Constant, significant innovation is certainly a key component in the never ending efforts of large tech companies to stay relevant. Facebook in particular has been in the news a lot recently, dipping their multi-billion dollar toes into every possible puddle, from “Businesses on Messenger” e-commerce prospects to Internet of Things discussions at their recent F8 developers conference. But what is the ultimate determinant of success, at least by wall street’s and stockholders’ standards? Growth. How can Facebook ensure that these initiatives are not only successful, but also continue to grow the company at an almost unfathomable scale for the long term? Mark Zuckerberg knows he has to get Facebook and its supplemental apps and services in the hands of as many people as possible, and he is doing just that with the firm’s Internet.org project.
Internet.org is no small scale feat. With this project, Facebook aims to “bring together technology leaders, nonprofits and local communities to connect the two thirds of the world that doesn’t have internet access.” The two main pillars that this initiative is built on to make it economically feasible involve reducing both costs to receive data and amounts of data needed by ten times. Zuckerberg describes the plan in a video on the Internet.org site:
Amazingly, Facebook has been able to deploy free internet services to seven countries (and counting) via the Internet.org app, allowing millions of people to connect to the rest of the world via mobile phone. The company has even announced a specialized fleet of unmanned drones, codenamed Aquila, with the ability to beam internet access down to people from the sky. Although this idea may seem very futuristic, it is likely something with great potential to help alleviate the difficulties of poor technological infrastructure on the ground of many underdeveloped nations. The Internet.org project has been a result of working with countless telecos, governments, and content partners. It is a remarkable service that provides individuals in these nations (Indonesia, Tanzania, Kenya, Colombia, Ghana, India, and the Philippines) with access to basic information on anything ranging from education to health care to employment and news.
It is essential that managers have a keen awareness of the opportunities present in emerging markets, a notion that will become increasing clear as time progresses. Thanks, in part, to one of the world’s social media giants and Internet.org, the most significant barrier to businesses reaching billions of untapped consumers – simple internet availability and access – is beginning to be overcome. It is inevitable that improving technological innovation and investment by companies in addition to Facebook will only speed up this process – Google’s Project Loon is a great example.
The idea that so many new individuals are gaining internet and social media access every day in developing nations is a game changer. It positively impacts the learning, sharing, and growth potential for both product/service marketing from outside companies, as well as in-country business initiatives. Deloitte partnered with Facebook in a study highlighting the economic and social impact of extending Internet access in the developing world, with the below graphic being one visual that was produced on the value of such connectivity:
As the home page of the Internet.org site highlights, “2/3 of the world is not connected to the internet” – it is clear that talks of Facebook popularity dying, or the firm having saturated all its growth prospects, are quite premature. Facebook has a very solid long term strategy to add value to for both its users and investors, and it will be very interesting to see how such grandiose plans play out in the future. It is likely not a question of ‘will this effort be successful?’, but rather ‘how successful will this effort be?’ One additional note is the fact that Internet.org is not only a hugely beneficial undertaking for Facebook’s business monetarily down the road, but it also allows the company to develop a very positive brand image in a world where a reputation for corporate social responsibility is important. Below are the first TV ads for the Internet.org initiative:
By: Josh Reed @jreed0614