How will traditional grocers compete against Internet retailers such as HelloFresh and Amazon in the future?

Grocery shopping is a time-consuming activity, especially in todays frantic world where time is of essence to most people. The rise of both partners in a household having stable jobs minimises the time available to do groceries even further. According to market research by US company Time Institute, the average customer spends 41 minutes in a store. Considering the 9 to 5 workday, that takes up almost 5% of your remaining day if you include the hours you spend sleeping. On top of that, sorting your food, preparing it, eating it, and cleaning up will amount to some 3 hours and 27 minutes according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Wouldn’t it be very convenient if you could cut those hours by the time spent doing groceries?

This is what Internet retailers such as HelloFresh are offering. They provide an array of meal plans for individuals, partners, and families, and have weekly changing menus for a variety of food options. Of course they do not actually cook the meal or clean up for you, however they will eliminate your task of having to go out, buy food, and come back. As you would probably guess, this is offered for a premium price, but are consumers willing to spend this extra money for the convenience? And furthermore, is it sustainable to deliver fresh groceries?

If we look at the retail giant Amazon, we can apply the same to a slightly different concept – food delivery, not meal delivery. Its services are already in full operation in the United States and the United Kingdom. An expansion is also planned for Germany, Amazons biggest market in Europe. However, the business model has one major downside that newcomers could not cope with: it is barely a break-even operation. Giants such as Amazon can handle losing out or breaking even in a business model, especially when it comes with positive network effects. Shoppers that are Amazon Fresh customers automatically receive everything Amazon Prime users do as well. Thus they are very likely to contribute to other non-grocery item orders.

Newcomers that step right into the game, offering online groceries and meals only, have the disadvantages that they do not posses a network yet, nor can they leverage losses. This makes it very attractive for consumers to turn to Amazon for example instead of going to HelloFresh.

Nevertheless, this puts traditional grocers at risk because the in-store grocery shopping is increasingly being replaced by online orders. I believe soon enough we could come to a point where grocery stores do not sell non-perishable and non-food products anymore (to say the least), but merely fresh items such as meats, fruits, and vegetables (if it still remains profitable for them to do so), whilst online grocers will take care of the rest.

The grocery shopping industry is in the end still very inefficient when you look at all the points at which groceries can be traced back to. The documentary FoodInc from Netflix states that the average distance a meal travels before it ends in a grocery store in the US is something like 1,200 miles (if I remember correctly). Cutting out the traditional grocer could be a method to reduce that travel distance of food, or at the very least speed up the time it takes for an item to reach your kitchen at home.


It is time to take back control of your data! (…and monetize it)

datawallet monetize data

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Airbnb, Amazon & co. We use online platforms and services all the time. Some more frequent than others. Some for social purposes, others for commercial ones. But what all these platforms have in common: they collect user data. (And we produce a lot of it, up to 2.5 quintillion bytes per day!) It starts with name, email, age, address and goes up to and beyond interests, daily habits, purchasing habits, personal likes and dislikes. Companies use this information to optimize their services, improve their products and for direct monetization purposes. These include showing you relevant ads and selling your data to 3rd parties.

“If you’re not paying for it, you are the product”

A lot of people say they don’t mind. Others revolt and request changes in the terms of use or post messages declaring that the data is owned by them and can’t be used by the platform they posted it on (see ). Either way, these companies make money off your data, if you like it or not.

The question is, is this a future safe business model? Will users not want to take control of their data and monetize it themselves?

Some companies, including Google, are testing alternatives. In November 2014, Google launched an ‘ad-free net experience’. Here users could pay a monthly fee between 1 and 3 USD for ad-free sites. In this case your data is not used ‘against’ you, and revenues come from direct payments by the user.  But you have to pay for it!

New startups are looking at ways to turn this trend around. One example is DataWallet. The startup lets you connect all your online accounts, including Facebook, Amazon and Twitter, to a DataWallet account. It then extracts all user data accumulated by the platforms you use, anonymizes it and then sells it to companies. You are put in control of your data. And can monetize it.

Check it out here:

Make sure you sign up and give it a try! They’ve got your data why not try and make a buck with it?

What do you think, Is this the future? Will we soon have full control of the data we produce online, with the ability to monetize it ourselves? Or will it only run parallel to the current, existing business model?

by Martin Kayser (353884mk)


BBC News, (2015). Google launches ad-free net experiment – BBC News. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Oct. 2015].

DataWallet, (2015). DataWallet FAQ. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Oct. 2015].

Goodson, S. (2012). If You’re Not Paying For It, You Become The Product. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Oct. 2015].

Ha, A. (2015). Backed By Tim Draper, DataWallet Pays Users To Share Their Online Data With Businesses. [online] TechCrunch. Available at: [Accessed 2 Oct. 2015]., (2015). IBM – What is big data?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Oct. 2015].

Makeup Genius: How L’Oréal is transforming and taking over the cosmetic industry.

Along with tackling the premise of information asymmetry in its online web shop, L’Oréal has acted upon a very strategic and innovative way of testing make up with the use of an app that integrates augmented reality within its system. Instead of going to crowded drugstores, being frustrated by the fact that trial makeup is not the most hygienic way of testing the product on your face, and the disability to test products within a short timeframe, this application enables you to test a large variety of L’Oréal’s products anytime and everywhere. In order to establish Makeup Genius L’Oréal cooperated with Image Metrics, a company that creates facial recognition software for video games and movies. This technology enables you to use the front-facing camera as a virtual mirror.

Makeup Genius enables you to have a drastic way of trying on make up with using nothing but your phone. Makeup Genius scans your face and allows you to select from a large range of L’Oréal’s products. The results are extremely realistic, which makes it seem as if you’re actually wearing the products. In order to make this Augmented Reality application, L’Oréal invested 18 months to develop, test, and enhance the application. While developing, the multinational incorporated thousands of products and over one hundred unique facial expressions. You can try out just eyeliner or create complete looks. Once you like what you see, you can save your look and share it with friends, as well as purchase the products online.

Furthermore, another way Makeup Genius removes the hassle of the in-store experience is by allowing you to scan the products and try them on virtually. Since the launch of Makeup Genius, many magazines have appraised the application. Fast Company even perceived L’Oreal to be one of the most innovative companies of 2015 (Mala, 2015). Additionally, more than 10 million people have downloaded the application and have tried on more than 25 million looks altogether, while using more than 65 million products (which is thus 65 million more makeup trials of L’Oreal’s products) (Makeup Genius, 2015).
This implementation of AR reduces information asymmetry in a very significant way, allowing customers to witness the traits of the products in a real life manner, whereby certain ambiguities about the product performance are slightly diminished. However, the product does not allow a customer to witness whether the product quality and user-friendliness is compatible with their expectations.

Will you be the new Makeup Genius user? Would you download the app and use AR to buy cosmetics of L’Oréal?

Making Talking Generate Next Billion Dollar

In February 2014, WhatsApp was sold to Facebook for an unbelievable figure – 19 billion dollars. Within the next few weeks, it was all over everybody’s blogs, Facebook statuses, lunch conversations, and even kids in school were talking about it. People could not understand that a company whose only product is a messaging app could be worth that much money.

4  1   2   5

WhatsApp is not the only messenger out there. Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, LINE, WeChat, and many others are also stakeholders in the industry. They proved to be a cheap alternative to operator-based text messaging via SMS, and they provide many more features that SMS doesn’t have. According to statistics, in August 2015, WhatsApp has an active user number of 800 million, Facebook messenger has 700 million, and WeChat has 600 million. If we just do a simple math and not include all added features that each messenger provides, all chat messengers have a combined valuation of over 200 billion dollars. That’s half of Google or 4 times more than Yahoo!.

Interestingly on the contrary side, all these messaging apps struggled to figure out their revenue model. Evan Spiegel, the co-founder of Snapchat, acknowledged in an interview the extreme difficulty of making a feasible one. Many internet companies are backed by ads revenue. Google, for example, revealed in their multiple annual reports that more than 90% of their revenue comes from ads. One of their many services, Google Adsense, analyzes a web page and provides advertisements that best fit the content of that page. However, most people on messengers send private messages to their friends, and it is impossible to insert any ad into the conversation. Out of privacy concerns, it is also unlikely to run algorithms on user’s messages to provide personalized recommendations.

Realizing this limitation, apps began to expand their service into other communication areas, such as emojis, playing games with friends, sending money, interesting new content, etc. This is a very successful first step. In 2013, LINE reported in their Q2 quarter report, that out of their $100 million quarterly revenue, game purchase and in-game purchase accounted for 53%, and emojis accounted for 27%. Snapchat is piloting the new discovery feature that pushes sponsored content to the user. With the existing ads before playing video revenue model, the company stated that their revenue is estimated at $50 million dollars this year.

In addition to these efforts, LINE and WeChat also aim to build up their own ecosystems. WeChat launched a feature to send money to multiple friends in January 2014. It targets the Chinese tradition of giving monetary gifts to friends and family for auspicious blessings on special occasions. On 2015 Chinese New Year’s Eve, more than 1.5 billion “red envelopes” were sent on a single day. WeChat also keeps a semi-bank account for a user. Besides sending money to friends from the account, the money could also be used to make purchase, refill phone cards, call a taxi, pay utility bills and many more. WeChat has built a successful image within China and it has penetrated into many aspects of people’s life.

In conclusion, the entire messenger ecosystem is very enormous. The user-to-user communication nature allowed exponential growth in the user base. With the vastly and constantly growing user base, companies are able to reach billion dollars valuation within a very short amount of time. The next step, to achieve their billion dollars revenue, companies are experimenting to expand their services into our daily life. LINE and WhatsApp have built up their ecosystem that allows users to call taxis, stream music, order foods, and we can predict soon other companies will have similar strategies to expand their verticals.

Wolfram Alpha: A World based on Computation

Maybe the name, ‘Wolfram Alpha’, is more familiar to science students, but not for all business students. I got to know it because I used it to cheat on my calculus homework during Bachelor since it can easily give you the integral, limit, plot of x*sin(x).

It is a computational knowledge engine that was launched in 2009. It is actually not a brand new technology any more, but it is a revolutionary product that provides a possible direction for the future of information technology. People say it is ‘like a cross between a research library, a graphing calculator, and a search engine’. It looks like a search engine on interface but provides far more than a normal search engine like Google. The essential difference is that it gives you the answer to your question, based on a series of computation and processing of its database. Google can only give you a long list of resources where you may be able to find the answer.

For example, I can search for ‘life expectancy of 25 year old Dutch man’. The result looks like this:


While Google gives you this:


In some sense, Wolfram Alpha is very much like Siri, (though earlier than Siri) to process natural language and give you the answer directly. But Siri works better on natural language and voice processing and focus on more on questions for daily life, e.g. ‘where is the nearest McDonald’s’. But Wolfram Alpha pays more attention to data processing and computation, e.g. it gives stock price, financial figures, return forecasts when you type ‘McDonald’s’. Wolfram Alpha’s target is more about technical people than general public, and this is one reason why it is not known to everyone yet. Most people only care about where is the nearest McDonald’s rather than its financial performance. An interesting fact is that Siri uses Wolfram Alpha as a source of answer and in 2012, 25 percent of the traffic of Wolfram Alpha came from Siri.

Wolfram Alpha is said to be the first applied AI (weak artificial intelligence), since it very closely approximates the ability to ‘think’. As Stephen Wolfram, the founder of Wolfram Alpha, stated in his panel, if you ask Wolfram Alpha for the population of New York City, it will utilize both internal algorithmic work and real-world knowledge in order to compute it, rather than just searching for an accredited answer somewhere on the internet.

On the other hand, it is very different from what we usually think about AI, since we often think that AI is a logic algorithm that tries to mimic the human thinking and learning process. However, the thinking process of Wolfram Alpha is solely based on a complicated process of computation, not trying to replicate human thinking process at all. It cannot learn either. According to Stephen Wolfram, he tried working with artificial general intelligence (strong AI) but failed. He realized that a software can still provide useful knowledge without AGI. That is the reason he invented Wolfram Alpha, to build a smart system that can assemble all the existing knowledge, organize them and bring new knowledge. Wolfram Alpha achieved the goal and its ability to answer queries, organizing knowledge and processing knowledge makes it seem like it can think. This weak artificial intelligence is proved to be very practical and useful now. Maybe it will be a direction of future artificial intelligence development.


Vending Machines in Japan: The Next Marketing Tool?

You are rushing to get your train but want to grab a drink before getting on. Next thing you will probably do is heading to the “kiosk” or the vending machines. In the Netherlands, for a small amount we can easily get a drink or a candy bar from the vending machines at the stations. However, in Japan, the vending machine is much more than that.

Vending Machines in Japan
At first glance, the vending machines are not that different than the ones we are used to. You put coins in the machines and you will get the product that you have selected. However, what makes them remarkable is that there are a bunch of them in Japan. It is estimated that there is about 5.52 million vending machines in Japan, which is even more than the total population of New Zealand (Jnto, 2015).
The vending machines in Japan also include bizarre contents which makes it unique: hot meals, fresh lettuce, cup noodles, flowers, umbrellas and even used underwear. You name it, they have it!

Next-generation vending machines
Vending machines has been already for over 50 years in Japan. However, technology is the key behind that keeps it evolving. For instance, there are vending machines with solar panels and touch panels that can sense the demographic of the customer. This allows the machine to suggest a drink on the display (Ryall, 2010). This is just a small example as there are tons of new features that could be added by companies to make a better user experience.
Recently, the company Kirin even implemented a selfie feature in their vending machine. The vending machine is fitted with a large LCD display and camera. The idea is that you can take a free selfie and share it with your friends through Line, a popular smartphone-messaging app in Japan. The service will be only offered free for those who buy a drink (Ashcraft, 2015). This is definitely a fun and exciting experience for customers. However, in my opinion there are lots of implications and potential in this Selfie Vending Machine. There could be branded backgrounds and localized digital content right there in images with you. Or when the Vending machine is not in use, the display can also show advertisements for products.


Japan is famous for its vending machines. However, it is not just the sheer number that exists in the country what makes it fascinating, but how they make these machines their own in a unique way. In combination of Technology, they keep improving their vending machines and create a better user experience for customers. There is huge potential in these vending machines and seems to unlock new ways of branding. So what do you think? Would we be able to improve our vending machines like the ones in Japan?


Ashcraft, B. (2015) ‘Japanese Vending Machines Now Taking Selfies’,, October 8, 2015.

JNTO(2015) ‘Vending Machines’ ,, 2015.

Ryall, J. (2010) ‘Japanese vending machine tells you what you should drink’,, November 16, 2010.

MOOCs? Which one fits your needs?

Since the beginning of the MOOC disruption phase back in 2012, many startups have emerged. The “big three” MOOCs Coursera, EDx & Udacity accounted for a total market share of 24 million students worldwide. Massive online open courses (MOOC) are threatening the educational industry since 2012. Coursera, the biggest fish in the MOOC industry revealed it hit 15 million student mark in August 2015. The same month EDx, a non-profit joint venture of the prestigious universities Harvard & MIT declared that they reached a total user base of 5 million students worldwide. Sebastian Thrun the CEO of Udacity stated that their platform reached a user base of 4 million active students.

Universities outside the US have adopted a reluctant stance on the adaptation of this new business model. However, universities across Europe may face fierce competition in the near future. As for example the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) will start a pilot next academic year to determine if face-to-face contact can be delivered through their MOOC platform. The 10-month program will be split up in two parts. The first five months (also referred to as the “try before you buy period”) the students can complete their courses on the platform which decreases the cost of tuition dramatically.

Which MOOCs fits your needs?

MOOCs have become a leading resource for students interested in IT and computer science students across the globe. However, the real deal is which MOOC will land you a tech job?

For computer & information science specific courses Udacity will probably be your best bet.  The programs offered at Udacity are designed together with industry giants in the tech landscape as Google, AT&T, Facebook, Salesforce & Cloudera.  With topnotch educators as Sebastian Thrun (inventor autonomous car, project leader Google Glass & co-founder Udacity ),  Steve Blank (Father of the lean start-up methodology, author & entrepreneur) Udacity is unparalleled in the educational computer science industry.

The nanodegree program offered by Udacity has been seen as the main disruptive characteristics of MOOC and is even considered as the biggest treat for traditional education in the online educational landscape. The crux of this nanodegree can be found in the unbundling of traditional curricula into so called ‘’nanodegrees’’. The nanodegrees range from intro to programming to full stack developer certifications.

EDx offers a wider variety of courses when compared to Udacity which has a computer science centric focus. EDx is a better fit for students that are interested in a specific course rather than a specific field of knowledge. In short, EDx offers several categories of courses from outstanding universities as Harvard and MIT. Despite the offering of a wide variety of courses as mandarin for beginners and the introduction to deep science course, EDx loses points on the ability to increase the quality of the user environment.

Coursera succeeded to be a distinctive player in the field. It manages to combine the benefits of both worlds by offering a wide variety of course while maintaining quality.

In short, Udacity may the best solution for oriented students that want to dive deeper and become experts in a certain field. Coursera & EDx are good options if you are interested in a wider range of courses without a specific need to dive deeper in a certain field of knowledge.



Digital Transformation Project: Elsevier and the cloud

Elsevier is a world-leading scientific publishing company and offers over 2,500 unique journals and more than unique 33,000 book titles (Elsevier, 2015). These offerings are unique and therefore differentiate them from the competition. Additionally, Elsevier offers web-based, digital solutions, such as ScienceDirect, Scopus, and Reaxys. These unique services enable researchers, students and other individuals to better consult the content made available by Elsevier (and other publishers). These solutions are just an example of all the Internet features Elsevier tries to implement into their business fundamentals. Currently, Elsevier’s business is shifting from scientific publisher towards a professional information solutions provider. Elsevier’s CEO Ron Mobed is encouraging the business to ‘Lead the way’ (Mobed, 2014). From this corporate vision, we can infer that Elsevier is striving to implement new technologies in order to disrupt the publishing industry.

To generate revenue, Elsevier mainly sells access to scientific journals to its customers. The value proposition Elsevier offers is that they consult the institution how to generate revenue with their services. The demonstration of this value proposition is done on a yearly basis by Sales directly to the institution. However, these business-to-business negotiations are transforming due to emerging technologies, which for example result in the increase of consumer informedness (Li et al., 2014).

To control this transformation (e.g. consumer informedness) and provide other complications regarding technology development, we propose an online application driven by cloud computing. It is an online platform where the institution can login, create and adjust similar metrics as currently shown by Sales. This innovation will further expand the current concept of Elsevier’s value to the institutions, but will introduce risk since institutions are not required to contact Elsevier anymore for these metrics. The same focus will remain, where not only the value of their investment in Elsevier is presented, but also how Elsevier’s services contribute the institution‘s revenue through an increased institutional competitiveness and collaboration among researchers. Competitiveness will help the institution to gain a better market position and earn more out of four sources: block funding, project funding, commercial monetization, and tuition and endowment. Collaboration among researcher will improve the quality of their research, which will lead to better publications and will result in more value for the institution. In conclusion, the online application will lead to more captured value for Elsevier and lead to more value and revenue for the institution.


Elsevier, 2015. At a Glance. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 7 October 2015].

Li, T. et al., 2014. Consumer Informedness and Firm Information Strategy. Information Systems Research, 25(2), pp.345–63.

Mobed, R., 2014. Elsevier’s vision. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier. Internal employee presentation.

Pinterest for Business

Companies around the world are using various social networks to promote their businesses and market their products. Although, one of the lesser known social networks among businesses is Pinterest, it has carved out a valuable niche for itself. At first glance this network seems to be all about home décor, food, and fashion. How can it be relevant for business?

Pinterest For Business

Pinterest has an active user base of 70 million members, this creates a great opportunity for businesses that want to drive traffic and new sales to their websites. Especially for lifestyle brands Pinterest is great fit as it is a scrapbooking network that focuses mainly on lifestyle. Because of this other companies might be skeptical to use Pinterest due to its limited marketing capabilities. This is unfortunate because there are a lot of ways Pinterest can help a business increase traffic to its website. Pinterest can connect users directly to the website of a business. Thousands of eCommerce sites now cite Pinterest as one of their top referrers for traffic to their websites. Data show that Pinterest drives more Web traffic than any other social network.

Pinterest is used as an online shopping catalog with 70% of people using it to get ideas on what to buy online. An industry study found that the orders coming from Pinterest increased by 79% from last year. In addition, a survey carried out by SocialMouths found that Pinterest generates trust among consumers. They trust the information provided on Pinterest more than on Facebook or Twitter. Also, the users of Pinterest are twice as likely to engage with brands they support than users of Facebook. This can provide more opportunities for brands to market their products and get fans clicking onto their websites.

Pinterest is a perfect social network to reach a female audience. 80% of Pinterest users are women. The average user is 25-45 years old and 50% have children. If a brand is focusing on this consumer segment than Pinterest should be its most important social network. Also, if businesses feel they have exhausted other social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest is a great opportunity for reaching new audiences. Pinterest pins last on average three and a half months. That is 1600 times longer than Facebook where a post could last for just 90 minutes. This does not mean that the posts disappears, they just are not shown in the user’s newsfeed.  With Pinterest businesses can drive traffic to their websites for weeks after they create a post.

Most importantly, Pinterest is extremely easy to use for companies. The process to create pin boards and populate them with images is not complicated and businesses can start directing traffic to their websites straightaway. Pinterest also offers helpful analytics tools that businesses can take advantage of when marketing their products. These tools provide insight into which pins are performing best and how much traffic they are generating to the website. 80% of the pins on Pinterest have been repined from someone else therefore, Pinterest does all the hard work and generates traffic to the website without businesses having to work hard for it.

A new “Buy Pin” is coming soon that will let users purchase products without leaving Pinterest, using a credit card or Apple Pay. This will create the possibility for consumers to buy a product directly as they see it on Pinterest without the extra clicks of visiting the website. This can generate a lot more sales for businesses. Therefore, in the future Pinterest will businesses’ number one network for generating traffic as the opportunities this network provides are greater than may seem in the first place. What do you think?



When will computers become smarter than humans?

If Moore’s law keeps continuing, there will be a point in time where computer processing power exceeds the processing power of the human brain. Faster computers could have a huge impact on everyday life and the tasks that we perform. To give a deeper understanding of how fast the brain we will use the estimation of the processing power of the human brain that has been made by Dharmendra Modha, IBM Fellow and IBM Chief Scientist for Brain-inspired Computing. He estimated that the brain has 38 pentaflops of processing power, which is a thousand trillion or 38,000,000,000,000,000 in numbers. Flops stand for floating point operations per second and is an indicator for the processing power of the CPU (Central Processor Unit).  Some estimated examples to put the human brain into perspective:

Iphone 6 has about                                           6,250,000,000 flops.
Samsung S6 has about                                  33,000,000,000, flops.
Nintendo Wii U has about                            333,000,000,000, flops.
Playstation 4 has about                             1,833,000,000,000, flops.
Tianhe-2 upercomputer has about    33,860,000,000,000,000 flops.

As you can see the world’s fastest super computer’s computing power is getting close to equal the human brain’s processing power. But when will the commercially available processors surpass the processing power of the human brain? The fastest commercially available are the Core i7 5960X and 5930K, which have about 354 gigaflops (354,000,000,000). According to Moore’s Law (with the help of multithreading and service-orientated architecture) it would take another 32 years before processors faster than the human brain would be commercially available.

artificial intelligence

Processing power is one thing, modeling software to behave and think that surpasses human knowledge and rationale is another. Artificial intelligence is already being developed, but is nowhere near human intelligence. The combination of super fast processors and software that can improve other software could lead to exponential technology development. This could bring many benefits such as human augmentation, robots that will do a lot of human tasks and increased efficiency in everything that is computerized. We also have be cautious when the technology develops at an exponential rate, as artificial intelligence could “outsmart” human beings. By looking at the current trends in the development of processing speed we could definitely say that there are some exciting technological developments/revolutions to come.

