Think Bigger. Aim Higher. Go Further.

Month: May 2011

Are We Hard Wired?

Hardwired Control Matrix

It has been a challenging month at Social Flights.   Our soft launch story was broken by FAST COMPANY, then it was quickly picked up by  THE NEW YORK TIMESBLOOMBERG TV,  FORBESINC. TECH,  WASHINGTON POST, and MASHABLE, then picked up by various other magazines and bloggers across the web.

Huge Interest in The Business Model

Social flights picked up tens of thousands of hits and several thousand members within a very short period of time.  We also received almost a thousand RFQ’s for charter service and our web traffic rank according to Alexa.com is under 20,000 – better than any other private jet broker in the country, including NetJets.

I personally communicated with dozens of 3rd party entrepreneurs that want to plug into our value proposition and we are discussing multiple high value partnerships in North America and around the world.

Are We Hard Wired?

Introducing such a radical approach brings many challenges, especially in the area of customer expectation.  People are hard wired to schedules, and lines, and pat downs, and waiting, waiting waiting. Social Flights was never conceived to dictate on a market how they should fly and to where.  Social flights will certainly not take people someplace where they don’t want to go – like an airport hub for transfer.  Social Flights will never hold a passenger’s dignity hostage behind some hidden cost or irrelevant regulation.

Losing The Hard Wire

We estimate that Social Flights will optimize at about  2.5 Million members – or roughly 5000 people in each of 500 locations across North America.  At that point our service model will begin to “simulate” the selection and convenience of the commercial airlines.  Keep in mind – this system will “simulate” scheduled service except without hard wires.

5000 people X 500 places model

  • This is the point where there will be a high likelihood that 8-10 people will all want to go to the same place from the same place within reasonable intervals of departure times.
  • This is the point where fluctuations in price and schedule such as de-icing costs, landing fees, fuel cost, or seat cancellation policy can be absorbed across the whole system rather than an individual passenger load.
  • This is the point where ground support vendors will commit substantial discount incentives to controlled bundles of passengers.
  • This is a point where the data that is generated by The Value Game and held solely by the players becomes valuable enough to predict the outcomes of future Value Games.

Not An Easy Puzzle to Solve:

Social Flights is attempting to do something that has never been accomplished in social media with such high value shared assets.  We seek to answer the question: Can people organize themselves around the concept of “Value” much like we have organized ourselves around the concept of “Money”.  Based on our earliest readings, the answer is that people are not as Hard Wired to money as those who control money would like us to believe. Looks like they’d jump the first plane out of Dodge if given a chance.

Control The Information And Control The Game

Social media is progressing in a direction where the SM application controls your information – not you.  This is a game that you cannot win unless they let you win.  Social Flights changes the rules by letting you control your own information.  As such, we are growing in popularity among entrepreneurs who are looking for a game they can win playing by a new set of rules.

Social Flights is comprised of 2 components; Social Flights Corporate and Social Flights Travel Tribes.  The corporate application provides vertical integration while the Travel Tribes provide horizontal integration.  Each is hugely dependent on the other, but the travel tribe is where the value is.

Vertical Integration involves information technology; the collection and formation of system data.  This is the information that helps groups stay in contact with each other giving the origin community a portal into the destination community (and vice versa) for a given flight.  This helps airplane operators schedule flights, and it helps communities become attractive to entrepreneurs and other communities.

The horizontal integration is where information originates and terminates.  The Travel Tribe disseminates information on the ground at both the origin and destination.  What happens in a Travel Tribe, stays in a Travel tribe.

The most important aspect of data and information control is the ability to restrict it from communities who are not part of the transaction. Nobody else can know where you are going except you and the airplane operator – that’s what makes the game private.  Nobody needs to know how much you are paying for a hotel room or travel service except you and the service provider – that’s what makes the game valuable.  Nobody needs to know what you are doing on the ground except you and your friends  – that’s what makes the game social.

A Value Game depends on the control of information.  If someone else controls the information – they control the Value and there can be no game. They also control the use of information and the information technology.  Don’t take this point likely; whoever controls the use of the information also controls the technology (vertical integration), not the other way around.   Technology is deployed to the game – the game is not deployed to the technology.  So, if you control the game, then you control the usage and the deployment of the technology; i.e., you control the value.

(Diagram credit and reference:  Seven Faces of Information Literacy in Higher Education by Christine Bruce)

How To Use Data Correctly

There is a raging debate about data usage, privacy violation, and even epic technology data hacks.  The reason is simple – data has value.  Ultimately, data are convertible to value – in some form or another, including money.  That means that data are a convertible currency.  This is not necessarily bad, however, there is a right way and a wrong way to convert data into value.

The wrong way is to steal it from it’s rightful owners

You and I, by our motions, movements, communications and the pursuit of freedom and happiness create a huge amount of data.  This belongs to each individual.  When two or more   people interact with each other – the data they create belongs to them, and nobody else.  This is a very powerful relationship that others seek to exploit.  Equally culpable are those who don’t protect their data and the data they share with people around them.

The right way to use data is to play a game

If you observe any game that people play – from children’s games to sports, and even gambling – they all have one thing in common.  Each player has the same information as all the other players.  The game is largely the ability to influence the information with data. Kids know the probability that a they will be tagged and influence their strategy accordingly – but they all play on the same field. In a basketball game, gravity behaves exactly the same for every player on the team. Poker players know the probability that their opponent will draw a flush – there are only 52 cards.   Stealing Data is like slanting the playing field, stealing cards from the deck, or changing the influence of gravity.

Fair Market Value is a Value Game

The underlying assumption of market capitalism is that everyone has the same information.  Two people holding the same Carfax report can have a rational and fair negotiation about the value of that used car.  As such, the used car market is efficient.  Package labeling, truth in advertising laws, and pharmaceutical disclaimers are an attempt to keep a market efficient so that the market can arrive at a “Fair Market Value”.

The Value Game

The Value Game being tested now at Social Flights is a real life game where real people fly to real places to do real things on real nice airplanes.  There are no badges, tokens, little pink cows, wiggly worms, mayorships, or leader boards.  The Value Game is a real economic game built on real data that real players create, own, and share only with other real players.

How to use data correctly

The Value Game will process a great deal of information to make Social Flights operate efficiently.  Data must be normalized to calculate the probability that a flight will fill so that everyone can make a rational decision about price.  Normalized data can be used to create a seat cancellation insurance policy to reduce price volatility.  Normalized data can help travelers buy an option on game 7 of the World Series, before game 5 has ended. Normalized data can be applied so the player knows exactly how much of a discount to require from a vendor for accepting a coupon. Etc.

The Value Game does not need to know your name, address, phone number, or credit score to compile useful information.  The Value Game does not even need to know such information about your friends, family, or professional relationships.  Nobody needs to know your private information –  unless they intend to use your data incorrectly.  After all, thieves need to know who to restrict your data from – you.

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