Archive | October 16, 2012

Piracy is great

US internet service providers AT&T, Cablevision Systems, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon plan to take action against their pirate customers. These so called mitigation measures after a few offenses include reducing download speed and redirection to educational pages about infringement.

I can’t help but think about an interview with Joss Stone back in 2008, when Pirate Bay was stumbling to its first conviction, showing how a real artist should feel about their music being copied. Not feel sad about “just” earning a few million dollars per year, but be happy that your creation is shared and appreciated.

Watch the interview here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCkX0KcNwrI&feature=related

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/10/isp-file-sharing-monitoring/

Stores for Sale!

One in three physical stores in the Netherlands will disappear in the upcoming four years. At least according to Cor Molenaar, professor e-marketing at our own university.

The rise of online shopping leads to hard times for the traditional retailers. Almost two million square meters of store is not currently used, and these numbers will only increase more and more in the very near future. Travel agencies, electronics, shoes, books, you name it; they all move towards the online platform. The disappearance of those stores will create a domino effect, because people don’t like to wander through sad half-empty streets. Only the shops in the upper and lower segments will survive. In Molenaar’s future we’ll see only three shopping areas. Local shops that everyone needs such as the nearby supermarket or bank; small boutiques in the city center where people go to for fun; and large retail centers just outside the city. Even these stores might not have the eternal life.

This could happen all over the world, knowing that In five years there will be 5.6 billion mobile devices sold, which means that almost 80% of the global population will own a mobile device with online connection. People, young and old, are gradually being obliged to use Internet. Someday people really can’t function in life without it.

Despite shopping is not one of my favorite activities, I will miss those endless quests for that one right pair of socks!

We need more women in technology

The technology industry struggles to lose the image of male and antisocial nerd image. No doubt that the tech industry is dominated men.  In the US 25% of the jobs in science and technology industry is practiced by women and in the UK it is even worse with only 17%. Change in this industry needed.

The Harvard Business review stated that tech companies with more women on their management teams have 34% higher return on investment. The reason to that is that diversity is very important in each industry, especially in technology. The world now is engaged with technology. People  e-mail, tweet, comment, like and message now  more than ever and half of those people are women.  Moreover women purchase more technology than ever before. The days of developing tech products only for men are over and companies should now focus on as many people as possible. Therefore more women are needed in this industry. Women can bring a different point of view, which can be vital in developing new products.

When targeting women, having a female input is crucial to meet the preferences of women. Because men tend to prefer designs that men produces. Most of the time a male dominated team will not get it right for the women.  However, this can be different, Eastern European countries such as Bulgaria, Estonia and Latvia, also referred to the ‘Geek Nations’ illustrate that technology gender divide is less prevalent. Those countries prove that women are talented in creating their tech products. Technology is perceived there as a rewarding and well-paid career for women.

Belinda Parmar wrote the book ‘Little Miss Geek’, a book prescribes the ways in which more women can become a part of the tech industry. She strives to change the attitude towards women in technology and tries to help tech companies to attract the next generation of women.

When I see our BIM Master class, I am very happy to see the amount of women represents our class this year.

ann's Blog

I was recently imprssed by a video of TED conference which talks about a revolutionary technology: a 3D printer that can print out human organ with the cells. Although the kidney printed on stage is early prototype and non-functional for experimental use, the idea and design of such a printer for human beings is still pretty amazing.

To be more specific,that printer use human cells instead of link. It works in following ways: first a scanner is used to collect information of the tissu of the patient, which is to seed the printer. Then, the printer goes through printing structure with a 3D elevator. It takes about 40 minutes to print, and finally the structure could be used to implant. Next generation of these printers will be able to do things like scan an open wound and print new skin right on the patient. However, the biggest chanllenge of this…

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Dropbox’s Space Race

Yesterday evening I saw a message of a fellow student on the MSC BIM Facebook page. In the message he gave us a link to Dropbox to gain 3GB extra space on Dropbox. Normally you obtain 0,5GB extra space when you get other people signing up for Dropbox after you invited them to join a map. I think this is the reason why some people were doubting this student. They were thinking that with this link, he would get some extra space on Dropbox. And I have to say that I also was not completely sure that I would benefit from the link. I decided to wait until today and when I saw some messages from students about that the link was really for gaining 3GB of extra space, I decided to also click on the link.