References, (2015). Forbes Welcome. [online] Available at:, (2015). Processing Power Compared. [online] Available at:
Puget Systems, (2015). Linpack performance Haswell E (Core i7 5960X and 5930K). [online] Available at:, (2015). Dharmendra S. Modha – IBM. [online] Available at:
started, I. (2015). Intel processors: what you need to know to get started. [online] TechRadar. Available at:

Bitcoin The Disruptor

Bitcoin the disruptor.

You must have heard of the digital phenomenon bitcoin. Most of you are probably not familiar with the underlying technology and how this very technology can disrupt almost everything that has to do with how we use money.

What is bitcoin?

Bitcoin is digital money, more accurate it is a crypto currency. It is the first and most known crypto currency, but there are a lot of other crypto currencies called “altcoins”. Bitcoin is a protocol (like HTTP for web browsing or SMPT for emailing) with the function of sending and receiving payment information. The bitcoin protocol works as follows: a computer connects with and sends binary codes to another computer, providing you with the control of X bitcoins on the first address and the command to increase them with X bitcoins on the other address.coin

Must sound familiar right, like internet banking you say? Well, you are almost right, except that you are completely wrong.

Bitcoin is a completely decentralized payment protocol, which means no bank is in control of your money. It is a gigantic public ledger containing all of the transactions made from the start, while being saved on millions of computers. Anyone can obtain an identical copy of the ledger and view the transactions in it. Bitcoin transactions are (almost) instant, almost free of transaction fees (about a penny) and most important no one has the control over your money.

How are bitcoins made?

To understand the disruptive nature of bitcoin you will have to understand the underlying technology. It is actually not bitcoin that is disruptive, but the technology driving bitcoin, the so called “blockchain”. Bitcoins are being created by running software on a computer, which in crypto currency terms is called “mining”. The software is adding and verifying records of recent transactions on the public ledger and compiling them to a “block”. Each of these blocks are added in a chain after each other and form the “blockchain”. These blocks will never bminee altered. Besides containing al this transaction data each block also contains a mathematical puzzle. The computer that solves this puzzle receives bitcoins in return. The processing of all these transactions and verifications while solving this mathematical puzzle are incentivized by bitcoins. Therefore, this makes maintaining the network profitable. Bitcoin has a controlled supply, as the total of bitcoins that will ever be made is finite. A total of 21 million bitcoins will ever be mined, which is hard-wired in the bitcoin protocol.

What is the potential of bitcoin?

Little to none transfer costs. Remember that extra euro on top of your bill while ordering food via and paying with iDeal? These are typical transaction costs that bitcoin can get rid of. If you look at transaction costs at a larger scale you could see the huge impact bitcoin could have. Credit card fees are typically between 0.75% and 5% and for a transaction oversees these costs could quadruple. By cutting all of these transaction costs consumers and merchants will have more money to spend.

Transactions are being processed within 10 minutes. If you transfer money between (different) banks the delay is 1 – 14 days, depending on the banks.

Bitcoins are accessible to everyone with an internet connection. This could have a great impact on the people living in third world countries. Even in the poorest of countries most people have access to mobile phones. It gives everyone an alternative to their own inflation-subjected currency. As there is only a certain amount of bitcoin that will ever exists, bitcoin is not subjected to the economical phenomenon of inflation.

bitcoinbankIn medieval times when you deposited money in the bank and got a value paper in return, the banker actually had the same amount of all the value papers in his safe. When the first banker decided to lend money to other people and ask interest in return, money was created out of nowhere for the first time. This is how banks created money, which has not existed before. This is how inflation started. With bitcoin banks would no longer be necessary (or at least not in their current form), as people can borrow or lend their money straight from other people. As there is a limit to the amount of bitcoin there will be no inflation due to extra bitcoins being mined.

What is the potential of the blockchain?

The blockchain offers decentralized storage. Decentralized storage means no censorship, fraud or third party interference. Imagine decentralized email servers (peek-a-boo NSA), uncensored internet (google for China), smart contracts (fully automated contracts) and databases that are near to impossible to hack (Ashley Madison).

 As with most disruptive technologies there is resistance, as disruptive technologies will take away the power of the ones dominating the current technology. Bitcoin and the blockchain will face many challenges and will be put under a lot of pressure, especially by the huge financial institutions. But as more and more people and corporations see the potential we could definitely say that bitcoin and the blockchain are here to stay.

References, (2015). Bitcoin Forum – Index. [online] Available at:

Frisby, D. (2014). Bitcoin.

Nakamoto, S. (2008). Bitcoin: A Peer-To-Peer Electronic Cash System. [online] Available at:

Recurrent neural networks and why you should care


“21 Of The Most Life–Changing Food Magazine Moments Of 2013”

“Why Are The Kids On The Golf Team Changing The World?”

“John McCain Warns Supreme Court To Stand Up For Birth Control Reform”


Take a look at the above headlines. At first glance, they might seem completely typical, not unlike the stories on the front pages of more clickbait-y sites like BuzzFeed or Gawker.

In fact, those aren’t real headlines: a computer algorithm has generated them. The model was trained using 2 million real headlines from websites like the ones mentioned above. After three days, it was able to output grammatically correct, vaguely real sounding headlines like these. The model achieved this through the use of so-called recurrent neural networks (RNN).

Artificial neural networks have been used in machine learning for a while. They are a simple representation of the functioning of a human brain: a network of nodes (neurons), with connections between them (synapses). Each of the neurons takes its input and transforms it to an output, while each synapse is assigned weights. This neural network is then ‘trained’ to transform the initial input to your desired output, by adjusting the weights of the synapses.

If that makes little sense, consider the above diagram: The first layer of neurons simply looks for lines, corners, or colors in the input image. The next layer interprets those to look for shapes or components, like ears or a nose. This continues through the layers, until the top neurons are able to identify the image as a cat with 90% certainty. For a more detailed explanation, feel free to visit Google’s research blog.

A recurrent neural network improves on the basic concept by also feeding its state at a past timestep into the current timestep. Essentially, this makes the model very suited for operations on sequential data, like text sentences. This is exactly what happened in the experiment above. The theoretic foundations for RNNs were laid a long time ago, but recent advances in computing hardware have made it possible to actually put them to use.

Now while computers generating headlines for blogs is cool, it doesn’t add much value. Luckily, RNNs can be applied to more useful problems as well. For example, Google relies on RNNs for natural speech recognition to power their voice assistant, Google Now. The same goes for the feature in Google Photos that allows you to search for ‘sunset’ and returns only those pictures you took with a sunset in them, and nothing else. They can be used to automatically classify movie reviews by general sentiment (very negative, neutral, positive, etc.). They can be used to predict stock prices of the S&P500. And so on.

In short, recurrent neural networks are what happens behind the scenes of many IT applications that make you go ‘Wow’.

First Phonebloks, now BLOCKS!

It has been a while since we saw the first glimpses of a modular smartphone idea called Phonebloks. The video below made by Dave Hakkens got quite a bit of attention and was shared a lot. As he pointed out that a lot of electronics get thrown away although most of its parts are still fine. With a modular smartphone you would be able to easily replace a broken part or upgrade an old part. As of this moment this video has been watched 21.462.844 times already.

After all the media attention they partnered with Motorola because they were already working on a modular smartphone for over a year at that time. In October 2014 Motorola got acquired by Lenovo, but the modular phone project stayed at Google and goes under the name of Project Ara. When the official release for the final product will be is unclear.

The reason for mentioning Phonebloks and Project Ara is that with the same idea behind a modular product Blocks wearables just started a Kickstarter campaign which reached their target of $250.000 within the hour and are currently above $500.000,-. What do they sell? A modular smartwatch, which can be customized for everyone’s needs.

Their main selling point is that not everyone is the same and we all use different things in our phones and soon watches. Not everyone who buys a smartwatch will use it in the same way. With the different blocks in the band or strap you can choose what options you would like to have in your watch. As an open platform everyone will be able to participate and build modules for the watch. Some of the options are: GPS, NFC, Extra Battery, Heart rate module, fingerprint reader, temperature sensor or a Simcard slot. By letting people select the modules they want there will be no unneccessary waste.

Check it out! What do you think? Are modular devices the future?



In-store analytics: tracking real-world customers just like online shoppers

A big advantage for online retailers compared to brick-and-mortar retailers is that they see exactly what their costumers do on their site. For example, the online retailers can see which products costumers have considered before they bought something. Brick-and-mortar retailers are now looking for more sophisticated ways to understand customer buying behaviour and want to take advantage of tempting insights from technology and data analytics (Techrader, 2015).

One of the ways to do this is by tracking customers with Wi-Fi hotspots and surveillance video cameras. The combining data gathered by those two technics creates detailed information of customer behaviour going into, and moving around the store. This data will be brought together with sales systems and transactions data to “build a picture of how well a store front serves to bring customers in, where shoppers go within the store, whether the layout makes browsing easy, if checkout queues are losing customers and other insights into customer shopping habits and needs” (Techradar, 2015). People do not need to connect to the Wi-Fi hotspot of a location to obtain the location data. When you leave your Wi-Fi connection active, your phone will effectively leave a digital footprint, his MAC-address. By adding the content from the cameras, the information becomes more granular and detailed (like making gender and age profiles). But also reactions and emotions of shoppers can be tracked. This is off course very useful information for a store to decide were to place specific products or how customers experience the sales force.

What do you think, will this be a big thing in about 3 years? And is this even possible with the current privacy laws? Is there a possibility that shops will lose customers by implementing this technology in their stores? Maybe people will accept this because they are used to being tracked on the internet and they do not care anymore.


Mathematics, French and… Programming!

back-to-school-537x402Most people of our generation grew up learning languages like Dutch, French, English and German. It was obvious we were taught these languages as they were spoken in countries adjacent to us. Nowadays, as companies become more globalized, languages like Chinese, Spanish, Arab or Hindi gain more popularity because of the large amount of people that speak them. Governments and parents pressure their citizens and children to learn more languages. But some languages are still often overlooked: Java, HTML, C(++), PHP, Python.. programming languages!

However, not all governments overlook the importance of programming languages. Finland for example, the home of tech companies like Nokia and Supercell, has become one of the first countries to make learning programming compulsory for schoolchildren. Starting from 2016, pupils aged between seven and 16 will the learn the basics of programming in a renewed national core curriculum. This does not mean that children will have to sit through boring programming classes, instead it will be integrated into other subjects. A main focus will be on areas like practical skills, creative working and safe use of technology. A subject like mathematics could for example include assignments where pupils will have to write a script to perform calculations. More exciting subjects could integrate coding by applying it to for example product design or manufacturing.

Finland is not the first country to see the importance of introducing children to the world of coding. Estonia already implemented programming into their education in 2012 and the UK introduced a new computing curriculum in 2014. It is to be expected that many more countries will follow, as the introduction of programming into school curriculums is become an international trend. Technology has become a big part of nowadays’ daily life, with everyone – from pupils to elderly – using smartphones, tables and notebooks to communicate with each other.

What is your opinion about this new international trend? Do you wish your elementary education included programming, 10 or 15 years ago?

– 377578nb

Nice: a user-centred, open-innovation ecosystem. But how?

When entering the area of innovation there seems to be no single best way to do it. All over the business landscape we see companies with traditional R&D departments, skunk projects, incubators, venture capital-departments and so on. I would like to introduce you to what they call a ‘living lab’. Embraced by firms like WalMart and McDonalds, but also IBM and the Santander Group. So what is it?

A user-centred, open-innovation ecosystem, often operating in a territorial context (e.g. city, agglomeration, region), integrating concurrent research and innovation processes, within a public-private-people partnership.

That sounds awesome, but how do you set this up? As said, there seems to be no Holy Grail. Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble came to a similar conclusion while writing ‘The other side of Innovation: solving the Execution Challenge’, in which they stated that having employees dedicate a fixed amount of time to innovation, handing out bonuses for innovation or having a ‘playbook’ for innovation seems to encourage incremental innovation more than disruptive ones. However they did find that companies need to build so called ‘innovation machines’, which should embody a clear set of rules:

  • Attract people from outside the company, and doing so without constraints, makes them hire rule breakers instead of perfect stereotype employees
  • Be free of some of the metrics that dominate the rest of the corporation. Though so called ‘skunk works’, small autonomous units, should be avoided.
  • Maintain integration with the rest of the company, incorporating e.g. some staff to allow them to tap in to other company resources and departments.
  • Create dedicated management rules: generic company management rules might not be applied, e.g. accountability should be on the amount of lessons learned or ideas generated instead of budget control.

If you truly want to start innovating from within, the general thought has to change from innovation = ideas towards innovation = ideas + leader + team + plan. In which we identify that the disruptive innovations come from the best ideas, but need to be managed by someone who steps up and drives the execution continuously. Next to a leader you will need the right project team, which will enable you to actively develop and improve the (business) plan.

Still, if you have these innovative machines, why choose a living lab instead of your ‘regular’ R&D department? Living labs have proven to be a more ‘hands-on’ approach to development. They aim to involve users earlier in the process allowing them to search for deeper customer needs and discover new user cases. It bridges the gap between technologic development and the development of services and products, through the participation of all relevant stakeholders (companies, governments, research institutions and citizens). Meanwhile given them an easy understanding of the social and economic consequences of the introduction of innovative products and/or services.

And it might be for these reasons that we have seen increased corporate activity throughout the years in the area of this innovation machine. And though, as stated earlier, the Holy Grail is yet to be found (question remains, is there such a lab setting?). Mr. Pallot found that specifically living labs should be based on four other principles: co-creation, exploration, experimentation and evaluation.

  • Co-creation should be aimed at bringing together different points of view, sustaining ideation (e.g. new scenarios, concepts and related artefacts).
  • Exploration requires stakeholders to exploring the product or service usages and behaviors in live (or virtual) environments.
  • Experimentation on a large(r) scale should be implemented to collect data that could be analyzed later on during evaluation.
  • Evaluation of the ideas looks at various dimensions (socio-ergonomic, socio-cognitive and socio-economic) that should be addressed. In each, observations should be made on the potential of adoption of the newly found concepts.

Besides these four principles, living labs should be a place of open innovation. It relies on the assumption that companies cannot rely solely on their own R&D because knowledge is so widely spread.

Well, there you have the methodology. But if you want it to be effective, who should you incorporate. Most of the time you see a combination of the earlier mentioned four different stakeholders, including end users, corporates, educational/knowledge institutions and the (local) government. But what do they gain? End users often want to influence the development of products they use themselves, while companies try to make their road to innovation shorter by directly receiving feedback and thus creating a product that satisfies customer needs. Often theory is not put into practice, and that is why institutions that focus on the gathering of knowledge are often heavily involved in these labs. While governments often gain the same knowledge, they try to use this knowledge to cut costs. To see if there are any innovations out here that might make executing public services more efficiently. What do you think should be the objective of a so-called living lab?


Govindarajan, V. and Trimble, C. (2010). The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge. Harvard Business Review.

Pallot, M. (2009). The Living Lab Approach: A User Centred Open Innovation Ecosystem. Webergence Blog.

Technology Innovation Management Review (2012). September 2012: Living Labs. Carleton University

Hacking a bank: ‘Low risks, high returns’

Banks use information systems to keep record of all the transactions that happen. This system is created by humans. Does this mean it is possible to hack it? And I am not talking about the ‘simple’ hacking. Like phishing, where the perpetrator sends out legitimate-looking email in an attempt to gather personal and financial information from recipients. I am talking about the real deal: getting into the system of a bank.

This year, hackers stole 650 million pounds of 100 financial institutions. The hackers infected the internal systems of several banks with malware, which enabled the hackers to see video feeds from supposed secure offices. After they discovered the banks cash handling routines, they transferred millions of pounds into dummy accounts, which were created by electronically pretending to be a bank employee (Telegraph, 2015). This hack is known as the biggest bank raid in history.

A few years earlier, in 2013, hackers broke into the system of two banks and increased the credit card limits of customer. They made copies of the physical credit cards, which they used to get money out of ATMs. In a few hours 45.000 withdrawals from ATMs were made by accomplices. The total estimated damage is 34,3 million euro. Some of the accomplices were caught, but the hackers are still as free as a bird (, 2013).

I bet there are hackers active right now in internal systems of the banks. These hackers are not found yet, or will never be found. The hackers who stole 650 million pounds made the mistake to let a cash machine spit out money at random times. If this mistake was not made, the chance that they were discovered would be very small. After the cash machines spitted out money, the bank informed Kaspersky Lab, a Russian cybersecurity firm. They found out about the hack and made the following statement: ‘The plot marks the beginning of a new stage in the evolution of cybercriminal activity, where malicious users steal money directly from banks, and avoid targeting end users’ (Telegraph, 2015).

Being a cybercriminal is a very lucrative business. The chance of being caught is low and the returns are high. None of the hackers got caught, only some of the helpers. So is it possible to hack a bank? Yes, and as long as they do not detect you, it never happened.


Telegraph (2015) ‘Hackers steal 650 million in worlds biggest bank raid’, 9 October 2015 (2013) ‘Hackers stelen in uren 34,3 miljoen euro bij banken’, 9 October 2015

How to start a [tech] start-up?

I’m an information geek.

And I’m going to share with you some useful sources. This time on how to [successfully] start your start-up.

How to start a start-up lectures
 Everything you need to know in order to start a start-up

Best lectures from Harvard. Read by Ben Horowetz (Facebook founder), Peter Thiel (PayPal founder) and folks like that.
Well. Thanks, I’m done. This is all you need to know, to launch a start-up.

Ultimate growth hackbook
 More than 70 innovative growth hacks

I was reading this guide, and after every second post I was like: “How did they come up with that?” or “Does that really work?”. Everything from “5.15 Show a dancing cat” to “6.2 Establish partnerships”.
And even if you don’t have a start-up, it is just fun to read! 

Blog that truly is your sidekick 
 The hacks and knowledge every start-upper dreams of

Cool reads. As well a lot of creativity is coded in. Just a minute ago read an article about how to get an email just from the social networks. As well this is more oriented towards the growth hacking and marketing in general.

300+ Free tools for your start 

 Well… More than flippin 300 free services from all around the web

“Freemium” model is awesome [and “free” model as well]. When I stumbled upon it the first time, it was even hard to comprehend that there are so many services, which basically can survive by giving free services, and then…

Annie Cushing’s Must-Have Tools 

 Definitely more than 300+ free tools and services

… and then I was astonished by this. The collection is so massive, that I didn’t even feel like going into it. For short representation: Just the titles of the spreadsheets include: SEO Analysis; Domain; Links; Keyword; Competitive analysis; Tracking; Social; Spam/Hacking; Structured Markup and 5 more.

Some additional sources that are worth checking:
As already mentioned in my previous post: Mattermark is the go-to place for start-up news. As well as Evergreen which gives a nice insight into more elaborate problems. Read as well Crunchbase to learn more about the evaluations and seeding rounds of the start-ups.


The Future of the Internet Is Flow

About a week ago, I came across this very interesting article in The Wall Street Journal about the Internet, and where the Web is going. The authors stated that The Web was a brilliant first shot at making the Internet usable, but it backed the wrong horse. It chose space over time. The conventional website is “space-organized,” like a patterned beach towel—pineapples upper left, mermaids lower right. Websites are divided the same among the web (hence it’s a web). Instead it might have been “time-organized,” like a parade—first this band, three minutes later this float, 40 seconds later that band, like a river flowing by.

So let’s skip the theory and see how this goes into practice. The authors argue that your future home page—the screen you go to first on your phone, laptop or TV— will be a bouquet of your favorite streams from all over. News streams are blended with shopping streams, blogs, your friends’ streams, each running at its own speed. This home stream includes your personal stream as part of the blend—emails, documents and so on. Your home stream is just one tiny part of the world stream. You can see your home stream in 3-D on your laptop or desktop, in constant motion on your phone or as a crawl on your big TV.

By watching one stream, you watch the whole world—all the public and private events you care about. To keep from being overwhelmed, you adjust each stream’s flow rate when you add it to your collection. The system slows a stream down by replacing many entries with one that lists short summaries—10, 100 or more.

An all-inclusive home stream creates new possibilities. You could build a smartwatch to display the stream as it flows past. It could tap you on the wrist when there’s something really important on-stream. You can set something aside or rewind if necessary. Just speak up to respond to messages or add comments. True in-car computing becomes easy. Because your home stream gathers everything into one line, your car can read it to you as you drive.

Does this sound familiar? Well it should a bit. The current Facebook wall/timeline, or Twitter is a great example of this theory put into practice. So let’s imagine this but fully integrated into our lives. No more checking e-mails, its right in that stream, no more browsing for news, but the news is delivered right to you. What are the implications for current information strategies?

My idea of this:
I think the near future will hold platforms such as Facebook or Google+ for the “stream”. People already more and more only use these pages to access the articles and updates they want. Fancy Follow it on Facebook and you’ll receive updates sending you to their website. Those are the suppliers: Websites for news, shopping and much more. The University MyEUR integrated into your stream, no need to get into the hassle of logging in on MyEUR but they will just post important things on your stream.

So there we are, with a platform, suppliers and users. What if we stop forwarding from Facebook to a certain website but display that News-item right onto your stream? Who makes the revenue? Probably, Facebook will provide the needed adverts onto the stream, giving a share of the profit to the suppliers of the stream. Another possibility is the Freemium model, want to pay for the stream? Pay 10 euros a month and no advertising. Just like Spotify, a similar pay-per-stream model might be suitable. With smart-watches and phones the need for more efficient display of information increases.

Do you guys have any thoughts on this? Where are we heading?

Author: Hidde van Heijst
#: 436800

“The Future of the Internet Is Flow”, the Wall Street Journal, 2nd of October 2015. David Galernter & Eric Freeman.

Will the next generation still become consultants?

Consulting, disruption, consultancy, framework, cusp, of, disruption, mckinsey, bcg, atkearney, bain

After our lecture on digitization versus disruption by BCG’s Peter Burggraaff, I started thinking about the impact of these trends on the consulting business. As stated by McKinsey and Company’s Dominic Barton (Global Managing Director) in an interview with the Harvard Business Review, they “value the judgment, not so much the analytics”. This related to the X-axis of disruption in consulting, in which one can separate the difference between projects/processes that are highly repeatable (and thus attractive for automation) and those that are non repeatable (currently

Meanwhile, according to prof. Clayton Christensen (author of “Consulting on the cusp of disruption”) the Y-axis of disruption in consulting is the size of the problems, often related to bigger companies.

A research by ‘the Emerging Future’ tells us that intuitively we think that in 6 years, the advancement of technology will be 32(!) times compared to what we currently can. If that is even remotely the case the capabilities of Artificial Intelligence/Cognitive Systems, combined with analysis of tremendous amounts of data, will more and more equal the thorough analysis of consultants. The advancement of technology, majorly subject to time (not if, but when), is therefor noted as the Z-axis of disruption.

So combining all this: let’s see where existing companies are situated in the ‘matrix’.

  1. This is where large software companies are growing their business, often in combination with a consulting practice. They have certain Intellectual Property (IP); either generated by the company or in collaboration with clients, and integrate these in software products (e.g. SAP, Oracle etc.).
  2. The position of large ‘consulting firms’. They deal with big problems that are very specific. Because of there nature, as stated by Dominic Barton: they are relying on judgement, as (currently) analytics fall short.
  3. Although difficult to label, this might be where all SME oriented consultants earn their money. They face similar non-repeatable issues, but the number of parameters that influence the issue are limited and thus less complex.
  4. This part of the landscape is crowded; it consists of SMEs that work on analytics and startups that deliver cutting-edge solutions for your every day problem.

With the advancement of technology, we will see that the area of the number 2’s will become more and more narrow. The number of problems that can be solved with automated solutions will become bigger and bigger, IBM Watson is just a start of what is possible with cognitive systems. Meanwhile startups are starting to attract business that is not interesting to the leading firms and will gain more business in the consulting-landscape if they proof to deliver sufficient solutions. Despite the fact that consulting firms are aware of these disruptors and are preparing themselves for the digital age, e.g. McKinsey Solutions, it has proven though for major firms to disrupt themselves. I guess time will tell.

