Innovation and social network analysis

Last Saturday at Xindanwei it was all about Social Network Analysis. The event was organized by Shairsm Lab. One of the speakers was Liu Yong, Mainland’s first MOOC (Massive Online Open Courseware) instructor. His areas of expertise are social network analysis and the program Gephi. Around 25 people attended the event. 

 Social Network Analysis event in Xindanwei

Social Network Analysis event in Xindanwei

In social network analysis the connection between nodes is analyzed. Usually the nodes are human beings in a social network, but it can also be done with words or locations. It can actually be done with anything that can be analyzed in form of a network. There are many free software available to do it. Gephi is one of them; it is basically a Photoshop for Social Network Analysis. It enables the user to easily create beautiful visualizations of networks.

The first part of the presentation given by Liu Yong focused on the non-commercial social network analysis. The general discussion with the audience focused then on the commercial value of such visualizations. From it, it can be concluded, that there are two different approaches: On one hand there is the research oriented approach and on the other hand the commercial one for marketing analysis with dashboards. Of course network analysis is just a tool and can be used from both sides. Note that people in the audience had mostly a commercial background.

The second part of the presentation focused more on the commercial potential of network analysis and about the platform ihezhu.com. The homepage of this website shows public transportation connection and also the possibility to search for flats in a specific user selected area on a map. The design is very clean and user friendly. In general the audience was impressed by this platform. Then the discussion switched on a possible revenue model. The conclusion was that they unfortunately did not have found a good way to create revenue so far and they estimate that it will take half to one year to copy their service. 

 ihezhu.com map with public transportation network

ihezhu.com map with public transportation network

Companies like ihezhu.com are good examples of the Chinese Entrepreneur scene. Someone has the skills to operationalize an idea. The next step then is probably the most difficult one: How to create a steady stream of revenue. Time plays an important role, because there is always the danger of copycats. Anyway, a product or service has first to be created, then investors might be willing to invest. Like Bob Zheng from PeopleSquared told us in an interview: “In China ideas are worth nothing!”. Copycats and the hesitation of investors are the biggest drawback. Things are changing right now and there is a lot of support out there to help start-ups.

At swissnex China we are all about innovation and business models this week: This Thursday we have Prof. Yves Pigneur as a guest speaker. He is the co-author of the book “Business Model Generation”. Subscribe for the event here. 

On the weekend of 14th to 16th December, the Startup Weekend takes place here in Shanghai. swissnex being one of the sponsor, we will cover the event and let you know about recent developments in the Innovation scene in China.

Stay connected with us! Soon we will show you a short interview with Liu Yan, co-founder of Xindanwei and we will tell you more about the internet business in China.