Information-Driven Business
How to Manage Data and Information for Maximum Advantage

Robert Hillard
home > blog > post

For social networks, volume is the enemy of value
by Robert Hillard

In this blog I often talk of the value of information. Information is a valuable asset and companies increasingly place great store in identifying new sources of data about their products and customers.

Individually, we are also quickly assembling a mass of personal information through our social networks. Professionally, the most popular social network is LinkedIn.

When LinkedIn launched a decade ago we enthusiastically started to build our portfolio of contacts. Each contact has a value to us in our career. While that value is intangible it motivates us to maintain the contact as a relationship that enhances our network.

However the volume of our contacts is starting to become overwhelming. In many cases the accepted invitations can be counted in the thousands. Projecting forward a decade, it is easy to see that many of us could be facing a set of contacts in the tens of thousands.

While a list of several hundred people reflected a set of connections that was meaningful in a business context, the accepted invitations that are spilling over are starting to resemble a mailing list more than a premium set of relationships.

The social networks are trying to help by adding data to the mix, enabling us to find out who values our status updates, how our connections are progressing through their careers and who is interested in our profile. However there is an argument that this is perhaps the information equivalent of “quantitative easing”. That is, when we are concerned that the information economy is stalling we publish more information.

The inevitable consequence of quantitative easing is, of course, inflation.

The social network that finds the solution to the inevitable inflation, that is the need to add more information just to maintain a static real value, will have a huge edge over its competitors and perhaps find a new role in the information economy.

Maybe the professional network of the future will allow contacts to degrade and eventually disappear if they are not maintained. It could be that we will augment our relationships with other data about our interactions and hence score their real relevance to us. At the very least we will develop better ways to mutually identify the bonds that have the greatest potential value.

What is most exciting is that the most effective solutions to managing the overwhelming number of contacts that we are accumulating probably haven’t been invented yet. Let’s hope the solutions appear before the networks lose their value through sheer volume.

comments powered by Disqus


blogThe Information-Driven Business blog is published monthly:

2017   2016   2015   2014   2013   2012   2011   2010


Also featured from the Information-Driven Business blog:

Who are we leaving behind?
I was recently invited to deliver the keynote address at the University of Melbourne engineering and IT awards night. I took the opportunity to challenge today’s students to think about the people being left behind as in the move to … Continue reading

The Quantum Computer dream could be killed by Information Management
For years now the physics community has been taking the leap into computer science through the pursuit of the quantum computer.  As weird as the concepts underpinning the idea of such a device are, even weirder is the threat that … Continue reading

Customers smile at the edges
One of the best ways of understanding your success is by measuring how happy your customers are.  To make sense of their response you obviously need to segment customers.  In this post I propose segmenting customers according to the complexity … Continue reading




© 2010-2017 Robert Hillard | Privacy Policy