While thinking of all this I noted that my ‘graph’ is far from what a consultant may call ‘MECE’. Look at it as a conversation starter. Which factors do you think will influence the disruption of consulting? Will they be smart enough to stay ahead or will we be one of the last generations of BIM students looking at consultancy?


Why is Pepsi building a phone?

Quick, name the first smartphone brands that come to mind.

Most people would mention Apple, Samsung, HTC, LG or Sony. If you’re more familiar with the industry, you might add Lenovo, Xiaomi, and/or Huawei to the above list. You’re very unlikely to mention Pepsi, however.

Yet a recent leak indicates that the beverage manufacturer will indeed release an Android phone. According to, seemingly the source of those leaks, the phone is to be called the Pepsi P1. The device will feature a 5,5-inch screen with 1080p resolution, a 1,7GHz processor and 2GB of RAM. The rest of the technical specifications include: 16GB of storage, 3000mAh of battery capacity, and a 13 megapixel main camera along with a 5 megapixel front-facing one. The phone is expected to retail for CNY 1.299 – approximately € 180. Pepsi will reportedly announce the device on October 20th, and it appears to be a China exclusive.

Pepsi is not the first unexpected company to get involved in selling smartphones: Facebook attempted it in 2013 with the HTC First, and Kodak has released the IM5 this summer. The former was a dramatic flop with only 15.000 units sold across the US. There are no sales results available for the latter but it’s not likely to have done well, with only 4 stores in the Netherlands still stocking it.

But at least Facebook and Kodak had somewhat sensible reasons to try their hand at smartphones. For Facebook, the phone was intended to promote their ill-fated Android homescreen replacement. Kodak counted on their brand recognition amongst the older crowd, targeting consumers that are shopping for their first smartphone.

Pepsi’s core business however, has nothing to do with consumer technology. It’s entirely unclear why they would enter the highly competitive Chinese smartphone market, what value they could add, or who their target customers would be. A spokesman told the Daily Mail that “Pepsi has always moved at the speed of culture, and today technology is a key cultural pillar at the heart of consumer interaction”, which doesn’t seem to actually mean anything. Do you know of a better reason for Pepsi to release a phone? Feel free to let us know in the comments.

No need to visit a webshop anymore, use WhatsApp!

Nowadays smartphones are all around us. When taking a train, walking around on campus or visiting a concert, you can see people using their phone everywhere. One of the major purposes of the mobile phone is texting. However sending SMS (for the ones who never heard of it: Short Message Service) messages is completely out-dated. Mobile service providers lost their cash cow to various message services that are using an Internet connection for getting messages from one person to another. The most popular one is WhatsApp.

Currently WhatsApp is installed on 90% of all smartphones in the Netherlands and the application has 9.5 million Dutch active users (Bathoorn, 2015; Multiscope, 2015). Furthermore, the app is used frequently: on average Dutch WhatsApp users are sending 30 messages per day while receiving 65 messages. For young adults between 18 and 34 years old, these numbers are even 60 and 150 respectively (Multiscope, 2015).

Mobile phones notifying you all day long about a new picture that has been send by your friend or about your mom asking you when you will visit your parents again. But the app is not just used for personal messages. Currently 38% of all WhatsApp users are using the app for business purposes as well. Among young adults (18-34 years) this number reached 48% already (Multiscope, 2015).

Since WhatsApp is one of the most popular apps and people tend to use it for business purposes as well, why haven’t a lot of companies switched to WhatsApp in order to reach customers yet? That is exactly what Jarno Duursma discusses in his book called ‘WhatsApp voor bedrijven’ (WhatsApp for businesses). Duursma describes four major reasons why businesses should use WhatsApp (Bathoorn, 2015):

  1. With 9.5 million active users, target groups are using the app on a large scale.
  2. WhatsApp is user friendly; everyone knows how to use the app.
  3. Messages are more likely to be read. WhatsApp is currently in the top 5 of apps being used most frequently worldwide.
  4. WhatsApp can lead to higher conversion in comparison to social media, since messages can be send anonymous instead of via a public page.

An early adopter of WhatsApp for business is SuitSupply, a well-known men’s fashion brand. To provide high quality service via the app, SuitSupply linked the message service to their CRM system. By doing that, they directly know whether a customer purchased something before, whether he is still waiting on a package to arrive or whatsoever (Duursma, 2015). As mentioned by Martijn van der Zee, marketing director at SuitSupply, customers can send WhatsApp messages when they need any style advice. Customers can easily send a picture of their suit and a SuitSupply employee will find and share matching shirts and ties. If a customer is interested, he can even pay via WhatsApp and in most cases the products will be delivered the next day (Duursma, 2015).


So, with an incredible number of active users and the successful case of SuitSupply, WhatsApp seems to be a valuable way of contacting and serving customers. So, would you prefer WhatsApp instead of other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter? And do you believe in ordering via WhatsApp, or would you rather visit a webshop?

Let me know!


Bathoorn, J. (2015, June 6). WhatsApp voor bedrijven, doe jij al mee? Accessed on: October 10, 2015, at

Duursma, J. (2015, October 5). WhatsApp als servicekanaal: Suitsupply pakt het innovatief aan [case]. Accessed on October 10, 2015, at

Multiscope. (2015, July 28). Nederlander krijgt 65 berichten per dag via WhatsApp. Acessed on October 10, 2015, at

Hackers steal your data during your morning commute.

Image ©

I am not the kind of person that tries to hide every trace off the internet. I am not the kind of person that refuses to use cloud based services. But I am the kind of person that browses responsibly. In order to guarantee my data is safe from people snooping around I occasionally use a VPN, and I think you should too. In my recent post[1] I’ve touched upon a difficult dilemma in current society, privacy versus security. In this post I will further elaborate on the privacy aspect of online browsing, in particular when you are on an untrusted connection.


With all the talk on online security, it is surprising to see how a lot of situations with security flaws are used without hesitation. I hear a lot of complaints of individuals who worry about remarketing, done by innocent cookies. But have you ever used Wi-Fi on a train? 2 years ago Roy Verploegen posted a blog on the recent introduction of Wi-Fi in the NS trains, describing the poor quality of service. But the quality of the connection is not even the worst part. Free public WiFi connections are increasingly proven to be a privacy hazard. Hackers are able to gain access to your browsing metadata, and hijack your surfing pages[7].

Using ‘sniffer software’ hackers can ‘sniff’ through the traffic traveling to and from a wireless router to a device. This metadata can reveal identity info, including the device info of the user and server the device is communicating with. Even more vulnerable are ‘rogue Wi-Fi’ hotspots, which hackers set up at a public location[8]. These hotspots are given generic names like ‘Free Wi-Fi’ or ‘Starbucks’, often saved in the devices of the users. These hotspots redirect the internet of the users and enables them to view and alter any unencrypted data sent and received by the user. Using ‘DNS spoofing’[9] hackers can let you believe you are accessing your bank, while in reality you are giving all your info to the hacker.

Image © Norton


VPN is a Virtual Private Network, which enables you to virtually join a local network (LAN) where you are not physically present[2]. A VPN connection can be set up on your device and as you connect with the internet, you do so through a so called ‘tunnel’ to the LAN. VPN connections are often used by companies and universities to enable users to act as if they are on the private network. This is important to ensure sensitive data does not leave the company network or to enable users to access local files and applications. VPN connections are also used for watching country restricted content[3] and hiding illegal downloads[4].

A VPN connection secures your internet connection to guarantee your data is safe. It does so by encrypting the data you are sending through the ‘tunnel’ to the network you’re virtually connected to. It establishes a connection between the server and your own device by exchanging trusted keys after logging in with your credentials. This allows you to browse completely anonymous on any internet connection, if you thrust the server.

Unlike Tor[5], your connection is encrypted to the server (exit node). Both the server and your device have the key to unencrypt your data. This allows system administrators to access your data, while externally it is completely secured. In Tor, only your device has the encryption keys. In addition, your data passes at least three servers, all with new encryption keys, until it reaches the exit node (server that sends/receives data with the internet)[6].


Next time, worry less about re-marketing and worry more about your (internet)connection. As a lot of readers of this blog are students, make use of the university VPN when you treat yourself to a latte macchiato. Or, if you want to go a little more professional check out this list of the best VPN providers.











Your Strategy to Information part 2

Staying up-to-date on what is going on in Tech world: Time Management!

Thank you very much for your enthusiasm and responses to my previous blog post, in which I asked you to share your sources of information on the world of Technology. As promised, here is a second post in which I would like to summarize the results for you.

Favorite to one of the commenters, and also to me at the moment, is TechCrunch. Especially for the ones among us who do not have much time to explore the whole web for interesting news, the CrunchReport gives you a quick summary of about five minutes on the main tech news of the day. Here is an example of a few days ago (Thursday), in which among others the development of Facebook Emoji’s is discussed:

However, in case you are more interested in the way companies use technologies in their day to day operations (National as well), signing up for a specific newsletter from webpages such as Emerce can be recommended.

In order to get news from more websites at once, use Feedly! This website/app enables you to ‘’check’’ the websites that you enjoy following, and their news will than all appear in your Feedly newsfeed.

The commenters do very much agree on that there is a massive load of information coming from various sources; each News Page provides its own newsletter. There is so much to read, that a little organization in keeping up with what you would still like to read later on may be useful. The tool Pocket will help you out in situations in which you come across an interesting article but you just do not have the time to read it at that very moment; this tool enables you to easily save the article for later so you can read it in the train or at any other moment.

To summarize, if your life is just as busy as mine is, just find five minutes a day to view the CrunchReport, add the News Pages you are interested in to your Feedly and save interesting articles in your Pocket for moments at which you do have time!

Colin van Lieshout

6 Sources to be Informed About the World

I am an information geek and I’m here to share the best of it. 

In this Internet age, it is extremely difficult to find the useful information which is of high quality and caters to your preferences. That is why I wanted to share with you the best information sources around. I believe in Dave Pell’s idea, that the best algorithm is human. Therefore, most of these sources are newsletters or individuals, who are passionate about knowledge.

The Next Draft
 Everything you need to know on the internet

The Managing Editor of the Internet Dave Pell daily sends a digest with 10 days most fascinating news. If I would need to choose only one source that I could read, this would be the one! All media people read it. Just name it: The Atlantic, The Economist, The New Yorker
And you should too!


Mattermark Daily
 All you need to know about start-ups

Mattermark has the most successful content marketing I’ve ever seen. I actually only started because my work in a start-up required to do so. If you ever think about being knowledgable about start-ups, then this is a go-to place.

Explain the News

The best news site that I have ever encountered. They write about all the important affairs. And explain them. Only caveat is the fact that they are US news portal and as well coverage is focused more on their issues.
Still marvelous journalism.


Farnam Street Blog
 Learn to think

I obsolutely love that this guy is trying to talk about literally everything on how we can improve our thinking. He has mapped more than 100 mental models, starting from creative thinking and ending with Biases.
Just check it out, if you want to become smarter.
 Random highbrow cool stuff

I guess that this is already slightly specific to ones taste in the entertainment. Basically, this guy posts everything starting from slideshow on how mobile internet is changing developing countries, and ending with cool movie trailers.
Uhh… Just check it out. Love it or.. ignore it.


Andrew Chen
Understand what is happening in the Silicon Valley

Great essays on Tech-related start-up industry. He has written 650+ essays for The New York Times, WSJ, Wired, Fortune etc. The best guy to have the real insights from.

Here are some more nice channels definitely worth checking out:

Evergreen – gives really in-depth information regarding the business related topics. I wanted to put it in TOP 5, but forgot.

Quartz – more finance related Europe centered, high quality news source

Barking up the Wrong tree – self-development advises backed up in science from a guy, who writes to the Economist

Buffer – everything about social media strategy you need to know

Direkt Fast News – all crucial news explained in three sentences

Delve – receive movie of the week, nicely presented – nice source for Latvian speaking audience

Delve – my own information dissemination platform. Exactly my work on sourcing high quality news for it, has resulted in me knowing so many great sources that can be useful for life. [Yes, it is in Latvian, however, almost all the articles are in English] 

Still. Don’t trust media, and don’t be ignorant about the world. [MARVELOUS VIDEO]

P.s. I consciously tried to escape from more obvious sources like The Economist, Financial Times, The Atlantic etc. I still believe in them being high quality news sources.  

 Written by: Gustavs Upmanis

<p style=”color: #000000;”><a href=””>Evergreen</a&gt; – gives really indepth information regarding the business related topics. I wanted to put it in TOP 5, but forgot.</p>
<p style=”color: #000000;”><span style=”line-height: 1.2;”><a href=”/admin/modules/categories/”>Quartz</a> – more finance related Europe centred, high quality news source</span></p>
<p style=”color: #000000;”><span style=”line-height: 1.2;”><a href=””>Barking up the Wrong tree </a>- self-development advices backed up in science from a guy, who writes to the Economist</span></p>
<p style=”color: #000000;”><span style=”line-height: 1.2;”><a href=””>Buffer</a&gt; – everything about social media strategy you need to know</span></p>
<p style=”color: #000000;”><span style=”line-height: 1.2;”><a href=””>Direkt Fast News </a>- all crucial news explained in three sentences</span></p>
<p style=”color: #000000;”><span style=”line-height: 1.2;”><a href=””>Delve -</a> receive movie of the week, nicely presented</span></p>
<p style=”color: #000000;”><span style=”line-height: 1.2;”><a href=””> </a>- nice source for Latvian speaking audience</span></p>
<p style=”color: #000000;”><span style=”line-height: 1.2;”><a href=””>Delve -</a> my own information dissamination platform. Exactly my work on sourcing high quality news for it, has resulted in me knowing so many great sources that can be useful for life. [Yes, it is in Latvian, however, almost all the articles are in English] </span></p>
<p style=”color: #000000;”>Stil. Don’t trust media, and <a href=””>don’t be ignorant about the world.</a> [MARVELOUS VIDEO]</p>
<p style=”color: #000000;”><span style=”font-size: medium;”>P.s. If you are an information geek the same as I am, then bookmark this article and enjoy without hurry. And share.
P.s.s. I consciously tried to escape from more obvious sources like The Economist, Financial Times, The Atlantic etc. I still believe in them being high quality news sources.  </span></p>

Evergreen – gives really indepth information regarding the business related topics. I wanted to put it in TOP 5, but forgot.

Quartz – more finance related Europe centred, high quality news source

Barking up the Wrong tree – self-development advices backed up in science from a guy, who writes to the Economist

Buffer – everything about social media strategy you need to know

Direkt Fast News – all crucial news explained in three sentences

Delve – receive movie of the week, nicely presented – nice source for Latvian speaking audience

Delve – my own information dissamination platform. Exactly my work on sourcing high quality news for it, has resulted in me knowing so many great sources that can be useful for life. [Yes, it is in Latvian, however, almost all the articles are in English] 

Stil. Don’t trust media, and don’t be ignorant about the world. [MARVELOUS VIDEO]

P.s. If you are an information geek the same as I am, then bookmark this article and enjoy without hurry. And share. P.s.s. I consciously tried to escape from more obvious sources like The Economist, Financial Times, The Atlantic etc. I still believe in them being high quality news sources.  

Facebook causes depression

Do you ever feel depressed after scrolling down your Facebook-timeline for the fourth time in 2 minutes during an uninteresting lecture? (Not an Information Strategy lecture of course). Anyway, you are certainly not the only one with such a feeling. We all have those ‘friends’ on Facebook who are for the third time in two weeks on vacation and definitely do not have any doubts to share these lovely moments by posting all the nice pictures of these trips (including the food pictures). Or have you ever felt jealous after scrolling down on your timeline and seeing that everyone has great times with their loved ones, while you are sitting on the couch and watching some Netflix on your own with a pizza and a beer? You are again certainly not the only one with this feeling.

A majority of the Facebook users post something that looks more beautiful than it really is in reality. This can also happen unconsciously, however, do not forget that a bulky part of the posts give a false picture of the reality. On the other hand, who wants to post some boring stuff where no one is waiting for? Better make something beautiful of it and receive some more likes. Everything for the likes!

However, can Facebook really cause depressions? Not so much that, but it can certainly cause depressed or worse feelings. A new study finds not only a link between Facebook and despressive symptoms, there is also a link between Facebook and the well-established psychological phenomenon ‘Social comparison.’ This is the cause of the depressive symptoms, as you are comparing your ‘normal life’ to the extremely happy posts on your timeline. A study from University of Houston shows that people who used Facebook are tended to have more depressive symptoms.

I am not telling you to immediately delete your Facebook account, I am telling you to be aware of this phenomenon and do not take all the ‘happy’ Facebook posts too seriously. As the Dutch saying goes: ‘Neem het met een korreltje zout.’ (Take it with a grain of salt.)

Enjoy this video and think about it. Is this the truth?

Author: Jesse van Hofwegen (375283jh)


Walton,  A. G., (2015). New Study Links Facebook To Depression: But Now We Actually Understand Why. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Oct. 2015].

Sorokanich, R. (2014). This is why you shouldn’t take people’s Facebook lives seriously. [online] Sploid. Available at: [Accessed 11 Oct. 2015].

Tutorial 101: How to fill your Airplane

We all know the irritations of flying. Sometimes it is your smelly neighbour or that screaming child behind you. It could also be that weird dude trying to do yoga in the aisle or drunk/noisy people when you fly home from your holiday. According to a survey from travel agencies the top 3 of most annoying things about flying consist of: 1) screaming children (88%) 2) lack of leg room (76%) 3) poor quality food/choice (52%). For screaming children I recommend bringing duct tape to a flight. It helped me 100% of the time, but sometimes it started the event of screaming and swearing women on the airplane. The problem of a lack of leg room however is not solvable. You just have to deal with it the next few hours. (, 2012) (, 2015)


Our professor T. Li mentioned that the airline industry is not a very profitable industry. The Airline industry has grown a lot and it still continues to grow. The revenue the airline industry made in 2004 was 369 billion dollars and in the year 2014 it was 746 billion dollars. The growth was mostly caused by low-cost carriers (LCCs), which captured 25% of the aviation market in 2014. However the profits declined to a really thin margin of 3%. Every company in the value chain: jet engine makers, airports, travel agencies, service companies, and airplane manufacturers etc. are making small profits. It’s ironical that one of the most important link in the value chain, the airline companies, struggle to break even. (, 2015)

Airline companies have a complex nature of business, which is significantly determined by regulation and exogenous events. These companies must focus on their growth and on their revenue gains. Profits depends mostly on those revenue gains. (, 2015)

A way to make more profit is to reduce cost per passenger. Airlines request airplane manufacturing companies to make airplanes with more capacity per m². Airlines filed for standing passengers for short flight. However the idea was stopped by regulators for being unsafe for passengers. (, 2015) Some days ago Airbus filed for a patent for new designs in their airplanes. One design is to stack passenger on top of each other and to remove the hand luggage lockers. The leg room will increase and airlines companies can fit in an extra 30% of passengers. (, 2015)


This is not the first design that try to stack more passengers in an airplane. Previously an airplane company named Zodiac Aerospace came with the honeycomb-like idea, where two passengers are facing front and one passenger facing backwards. This forces people to have a little more intimacy with your neighbour(s). This looks like one of the worst seating designs in a while. However there are some other design that are probably worse. One idea of Airbus was to create a saddle-like chair to decrease the space that every passenger needs. Another idea was to let passengers sit in a more elevated position so that they reduce the need of extra leg room. (, 2015)


PWC consultancy ask for caution with cost reducing acts. They say that you have to cut the fat and not the muscle. This means that airlines need to cut costs that does not affect safety, reputation, branding, or customer value. You can better reduce costs by improving your operational efficiency. PWC say you can also increase profit by: 1) increase customer expectations and get to know your customers better 2) increase digitization 3) choose your partners strategically. (, 2015)

The airline will continue to struggle with profit margin, but with the new technologies and shifting customer expectations great opportunities lay ahead. It is important for the companies to investigate those opportunities and to exploit them. Only then it is possible for Airline companies to make a decent profit.


Mars Trek: The Google Earth of Mars

With all the actualities going on about Mars – too bad none of you writing about it – I would like to share this amazing piece of software and technology with you.

But first, let us recap on the news around Mars. Only 13 days ago, NASA came up with the exciting news that evidence of flowing (!) water has been discovered on the surface. Tracks of hydrated salty streaks have been found on the slopes of the planet. This means that in Martian summers, salt water might be flowing on these slopes. This discovery greatly enhances the possibility of the existence of microbial life on Mars.

Scene from 'The Martian'

Scene from ‘The Martian’

This discovery coincidentally emerged at the same time with the movie ‘The Martian’. For who is unfamiliar with the movie, it is a sci-fi starring Matt Damon surviving on Mars. The thing is, the producers of the movie use current and near-future technologies, which is backed up with real science. The movie therefore enthuses people into real science.

Mars Trek
Using real data from 50 years of Mars exploration, NASA launched a new web app: Mars Trek. Thanks to the Mars Reconnaissance satellites, the surface of Mars has now been mapped out. This web app could be considered the Mars equivalent to the well-known Google Earth. Mars Trek is developed for Mars mission leaders and scientists, as well as for the public. It allows us to explore the Martian surface, a place which is on average 225 million km away from Earth. This is another step of NASA to involve the public in the progress of space and planet exploration (unfortunately, no Mars Street View exists).

The app contains interactive maps, which shows data of specific places, just as Google Earth. Furthermore, filters have been added to see the surface as from the eyes of the satellites’ instruments. For instance, this enables us to see topographical details or obtain surface composition data of the Gale crater. Even more astonishing, Mars Trek provides downloadable STL files of some places that one can use to print out 3D-models of those places. In other words, we can now print replicas of actual craters of the planet.

With Mars Trek, it is even possible to follow the 3,000 km path fictional astronaut Matt Damon travelled in ‘The Martian’. We can start in Acidalia Planitia, travel over the dry planes and end in the Schiaparelli crater. Only difference is, we can do this safely from our desks.

'The Martian' track in Mars Trek

‘The Martian’ path in Mars Trek

My point is, our technology enables us to prepare us for the future. As Brian Day, Mars Trek’s project manager says: “In a couple of decades the first humans will set foot on Mars, but right now we all have the capability of exploring the surface of Mars and preparing for this great adventure”.


IFLScience, (2015). NASA: Streaks Of Salt On Mars Mean Flowing Water, And Raise New Hopes Of Finding Life. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Oct. 2015]., (2015). New Online Exploring Tools Bring NASA’s Journey to Mars to New Generation. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Oct. 2015]., (2015). Mars Trek. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Oct. 2015].

Motherboard, (2015). ‘Mars Trek’ is Google Earth voor de rode planeet. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Oct. 2015].

Road map to millions $

Since last year a remarkable percentage of 10% of the Business Information Management graduates was entrepreneur, 12 months after graduation I thought it might be interesting to write a blog post about the emergence of tech startups. Considering this fact, I assume that a large group is interested in launching a tech/internet related startup, and that even some of you might have chosen for BIM in a pursuit of their dreams to become the next tech millionaire.

As many successes stories appear on the tech sources we use to feed our curiosity in the field of BIM, some of you might have observed what makes tech/internet startups so attractive. For the ones who did not notice, the point is that tech/internet related ideas for startup can become very big in a short time with relatively less fund. Funding is in most cases only needed for hiring the right people with the right knowledge for the development of your idea. Since the value of such a company is mostly based on its potential, its really hard for an investor to claim a large part of the shares as an investor already admits that the company has potential by investing in it. This way the one behind the startup idea can raise fund at the start of the development of his/her idea in exchange for a unnecessarily large part of the shares. This boosts the over all value of the company making it even more attractive for more investors to do the same trick the next round of raising fund. In addition, innovative startup ideas are interesting content that easily can be spread over the web or even could go viral.

