lower (by higher availability of inexpensive data-collection or data-interpretation systems), the rivalry within industries increases. This can be seen in the proliferation of social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, etc) which utilize “free” social data to understand buyer behavior. Additionally, big data changes the power suppliers have across various industries. In healthcare, electronic medical records put power in doctors’ hands to understand a patient holistically. By utilizing insights from big data, the healthcare industry becomes much more focused on the input of data in order to make the output (patient care) more efficient. This inevitably reduces unnecessary costs that are incurred throughout the process.
The conference was concluded with seven big takeaways. The first of which was to “view big data as a business opportunity.” The guests and speakers of the conference unanimously understand that big data is a powerful tool, but interpreting the data into meaningful and actionable opportunities is the next greatest step in harnessing the value of big data. The final takeaway was “think big.” Play-on-words aside, big data has big opportunities. Being able to cross-functionally and cross-industry collaborate with data collected at every point of the value chain puts much power in the end-user’s hands (the example presented in the Open Data Philly movement, a part of Data.gov’s initiatives). Businesses will want to position themselves in a way that allows them to think creatively and innovatively about what data to collect that will be meaningful to them in the future. It’s a game that involves looking around the corner and strategically predicting what information the business will need in the future. By arming itself with data, and the tools to capture, analyze, and store data, businesses can harness the endless opportunities of big data.
What do you think about Big Data? How is your company approaching the big opportunity of Big Data?
I wrote last week that the future of web service is mobile. And as many trends are showing, this mobile future is quickly approaching.
As mobile developers quickly flesh out the application space with newer and more distinguished products, it’s interesting to keep an eye on what is happening also in the manufacturing industry.
I can hear you scoff from across the screen – “What does Manufacturing have to do with current trends in information technology” you ask? Well, check out this Wired video – Atoms are the new Bites -
Just as anyone can create a mobile app, so too can anyone create STUFF.
Behold! The power of democratizing manufacturing!
I did an analysis of 3D printer manufacturing firm MakerBot Industries (whose product is shown here), a small open source start up from Brooklyn, and gave my opinion on how the company fits within the industry (both manufacturing as a whole, as well as the 3D printing industry subset). 3D printing is definitively bringing manufacturing to the masses and is progressively changing the trajectories of both traditional manufacturing and 3D printing industries simultanously.
There are three big implications that 3D printing has for traditional manufacturing. The first is speed to market: the faster a product can get to market, the quicker revenue is created and the more customer demand will be satiated. Second, because firms can test ideas first before scaling up and incorporate direct feedback from buyers before going to market, the risk of going to market falls nearly to zero. Lastly, the disruptive potential of producing things too intricate to be machined makes 3D printing an option that requires less material, less specific advanced skill level, and more useful to a larger number of peripheral industries.
In general, 3D printing will not be used by “everyone to make anything” but rather be used by some to make the things they care about most. While this path will slow down mass production and give options to overseas manufacturers, it still remains a number of years in the future to see what the long lasting impact will be on traditional manufacturing. The ultimate goal of 3D printing and digital manufacturing is to enable the manufacturing of ideas, where 3D printing tools could anticipate on and respond to demand for any type of specific goods. Emerging and established industries and nations alike can reap the benefit of having control over the design, utility, process, and end result of tangible objects. But because this industry is still in an emerging stage of the industry lifecycle, and boundaries are still fluctuating, the extent to which 3D printing converges, coexists, or fails has yet to be seen.
What do you think about the lifecycle of 3D printing?
Check out my presentation about my analysis of MakerBot here: