Business case or prototype

If you love social media you probably already saw the YouTube movie about social media and if it is a fad. It is a very impressive movie showing a lot of statistics about social media. Although I am spending quite some time every day on social media and helping people and enterprises on what they can achieve with social media, I think some numbers require some perspective. For example the time to reach 50 million users of a certain service. My colleague Mark Walton-Hayfield made a nice visual of some of the items that appear in the video:


Before you start thinking that Facebook is far more superior than any other medium please take into account that:

  • The phone was something that was quite costly
  • Nobody used the phone, so buying one was risking
  • There was hardly any infrastructure for the phone, since it was new
  • Same goes for radio: there wasn’t a lot to listen to
  • The World Wide Web had it easier, since some of the infrastructure was already there, as well as the medium (Personal Computer)
  • Facebook is the only service that requires no upfront investment
  • Facebook uses an infrastructure that is already there, even more: if you don’t have access to that infrastructure you cannot access Facebook
  • Facebook ‘just’ extended an existing platform that had already more than 50 million users, instead of creating a new platform and acquiring new users.

Are statistics a fad?

Are social media statistics therefore a fad? No not at all, however you should not compare apples and oranges. You should not compare a service that costs money and needs an infrastructure to be developed with a service that is free and is running on an existing infrastructure. However you can conclude something from the visualization: we now have the possibility to introduce new services on top of existing infrastructure which have no initial investment except for time and which has an immense potential reach at the moment they are released.

If you want to build the next Facebook (or a service that has Facebook’s reach), you don’t need to have millions of dollars, the only thing you need to have is some time and if you want to reach out to the public you can start for a few dollars with online hosting. It doesn’t require a big investment upfront to create a great idea. So are you still building business cases for months, spending a lot of money and time on paper without any tangible result, or are you starting to develop a working prototype? The prototype is cheaper to build and you are likely to be able to present your idea more tangible.

Business cases are for old business

What you choose is up to you, however you can save more money than ever since it has never been so easy and so cheap to get a solution up and running and have access to 1.6 billion potential customers. Off course you still can build a business case, however with the same amount of time and money you have to use for your business case you are probably able to deliver a solid prototype which speaks for itself.