For example, the Dutch internet related startup Blendle, or e-market in terms of BIM, was found in 2014 and was valuated at an amount of €13.000.000,- after New York Times and Springer saw the potential of the company (, 2014). This company claimed to be the ‘’iTunes of press’’. This company was found by two journalists which even more emphasizes that the only thing needed to become as successful as these guys is having a good idea and executing it smartly. The point I am making here is that we have chosen to act in the best and most dynamic field of business. It is our advantage that we as Business Information Management students are home in the area of internet and new technologies. It even might be assumed that all of use know how to develop and execute good software ideas at the end of the year.

Other successful startups from RSM alumni that has gained global awareness with publication in Business Insider are Housinganywhere and Symbid. Housing anywhere is a platform where the demand and supply of short term accommodation can come together. It is a simple yet effective tool which increases the amount of short term accommodation available to incoming exchange students (, 2015). Symbid is a funding network where companies get fund and grow (, 2015).

The ideas entrepreneurial BIM student are looking for need to be disruptive in order to gain global scaled success. Therefore, here are 4 points listed that can be adapted to businesses to become more disruptive (, 2015):

  1. Innovation: Disruptive companies are one of a kind.
  2. Marketing: People want what disruptive companies have to offer.
  3. Business model: Disruptive companies make things affordable.
  4. Attitude: Disruptive companies are led by delusional and disagreeable people.

I would like to close this blog post with telling you about Cheeky. It is a platform where new startup ideas and gaps in society are discussed. The website provides one idea per day and helps you to extend your creativity. Finally, some feed for commenters; referring to the significant percentage of BIM alumni that become entrepreneur, what could Erasmus University Rotterdam organize in order to stimulate our creativity and stimulate collaboration as well as the rise of new startups that can serve as business cards for our university?

References, (2014). Blendle. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Oct. 2015]., (2015). About us | Housing Anywhere. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Oct. 2015]., (2015). Over ons|symbid. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Oct. 2015]., (2015). 4 Disruption Concepts to Help Your Pivot Your Startup. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Oct. 2015].

Modern Wars: How Information Technology Changed Warfare

Modern Wars: How Information Technology Changed Warfare

On the 30th of September Vladimir Vladimirovitsj Putin, President of Russia, announced that Russia conducted its first air-strikes in Syria targeted at ISIS (or ISIL). However, in the days after the United States of America and other countries began to question Russia’s motive and use of old school bombing technology which might cause harm to civilians and inflame the civil war in Syria (CNN/Time, 2015). According to US official’s Russian bombing technology is a lacking behind American weaponry in terms of accuracy. As such moves increase the tensions between the East and the West and businesses use information technology to reach their goals, I started to research how information technology has changed warfare over time.

A B-2 stealth bomber refuels.

A B-2 stealth bomber refuels.

The main goals of warfare have not really changed, but the way wars evolve and are waged certainly have. Just hundred twenty years ago, armies marched to battle in their uniforms, lined up against one another, and mainly used weapons with a short effective range. Thus, people who killed one another were always in close proximity. Later on, longer-range weapons emerged, and the distance between the soldiers became larger and larger. Today, some countries have the capability to destroy towns without having to be physically at the site or even have a within a hundreds of miles. All due to the introduction of IT in modern warfare which enables people to fight wars with the touch of button. This instantaneous transfer of information through the Internet and availability of the Internet around the world increases the number of participants in war. Unarmed actors thousands of miles away can participate in a conflict even by sitting at their computer, providing funding or (video/picture) information through the Internet or deep web.

Read More…


Twitter Increase Character Limit

As you might have heard in the past few weeks Twitter is considering removing the 140-character limit. Currently, Twitter is creating a new product that will enable users to share tweets with an unlimited amount of characters. But what does this mean for the future of twitter? There are various characteristics that separate Twitter from other social networks but the 140-character limit has always been the most important trademark of Twitter. Twitter has been under scrutiny about this for years and many have argued that Twitter should expand the limit. But now that this might actually happen, will the users see blocks of text on their timelines? Or will it be a separate blog-type of service? This change will certainly have an impact on marketers who use Twitter to connect to consumers. Due to the longer content that will crop up almost immediately after the change, marketers will have to spend more time writing the body of tweet. This could create a shift on Twitter from many, small tweets throughout the day to fewer, longer tweets because marketers will not want to deplete their own time and resources and alienate consumers who may unfollow if they feel bombarded with content.

Lifting the limit might seem like a good thing, however, will Twitter be able to differentiate itself from other social networks after this implementation? This change could be detrimental to the unique community of writers and creatives who have found a home on the platform. The inconvenience of the 140-character limit has forced Twitter users and marketers to become better writers and salespeople. These parameters have taught Twitter users to develop their own unique style and flow. The only downside to the limit is that there is not much room for nuance. Twitter user must create a thread of tweets in order to show a progression of thought. However, this separation actually allows followers to process information much more seamlessly. After practicing marketers can learn to use the limit to their advantage with more precise and to the point content, as the most successful Twitter users manage to be both poignant and witty in bite-sized portions.

Not only is Twitter a platform where ideas are exchanged constantly but it is also a platform that turns minorities into targets of harassment by trolls. If Twitter is strongly considering lifting the 140-character limit ban, it must first put in place stricter anti-harassment regulations. Without the character limit trolls will be given more freedom to attack. This can cause the number of Twitter users to decline while Twitter is desperate to find new ways to attract users to the product.

Twitter wants to improve its appeal to the mainstream social media users, who do not know how to interact on a 140-character landscape. Removing the 140-character limit is a way to achieve that and will provide new readers of marketers’ content. However, the question arises whether or not this would actually increase Twitter’s audience. Twitter’s 140-character limit has force innovation in language and art, and created a platform perfectly tailored to facilitate instant interaction and community building. Instead of eliminating the characteristics that make Twitter unique among its competitors and the power these innovations have, Twitter should focus on making it secure for users and use this opportunity to improve this innovation and differentiate even more. Do not mess with what is not broken. Or do you think otherwise?


Kill the Hamburger Menu

Have you been to Ellis Gourmet Burger already? It’s the hamburger restaurant right beside Rotterdam Central Station. If you like burgers, you definitely have to visit that place. Although I’m a fan of the hamburger menu at Ellis, there are a lot of hamburger menus I don’t like. It’s not just about the ones you can find at restaurants. You are getting in contact with a lot of other hamburger menus on a daily basis while using (mostly) mobile devices.

It all started with the rise of smartphones and tablets. Designers of websites and apps were facing a major challenge: how to fit all information that was available in traditional webpages and applications, into the smaller screens of mobile devices. Facebook is one of the first companies that started using the hamburger menu: a side-menu hidden under a button consisting of three stacked lines. By clicking on the button, a side menu appears in which users can find additional links. (Tuk, 2015)

Sounds great right? A lot of space can be saved, and all links are just one click away. Louis Abreu, mobile UX designer, published an article about the hamburger menu in which he explained the following four major problems regarding the side menu button (Abreu, 2015).

  1. Lower discoverability

Although everything hidden under the menu icon is just one click away, visitors need to identify the button first. All people that do not (quickly) discover the menu button will not find the actions that are hidden behind the button at all.

  1. Less efficient

Even if users are aware of the hamburger menu, to activate the actions behind the button users need to first click on the icon. With the increasing number of applications, mobile device users tend to choose for efficiency and natural gestures. So avoid additional clicks for the most important functionalities.

  1. Clash with platform navigation patterns

Due to the fact that some mobile navigation patterns, especially the one used by Apple, use a ‘back’ button in the left top corner, it is not possible to put a hamburger menu there. Since this is the place where users expect the button to be, designers have to replace the button or use different gestures for navigating between pages. When using the first option, it becomes even harder for users to trace the button before they can navigate to a certain page. The latter option results in the fact that users need to figure out what gestures to use for what purposes.

  1. Not glanceable

Nowadays, app users are often notified via a small icon (mostly indicating the number of notifications) on top of another icon. When using the hamburger menu, this becomes very problematic. Since there are multiple actions/destinations hidden under the button, users do not know what kind of notification they just received.

The problems regarding the hamburger icon, including the ones mentioned above, have been tested a lot. One specific research was focusing on four different ways of presenting a menu to users: 1) ‘menu’ as text without border, 2) hamburger menu with border, 3) ‘menu’ as text plus hamburger icon including a border and 4) menu text with border (Foster, 2014). It turned out that option 4 leads to the highest click through rate (CTR) and that it performed 12.9% better than the hamburger menu (option 2). Adding ‘Menu’ to the hamburger menu leads to an increasing CTR of 5.7% compared to the standard hamburger menu. This research has shown that the functionalities of a hamburger menu are not that obvious to visitors at all.

For now, let’s go back to one of the initiators of the hamburger menu: Facebook. The social media platform used to show a hamburger menu in the top left corner of users’ newsfeeds. Now they shifted towards a tab bar at the bottom of the news feed. Although there is a little less space available for the newsfeed itself, after switching to the tab bar the Facebook app scored better on: engagement, satisfaction, revenue, speed & perception of speed metrics (Wroblewski, 2015).

Hamburger menu FB

So, we can conclude that the hamburger menu is not the best option to serve users. But what do you think based on your own experiences: do designers have to stick to the hamburger menu to save valuable space and wait until users are familiar with the icon? Or do you just like hamburger menus at places such as Ellis and prefer a different solution for apps?

I am looking forward to hearing some of your experiences. Just drop me a comment or let’s meet up at Ellis!


Deep Learning: Teaching Machines To Act Human

Deep Learning -Teaching Machines To Act Human

Recently there were increased news articles about AI: Artificial Intelligence. Some very smart people were concerned about the progress made in the field of advanced machine learning. Among them were serial Entrepreneur Elon Musk, the famous researcher Steven Hawkins and legendary philanthropist Bill Gates. All of them signed an open letter expressing their concern about the future of AI. Cause for the signage was a video showing Google owned company Boston Dynamics recording a trial run of their human robot ‘Atlas’ running through the woods among other recent advances in advanced machine learning.

What is advanced machine learning?

The field of machine learning in computer science has been there for a while. Starting during the second world war, the first attempts to teach computer to learn and being human were made. The recent movie around pioneer Alan Turing shows the origins of this scientific research field. Until today the Turing Test is still applied to evaluate if a computer is categorized as intelligent.

During the 80ies and early 90ies further attempts were made to teach computers to behave human. Early solutions weren’t practical caused by the limited processing power during that time. A lot of time passed since then.

So what exactly is machine learning? It’s basically to teach a computer to make sense of data. To teach him to recognize patterns in input values and gain insights from the process. Simple machine learning can be a regression analysis or simple classification of data depending on a single value pair into different categories. Advanced machine learning, of which deep learning is a part of, applies multiple analysis layers in analyzing big data sets. The first layer of an algorithm look only at certain parts of the data and then deliver the output value to an analysis layer further up the hierarchy conducting more abstract calculations with the input from the lower layer and itself delivering values to an even more abstract layer of algorithms. This structure allows the modeling of the human brain, imitating the network of neurons in the brain with many (trillions) of synapses.

Tapping into the huge potential

Today many layers are applied to solve difficult data analysis problems, therefore the name deep learning. With this methodology it is possible to teach a computer to analyze pictures, handwriting, speech, maps or even videos. In the future all applications that seem to be ‘magical’ will be the result of some kind of deep learning. The application are many: Categorization of images, indexation of unlabelled data, analysis of maps, using big data of many sources to refine and improve prediction models and so forth.

Facebook, Google, IBM and many start-ups today already apply deep learning technologies to gain an edge solve difficult problems. Until today there is no computer who can itself program something that can program. But that day will come, its just a matter of time.

Is it dangerous? Maybe. But it can also do much good if applied correctly.

If you’re interested in deep learning, here are some very interesting companies applying this cutting edge technology:

Have you heard about deep learning before? What do you think: Is it the future? Are you afraid of AI? I’m interested what you think so please leave a comment!


Your phone got hacked by a ‘Nosey Smurf’.


Not so long ago, iPhone users all over the world were exposed to a bug able to shut down their phone by one simple text message[1]. I too received such a message as a prank, but did not consider the security implications that come with phones reaction on text commands. Later this year an android vulnerability “Stagefright” came to light, allowing hackers access full access to every Android phone with just a phone number[2]. Luckily both bugs have been fixed by the companies right after, but the security risk remains. There is no guarantee every bug has been revealed instead of being exploited by hobbyists, hackers, or governments.

The latter is now expected to be the case. Edward Snowden explains in an interview by the BBC how UK intelligence agency GCHQ is able to control your phone by text messages, completely hidden from the knowledge of the owner[3]. It does so by sending an encrypted text message to gain access.


Snowden talks about a “Smurf Suite”, a collection of phone control tools of GCHQ named after various smurfs. “Dreamy Smurf” is able to shut down and boot up the phone, “Nosey Smurf” can turn on your microphone and listen to your conversations, and “Tracker Smurf” is a tool able to track your geo-location with greater precision than normal triangulation of cellphone towers. And they can do even more, like taking pictures without your knowing, viewing your mails, texts and browsing history, and even

Snowden explains how NSA is understood to have a similar program, and are suspected of providing the technology. “GCHQ is to all intents and purposes a subsidiary of the NSA.” he tells the BBC, where GCHQ receives tasking and directions to go after. These projects are aimed to catch suspected involvement in terrorism, pedophilia or other serious crimes, but in order to do so, they have to collect mass data. Your data.

What now?

Snowden makes a valid point by stating you don’t own your phone, but “whoever controls the software owns the phone”. We see this increasing risk in software and privacy issues, and users are becoming more aware of this. The Windows 10 release has been highly critiqued by its security statement[4] and Europe’s highest court just rejected the ‘safe harbor’ agreement after Max Schrems started a case against Facebook[5]. It is clear that the battle for privacy has just begun.








Will your future be dark?

Your vision in the future?

It might be. Unless pattern recognition saves your eyes.

Pattern recognition might sound pretty nerdy, but you come across it more often than you think. Shazam created an app to find out which song is playing in the club, Spotify predicts which other artists you might like and Google created an algorithm to identify cats in YouTube videos. But while it is cool that a computer can recognize a cat video, there might be more important possibilities for pattern recognition as well, such as in the medical sector.

The CHCF, the California HealthCare Foundation, is one of those organizations that decided to use pattern recognition for more important things. They created an application to detect a premature medical implication: diabetic retinopathy, a long-term complication of diabetes. The implication is caused by damage to the tiny blood vessels that support the retina. If left untreated, you will lose all your vision. This complication actually affects 80% of all patients who have had diabetes for 10 years or more (Kertes et al., 2007).

So how did they figure out how to detect this issue?

The CHCF organized a competition – with a $100,000 prize – on a website called Kaggle. This website has all sorts of competitions for some of the smartest people on the globe – statisticians and data scientists. The CHCF gave participants a database with thousands of images of healthy and affected retinas and let them figure out a solution.
In the end, one smart bloke called Benjamin Graham – who worked as a statistician at the University of Warwick – came up with an algorithm that identifies signs of diabetic retinopathy from an eye scan.

The big advantage of the algorithm is that it is faster, cheaper and more accurate than real doctors. Images are analysed instantly, instead of first having to be sent to a lab. This gives the advantage that there is less work involved, lowering the medical expenses involved. And while normally doctors only agree 84% of the time with each other on a diabetic retinopathy diagnosis, the algorithm agrees with a doctor’s opinion 85% of the time (The Economist, 2015) – so the algorithm can actually be more accurate than a human doctor. Jorge Cuadros, the CEO of Eyepacs, a company interested in using the algorithm, is intrigued by the high correlation between the algorithm and human experts. Even more so when there is a disagreement, sometimes the algorithm proves to be right, not the human doctor (Farr, 2015).

So does this mean the diagnosis will be conducted by computers now?

Even though the algorithm offers so many advantages, it will still take a long time before it has taken a place in clinical practice. Currently the solution is being held back by regulations, such as those from the FDA, the Food and Drug Administration. Fear is another obstacle that needs to be overcome, because who is going to take the blame when something goes wrong?

But in the end it will probably all work out. As pattern recognition software applied in medicine becomes better, institutions will have more incentives to bring the algorithms into the clinic.

– 377578nb

The Economist,. (2015). Now there’s an app for that. Retrieved 6 October 2015, from

Farr, C. (2015). This Robo Eye Doctor May Help Patients With Diabetes Keep Sight. KQED Future of You. Retrieved 6 October 2015, from

Kertes PJ, Johnson TM, ed. (2007). Evidence Based Eye Care. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Why API-Centric Software Will Dominate the Future

Why API-Centric Software Will Dominate the Future

There are thousands of apps around. For multiple platforms (iOS or Android) or in multiple browser. You probably use them on many devices: Your phone, tablet or laptop. But all those applications have very limited functionality on their own. Only by communicating to their user, connecting them between each other and swapping all kinds of information they become powerful.

And that’s where APIs come in. API stands for Application Programming Interface and describes the information and rules software programs interact with each other.

The traditional way of development focusing on web frameworks (e.g. Microsoft .NET, Ruby on Rails, PHP) can require costly integration into other software when not set up properly. Adaption to special needs can easily amount to a project in middle five figures.

An API centric piece of software executes most or all functionality through API calls. So why is this important?

API Centric Design

Source: Nikko Bautista

API-Centric Design

With API-Centric Design the core function of a software (for example the Twitter Stream of new Tweets) is build separately from the way a user accesses it (in our example Twitter can be accessed through a browser, an iOS app from an iPhone, iPad, Android devices, aso.). There is only one core product running in the background and then many different customized front-end ways of accessing the core product running in the back-end. All the communication between those parts happens over? You guessed it: APIs!

No more changing and tweaking the core product because on a windows phone was a display error. You just handle that over the windows phone front-end client.

Bah…. that was a lot of techie talk. So what?! Well that brings us to our next big thing:

The Internet of Things

There are estimates that until 2020 there will be more than 50billion connected devices. That’s a lot! And it will shift who and what communicates over the internet. Today people communicate with people or people communicate with machines and systems. But in the age of the internet of things systems mostly communicate directly with systems. And they don’t care about pretty graphical interfaces on some gadget with touch screen. For those systems to work you need solid APIs connecting many back-ends fast and in a reliable way. And what would be more suitable for this task than software created through API Centered Design?

Oracle recently released an API Management Tool. So did IBM and Intel. These big corporations undertake those steps to be well prepared for what is about to come: The internet of things. It’s gonna be a paradigm shift.

But Where is the Money?

APIs aren’t new. And there are a lots of them. In the Programmable Web Database are more than 14’000 APIs registered. But with the emergence of mobile and the internet of things, they’re in the spotlight again. API centered software enables micro services that fit a specific need an solve a well detailed problem. Other programs can build upon existing APIs using their functionality to expand and build their own. This layer structure can help to automate tedious tasks by integrating and arranging the right APIs. There are many offerings already that allow fast creation of API-based back-ends (e.g. Treeline or Stamplay). APIs therefore build a solid foundation others can build upon. Google does that for a while already and offers a ton of APIs for others to use (e.g. Google Maps). But if you and especially your users call them regularly you have to pay for them. And they’re not cheap:

Google Maps API Prices

Google Maps API Prices

This example brings us to our first business model with APIs: If you’re providing some service that is of value to others, you can charge for every time a user or program is calling your API and uses its functionality. Even if it’s just a couple cents per call, if your API gets used thousand times a day, that’s steady income.

Another business case is to offer your API for free and animate other developers to build upon your existing API. Through  referrals from that software you then generate additional sales. Uber does this with success: By offering their API for free they animate developers to build upon their core product. If someone signs up for Uber through another program that uses the Uber API, they pay the developer who build the new product a commission of $5-10.

There will be many more business models emerging around API. Especially connected to the Internet of Things. The paradigm shift opens up new business opportunity ready to exploit.

What  business models including APIs do you see? I’m very interested in reading about them, so please leave a comment!


Macbook Users Attention: OS X El Capitan is Here

Picture Source:

Macbook users, did you know that the newest version of OS X is already available for download on 30 September? Are you still unsure whether to update it or not? Here is something you would like to know before you upgrade.


Honestly, this update of OS X is not a real breakthrough, rather a more routine refining of Yosemite. It mainly improved user experience in some details. Five major changes are:

  1. Split View



This is ranked as the first major change in this new OS X. Now users can arrange two windows under the full screen mode. To enter the Split View, you simply long click the green button on the left up corner. Then it will enter the full screen Split View mode and let you select another opened window to fill in the other half.


Honestly, the long click seems not an intuitive gesture for myself. The function will be very useful for users who need to multitask or need to refer to one window to work on another. However, for users who are not big fun of full screen mode, this new function will be rarely used. And there are already plug-ins that can realize a very similar effect, but not in a full screen mode.

In one word, Split View would be a good reason to upgrade for users who love full screen mode.

  1. New Layout in Mission Control

Another big change is in the layout of Mission Control. In previous OS X, windows of same application will be categorized and overlap with each other. Now, every single window is spread over the screen, with No overlapping, like this


It is hard to say if it is a good or bad move. It can a disaster for users who love to keep a lot of windows open at the same time (like me, never close a pdf in preview). It may take time for users to get used to the change.

  1. More powerful Notes

Finally, Notes can be a fast text editing tool, not only a plain text editor any more. Now you can have pictures, bullet points, and checklist. Maybe it is a move towards merging the Notes and Reminder.


  1. A better graphical experience

Apple claims to have a new graphic technology called Metal and it makes the graphic experience better and faster. It is a good news, especially for basic users like myself, who use mostly browser and PDF reader everyday.



  1. Something Else

Some other features include minor new functions in Safari, link to third party editing tool in Photos, improvements in Maps, better input methods for Chinese and Japanese. Apple also claim to have a better overall performance since they optimize their system to work more efficiently.


After all, OS X El Capitan worked more optimizing the details instead of making breakthroughs. There is no feature that enables a further collaboration with mobile devices this time, which I would say is quite disappointing. There is no big incentive to upgrade right away. But since it is only 6GB to download, maybe you will do this in some random afternoon break. It does not hurt right?

The Dark Net Rises

The Dark Net rises!

Most of us might have heard about the ‘Dark Net’. Seeing it in movies, on the news or from other sources it intrigued me, and therefore I started a research on the ‘Dark Net’.

What is the Dark Net?

We are all familiar with stories that the Dark Net is a place for people to gather child pornography or dealers who buy and sell their drugs anonymously. Well, journalists who entered the Dark Net for journalism purposes confirmed those prejudices. Using a TOR browser will give you access to the Dark Net, and allows you in the world where the possibilities go beyond the standard web browsers.

Tor browser

Internet through time

The internet has changed over the last decades and so it will, maybe even more rapidly, change in the future. We can say that internet is becoming more innovative, more interesting and widens the possibilities of our (digital) life. But on the other hand, it could be considered as a dangerous place. In short we could say that the Dark Net is one of the most interesting an exciting places in the world, because of its mysterious and untraceable or anonymous features.

An upcoming trend on the internet is privacy. The revelations of Edward Snowden opened up our eyes and we are now more concerned who is watching/listening along with us while we are on the internet, we are concerned what happens to our personal information that is posted on the internet and we want to know what happens to our data. That is where the Dark Net comes in.

Possibilities of the Dark Net

The Dark Net with all its negative aspects opens up some possibilities as well. A practical recent example is uploading a new released album on the net and gives permission to download the album for free (legal in the Netherlands, illegal in other parts of the world), because the download is untraceable.

Another political advantage is the ‘freedom’ of speech. In most Arabic countries censorship is a big issue. In Turkey for instance, Youtube was blocked and therefore not Turkish citizens were not able to access Youtube on a standard browser. Blocking Youtube (or other individual sharing websites) may have many reasons, but mostly it is to prevent criticism of a ruler, government or laws, to be spread across the country, this could cause political unrest. Social media played a big role in the Arabic revolution, and so did the Dark Net. Critics could anonymously write down their thought and could not be prosecuted, because of the intractability the critics are free to post what they want.

Finally to give one more example why the Dark Net might become more important, Facebook started a page there as well.

