Where Is the New Internet Leading Us?

FoursquareSpotifyZendesk & Smartling answered a tough question this past Saturday at the SXSW ’12 panel Discovering the New Frontier of the Glocal Internet: Where is the new Internet leading us?

It’s a big topic, so kudos to Adrian McDermott (VP of Engineering, Zendesk), Dave Altarescu (US Director of Marketing, Spotify), Holger Luedorf (VP, Head of Business Development, foursquare), Jack Welde (CEO & founder, Smartling), and moderator Christine Lagorio (Exec Editor, Inc.com), for tackling it – in front of a packed, standing-room only audience!

Some good insights on where the new Internet may be leading us. #NewInternet#SXSWi twitter.com/nicholas_dahl/…

— Nicholas Dahl (@nicholas_dahl) March 10, 2012







You can check out live-tweets from the session, but to sum it up, four key topics stood out:

  • the cloud
  • frictionless discovery
  • social fatigue
  • global audience

From the Cloud

Is the word “cloud” an overused term? Maybe, said the panelists, but the technology is critical to the new Internet. It’s scalable with no upfront costs, and it can reach users anywhere, anytime and on any platform. The cloud is one of the best tools of the new Internet because it’s accelerating business. (Also, don’t worry: the cloud isn’t replacing operating systems anytime soon.)

Seamless, Frictionless

These two words kept popping up during the panel. The future, the panelists agreed, is all about seamless synching and frictionless discovery. A year from now, people will expect their devices to synch automatically – even across platforms. So, being platform agnostic is a good idea.


@davebalt “Let’s be platform agnostic.” during #newinternet at #sxsw

— Skiver Advertising (@SkiverAdv) March 10, 2012

People will also expect to discover new content that’s relevant to their interests and social graph. Frictionless discovery gives the user the information they want and need. It’s extreme personalization, but that’s what the new Internet is about (me, me, me)Companies like Spotify and foursquare are updating their algorithms to produce the most personalized results to their users, and any business that ignores this trends might be filtered out in the future.


“Big Data powers personalization.” – @amcdermo #NewInternet

— Brittany Aguilar (@BrittanyAguilar) March 10, 2012


Meaningful Results Matter

In the early days, search engines were about the number of indexed sites. But now, search engines are about delivering relevant results for each user. This shift, from numbers to relevancy, is taking place for social sharing too. The new Internet is not about sharing randomly, it’s about sharing purposefully.

Users are overwhelmed. There’s too much irrelevant content coming at them from numerous social media platforms. Social fatigue is settling in, said the panelists, and users will filter out content that isn’t meaningful and personal. Businesses can stay relevant, and continue to engage users, by delivering content that means something to the user.


On social in the future: Social fatigue over next few years. Give me meaningful results based on what matters to me. @jwelde #newinternet

— Madeline Ng (@sfgoodlife) March 10, 2012


Think Global from Day One

Internet growth is occurring outside the U.S., and in languages outside of English. (Only 13% of global internet users are in North America.) Businesses needs to think global from the first day to reach the most users. Provide digital content in users’ local language and you’ll see big results, said the panelists. Basically, you need to go local (with language) to go global (with business). Users want to interact online in their native tongue, so give the users what they want by localizing your digital content (websites, apps, etc.). They’ll thank you for it.

Going global early also protects branding. International copycats of successful U.S. companies pop up quickly, and local language is a great way to defend your brand.

Users want to interact in their native language & pay for things the way they want. Internet usage not coming from US. @jwelde #newinternet

— Beth Gallagher (@GallagherBeth) March 10, 2012


The Evolving Internet

So, there you have it. The new Internet is about people accessing meaningful content anywhere at anytime on any device in any langauge – but that’s only the starting point. These are exciting times, and who knows where the Internet will take us in the future. In the next four years, one billion people are coming online for the first time. How will these new users impact the Internet? We’re excited to find out.

About Team Smartling

Smartling is a software company with the mission to make the world’s content multilingual.