Dangerous facets of the Dark Net

At the opposite site of all the possibilities and advantages are the dangerous aspects of the Dark Net. As I said in the introduction, the Dark Net is a place where the pedophiles could find what they want, where drug deals are as normal as buying something on eBay. Also something against the freedom of writing anything you want, there are some rumors that the IS is planning attacks on the Dark Net.

So dangerous or will it bring possibilities?

To conclude we can say that the biggest advantage is that there are no more authorities checking your internet traffic, there are no more companies saving and storing your browser history or data. These components will bring the most relieve among the current internet users. Also the fact that there will be no more advertisements or disturbing pop-ups is a advantage and decrease the level of irritation among the internet users.

I believe the Dark Net is going mainstream and more people will start using it. The Dark Net is already used in different levels of the civilization, from students to outcasts to army people. So will we all be on the Dark Net soon?


“The Dark Net” (Jamie Bartlett, 2015)

Sensory Swarms, an improvement for people or a threat for privacy?

It’s the year 2030 and you are walking with your friend to a cafe in a new city. You see this cosy little cafe and both of you decide to enter the cafe. As soon as you enter the cafe the hostess says: “Hello Mr/Ms “YourName”, we have a table near the back of our cafe as seen in your preferences.” When sitting down the hostess asks: “Would you like to order a Cappuccino, like last week, or do you want something else this time?”. You decide to order a Cappuccino and when you sit down you tap on the table to view the menu on the table. You get a list of recommended items in order to your preferences. You decide to order a tuna salad, like always.

This future event with your friend going into a cafe is pure fiction, however the knowledge of the cafe may be not. How is it possible that this café knew that you were in the neighbourhood, and how did it know what your favourite and preferred drinks/food are? The answer: “Smart Dust”

Smart Dust are tiny little microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) that can detect i.e. vibrations, humidity, temperature, light, movement, magnetism, and chemicals. Tiny devices of 2mm each, work as an system to transfer data to each other. Each of those devices has a small “router” in them to send and receive information. The devices have a wireless range of maximum 10 meters. Due to the small range, it is necessary to have a lot of tiny devices close to each other to transfer data on a larger scale. Their energy source is solar energy, because they have a small solar cell and a small battery in them.

The idea descends from Kristofer Pister, a professor at Berkeley. When Pister presented the idea to his colleagues, his concept attracted the US military and Pister received funds to further his work. The first test was in 2001 were six tiny devices (MEMS) were dropped in a field to detect a military vehicle. The test was successful and they even managed to capture the course and speed of the vehicle. Last year a team of Michigan students successfully embedded solar cells in the MEMS to extend their life drastically.

There are many business implementations for Smart Dust. Pister accomplished to gather information about the weather in San Francisco with a radius of 21km using Smart Dust. Defence related implementations are also possible, such as battlefield surveillance and transportation tracking. Transportation tracking is also possible to control inventories. The tiny Smart Dust devices will take over RFID technology in that case. You can also think of product quality control. Some products need to be stored under certain conditions and smart dust makes it easy to monitor temperature, humidity, vibrations etc. There are more business implementation you can think of such as virtual keyboards, smart offices etc.

The main objective for the researches is to extend the life of the devices even more. When companies start to produce Smart Dust the variable cost of one device will be extremely low. The machines to produce MEMS will be costly at the start, but when this technology becomes feasible for companies it will be implemented on a large scale. Researches ask for caution when implementing this technology, because of the environmental impact. No one wants to live in a city with billions of devices floating in the air. Pister did inhale a device (MEMS) and said that it is equal to inhaling a fly. You will cough it up.

Another thing that researchers ask caution for is privacy. Smart Dust devices can measure a lot of things and they are still trying to implement new kind of sensors in the device. It is also possible that Smart Dust will contain microphones to listen in on conversations. Let’s go back to the introduction. It is possible that your clothes, Identity card and maybe yourself will contain Smart Dust which has information about you and will communicate it with businesses. Where camera’s are easy debatable, because they are visible, Smart Dust is not. People cannot see smart dust being there and don’t know if they will be monitored and for what purposes. Another problem is that information gathered by Smart Dust can possibly be stolen by hackers. You can also think of Smart Dust being used to spy on people or businesses. Someone can scatter some device in a house or conference room to obtain classified information.

Smart Dust is a technology with lots of potential and that’s why it entered Gartner’s hype cycle. It will take some more years to make this technology feasible for the market. Meanwhile the discussion how far monitoring of people can go with current technologies will go on and the discussion will intensify if Smart Dust will be implemented.

Kevin Schaap (358985)


M. Kahn, R. H. Katz and K. S. J. Pister (1999) “Mobile Networking for Smart Dust”, ACM/IEEE Intl. Conf. on Mobile Computing and Networking, Seattle, WA, August 17-19, 1999

S. J. Pister, J. M. Kahn and B. E. Boser, (1999) “Smart Dust: Wireless Networks of Millimeter-Scale Sensor Nodes”, Highlight Article in 1999 Electronics Research Laboratory Research Summary.

Hsu, J. M. Kahn, and K. S. J. Pister, (1999) “Wireless Communications for Smart Dust”, Electronics Research Laboratory Technical Memorandum Number M98/2, February, 1998.

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The transformation of television

On 9 September, Tim Cook (CEO Apple) says: ‘the future of television is Apps‘ (Apple, 2015). Not everyone will agree, but it is almost certain that this industry is on the brink of a huge transformation. The only challenge left for television is the input problem, where people primarily pay for traditional, linear, pay-television services and besides that own a secondary device (e.g. DVD player, Apple TV) for additional content (Yarow, 2015). However, it is unclear if or when the ‘secondary’ service can be a substitute for the conservative primary services. Some predictions state that these new devices (e.g. Apple TV) could turn the television into a dumb piece of glass (Yarow, 2015), since many companies are making a bet that the largest screen in our homes is going to become an operating system like the ones that power our computers and phones (Hempel, 2011).


Many things have changed since devices are connected to the Internet. Millions of independent developers have got the chance to create great applications for multiple devices. The television is next and many start-ups will look for opportunities to offer video experience via applications on products such as the Apple TV (Yarow, 2015). Besides that big companies are forced to adjust their content as well. For example, Jeff Bewkes (CEO of Time Warner) spoke about the company’s plan to move its vast catalogue of movies and TV shows onto the Web (Lyon, 2011). Besides that, products like the Apple TV provide opportunities for all kinds of businesses (e.g. Netflix, HBO) to broadcast their content in a new way on the biggest screen in the house.

To convince the consumer, the only way to win it digital is to keep it simple (Lyon, 2011). Then if the new platform works, the prediction is that the traditional, linear, pay-television services will become secondary, because people will start to wonder why they are wasting money on this conservative service (Yarow, 2015). To make this transformation from traditional television to the Internet happen, some things need to be taken into consideration. Especially content expectancy, social influence, facilitating conditions, hedonic motivation and habit have significant effects on behavioral intention on (mobile) television (Wong et al., 2014). Additionally, Wong et al. (2014) claims that gender and other demographics tend to have a moderating effect on this television behavior. The question remains if online television is better in serving the needs of users than the traditional television service. And will suppliers be able to adapt new technologies to capture value? AppleResearch implies that this adaption is needed. For example, the viewer engagement actually is greater when social media is involved (Pynta et al., 2014), and new social possibilities come along with Internet on television.

From the supplier side, the web has the power to make media distribution cheaper and more efficient (Hempel, 2011). On the other hand, the current business model heavily relies on the revenue they earn from licensing. In each country there are able to capture value since it is legally possible to capture value in each geographic region. The web is breaking this business model. Ad rates are much lower on the Internet. Networks cannot collect their fees. Cable companies fear losing our business. Someone has to pay for all that bandwidth we are using to stream our shows (Hempel, 2011). This means that the suppliers must look for new opportunities to generate their revenue. The Internet on television not only brings opportunities, but also big challenges for the current participants, if they want to stay alive.

Vincent Laduc (417658vl)


Apple, 2015. Apple Special Events. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 1 October 2015].
Hempel, J., 2011. What the hell is going on with TV?. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 1 October 2015].
Lyon, D.W., 2011. JEFF BEWKES AND THE APPLE TRAP. B-School Connection.
Pynta, P. et al., 2014. The power of social television: Can social media build viewer engagement? A new approach to brain imaging of viewer immersion. Journal of Advertising Research, pp.71-80.
Wong, C.H., Tan, G.W.H., Loke, S.P. & Ooi, K.B., 2014. Mobile TV: A new form of entertainment? Industrial Management and Data Systems, 5 August. pp.1050-67.
Yarow, J., 2015. The new Apple TV will blow up the TV industry. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 1 October 2015].

iPhone 6S created by Samsung?

On 9 September 2015 Apple presented the iPhone 6S, where they claim: ‘The only thing that has changed is everything’ (Apple, 2015). On the other hand, Samsung claims that ’The next big thing is (already) here’ with their new smartphones (Samsung, 2015). Since I need to buy a new phone very soon, I am starting to doubt how different these products actually are.

The acknowledgment must be made that these companies do not make these phones by themselves. For example, Apple has over 200 suppliers to create their products (Apple Inc., 2015). Besides that Samsung aims to strengthen its position as worldwide computer chip manufacturer (ANP, 2015), which implies that they supply other firms to make their electronic devices (e.g. iPhones).

According to Kaufman et al. (2010) these business networks emerge because customers are more informed and therefore increasingly demanding products and services tailored to their specific needs. This results in business networks, which are able to break up their value chain into independent modules (Kauffman et al., 2010) and thereby are able to add more value to the final product (Ketchen Jr. et al., 2004). One of the reasons to participate in a business network is that it accomplishes more as a whole than the value it can capture by its individual parts (Kauffman et al., 2010). Another reason, especially in this technology driven industry, is that business networks tend to be more innovative (Möller & Rajala, 2007) (Gnyawali & Park, 2011). Therefore all these firms help to grow their entire business network (Gnyawali & Park, 2011), to motive more external parties to join the network (Gallaugher, 2014) and further improve their competitive advantage with their final product (Ketchen Jr. et al., 2004).

apple-vs-samsung3The uniqueness of Apple’s business network is that a direct competitor (e.g. Samsung) is a supplier for their products (e.g. iPhone). Scientific literature names this phenomenon co-opetion, where end-product competitors are contributing in each other’s value chain. As aforementioned a reason to embrace co-opetion is more innovation (Gnyawali & Park, 2011), but this still does not clarify why for example Samsung might cannibalize its own products. An explanation is that co-opetition is only beneficial when businesses are still able to differentiate with their value adding activities (Ketchen Jr. et al., 2004). Therefore if end-product competition is growing, businesses are trying to further protect their differentiating activities (Ritala & Hurmelinna-Laukkanen, 2009). A good example from Apple and Samsung are the patent wars they are having for the past few years. They are blaming each other for copying each other innovations to protect their differentiating activities. However, co-opetition will still be beneficial for both parties, since another observance states that it results in less vertical integration and more diversification (Gnyawali & Park, 2011). For example, this ensures that Samsung can further grow as a chip manufacturer without the interference of Apple. Additionally, the suppliers of companies such as Apple benefit from the demand they generate (Zhang & Frazier, 2011). Therefore the question about co-opetition should be: do we as a business want to capture value from competitors or establish a greater competitive advantage? (Park et al., 2013)

To be honest I really admire the research done about this phenomenon named co-opetition. However I still can’t figure out my personal issue. Therefore I would like to ask you: what phone should I buy? Since I can’t see the difference between the products of Apple and Samsung anymore after this study.

Vincent Laduc (417658vl)

Anderson, A., Park, J. & Jack, S., 2007. Entrepreneurial social capital: Conceptualizing social capital in new high-tech firms. International Small Business Journal, 25, pp.245-72.

Anon., 2014. In Gallaugher, J. Information Systems: A Manager’s Guide to Harnessing Technology. Saylor.

ANP, 2015. Samsung wil verder groeien als toeleverancier. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 25 September 2015].

Apple Inc., 2015. Supplier Responsibility. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 23 September 2015].

Apple, 2015. iPhone. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 1 October 2015].

Gnyawali, D.R. & Park, B.-J.(., 2011. Co-opetition between giants: Collaboration with competitors for technological innovation. Research Policy, 40(1), pp.650-63.

Greve, H.R., Baum, J.A.C., Mitsuhashi, H. & Rowley, T., 2009. Built to Last but Falling Apart: Cohesion, Friciton and Withdrawal from Interfirm Alliances.

Hitt, L.M., 1999. IT and firm boundaries: Evidence from panel data. Information, 10(2), pp.134–49.

Kauffman, R.J., Li, T. & van Heck, E., 2010. Business Network-Based Value Creation in Electronic Commerce. International Journal of Electronic Commerce, 15(1), pp.113–43.

Ketchen Jr., D.J., Snow, C.C. & Hoover, V.L., 2004. Research on Competitive Dynamics: Recent Accomplishments and Future Challenges. Journal of Management, 30(6), pp.779-804.

Möller, K. & Rajala, A., 2007. Rise of strategic nets — New modes of value creation. Industrial Marketing Management, 36(7), pp.895-908.

Park, B.-J.R., Srivastava, M.K. & Gnyawali, D.R., 2013. Walking the tight rope of coopetition: Impact of competition and cooperation intensities and balance on firm innovation performance. Industrial Marketing Management , 43, pp.210-21.

Ritala, P. & Hurmelinna-Laukkanen, P., 2009. What’s in it for me? Creating and appropriating value in innovation-related coopetition. Technovation, 29, pp.819-28.

Samsung, 2015. Homepage. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 1 October 2015].

Zhang, J. & Frazier, G.V., 2011. Strategic alliance via co-opetition: Supply chain partnership with a competitor. Decision Support Systems , 51, pp.853-63.


You may already be familiar with the concept through MTV’s  popular ‘’Catfish: The TV Show’’, an American reality-based docu series about the truths and lies of online dating. If not, let me hereby introduce you to the Catfish: a person who creates false identities to give the impression of being attractive, while he or she actually is a complete or near opposite of that portrayed. Catfishes use various social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in order to particularly pursue deceptive online romances.


The reason of the tv shows’ popularity lays within its power of confrontation and shocking revelations; the filmmakers literary bring together couples who have interacted solely through their LCD screens. What will happen when these romantics meet in real life for the first time after months of years of online dating?

Enough about the show; the purpose of this blog is not to make you watch it or promote it in any sense. However, I do want to address the ‘’dark side’’ of social media on human psychology in here. Catfishing, various addictions, cyber-bullying, and the online child pornography industry are just some examples.

Now let me zoom in on the actual catfishing phenomenon, because I think it may be somewhat entertaining or appealing to you readers. Catfishers now have the opportunity to not only exercise and thereby worsen their mental issues, but also suck others into them. Their mental disorders and lies can now also impact and literary destroy lives of others and I find that very striking. Of course, the victims or #catfished may be too naïve, impulsive or ignorant. But I am wondering if we then need to become suspicious all the time and lose all trust in social media. When will we as a society be able to use social media and internet in a ‘’right’’ way and what would the Internet look like then? What new problems will arise next?


Naturally, our society is also growing on a mental level through the self-help, community, love and connection that this Information Era provides. And of course, people learn from their mistakes, but at what or rather at whose cost?

Luckily, more attention has been directed towards the catfishing phenomenon and people are warning each other. Do you think the upcoming information systems, sharpening safety and security and society’s increasing distrust will allow people to keep stealing others’ information and/or create deceptive identities in the future? Have you ever been #catfished, had any similar experiences or are you an intelligent BIM catfish yourself?



Picnic, will this be the future?


Picnic is possible competitor of Albert Heijn and other supermarkets. A lot of startups tried to accomplish to be an online supermarket. Picnic is one of them. The different with Picnic is that the delivering costs are low because of a good logistic system, unlike other startups. Picnic does not have francize companies and does not have expensive buildings. Overall, this can lead to a low cost online supermarket company (, 2015). Online shopping will be the new standard as if people are getting used to the fact that the daily groceries at scheduled times are delivered to the door. The consumentus digitalis is coming. Albert Heijn was for a long time the only supermarket with a delivery service. Nowadays, Jumbo also Jumbo started online shopping and a delivery service. Picnic is the first company that get guarantee very low delivery costs.

The online supermarket phenomena has a quite interesting history. In the United Kingdom, according to research of IDG, less than 5% of the daily groceries ordered online. So overall, as if it is possible for consumers to order groceries online, firms are losing money. In Netherlands less than 2% of the consumers orders daily groceries online. But, as I told before, as if people are getting used to it, it can be the new standard. Overall, selling food over the internet is not easy, but there are more products of which everyone mistakenly thought that no one would buy them digitally. A very good example is shoes. Zalando disrupted this market.

On the other hand, Albert Heijn targets consumers also in a inventive way. Albert Heijn opens stores, which are close to the consumer in terms of location and product offering. Molenaar (2013): in the Netherlands, we see a growth of one-person households. Smaller quantities, get something to eat on the go and not necessary eating at home are characteristics of this people. AH to go creates value for this kind of consumers.

What do you guys think? Will Picnic be the next big thing? I’m curious what the future holds.


FD (2015). Boodschappen bezorgen heeft de toekomst. Available at:, (2015). 3 redenen waarom Picnic Albert Heijn en Jumbo pijn kan doen. [online] Z24. Available at: [Accessed 22 Sep. 2015].

Rijlaarsdam, B. (2015). Zo maak je Albert Heijn weer succesvol. [online] NRC Q. Available at: [Accessed 22 Sep. 2015].

Would you consider a job at a start-up?


As a graduate business student, there are broadly speaking three options when looking for a job. You can start working at (1) a multinational company, (2) at a SME or (3) become an entrepreneur / start working at a start-up company. According to the RSM faculty, RSM graduates are more or less evenly distributed among these three options. However, when I speak to fellow students and look at the career events organized at the university, I sometimes wonder how many of us are really considering a job at a start-up, or would be interested in starting their own start-up from the beginning. The companies that participate in the events organized at the university are mainly the big multinational companies, which is kind of logical considering their big recruitment budgets. Starting your career at such a company can have many advantages, as it can be good for your future career, working conditions are good  and such a job brings little uncertainty. You might wonder, why start working at a start-up company then?

The Netherlands has everything a start-up needs

To begin with, you are in the right spot. The Netherlands might not be Silicon Valley, but it does have a lot of ingredients to become a mature technology start-up ecosystem.

The Netherlands has got a good combination of technical and business schools with RSM and TU Delft, but also with TU Eindhoven and Tilburg University. With Neelie Kroes as a supporter of start-ups, the government can be seen as supportive. There is space to physically expand growth companies. Furthermore there is a good mix of accelerators, angels and VC’s that are willing to invest. Dutch start-up Adyen recently received a huge investment and is now being valued around $2.3 billion. The only ingredient that might be missing is you: a critical mass of people that want (and are able) to start their own company.

The personal benefits

With the right environment, the opportunity is here. Still the question remains; why work for – or start a start-up company? Working at a start-up brings multiple personal benefits. First, start-ups are the new sexy. Explaining at a drink that you started your own company in the tech business is simply more interesting than you talking about being the master of the universe because you are a king in making Excel-calculations. Just as IT loses its dusty image, start-ups are becoming more broadly accepted and recognized as good learning schools. Second, start-ups will give you a lot of responsibility – which you will certainly not be getting at a multinational start job. You will be able to call the shots and meet with interesting people. Finally, if you make it, you can make it big. Leading companies such as Google, Facebook and Airbnb didn’t exist 20 years ago and all started small. There are plenty of Dutch start-ups that are making or have made a name for them self as well such as Adyen,, WeTransfer and 22tracks.

There are probably more benefits to come up with, and on the other side there are of course downsides as well. Yes, working at a start-up brings more risk. If the start-up fails you are unemployed. You probably won’t get a car from your employer; the salary and secondary working conditions are way worse. But the potential upside and the personal benefits on the other side can cover for this. Besides; the disadvantages aren’t that bad at this moment in your life. As a student you are used to not having too much money around, not having a car and you probably don’t have kids yet to take care of.

In the end I think there should be a personal fit. If you are a creative, risk-seeking person, starting your career at a start-up might be the best option. If you like routine and want to work in a structured professional environment, starting your career at a multinational might be your best option. As a BIM student, would you consider working at a start-up?


From Google to Alphabet – “Refactoring” the company

google-alphabet-logo-1439294822Google has been around since 1998. We are all familiar with its presence. Many people have this muscle reflex to type in when they want to look up something. The search results are well optimized that only in rare instances you need to click into the second page. It is so successfully marketed that it even reserved itself a permanent entry in Oxford Dictionary. Google is also a very successful company in numbers. It dominates the global online search industry and its market share outruns the second place by more than 50%. It employs more than 50,000 employees worldwide and it has become an Internet conglomerate.

Normally, when a tech company reaches this stage, we would expect the management style to be more conservative and risk-averse. Intuitively, managing a company of 50,000 employees is, by a number of magnitudes, harder than a company of 5,000 employees. In a large company, a small mistake could have cascading effects and become disastrous.

Google seems to be an exception. On Aug. 10th this year, Larry Page announced his plan to found a parent company named Alphabet, and he seats the CEO position. It oversees all traditional Google products like Gmail and Android; Google X, which hosts several moonshot experiments; Calico, the life sciences branch on longevity; Nest; and Google Venture and Capital. Sundar Pichai, SVP of Google, has now officially become the

This is a bold decision with a possibly very bright future, but it could also be atrocious over the years and destroy the culture that Google has built over the past 18 years. Larry Page explained in his public letter, “in the technology industry, where revolutionary ideas drive the next big growth areas, you need to be a bit uncomfortable to stay relevant”. Alphabet is now comprised of several parts of the old Google. All the experimental branches like Google X or Calico can operate with more independence and momentum. Ever since Google X was incubated, it suffers from limitations brought by traditional parts of Google, because it operates on a much higher velocity. Investors and general public have expressed concerns on unfruitful experiments, and it reached a peak when Google announced to shut down the consumer branch of Google Glass. All these concerns have become irrelevant now. Each individual company has its own goal, and it is free of the limitations set forth by the traditional Google. Furthermore, the management benefits are phenomenal: Larry Page and Sergey Brin are more excited in experimental products, and Sunday Pichai is a proven successful manager who can focus on the continued growth of the traditional Google.

Nevertheless, the downside of this decision is also nontrivial. Apart from its obvious risk level, it separated the revenue generator, Google Ads, from the moonshot projects. It is not likely that Google Ads will stop funding the moonshot companies in the immediate future, but it is possible that all these experimental projects will seek for venture capitalists or private equity investments. Over the years, the corporate culture will likely be very different across all individual companies. This makes talented Google employees harder to join moonshots, and detriments the overall talent acquisition process. Another downside is that the traditional part of Google might lose its innovation velocity. As all the moonshots depart from the traditional company, Google might give more focus on stability. It hurts the search engine in the long run because the market share might drop as innovation becomes stagnant.

In conclusion, Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s rebranding decision is very ambitious. If it works, Alphabet will be even more successful financially, and it will have more impact on people’s daily life. It gives more freedom to experimental projects like longevity research, drone delivery and Internet penetration into rural areas. However if it fails, it will become a management disaster where companies compete with each other for resources and eventually it hurts the traditional Google brand. It is essentially a refactoring in the computer science vernacular. The refactoring will likely take very long time to implement, and only time will tell whether it is effective or not. However, when it does prove to be successful and implemented correctly, the benefit is very substantial.

Your Reference

Page, L. (2015). Google Announces Plans for New Operating Structure . Available: Last accessed 2nd Oct 2015.

Is there a future for brick-and-mortar retailers?


E-commerce is a big threat to physical stores. The brick-and-mortar retailers are losing market share to webshops every year. The percentage of online shopping increased from 5% in 2007 to 9% in 2012 in the United States (Economist, 2012).

I think most retailers don’t invest enough effort in building a relationship with their customers. The main things that allow brick-and-mortar retailers to differentiate from online retailers is service and the shopping experience (Trafsys, 2015). So brick-and-mortar retailers should focus more on those things, such as expensive clothes and gadgets, that customers will want to try before they buy them. With these products the price isn’t the most important thing. More important is that there is a good relationship with the customers. A good relationship with the customers will also prevent against showrooming. Showrooming is that shoppers try products in physical stores before they buy them online for a cheaper price (Economist, 2012). This is a really big problem for physical stores who sell consumer electronics. Many people can acknowledge that they tried a laptop or mobile phone in a store before buying it online for a lower price.

So brick-and-mortar retailers should deliver a better service or shopping experience to compensate the higher price. In my opinion, the Apple store is one of the few physical stores in the Netherlands that deliver something extra. I bought my Mac Book in the Apple store The Hague last month. I didn’t buy it online because I like the experience of an Apple store and prefer the service of the physical store. Especially with these kind of prices, it gives a better feeling that you can go to a store when there is something wrong with your product. In conclusion, I think that brick-and-mortar retailers should focus more on service and shopping experience, instead of trying to compete with the low prices of online shops.

References :, (2015). Trend report: Why Personalized Retail Is the Future of Brick-and-Mortar Stores [online] Available at: [Accessed 30 Sep. 2015].

The Economist, (2012). Clicks and bricks. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Sep. 2015].

WAITBUTWHY, the blog that you should not miss.

Once we were told in the lecture that we had to write a blog post there was one thing that immediately came to my mind that I needed to share: WAITBUTWHY. This is the website of Tim Urban,  where he does a “new post every sometimes”. I ended up on his blogging-website beginning of this year via a tweet of Elon Musk who posted the following:

The above post is part one of an incredible two-part post about the revolution of Artificial Intelligence, which of course is crazy interesting as well as a good fit with our current choice of education.

Tim Urban has an amazing style of writing and real talent for telling a story though his posts. He also makes his own drawings which makes his posts even better. The main reason for the success of his blog is, in my opinion, that he is able to take incredibly huge and sometimes difficult subjects and manages to tell everything about it in a very interesting way that everyone will understand.

This is probably the reason that he got the opportunity to make the following post, which starts as follows:

Last month, I got a surprising phone call.

Well, to see how this continues and to what amazing posts this will lead you’ll have to check it yourself:


On there are many other interesting and entertaining posts which will take a lot of your time to read, especially when you actually need to study or do other stuff. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Besides some of the very high quality posts about the course related subject Artificial Intelligence there is another reason for sharing this blog. In today’s world, information is abundant and available 24/7.  The majority of news articles, social media updates, headlines and other information that comes your way are short pieces of information. This is useful and keeps you up-to-date with what is happening around the world. But for a lot of these news flashes the main focus is to let you know something as soon as possible before you actually lose attention and switch over to the next article, Youtube-video, Facebook-chat or Whatsapp message. We are distracted continuously with these unlimited amounts of data pushed on the world wide web and to our devices. Even without the internet, it is the innate bias of the human brain to be distracted. Reading long sequences of pages from longer articles and/or books lets us develop a mental discipline (Carr, 2010). This mental discipline helps us to focus better, be more creative and be more productive.

That brings me to the other reason for sharing this blog. My guess is that most of us (including myself) don’t really get a lot of opportunity for those long reads in our daily lives and that seems to be a huge miss. This is actually not so strange if you think about it. A really long and indepth analys of something is quite rare in between all those quick and all-the-time updates. So with all the information that we encounter in our everyday lives, reading a somewhat bigger blog, article or book now and then seems to be a good strategy to keep our focus.


Technology of the week: Crowdfunding vs Crowdsourcing

The rise of Web 2.0 changed the web from a static portal to a dynamic workplace without physical barriers through which people across the world are able to connect and collaborate. This resulted in new business models and new ways to operate in order to achieve goals by using ‘the crowd’ as a main resource. This blogpost will compare two types of crowd usage (Crowdfunding & Crowdsourcing) through two electronic marketplace platforms (Kickstarter & Freelancer).Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.50.21

Crowdfunding: Kickstarter
Using Kickstarter, business entrepreneurs are able to attract capital using the crowd as their main source of investment, called Crowdfunding. Entrepreneurs submit their ideas and the crowd can decide to ‘back’ these projects by donating money, sometimes in return for a finished product. Kickstarter earns its money by charging an average commission based fee of 5% on all successfully funded projects. The business model is fully driven by transaction volume. One of their success stories is the Pebble E-paper Watch. This project reached its 100.000 USD goal in just two hours, and eventually was pledged more than twenty times the expected amount (Jauregui, 2012).

Crowdsourcing: Freelancer
Crowdsourcing is mainly used for four main purposes: solving problems, generating ideas, designing logos/commercials/websites, and outsourcing human intelligence tasks. At the same time, people around the world are looking for work matching their specialisation (Boons, 2014). Freelancer created an online marketplace which connects these two sides and enabled online outsourcing. Their revenue model is subscription and commission based. Both project suppliers and freelancers need a paid subscription if they wish to participate in this electronic marketplace and the commission based fee is based on a fixed percentage of the value of every completed project. Today, Freelancer has over 16 million users and more than 8 million projects. This marketplace is expected to grow as the adoption of internet in low-wage countries increases.

Comparing Kickstarter & Freelancer
Comparing Kickstarter and Freelancer, we found mostly similarities. Both Kickstarter and Freelancer have the largest market share in their market, and do so by providing a hierarchy free marketplace (Malone, Yates, Benjamin, 1987) . They both exploit similar business models, based on fees and commissions, though Freelancer has more revenue streams due to the paid subscriptions. Furthermore, Kickstarter and Freelancer both exploit the absence of matured legislation and governance guidelines, limiting their responsibilities towards the crowd. But Kickstarter has shown its responsibility recently by becoming a Public Benefit Organisation (Kickstarter, 2015).  The main difference lies in the role of demand and supply, which are fundamentally different when comparing Crowdsourcing to Crowdfunding. Whereas in Crowdfunding the crowd solely offers funding, in Crowdsourcing the crowd is responsible for providing services.

Our predictions
Kickstarter and Freelancer are ever growing in size as crowdfunding and crowdsourcing are still rising in popularity. However, in the long run the growth of Crowdfunding is expected to reach a ceiling given that the yearly growth will start to decrease. Crowdsourcing is expected to keep on growing as the job market is an essential human need. Especially in the low-wage countries that are getting increasingly connected to the Internet. The most risky element which can potentially disturb the growth of both crowdfunding and crowdsourcing is the maturation of legislation and governance structures. Legislation will most likely shift the landscape of responsibilities regarding crowdfunding and crowdsourcing websites, which could have an impact on all crowd-based business models.

Jauregui, A. (2013) ‘Pebble iPhone Watch Is Highest Grossing Kickstarter Project Ever’. Accessed on 23 September 2015 through
Boons, M. (2014), Session 8: The Business Implications of Web 2.0 [PowerPoint slides], Retrieved from RSM
Malone, T.W., Yates, J., and Benjamin, R.I. (1987).
Electronic Markets and Electronic Hierarchies. Communications of the ACM 30(6) 484-497.
Strickler, Y., Chen, P., Adler, C. (2015). ‘Kickstarter is now a Benefit Corporation’. Accessed on 24 September 2015 through

Team 23
Hicham Gouiza 322226
Tony Jordan 400986
Kevin Schaap 358985
Jurgen Langbroek 336822
Glenn de Jong 357570

Could our personal data solve for poverty on earth?

Your personal data is worth something, and actually we do deserve the value of these (our) data. Meanwhile are the large companies, such as Google and Facebook, the ones who collect our data as input and use it to transform it in valuable output. Via personal devices they record every step we take save it into their datacenters, these datacenters are the heart of what is called Big Data. A treasure of valuable data and new insights derived from e-mails, location based services, photo’s and many more sources most ordinary people are even not aware of.

Companies are willing to pay huge amounts for our personal data. Not only for advertising, but they can also use it to predict your future behavior. They are able to find indicators of a persons purchase intent and interests that we may be giving subconsciously. Some argue that Google’s business model is a threat, because its directly making money from what they have in control. They key is to regard data as an asset, as something valuable that’s our property and maybe we should even think a little bit about it like it’s money. Thinking different about it is controversial, data has always been used to sell goods and services, nowadays it’s the product.

Viktor Mayer Schonberger, author of ‘The Big Data Revolution’, found that companies do already look this way at big data so they’ve created new business models. Companies such as Facebook and Google have valuations of respectively $225 billon and $376 billion. All created with the value of our data. That’s why Jaron Lanier, author of ‘Who owns the Future’, wonders out loud, and so do I, weather we should get paid for this data supply. He estimates that the data should be worth hundreds of dollars for each person that’s active on the internet, if not thousands for some people. Every company nowadays sees data as a potential asset to generate value with, and we give it away to every company that we use services from because we don’t know how to possess our data and turn it into value ourselves.

Recently people fear that advances in technology will throw people out of work. The answer to this has always been ‘’No we are just making new ways of work that are even better than the previous ones’’, but the problem is that as things become highly automated and highly efficient because of digital technology, the question remains; can we still make that answer work? If cars are driving themselves and our products are printed by 3D printers instead of manufactured in a factory, is there then still anybody making a living? Then the only possible answer is that you can make a living with your information, because information is what becomes valuable in an highly advanced society.

So the value of personal data is going up which raises the question will this ever reach the poverty line? So weather the average value of information for a person in a certain country will be as much as the poverty line at some point. Jaron Lanier has made calculations and thinks that this is something that could happen. If information could eliminate poverty, then there are new ways to think about society, that might be something we should think about.

As a ambitious and entrepreneurial BIM student this futuristic philosophy keeps me thinking about ways to facilitate this shift from giving data to selling data. Feel free to leave a reply or contact me if you would like to share any thoughts about this.


Schonberger & Gukier, V, M. & K (2013) The Big Data Revolution, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Lanier, J. (2014) Who Owns The Future, Simon & Schuster.

Kim, Eugene (2015) Uber has grown faster in its first five years than Facebook did, 09-13-2015.

Forbes, (2015) The World’s Most Valuable Brands, 09-13-2015

The Sharing Economy: will this be the future?

Over the past years, the attitude towards consumption have shift and brought a increasing concern over sustainability. Despite of the succes of some sustainable initiatives, the overall trend follows the unsustainable path. That is why new approaches are needed. How can we solve this problem? What can firms do?

The development of information technologies and the growth of web 2.0 has enabled the development of online platforms. This online platforms promote user generated content, sharing and collaboration (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). Examples are open source software, collaborative online encyclopedias (e.g. Wikipedia) and sites like YouTube and Instagram. All together we can call this the sharing economy. The sharing economy thus emerges from a number of technological developments that have simplified sharing of both physical and non-physical goods and services through the availability of various information systems on the Internet (Hamari, et al., 2015). According to Heinrichs (2013), this collaborative lifestyle will disrupt mainstream economies and consumerism, improve social cohesion, and contribute to the minimization of resource use.

Now a day, the world choose Uber over car ownership, Spotify over music ownership and Netflix over the movie ownership. This brought Michael Cassua (2015), founder of the startup ByeBuy, on an idea:”Ownership as a concept is becoming obsolete and it is really not necessary at all to own any of these items to enjoy cool gadgets. We are here to eliminate ownership of product goods and introduce a pay-as-you-go system instead.” This means that you can have unlimited acces to the newest technology like the new iPhone 6S or a Playstation game at lower costs (95% less than if you bought the item). You just have to pay a subscription fee. The consequence is, that you are not constantly engaged in buying and selling. You download the ByeBuy app, suppliers will give you stuff and afterwards you can give it back. So ByeBuy is an intermediary company in a sharing economy.

Overall, I think the sharing economic will benefit our world. This lifestyle will disrupt mainstream economies and consumerism, improve social cohesion, and contribute to the minimization of resource use. ByeBuy is a good example of an intermediary company in the electronic market that can disrupt industry structures.

Hamari, J., Sjöklint, M., & Ukkonen, A. (2015). The sharing economy: Why people participate in collaborative consumption. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology

Heinrichs, H. (2013) Sharing Economy: A Potential New Pathway to Sustainability, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Faculty of Sustainability

Kaplan, A. M., & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media. Business horizons, 53, 1, 59-68.

Wired (2015) ‘Startup of the week: ByeBuy’, 14 September 2015

The future for Humana and the insurance industry as a whole (Team 13 DTP)


Humana Inc. is a Kentucky-based for-profit health insurance company. With over 13 million customers in the U.S., a reported turnover of US$48.5 billion, and over 57,000 employees, it is the third largest health insurance company in the nation. Humana’s value proposition is to bring health insurance to all consumers of the US at a rate that is at least 15% lower than that offered by the government. However, even with its current success, Humana and the insurance industry as a whole has been lacking in innovation. We propose a solution using smart wristbands in order to create a new service offering for Humana.

Proposed solution

The solution we proposed in our assignment was the introduction of smart wristbands that would monitor the activity, sleep, and potentially the heart rate of the clients in order to offer more accurate prices. Basically, they would be able to engage in first-degree price discrimination with the use of this technology. This addition to Humana’s services would also complement the feature where customers receive bonuses if they live a healthy lifestyle by actually tracking any sporting activity that the customer engages in.

The two wristbands we suggested where the Jawbone UP24 and the Garmin Vivosmart.


The reason why we suggest using two models as opposed to just setting a standard of one model is that the heart rate monitor is more expensive to add and should be added only if customers have chronic heart conditions or are over the age threshold determined by Humana. This offers the possibility of another service offering: being aware of any episodes that customers with such conditions might have and the potential of alerting the right authorities (for example, an ambulance) to arrive faster than in a usual situation.

To better illustrate the technology itself, we have created a SWOT analysis. This analysis is summarized in the following table:



When suggesting an ambitious project such as this one, it is very important to consider the feasibility before undertaking any implementation. First of all, we considered the financial feasibility of the project. This includes any significant costs that the project is likely to lead to and is then compared with the revenue of the company in order to see if it would be financially feasible. The costs are summarized in the following table:


The main costs included were the cost of purchasing the wristbands (where we assumed that they could be bought while benefiting from a bulk discount due to the amount purchased), the cost of setting up a new set of servers in order to accommodate the new amount of data that will be gathered using the wrist bands, as well as the new hires needed. Specifically, the new hires will include a Data Scientist and two Data Analysts in order to take advantage of all the data being gathered and potentially provide new insights. Considering that Humana’s revenue was $41 billion in 2014 it is safe to assume that undertaking this project is financially feasible.

The project is also considered technically feasible, due to these products already being released commercially and tested for these purposes. In addition, legal feasibility is no issue since the Data Privacy Act in the US is not very restrictive and does not hinder the project in any way. Finally, the project is also operationally feasible since it already fits in with the systems that Humana has and can just be offered as a supplement, rather than a completely new offering.


We believe that this project will bring a number of benefits for Humana and at quite a low cost. We suggest that Humana makes sure that the project’s outcomes will follow the plan by first implementing it in a number of areas in order to test out the consumer response.

Humana’s website:

This has been a summary of the Digital Transformation Project written by Team 13, composed of the following members:

Maximilian Wiedmaier – 366864mw
Claudio Corti – 372722cc
Alex Furnica – 375587af
Paul Leonard – 354502pg
Maxim Grgurevic – 372850mg

Where the Digital Economy Is Moving the Fastest


The transition to a global digital economy in 2014 was sporadic – brisk in some countries, choppy in others. By year’s end, the seven biggest emerging markets were larger than the G7, in purchasing power parity terms. Plus, consumers in the Asia-Pacific region were expected to spend more online last year than consumers in North America. The opportunities to serve the e-consumer were growing – if you knew where to look.

These changing rhythms in digital commerce are more than a China, or even an Asia, story. Far from Silicon Valley, Shanghai, or Singapore, a German company, Rocket Internet, has been busy launching e-commerce start-ups across a wide range of emerging and frontier markets. Their stated mission: To become the world’s largest internet platform outside the U.S. and China. Many such “Rocket” companies are poised to become the Alibabas and Amazons for the rest of the world: Jumia, which operates in nine countries across Africa; Namshi in the Middle East; Lazada and Zalora in ASEAN; Jabong in India; and Kaymu in 33 markets across Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

Private equity and venture capital money have been concentrating in certain markets in ways that mimic the electronic gold rush in Silicon Valley. During the summer of 2014 alone $3 billion poured into India’s e-commerce sector, where, in addition to local innovators like Flipkart and Snapdeal, there are nearly 200 digital commerce startups flush with private investment and venture capital funds. This is happening in a country where online vendors largely operate on a cash-on-delivery (COD) basis. Credit cards or PayPal are rarely used; according to the Reserve Bank of India, 90% of all monetary transactions in India are in cash. Even Amazon localized its approach in India to offer COD as a service. India and other middle-income countries such as Indonesia and Colombia all have high cash dependence. But even where cash is still king, digital marketplaces are innovating at a remarkable pace. Nimble e-commerce players are simply working with and around the persistence of cash.

To understand more about these types of changes around the world, researchers developed an “index” to identify how a group of countries stack up against each other in terms of readiness for a digital economy. The Digital Evolution Index (DEI) is derived from four broad drivers:

  • supply-side factors : including access, fulfillment, and transactions infrastructure;
  • demand-side factors : including consumer behaviors and trends, financial and Internet and social media savviness;
  • innovations : including the entrepreneurial, technological and funding ecosystems, presence and extent of disruptive forces and the presence of a start-up culture and mindset;
  • institutions : including government effectiveness and its role in business, laws and regulations and promoting the digital ecosystem.

The resulting index includes a ranking of 50 countries, which were chosen because they are either home to most of the current 3 billion internet users or they are where the next billion users are likely to come from.

As part of the research was to understand who was changing quickly to prepare for the digital marketplace and who wasn’t. Perhaps not surprisingly, developing countries in Asia and Latin America are leading in momentum, reflecting their overall economic gains. But the analysis revealed other interesting patterns.
Take, for example, Singapore and The Netherlands. Both are among the top 10 countries in present levels of digital evolution. But when considered the momentum – i.e., the five-year rate of change from 2008 to 2013 – the two countries are far apart. Singapore has been steadily advancing in developing a world-class digital infrastructure, through public-private partnerships, to further entrench its status as a regional communications hub. Through ongoing investment, it remains an attractive destination for start-ups and for private equity and venture capital. The Netherlands, meanwhile, has been rapidly losing steam. The Dutch government’s austerity measures beginning in late 2010 reduced investment into elements of the digital ecosystem. Its stagnant, and at times slipping, consumer demand led investors to seek greener pastures.

Based on the performance of countries on the index during the years 2008 to 2013, researches assigned them to one of four trajectory zones: Stand Out, Stall Out, Break Out, and Watch Out.

  • Stand Out countries have shown high levels of digital development in the past and continue to remain on an upward trajectory.
  • Stall Out countries have achieved a high level of evolution in the past but are losing momentum and risk falling behind.
  • Break Out countries have the potential to develop strong digital economies. Though their overall score is still low, they are moving upward and are poised to become Stand Out countries in the future.
  • Watch Out countries face significant opportunities and challenges, with low scores on both current level and upward motion of their DEI. Some may be able to overcome limitations with clever innovations and stopgap measures, while others seem to be stuck.


Break Out countries such as India, China, Brazil, Vietnam, and the Philippines are improving their digital readiness quite rapidly. But the next phase of growth is harder to achieve. Staying on this trajectory means confronting challenges like improving supply infrastructure and nurturing sophisticated domestic consumers.

Watch Out countries like Indonesia, Russia, Nigeria, Egypt, and Kenya have important things in common like institutional uncertainty and a low commitment to reform. They possess one or two outstanding qualities — predominantly demographics — that make them attractive to businesses and investors, but they expend a lot of energy innovating around institutional and infrastructural constraints. Unclogging these bottlenecks would let these countries direct their innovation resources to more productive uses.

Most Western and Northern European countries, Australia, and Japan have been Stalling Out. The only way they can jump-start their recovery is to follow what Stand Out countries do best: redouble on innovation and continue to seek markets beyond domestic borders. Stall Out countries are also aging. Attracting talented, young immigrants can help revive innovation quickly.

What does the future hold? The next billion consumers to come online will be making their digital decisions on a mobile device – very different from the practices of the first billion that helped build many of the foundations of the current e-commerce industry. There will continue to be strong cross-border influences as the competitive field evolves: even if Europe slows, a European company, such as Rocket Internet, can grow by targeting the fast-growing markets in the emerging world; giants out of the emerging world, such as Alibaba, with their newfound resources and brand, will look for markets elsewhere; old stalwarts, such as Amazon and Google will seek growth in new markets and new product areas. Emerging economies will continue to evolve differently, as will their newly online consumers. Businesses will have to innovate by customizing their approaches to this multi-speed planet, and in working around institutional and infrastructural constraints, particularly in markets that are home to the next billion online consumers.

We may be on a journey toward a digital planet — but we’re all traveling at different speeds.

Short video about this article :

Shanise Abhelakh

Google attacks Microsoft by offering Google Apps for free to enterprise customers

Since the 1980s, Microsoft has dominated the productivity suite market. They increasingly extended their customer-base, and became a norm for offices and home users alike. With the trend towards cloud technology, new competitors like Google Apps emerged. Google Apps offers customers a freemium deal, where they receive the core product for free and can purchase additional cloud storage. Enterprise customers were offered a subscription-based payment plan, either monthly or annually, which gave them access to Googles services, but only until now. Google just announced that they will now offer Google Apps for Work for free for customers, until their contract with competing suites runs out. Google entered the market on the lower-end with their simple product offering, but increasingly extended their reach to enterprise customers. This new development can be considered an attack against Microsoft, an attempt to increasingly entice customers to switch from Microsoft to Google. Google now even offers firms to pay parts of their deployment costs, after their contract with competitors runs out. This strategy seems to be in line with the statement recently published by Amit Singh, head of Google for Work, where he says that Google wants users to use Microsoft and Google simultaneously, and that he believes in the long-run they will stop using Microsoft licenses. Eliminating the subscription model for enterprise users can be seen as an extension of this statement. Not only does Google want enterprise users to use the suites simultaneously, they also want them to do it for free, but only until their contracts with competitors run out. Then, Google will likely hope that customers switch completely to Google Apps. In any case, this new development will likely worry Microsoft, who are being attacked in their prime business area, the productivity suite market for enterprise customers. It will be interesting to see how Microsoft reacts to this. What do you think? What can Microsoft do to solidify their position within the market? What can they do to stop Google Apps from continuously stealing customers from them? They already introduced online functionalities to their traditional offline products to combat the trend towards the cloud, but can they change anything within their pricing structures?


Bort, J. (2015). Google shares its plan to nab 80% of Microsoft’s Office business. [online] Business Insider. Available at: [Accessed 19 Oct. 2015].

Perez, S. (2015). Google Goes After Microsoft And IBM By Making Google Apps For Work Free While Customers Still Under Competitors Contract. [online] TechCrunch. Available at: [Accessed 19 Oct. 2015].

Changing business models by E-commerce

Let me ask you a question. When you want to buy something, what are the first steps you take? You “google” your product. You ask your friends. Or you visit the website where you think they’ll probably have. Right? This creates a standard for your searching pattern. If you are predictive in your search pattern, big companies can use this in their advantage, especially if you use Google for everything. Google’s entire business model runs because of this.

Since the latest generation “Z” is used to use the Internet all the time, you see signs as online shopping is growing tremendously. E-commerce is thereby becoming more and more important. Companies as Amazon and Alibaba are now growing every day. Due the economies of scale and higher efficiency, they manage to keep their costs low and therefore sell items at low prices as possible.
The E-commerce business also relies on the reviews consumers place. Other people’s experience also does matter. Thus, consumers are connected in a social level.

Big platforms, such as Google, are making advantage of their information power. Google sees an opportunity, by launching Google Shopping, in helping webshops selling items through their platform. Instead of browsing through various websites as a consumer, checking for the cheapest items, hoping for the website to be reliable; Google takes all those concerns away by making it more convenient for the future shopper.
The same goes for Facebook. Facebook isn’t all about social media anymore. They implemented Facebook Shopping (helping webshops) into their website and you can purchase the items with your Facebook credits. That’s right; Facebook also has a paying system. The new sunglasses you asked your friends with a Facebook update, is now advertised through Facebook and you can pay for it, again with your Facebook account.

You can easily stick to less websites since business models from various platforms are expanding. What’s next: YouTube will take over television and start streaming everything? This is already happening over time.
Normally, I think a company should stick to one secure business model by doing where they are good at. Somehow, Google and Facebook found their way in doing this in a good way.

Are they loosing their focus? Or is this the way they can take over people’s mind and let them use their platform for almost everything? What does this mean for small companies if these big players take over a large market share and are active in several markets? Is it a battle between the giants such as Facebook and Google?

Not that I’m concerned, but I’m pretty curious about this. What I can give you as a tip is to use your common sense. Don’t forget about other players than Facebook and Google in the E-commerce world.

What do you think?

Hicham Gouiza


Shoppers continue to leave national brands behind

America’s national food, beverage and household brands struggle to regain favor in the hearts and minds of US consumers for the fifth year in a row, according to Deloitte’s annual “American Pantry” study (June 2015) of more than 354 brands across 34 product categories.

Consumer packaged good is a type of good that is consumed every day by the average consumer. The consumer packaged goods industry is one of the largest in North America, valued at approximately US$2 trillion. Although growth has slowed in this industry, companies that provide CPGs still benefit from large margins and strong balance sheets.


Nearly 3 in 4 (73 percent) consumer packaged goods (CPG) categories show an overall decline in their brands’ “must-have” status, meaning that shoppers would purchase whether on sale or not. However, this year’s study also showed a drop in store brands’ appeal, improved consumer perceptions of the economy, and shoppers’ willingness to pay a premium for attributes such as health and convenience–which may signal a turning point that is set to further disrupt the CPG industry after years of consumer caution.

While the majority of consumers say they are committed to sustained frugality year after year, findings point to early signs that they may finally be responding to a belated but increasingly strong economic recovery. It creates tremendous opportunities and risks for companies in this sector, given households’ lack of commitment to national brands brought on by years of stretching dollars to the limit. Brands that get things right can use the economy’s momentum to regain their place on consumers’ shelves, but those that move too slowly could very well be left behind.

While previous years of economic stagnation fueled consumers’ interest in store brands, this year’s study revealed that trend may be reversing as recession-weary consumers loosen their purse strings. The number of consumers who view store brands as a sacrifice (43 percent) jumped 10 percentage points, while fewer consumers (65 percent) indicate they are more open to trying store branded products, an eight percentage point decline.

Moreover, roughly one-quarter (25 percent) of consumers indicate they are willing to pay 10 percent or more for a product that is new or innovative, and one-third (33 percent) will do so for a craft version of food or beverages.

Digital paves the “path to purchase”

According to the study, more than half (55 percent) of consumers turn to digital tools to research products , up from 45 percent last year, and ahead of the number who do so to compare prices (48 percent), which remained flat compared with last year. This is a good example of the consumer informedness. Additionally, four in ten (37 percent) use devices to make shopping lists or meal plans. These behaviors signal multiple points to interact with people along the path to purchase outside of traditional discounts, from building today’s list to planning next week’s dinner.

Consumer packaged goods companies should note that when it comes to online orders and delivery, there is a noticeable gap between consumers’ interest levels and current activity. For example, 38 percent of consumers are interested in online grocery orders for in-store pick up, but only 11 percent already use this service. Similarly, 27 percent are interested in home delivery orders placed online for recurring purchases, but only 11 percent already use such a service. The study suggests there may be a shortage of services consumers seek, creating significant unmet demand that CPG companies can pursue for growth.

Winning at the shelf: Price is just one tool

Understanding the drivers of at-the-shelf purchases can help brands improve their promotional strategies and better connect with consumers, according to Deloitte’s study.

Roughly half (51 percent) of consumers make purchase decisions at the shelf, and while discounts and promotions are important, they are not the only deciding factor. When asked what triggers an impulse buy, 89 percent of shoppers cite discounted prices, but many also indicate that they bought an item because they remembered it when they spotted it in the store (81 percent), and nearly two-thirds (63 percent) say they did so because they wanted to try a new product.

Although price remains the single biggest factor influencing at-the-shelf purchases, many other aspects can also catch shoppers’ attention. CPG companies should step back and consider challenging the status quo, rather than immediately resorting to discounts and promotions. Focusing more effort on non-price related triggers might seem risky in the short-term, but may improve long-term brand health, loyalty and margins.

Health and wellness attributes also rank high on consumers’ shopping lists. Nearly nine in 10 consumers (86 percent) prefer convenient options that are also healthy, and 25 percent are willing to pay a 10 percent premium or more for healthier versions of a product. Further, 41 percent chose the product at the shelf because the label addressed their health and wellness concerns.

Do you recognize yourself in these findings?

Shanise Abhelakh

Modern societies: How smart is your city actually?

How often do you stand still for a red light, while you are in a hurry? Waiting in those traffic jams when you’re heading to work are becoming annoying every day. Not finding any parking space close to your favourite restaurant where you have a reservation in just five minutes. And since the world’s urban population is expanding, these problems can become even worse.

Fear no more! With the upcoming technologies and smart devices, it becomes easier to save your time in a precise way. This blog is about the upcoming trend of cities worldwide are becoming smarter!

According to the Guardian, cities such as Amsterdam, Barcelona and Manchester are getting. Smart cities are cities that are you using technology on a useful manner by developing techniques of combining people, data and IT processes all together. By building sensors, cameras and using several other devices, cities create a huge amount of measurable big data. This big data helps a city to make it more safe, accessible, pleasant or more green simply by analysing it.
Second, municipalities can also make use of their own data by knowing its citizens: where they live, their work life, when they do groceries, et cetera. This helps the city to plan their next move for building a new shopping mall for instance.

Also, more and more devices are connected to the Internet. All these devices are collecting data with their sensors and monitoring every move. Imagine if all these devices are uploading valuable information to the Internet and find a way to communicate with each other in a network. And this network is connected to various platforms or cloud-based services. This so called collaborating from smart devices is called the Internet of things.

Example. Imagine your phone knows that you have an appointment within an hour. Normally, you think that it will you take you twenty minutes to get there. What you don’t know is that there is a car accident in your planned route. Your phone can suggest a new route and tell you at what exact time you have to leave from the location you are at. If more people work this way, municipalities have the control over traffic jams in their city and people can easily be alerted in time. Local police can schedule their surveillance route more efficient.

Due this change in technology, cities can predict or respond quickly to what is happening in a city. Managing these data flows (big data) helps them to regulate air pollution, create more safety for their citizens or manage traffic for example. This is spread out in smart city segments such as energy, transportation healthcare, building, infrastructure and governance. By doing this, cities can improve the quality of life for their citizens.

Schermafdruk 2015-10-18 15.22.31
Using all this data, gives companies an opportunity in this market. Think about from analysing and securing this data. This data creates a lot of potential. According to an article in the Forbes written by Sarwant Singh, two researched found out that this combined market has a potential worth $1,5 trillion worldwide. Smart cities can take different roles in these engagements:

Schermafdruk 2015-10-19 19.00.24

What do you think? Does the future seem so bright? Are you afraid like you’re always been watched? How about the security issues with all this sensitive information?

Let me know what you think…

Hicham Gouiza


Digital Transformation Project – Group 35

In recent times, online retailing has undergone significant transformation as a result of increased competition. In this fierce competition, Amazon is one of the leading players.

A thorough analysis of Amazon’s IS strategy showed us that Amazon has always been a forerunner in innovating and implementing the newest technologies and IS strategies. Amazon follows a data driven approach and has heavily invested in big data analytics. These intelligent models have helped provide customized solutions to customers. Amazon has also greatly leveraged its partnerships and set up successful networks. Such and many other strategies have been key success factors for Amazon.

However, consumers have become more demanding in terms of having an enriched shopping experience. While interviewing an Amazon employee, we found that increasing product return rates has become a disturbing trend from them. One emerging technology we felt could help them reduce their returns rate and enable them to create a strategic difference in its business approach is ‘Augmented Reality’. Since customers will be able to make better informed purchase decisions, there will reductions in returns.

A thorough evaluation of the AR technology proved to a feasible venture for amazon. Amazon has already ventured into this arena with Amazon Flow, a visual search engine. Amazon also plans to expand further in online groceries segment where AR has already made waves. Thus venturing in AR is strategically advantageous for Amazon. Technologically as well, there are not many constraints since a wide variety of applications already exist. Amazon’s main task would be to collate these different technologies and integrate them.

Internet will be the primary mode for user interaction for the AR system. Also, a camera would be required to capture the user’s physical environment. In order to ensure that the user sees the actual size of the virtual product, the Tangible AR technique can be implemented. (Kato et al, 2000). The implementation of the AR system should begin with pilot implementations in the first year as it would give meaningful insights and customer feedback. Secondly, it is important to integrate the newly developed AR system with the existing knowledge base and workflows. The context-specific information gathered from AR can be used to enhance other functions such as warehousing requirements, delivery logistics and relationships with third-party sellers.

The benefits that Amazon will be able to gain with successful implementation of AR are increased sales and profits, lesser returns and increased customer satisfaction. Amazon could also find new avenues via AR and this will reinforce Amazon as a pioneer in technological innovation. We have also identified some risks like compatibility issues in integration of available technologies. Since AR is still emerging, there is no confirmation of the final cost of the implementation. If the final developed system ends up too bandwidth-heavy, too slow or the interface is difficult to comprehend, it will dissuade customers from using the feature.

In conclusion, we can see that there are certain risks involved with implementing this new technology but the benefits certainly outweigh these risks.
Abhilasha Gupta              439253
Deepanshu Pattanayak   439337
Swati Seth                       439362

Say what? You can predict disease spread with Twitter?

Social media has totally integrated in to our lives. We are constantly updating our status on Facebook or Twitter to let our social network know how we are feeling and what we are doing. For that reason Twitter is an ideal source for data if you want to predict human behavior on a large scale. Researchers from the University of Rochester thought the same way and wanted to make prediction on human behavior on a large scale that would be useful for both individuals and organizations. They therefor decided to try and predict the spread of diseases through Twitter posts. And they succeeded to do so, but how did they do it?

A twitter post contains a couple of simple elements. First of all there are some lines with text in which a person self-reports what he is doing or how he is feeling. From this they were able to detect if a person was having an influenza-type of disease. A twitter post also contains a date and a time, which needless to say helps map out the pattern of disease spread on a more detailed level. However, what they first of all need to map out the pattern of disease spread is a location of someone who is giving of influenza type signals. They achieved to collect this data through the fine-grained GPS location that is attached to a Tweet. By tracking this data from millions of tweets they were able to map out the spread of these influenza type diseases (Couwenberg, 2011; Sadilek, Kautz, & Silenzio, 2012). After that they created an application called GermTracker were you can explore the pattern of the spread of diseases. It also shows you on a map were sick people have been in the last couple of hours and were you currently are through your GPS location and how sick people near you could have impacted your health (Humanaut, 2015; Sadilek, Kautz, & Silenzio, 2012).


However, they took it a step further by combining these patterns of disease spread with dozens of other factors that compose a threat to a persons health like pollution levels.  From this they are able to make predictions eight days in to the future about what your health is going to be like. They do this by combining these different data sets with your GPS locations of the last couple of days. For example, people that take the subway every day, visit bars often or live close to pollution sources are significantly more likely to catch the flu. According to researchers from the University of Rochester these predictions are right 90% of the time. They track around 10 cities over the world which gives them a pretty good idea of what a typical day in terms of diseases look like in these cities based on historical data. The can compare new days with these typical days and issue alerts when they see a rise in the number of sick people in a certain geographical area. On a personal level a person can use this information to make choices that can help him avoid getting sick. For example, you could decide to not take the subway to your work but go by bike. According to the researchers the application could also be of public use by assisting the government in giving of health alerts (Sadilek, Kautz, & Silenzio, 2012).

Personally, I cannot see the benefits of obtaining all this information on a personal level. In my opinion you cannot run from a disease and I wouldn’t want to spend my time on trying to avoid it. But seeing the fact that ten thousands of people use GermTracker on a daily basis, this is apparently a matter of opinion. On a public level however, I think this application has a huge potential when it comes to assisting public health institutions. For example it could help hospitals by alerting them that they can expect a higher number of people coming in with certain diseases and thus help them more effectively deploy human resources. It could also assist hospitals in estimating the number of flu shots that should be available by predicting the chance of a flu epidemic. What do you think about this application? Would you appreciate it that an application lets you know that an hour ago a sick person was at the restaurant where you are now eating a meal? Would you like to know that you are going to be sick in a couple of days or would that be a depressing thought for you? Definitely interesting questions which will probably differ from person to person.


Couwenbergh, H. 2011. ‘De anatomie van een tweet’. Tweetmania [Online], Available: [19 Oct 2015]

Humanaut. 2015. ‘Germtracker’. Humanaut [Online], Available: [19 Oct 2015]

Sadilek, A., Kautz, H., & Silenzio, V. 2012. Predicting Disease Transmission from Geo-Tagged Micro-Blog Data. Proceedings of the Twenty-Sixth AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence.

Neurosciences: The true potential of NeuroMarketing

NeuroSciences is a hot topic within business. Especially concerning marketing. Creating a marketing strategy by basing the decisions on customer’s neurological feedback data can open news ways of conducting business.  Neuromarketing is a field of marketing research that studies consumers’ sensorimotor, cognitive, and affective response to marketing stimuli.

A good example of a firm using neurosciences in marketing is Netway Sa. Netway SA is a Luxembourg based firm that specialises in NeuroMarketing. Their philosophy is based on approaching business rationally. Its a small firm with offices in luxembourg and Brussels, it operates with under 20 employees and has worked with major clients such as Nespresso and ING.  They specialise in website architecture, more accurately the user journey through a website.

Instead of designing websites based on the designer’s gut feeling, Netway bases its choices on pure data. Netway uses neurological feedback from customers to design a user pathway leading the customer to the desired outcome in the website. Their goal is to make the user experience as smooth as possible while ensure that the website serves its purpose. For example, in an after sale service website, the business goal of such a website would be for a reduction in call. Netway will design a website that enables the business to do just that.

Similarly to all good scientific processes, steps must be followed. For Netway it starts with analysing the business needs of their clients, what they aim to achieve through their website. Once the top business goals have been established this small luxembourgish firm designs a website step by step, after every step, the prototype of the website is tested with an average customers. While the customer navigates through the website, the company measures 63 behavioural indicators (using Eye tracking, fMRI and EEG) that shows them how this website performs neurologicaly. Over the years the company learned to understand the data and predict certain behaviours, details such as where the customer looks and when, tells them if their current design is serving the desired business goals.

This shows how data can really shape the way marketing is being conducted, there are endless possibilities for neuromarketing to evolve and this only shows one of the current adaptations. The use of neuro data can sometimes been seen as manipulative however some might argue that it is just creating perfect designs. What do you feel are possible applications of such technologies?


Cable TV has been a big part of most of our childhood shows. But with the advent of the internet era, it is slowly losing to Subscription video on demand (SVoD) providers. Streaming giant Netflix has taken over the market and is currently eclipsing television viewership. Let us take a closer look at a statistics from Nielsen’s survey. 40% of all US households with Cable TV or broadband connection use a SVoD service like Netflix, Hulu Plus or Amazon Prime, out of which Netflix dominates as expected with a 36% share.


Such is the phenomenon that households are increasingly subscribing to only the internet to access SVoD and not subscribing to cable television. This is especially prevelant among young families and students.


The number of households who have broadband connection but do not subscribe to television grew by 16% from to 10.5 million in 2014 as compared to 2012. TV ratings are also on the decline while those of SVoD services like Netflix are shooting up. All this leads us to question whether Cable TV has joined the list of vulnerable markets which are disrupted by the advent of Information and the Internet. We answer this question using the vulnerable market hypothesis by Nelson F. Granados, Robert J. Kauffman, and Bradley King.

  • Easy to Enter: The availability of internet has allowed streaming service providers to use it as a low cost distribution channel, something which the incumbents had never tried out before. The internet gives them access to a global audience and hence they are able to gain volumes which they would not have been able to otherwise.
  • Attractive to Attack: There exists a customer profitability gradient in the entertainment industry which the new entrants are exploiting. The cable TV providers have for long followed a one size fits all approach. They have floated expensive channel bundles and most viewers had to choose from a fixed set of alternatives. But the streaming service allows viewers to compile their own list of channels which view on a regular basis. For less than $10 a month, one can sign up for Netflix and browse what they have to offer. Since there are no termination fees involved, viewers have the flexibility to cancel the subscription as well. Thus streaming service providers have managed to opportunistically pick off the most passionate viewers who have a higher willingness to pay provided they get exactly the content they want to view. This has left Cable service with the leisure and occasional viewers. No wonder the TV ratings are tumbling.
  • Difficult to Defend: Premium networks CBS and HBO announced their won streaming services for next year. In fact CBS shows, past and present can be viewed by subscribing to its streaming network for only $6 a month. This is a major blow to cable service providers since these are marquee brands available only on Pay TV. With such brands announcing their plans to circumvent the existing delivery system, cable TV has just been hit with another bullet. Cable TV providers need to understand the needs of the customer better and provide more customized bundles if they have any chance of a fightback against the SVoD dominance. They have to get rid of the rigid pricing structures and must try to be flexible as per consumer preferences.

Cable service providers have thus got a massive challenge on their hands. As I near the completion of this report, I am myself looking for a streaming service to show me the weekend’s soccer matches. Can Cable TV do something ? Please let me know your views.


  1. Granados, N., Kauffman, R.J., and King, B. 2008. “How Has Electronic Travel Distribution Been Transformed? A Test of the Theory of Newly-Vulnerable Markets”. Journal of Management Information Systems 25(2) 73-96
  2. Nielsen, Total Audience Report Q4 2014. Available at:
  3. The Los Angeles Times, “Moves by HBO, CBS could be tipping point for a la carte pricing”  Available at:

Marqt’s Digital Transformation-Team 8


The Dutch supermarket industry revenue amounts to 41.3 billion euros a year (Euromonitor 2015) and it keeps growing annually. Namely, the associated profitability and the increasing trend for online shopping have strongly influenced the strategies of players in this industry. In 2014, Dutch supermarkets sold 450 million euros worth of groceries through the Internet, which is a 55% increase in comparison to the previous year (Boogert 2015).

The most relevant grocery retail trends spin around online presence, the development of mobile applications and the emphasis on low prices as those incorporate the growing mobility and price sensitiveness of individuals. However, more and more awareness is also being raised in the field of conscious purchasing, food waste reduction and the use of the so-called “ugly foods”.

Our project deals with how the Dutch supermarket chain “Marqt” could effectively align its strategy in order to adapt to the ongoing trends of digital commerce and sustainable product offerings. Marqt is a supermarket chain centered on providing real and original foods that must be locally and sustainably produced and that may not contain any artificial additives. Mostly for this reason, its main customer base consists of “trendy” upper-middle class individuals, which is more or less a niche market. Due to the absence of a loyalty card program, an online store or a mobile app combined with the presence of a weak IT infrastructure, a few options that could aid into the digital transformation of the company were identified and throughly examine so that the supermarket chain would be able to increase its reach and attract more customers.

Marqt already targets food-conscious customers, who value the quality and source of the products they purchase as opposed to only a low price. Therefore, a three phase technology strategy was developed to strengthen Marqt’s unique market position. The first phase consists of an ugly food campaign and the development of a mobile application to expand the customer base. The second phase is an upgrade of the application and the implementation of bundle sales to achieve new cost savings. Finally, the third phase is the development of a full-fledged mobile application creating big data analysis and predictive shopping opportunities. This three phase solution, with iterative strategy adaptation would allow Marqt to develop their technology step-by-step, to ensure its success.

Regarding the resulting benefits, upon careful analysis of the implementation plan, it was estimated that the process would benefit Marqt by increasing customer reach, overall sales and decreasing costs through economies of scale. Furthermore, Marqt would achieve competitive advantage as the first sustainable supermarket with a mobile application and would effectively make use of big data analytics. On the other hand, customers would benefit from quick deliveries, low prices and new bundle services, while the rising distribution of ugly foods would decrease food waste.


Boogert, E 2015, ‘Online Omzet Nederlandse Supermarkten: 450 miljoen’, Emerce, 9 June, viewed 14 October 2015,<;

Euromonitor, 2015, Internet Retailing in the Netherlands, Euromonitor, viewed 11 October 2015,<;


Robbert Slot 359775

Gustav Martins Upmanis 388884

Kuni Nakajima 366667

Desislava Danovska 356770

Simone Jeurissen 373456

Health-Promoting Texts Could Help Battle Heart Disease

The health of heart disease patients can be improved by technology that they are already familiar with: cellphones. During a recent study, patients with heart disease enrolled in a program and received four text messages on a weekly basis on their cellphones, whereby encouragement was made to make heart-healthy lifestyle choices (the name of the technology is called TEXT ME). These encouragements include messages related to reducing salt intake, quit smoking, etc. 325 patients have received such messages over the course of a six-month study. In order to establish a comparison, a separate control group of patients with coronary heart disease did not receive a text message concerning the health of their heart. At the end of the study period, the group that received texts had lower levels of bad cholesterol, lower body mass indexes (BMI) and lower blood pressure than the control group. The text receiving groups were more likely to have a tendency to quit smoking.

This study is one of the many recent studies that attempt to reap the benefits of technologies to tackle heart diseases by using everyday technologies (e.g., cellphones) to fight against cardiovascular diseases. Many apps exist that aim at assisting patients to monitor their heart health, but not much research has been conducted that tests whether those apps actually work. These trials such as TEXT ME prove that interventions concerning mobile health, can positively influence behaviors of patients and improve risk profiles in the short term, even if these applications are extremely simple. Even other text-messaging technologies that aim at motivating to act upon the tendency of weight loss and smoking cessation have shown equally promising results.

The study however had some limitations, even though the technology showed promising results in fighting heart disease. The first limitation is that is solely conducted on one location (Australia), which makes it unclear if the results would be the same among patients living elsewhere (Chow et. al, 2012).
What do you think about this technology? Do you think it would help you being more healthy and skip that glass of soda in the evening?


Chow, C. K., Redfern, J., Thiagalingam, A., Jan, S., Whittaker, R., Hackett, M., … & Hillis, G. S. (2012). Design and rationale of the tobacco, exercise and diet messages (TEXT ME) trial of a text message-based intervention for ongoing prevention of cardiovascular disease in people with coronary disease: a randomised controlled trial protocol. BMJ open2(1), e000606.

A very new concept: Trunkrs

I would like to introduce a new company/platform, which is invented by two Dutch men: Trunkrs. The concept of Trunkrs is quit new and very interesting.

Trunkrs is a platform where everybody (with a driver license and a car) can register themselves as a deliverer of packages. It is a new kind of a C2C platform, where consumer and consumer find each other. The system is innovative and easy. It provides to earn some extra money, next to your daily job / life. Let me explain the concept with an example: if you are living in Utrecht and you are working in Amsterdam, everyday you ride the same distance and the same road between Utrecht and Amsterdam. Why wouldn’t you bring someone’s order / package to him or her if it were on your road? Trunkrs enables this.

It’s working as follows:

1) You register on the website of Trunkrs ( and become a Trunkr

2) You fill in where you’re going to (each day)

3) You take the package

4) You deliver it to the owner

5) You get paid by Trunkrs

One of the most valuable things of this new platform for the receiver of the order/package is that the delivery is the same day (delivery 2.0) as the receiver places the order. If you place your order before 15:00, you will get your order the same evening. This is quit new in the Netherlands and for some people this possibility is still a little bit unbelievable. With the technological opportunities and technologies of nowadays, we should not be surprised with projects like Trunkrs. It is really a valuable concept. The consumer (receiver of the order) gets his or hers order the same day and the driver (the Trunkr) earns some extra money while he or she is driving to work / to home.

On the website of Trunks you can find more information about them.

F2P: How the Free to Play pricing strategy is shaping the gaming industry

The Free to Play pricing strategy to the gaming industry equivalent of FREEMIUM. FREEMIUM usually refers to business models such as LinkedIn or Dropbox similarly Free to play games (F2P) are games that users can access for free. The revenue model of these games usually is based on selling additional features such as “Extra Lives” or  can be based on creating a revenue stream from advertising. This pricing strategy currently rules the Smartphone gaming industry. See the graph bellow.


Out of the top 100 grossing apps, across the major mobile platforms, were using this model.

Keeping in mind that within these apps 91% in googleplay, 80% on iPhone and 72% on iPad are apps tied to games.

Some argue that such game do not have the potential to create sustainable profits as shown by candy crush saga’s fall in popularity and revenues.

However some games do it right.

Dota 2 for example a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena game is one of the most successful free to play games offered by Steam, the most popular online market for PC video games.

What does Dota 2 do better?

The game focuses on giving the free player the best possible user experience. The features offered by Valve (Developers of the game) are not based on annoyance such as Ads or longer loading times, neither are based on performance features. There is not one feature offered that gives any player an inherent advantage over others. Instead “items” that allow users to customise and change the appearance of characters, and items that allow to alter their gaming experience, such as different interface looks or background musics are sold for prices ranging from $1 to 10$ on average.

By offering free users an optimal user experience, Valve also makes sure to maximise the size of the player network.  This enables the company to find alternate revenue sources based on the devoted community. An example would be the yearly tournament organised by the Developers. Every year Valve organises a tournament in which the 20 best teams around the world meet to become the world champions. This event is followed by fans all around the world with hundred thousands of people watching the matches live.

Taking the International 2015 as an example what really was interesting about the international is the way they raised the money constituting the prize pool.  They created new Special items and features especially designed in honour of the event that were sold at different times throughout the period preceding the tournament. A percentage of the revenue generated by these items was used for the tournament reward prize pool and the rest became pure profit. this motivated the players to purchase the items for two reasons: they were limited Items only sold during the event and they were contributing to making the tournament a success. Moreover the more the users spend, the more rewards benefited the the entire community. At every New $million reached, the players were granted new special Features affecting all players. On the graph below you can see how each newly available items created sudden rises in the money raised.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 20.45.14

This example shows how the Free to Play pricing strategy allows for the creation of infinite revenue model possibilities. When done right, F2P models can also make customers happy to spend money on the game if it means helping a community they are proud to belong to. This pricing strategy has only been introduced to the gaming industry a few years ago and has been ruling it ever since. This shows the true potential of the FREEMIUM economy.  What will the next industry be?


Using information management to predict questions by customers

Using information management to predict questions by customers

In the service industry, service providers often receive the same questions over and over again. However, in the service industry it does not matter what question you receive, it all depends on your solution and communication of that solution. The service industry has changed from the back side of a company to the front end and flagship of a company. This claim is supported by Singh (2011), “the service industries these days involve the front end facilities, which help in serving the customers in order to clear the immediate needs and to make him comfortable for the other service demands.” In a more demanding economy, customers expect the service provider to help them immediately fix their problem.


From my experience as a helpdesk employee, clients often state the same question multiple times. With the current information systems, it might be possible to predict the question a customer will ask. For example, a new customer will be more likely to ask a basic question and can therefore better be redirected to a less experienced worker, so that a more experienced worker is available for other questions.


In a way, you would like to predict customer behaviour. One way is using the model explained by Optimove. Through this system, customer behaviour is tracked for a period of time and an analysis is created. However, it will be difficult to correctly implement this, since there is no knowledge about what a customer is doing at the moment they need the service desk. Therefore, such a model should never be leading in an organization but it can be used as an predictive model to decrease the time for a solution to be proposed. In my opinion, such a system would be extremely useful when implemented in a correct way and with the right parameters to perform the analysis.

Singh, K. (2011), What is the role of management information systems in the service sector,


Digital Transformation Project: The performance of E-learning methods.

TheLeanSixSigmaCompany is active in the consultancy sector, where they advise, coach and train organizations and individuals the Lean Six Sigma methodology. This methodology offers a framework which allows the organization to continuously improve their business processes in a structured way. By analyzing the business model and the environmental analysis, TLSSC needs to innovate to be able compete in the market. TLSSC currently has a traditional way of educating people and they could increase their performance by introducing e-learning in their business model. Three methods of e-learning, Blended Learning, Virtual Mentor and Virtual Classroom, are analyzed and than graded based on a Balanced Scorecard. Blended Learning is the most traditional of the three, as this entails a combination of tradional physical courses and online learning to complement these traditional courses. Virtual Mentor and Virtual Classroom are completely digitalized, but differ in the way of contact with the instructor. The grading criteria used in this analysis are based on an interview with one of the owners of TLSSC. These objectives are the most important aspects for TLSS and needs to be taken into account when determining a new strategy.


Virtual Classroom achieved the highest score and would be therefore the desired method. Regarding the current state of TLSSC’s operations, Virtual classrooms are not suitable yet for TLSSC. Therefore TLSSC should start with implementing Blended Learning, which still incorporates part of the traditional way of teaching, one of the core values of TLSSC.  Blended learning will help them to extend their courses online, saving time of the trainers. When TLSSC has mastered the concept, their next step will be to gradually implement Virtual Classroom.


$100.000.000 for Tinder?

Last week Match Group announced their IPO. Probably you’ve never heard of Match Group before, but when I tell you it is the parent of Tinder most of you might know it. With this IPO they’re planning to collect $ 100.000.000,- . It made me wondering how it’s possible that an in essence free dating app can be worth so much.

The first thing I found out is that Match Group, also owner of OKcupid and, managed quiet well to create revenue. With total revenues of $ 883.300.000,- dollar and a net income of $ 148.400.000 for 2014 they are a big player in the booming market of online dating. For the U.S. the use of dating sites increased the last five years from 2,7 million in 2009 to 5,6 million in 2014 (Datinginsider, 2015). And U.S. has with its 2% “online” citizens active on dating sites a far lower number than Europa, with 15%. According to Egan (2003) the online personal category is one of the most lucrative forms of paid content on the web.

Why is online dating so popular? In their research Ellison et all (2006) have a quite logical answer to that. Mediated matchmaking isn’t something new and overtime the social stigma on online dating was diminished. That combined with only needing an internet connection and the possibility to date within your comfort zone and the affordable cost of internet match making results in low barriers. Another upside from online dating is the possibility to build your own profile and what is seen is that people often present the ideal version of their selves: their profile represents a combination of who they actually are and who they want to be. But, with a possible offline encounter in mind, they also tent to create a reliable presentation of theirselves.

Tinder was a first mover regarding location-based real-time dating (Handel & Shklovski, 2012). According to CEO of, Sam Yagan, Tinder gives the people what they want: an easier and faster way to meet someone new in real time. “This device is the thing that marries online dating and offline dating…. Mobile dating is one of the few digital products that, when you use it, is designed to lead to a meeting.” (James, 2015). And maybe that is why Tinder became so popular: It is free, easy to use (just link it to your Facebook and you’re online) and it creates a bridge between online and offline. By adding paid features they are able to create revenue. The question is, is it worth another $ 100.000.000 ?


Ellison, N., Heino, R., & Gibbs, J. (2006). Managing impressions online: Self‐presentation processes in the online dating environment. Journal of ComputerMediated Communication11(2), 415-441.

Handel, M., & Shklovski, I. (2012). Disclosure, Ambiguity and Risk Reduction in RealTime Dating Sites. Proceedings of the 17th ACM international conference on supporting group work. 175-178.

James, J. L. (2015). Mobile Dating in the Digital Age: Computer-Mediated Communication and Relationship Building on Tinder (Doctoral dissertation, Texas State University).

Wells, J. & Armental, M. (2015) ‘Match group files for IPO’, The Wallstreet Journal, 16 October 2015, Available:

Unknown author:

Dating Insider (2011) ‘Vijftien procent internetgebruikers gebruikt wel eens datingsite’ 23 December 2011. Available:

Dating Insider (2015) ‘Gebruik van datingsites in de laatste vijf jaar verdubbeld (VS)’ 7 March 2015. Available:

Be Aware of Trading in Blood Pressure!

With fitness bracelets and mobile apps some people allow voluntarily to keep track of sleep patterns, exercise, nutrition and stress. But since companies are dealing in those dates, the confidentiality of our biological data is placed under pressure. The upcoming revision of the data protection law will not give us enough protection. Therefore, a fundamental review of our privacy law is required.

Technology and people are becoming more intimately connected. Technology is everywhere and without realizing it is collecting information about us. Companies follow surf- and click behavior. Besides that, companies start collecting biological data due to the introduction of wearables such as bracelets and fitness apps. Biodata can be used to deduce sensitive information about our physical and mental health. For example, walking patterns can show early signs of dementia.

Many people find it interesting to collect biological data of themselves. The reason for this is that the data can give some useful insights, for example a bad sleeping pattern on days they eat just before they went to bed. More and more companies want to have biodata: research found that 20 popular health apps share data with more than 76 parties. Further, health insurers are experimenting with health apps. Those who live healthy can earn points to pay less premium. Those things happen now on a voluntary basis. But it is certainly conceivable that there will be more pressure on employees and insured people to keep their health data.

In the Netherlands, there is a kind of protection – the concept of ‘informed permission’, part of the Data Protection Act. However, in the digital world this concept loses meaning. For individuals it is not clear what exactly happens with their data.  For individuals to oversee it impracticable what happens to their data and what the consequences are. Data is traded in mini seconds through online auctions and enriched to detailed profiles. Consumers do not know what profiles they are assigned, neither what kind of products or services there will be offered to them of the basis of their data.

Trading in online data, the resulting information asymmetry and the effects of using data on individuals, ask for an adjustment of our fundamental right to privacy.

Do you agree that the government should take action to protect us from the data industry?, 2015, used on 19 October 2015


Information management in auditing

Information management in auditing

With an increase in information in companies, there has been additional pressure on the audit procedure to ensure the information flow is free of fraud. Buchanan and Gibbs (2007) claim that “the information audit (IA) is central to the effective organisational management of information, however, there is

evidence from the field that the IA is neither fully accepted nor commonly practiced.” In an economy, where information is gradually becoming more important it cannot be the case that an audit will not focus on these processes. If we refer to the intra-organizational information systems, all parts of the value chain communicate with each other through information systems. This means that a transaction will be passed through different information systems and stored at different location. If we take an example of a bike manufacturer and its value chain. When an order is manufactured, this will be recorded in several information systems, like the operational, transaction-processing and financial information systems. It cannot be the case that when these systems communicate information, thus creating a flow of information, this will not be checked in an audit. This is also the conclusion of Buchanan and Gibbs (2007).

In the recent years, the focus has been placed on the flow of information, through the performance of an IT audit. For example, EY created a document about the ten key IT considerations for an internal audit. EY (2013) claims that “considerations related to information technology are central to any organization’s effort to ensure that issues are addressed quickly and thoroughly.” It is positive that audit firms also shift their focus to the IT side of a business. However, it also creates challenges since companies will need IT savvy employees, who are also interested in auditing to perform these audits and set a minimum standard

Buchanan, S. & Gibb, F. (2007), The information audit: Role and scope, International Journal of Information Management, p. 159-172

EY (2013), Ten key IT considerations for internal audit,$FILE/Ten_key_IT_considerations_for_internal_audit.pdf

Is IT the solution to a sustainable business?

Sustainability has been a hot topic for a couple of years know and people in the western world have incorporated sustainability more and more in their daily lives. Some examples would be the increasing number of households that is putting solar panels on the top of their roofs to produce green energy and the increasing sales of electrical car models like Tesla and Toyota Prius. Step by step we are becoming more aware that we are the tenants of our own planet and have to make wise choices about the use of both finite and renewable energy sources. From this, it can be concluded that environmental issues have become a public concern in the last decade. However, this development also has implications for organizations.

For many organizations in the market place, sustainability has become a so called order qualifier or order winner, depending on the specific market, industry and society the organization operates in (Shahbazpour & Seidle, 2006). Many of them have even incorporated sustainability into their mission statement like Unilever (2015) who states the following: “we are committed to continuously improving the way we manage our environmental impacts and are working towards our longer-term goal of developing a sustainable business”. Thus, sustainability has become a critical factor for organizations to compete in the marketplace and some of them have succeeded to turn it into a competitive advantage. But how does an organization become a sustainable business? Well, this is a complicated process which goes further then only making your business processes more environmental friendly, like reducing electricity usage or Co2 output in your production process. But it also encompasses altering an organizations identity by embedding sustainability into the strategy and changing the culture into one that supports sustainability. Research has found that “sustainable companies are willing and able to engage in the kind of ongoing transformational change that is required as social expectations evolve” and that “they aggressively create new processes, products and business models that improve environmental, social and governance performance” (Eccles, Miller Perkins & Serafeim, 2012).

But what part is information technology playing in this story? Is it part of the problem or is it part of the solution? Well information technology itself is not a big part of the problem, seeing the fact that it only contributes for 2% of the global carbon emissions. However, IT is already a big part of today’s solutions. Currently IT is having a wide array of positive effects on business sustainability. IT has provided organizations with insights into their impact on the environment by giving them the tools to monitor environmental parameters like energy use and Co2 output. From these insights strategies can be developed to reduce these outputs. IT has also provided organizations with numerous tools to directly influence their environmental footprint, like e-invoicing which is making organizations more paperless (Economist Business Intelligence, 2009). Especially the future possibilities of enhancing business sustainability through big data analytics are very exciting. But we are only at the beginning of figuring out what we can do with the huge amounts of data that we are generating on a daily basis. However, big data is already giving organizations the ability to understand the entire end-to-end impact their business activities are having on sustainability. This means that they are also able to look outside the boundaries of their own organization, which is often the place were organizations have the biggest environmental impacts (Hsu, 2014).

So think about the importance of sustainability for your organization. Does it affect your market position or can you gain a competitive advantage from it? In which ways is your organization already a sustainable business and how can you make your organization more sustainable? But especially think about how IT can help you accomplish your desired state of business sustainability.


Eccles, R.G., Miller Perkins, K., & Serafeim, G. 2012. How to Become a Sustainable Company. MIT Sloan Management Review, 53(4): 43 – 51.

Economist Intelligence Unit. 2009. IT and sustainability: bringing best practices to business. Oracle [Online], Available: [12 Oct 2015]

Hsu, J. 2014. ‘Why big data will have a big impact on sustainability’. The Guardian [Online], Available: [12 Oct 2015]

Shahbazpour, M., & Seidel, R. H. 2006. Using Sustainability for Competitive Advantage. 13th CIRP International Conference On Life Cycle Engineering, Leuven, Belgium.

Unilever. 2015. ‘Purpose and principles’. Unilever [Online], Available: [12 Oct 2015]

Wearable Sensors Will Help Deaf People to Communicate Verbally.

Yes, you read that correctly. You might wonder how this will be enabled. It all comes down to a magic word: Technology.

Wearable sensors will provide a high-tech solution and be able to interpret the gestures in sign language and translate them into English, making the barrier between deaf people and those who don’t understand sign language. Engineers at A&M University in Texas are currently developing wearable devices that can sense movement and muscle activity in an individual’s arm.

How does this life-enhancing device work? This device operates by figuring out the gestures someone is making by the utilization of two distinct sensors. These sensors consist of one that is able to react to the motion of the wrist and the other one to the muscular movement in the arm. Afterward, a program wirelessly receives this data and converts it into English translation. After doing some research, the engineers concluded that there are devices that aimed at translating sign language into text – these did unfortunately not have a very advanced design. A prototype system was developed that recognizes words that people use daily in their daily conversations. Gradually more words are added that are not frequently used with the means to initiate a more profound vocabulary.
Even though the technology has the potential to drastically enhance the lives of deaf people, an important drawback is associated with the system. The system has to be trained to respond to each individual that wears the device. This training process involves in asking the user to repeat every hand gesture a couple of times. The latter can take up to 30 minutes to complete. The underlying reason for this mechanism lies in the fact that each body and each muscle structure is different, obliging the system to get acquainted with the user’s body movements (Dodgson, 2015).

What do you think about this technology? Do you believe it will enhance many people’s lives or make it more difficult?

The wearable sensor.

The wearable sensor.


Dodgson, L. (2015). Wearable Sensors Could Translate Sign Language Into English. Retrieved from:

‘500 grams of Cocaine have been added to your shopping cart!’

In the last couple of years, there has been a considerable increase in the number of drugs sold online, via the Dark Web. This number is only expected to increase, not at last because of the growing usage and availability of the Internet. I thought it was quite interesting to see how it appears to be quite normal nowadays to browse through the online catalogue of drugs, select your preferences, put the selected items in the shopping cart, and order. So I did a bit of research, and I have quite a story to tell you all, so grab that cup of coffee and embrace yourselves!

So, before we begin, here’s a short 101 on Dark Markets. In 2002 the ‘Onion Router’ (Tor) was released. This is a technology that basically allows everyone within these dark markets to hide their identity and location. It enables secure and confidential communication, preventing users (including governmental agencies) to track down your browsing activity. On Tor, virtually everything is anonymized!

Silk Road was an illicit platform on the Dark Web established in 2011, mainly enabling drug trafficking. In 2013 the Federal Bureau of Investigation shut down the platform and arrested its owner, ‘Dread Pirate Roberts’ a.k.a. Ross Ulbricht.

After the FBI took down Silk Road and arrested Ross Ulbricht and Charlie Shrem (the executive of a Bitcoin exchange service), one would expect that most of these underworld “businessmen” maybe would consider taking it easy for a while, right? Well, apparently these people didn’t get the memo! After Silk Road’s destruction, a plethora of new online drug markets emerged. The industry competitiveness increased heavily, driving ‘weaker’ drug firms out of business and opening a whole new world for drug dealers.

Now, indeed you might think; ‘How did that happen?’ But it’s quite simple folks. Basically the FBI shot itself in the foot! The arrests and the website-shutdown were widely publicized, introducing ‘dark markets’ to a much wider public. Buyers and sellers started establishing new platforms to keep up with the ever-booming business. So… I guess they actually did get the memo. Mike Power on the matter (google the guy if you don’t know him).

The FBI have acted as the most creative marketing and advertising agency that the hidden web drugs sector could have possibly hoped for’

Ladies and Gentleman, a round of applause for the FBI!

However, this does pose another question; if this incident has proven that the FBI is indeed capable of tracking down sellers active on these elicit markets – regardless of the anonymity Tor networks supposedly provide – why are these markets still growing? Well, one of the reasons is that dealers find it safer to do business online. James Martin of Macquarie’s Policing and Intelligence Research Institute states the following:

Law enforcement is only part of the risk for people who sell drugs. The bigger risk and more frightening risk is not someone kicking down the door to arrest you, but someone kicking down the door to kill you and steal your stash”.

These online drug markets offer both dealers and customers a less violent trade mechanism. In addition, the anonymity and highly competitive nature of these markets drive down prices and increase the level of quality, given that the vast majority of sales are exclusively based on customer reviews.

So now, you might be thinking; ‘What the hell does this have to do with the Bitcoin guy being arrested?’ Well, the most widely used digital currency in the dark web is Bitcoin (after all, of what use is it to browse anonymously if you are going to pay with your very traceable credit card?). Given that Bitcoin is an encrypted digital currency that allows for anonymous financial transactions, it was a crucial component to the establishment of Silk Road and crypto markets in general. Shrem (our Bitcoin guy) was involved in a money-laundering scheme that allowed Silk Road customers to convert money to bitcoins and vice-versa.

So after Silk Road was shut down, it only makes sense that the share value of Bitcoin crashed, losing up to half a billion dollars, that is, a drop of approximately 25%. However, as more online drug markets were established, Bitcoin’s value rose again above prior levels in a matter of weeks.

So why did I tell you all of this really? Well here are some of the lessons to be learned!

  1. The use of Tor browsers can be expected to increase exponentially; perhaps not so much because of the ease with which narcotics can be purchased, but more because it offers truly anonymous browsing for the vast majority of users (it took the FBI months to find Ross Ulbricht alone).
  2. The dark web has created a whole new landscape for criminal activities that current law enforcement techniques are not ready to tackle.
  3. The online drug markets will continue to grow (not at last thanks to the FBI’s need to be in the limelight).
  4. The implications of these mysterious markets are very much real. Ross Ulbricht is facing a life sentence, a high level executive has been arrested (more than can be said of the bankers responsible for the financial crisis), and the stock value of Bitcoin fell by up to $500 million upon the shutdown of Silk Road.
  5. Should you be an (amateur) investor or simply tempted to invest in Bitcoin, make sure to keep an eye on the developments in the dark web!


Buxton, J; Bingham, T 2014, ‘The Rise and Challenge of Dark Net Drug Markets’, Global Drug Policy Observatory, Swansea University

Applying Information Technology in the race towards a sustainable future

I believe most (aspirant) BIM students are aware of the transformative power of Information Technology and the changes that are yet to come. If not, the six Information Strategy lectures have emphasised its importance and highlighted numerous innovative examples in which information, or information technology, played a key role. However, what annoyed me personally is that the majority of the examples handled in class were about companies employing information technology in order to realize profit maximisation. I am aware that we are enrolled in a Business Administration course, however I do think there are other innovative and more important examples in which information plays a key role. In this blog I would like to highlight some examples on how to harness information and information technology to fight one the biggest challenge today, climate change.

But first lets take a look at the how the IT sector itself is performing regarding energy usage and sustainability. In 2007, analyst Gartner released the statistic that the ICT sector was responsible for 2% of global carbon emissions and this figure has since been widely cited. In 2008, McKinsey has re-quantified the direct emissions from ICT products and services based on expected
 growth in the sector. ICT in their analysis includes PCs, telecoms networks and devices, printers and data centres. They projected as a low case scenario a compounded annual growth of 6% until 2020 in energy usage of the sector. This is not surprising given the advances of information technology, more and more electronic products entering households every year.

‘While the sector plans to significantly step up
t he energy efficiency of its products and
 services, ICT’s largest influence will be by 
enabling energy efficiencies in other sectors, an opportunity that could deliver carbon savings five times larger than the total emissions from the entire ICT sector in 2020’ McKinsey & Company

Apart from critically review the sustainability of the IT sector itself, it biggest role – not surprisingly – lies in improving (energy) efficiency in other sectors. According to McKinsey research, these are some of the biggest and most accessible opportunities;

– Smart motors
– Industrial process automation
– Dematerialization (reduce production of DVDs, paper)

– Smart logistics
– Private transport optimization
– Dematerialization (e-commerce, videoconferencing, teleworking)
– Efficient vehicles (plug-ins and smart cars)
– Traffic flow monitoring, planning
 and simulation

– Smart logistics
– Smart buildings (reduces warehousing space needed through reduction in inventory)
– Dematerialization (reduces energy used in the home through behavior change)

– Smart Grid
– Efficient generation of power
– Combined heat and power (CHP)

Together this can be summarized as the SMART transformation. This transformation will be enabled by information technology, mainly focusing on monitoring and optimization. There’s a big role to play here for students, for example that are enrolled in a(n) (Business) Information Management program. It might be less sexy, but not less important. And lets be honest, controlling product/price informedness in order to realize highest willingness-to-pay and directing trading down/out behavior is downright insignificant in the light of todays challenges. I hope this generates some new ideas, for example for a thesis subject. For more information on this matter I refer to the two main sources below.

McKinsey, Enabling the low carbon economy in the information age

BCG, The Role of ICT in Driving a Sustainable Future

Click to access SMARTer-2020-The-Role-of-ICT-in-Driving-a-Sustainable-Future-December-2012._2.pdf