This ‘Space Race’ of Dropbox is not only for gaining extra space, but it is also a race against Universities. Namely, if you want to earn the free space, you have to sign up/ sign in and fill out your student University email address. With this email address Dropbox knows at which University you study. For every student who is joining the ‘Space Race’, the University achieves a point.
In the mean time the Erasmus University has already earned 2000 points. Unfortunately not yet enough to be in the top 10.
But.. I have to say: This is a really good promotional activity of Dropbox!

 

If you want the Erasmus University in the top 10 or if you just want to have some extra space on Dropbox, you can visit this link: https://www.dropbox.com/spacerace. And no.. I will not earn extra space from you clicking on this link 🙂

Let’s all become as fast as Bolt!

Have you guys ever been disappointed in your own physical performances or potential? Muscles that are too weak? Eyes that needed to be corrected? Ever felt acid lactic in your legs? Knees that are too weak? Well… replace those bottlenecks of your bodies! Be fit again, become Superman! All you need is a simple upgrade of your body.

This could be reality in a few decades with the help of advanced prosthetics.  Or call it neuroprosthetics augmentation. Prostheses are already often used, but cognitive neuroprosthetics will let the brain of the user perceives the prosthesis as its own. The person will feel when someone touches his prosthesis and could even experience pain. This could help patients with paralyzed limbs or several neurological disorders like phantom limb pain.  

According to Olaf Blanke, director of the Center for Neuroprosthetics at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), it will even be possible for humans to experience a so-called out-of-body experience. Actually thinking and experiencing that you are in a room in which you actually are not… this truly would give a boost to the video conference industry!

It remains questionable if there ever will come a time, where people are upgrading their bodies with the same routine as people are upgrading their mobile applications today. But the idea is still pretty cool, right? Which body part would you like to upgrade?

Google risks fines over privacy

As a result of the Google case discussion we had this article drew my attention. (http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/52803e8a-177d-11e2-8ebe-00144feabdc0.html#axzz29SxRf9oO)

Google risks getting hefty fines if it doesn’t change it controversial privacy policy. An investigation of the European privacy watchdogs showed that Google can not provide users with information about how their personal data is used.

Google gets about 4 months to change, after that the dispute will move on to the sanctions phase. Google already made some changes to the way in which they collect user data this year. However, this was for their own benefit, so they were able to make better use of the data collected.

Nick Pickles, director of privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch said: “Consumers have been kept in the dark about how much data Google collects and what happens to that data, and Google’s new privacy policy only further disguised what really happens when you use their services,”

Suggested is that other big online companies like Facebook and Microsoft receive a similar approach.

 

 

IS competitive advantage (2); business perspective

What is the advantage of an information system(IS), from the business perspective? Carr (2003) argues that IT no longer provides a competitive advantage to companies. For example if all your competitors use the same IS, can you stay ahead of the competition?

Ragowsky et al (2008) argue that proper alignment between the organizational structure and the IT strategy is required for creating competitive advantage of an IS. This makes the IS more efficient and therefore the organization can create an advantage towards organizations who use the standardized software as well.

However, I think that it is possible that the competition imitates the alignment, therefore eliminating the competitive advantage mentioned. In order to keep the competitive advantage, I think it is necessary to incorporate the core business of an organization in the IS, but this is very difficult, because if it was possible to standardize the core business, others can imitate it.

I think it is not possible to standardize this core business, however it is possible to support the core business with for example decision support systems, or expert systems. What do you guys think?

References

  • Carr, N.G. (2003) ‘IT doesn’t matter,’ Harvard Business Review 40(5).
  • Ragowsky, A. and Gefen, D. (2008) ‘What makes the Competitive Contribution of ERP Strategic,’ ACM Digital Library 39(2).

IS competitive advantage (1); resource based perspective

Almost all organizations use information systems in order to deal with all the data which is generated. Different systems are available; (1) standard solutions, (2) different systems information systems for various business functions and (3) custom made solutions.

I describe in two blogs two different views about how an information system (IS) can generate a competitive advantage for an organization. The first view is the resource based perspective; look at the problem from the system’s perspective. (Described in this blog) The second view is from the business perspective. (Described in the blog: IS competitive advantage (2); business perspective)

Oh et al (2007) state that the scope of the resource is very important for the organizational performance. This means that an IS can generate a competitive advantage for the organization if it is the property of the organization. Therefore the IS must be a unique resource, which is difficult to imitate by competitors. It should be used as a strategic asset, not as a supporting tool for the business strategy of the organization.

I Think that the view that IT should be a unique resource is true for only a part of the IS, there are functions which can be done by standardized software. (e.g. administration) However for the other business functions it can be beneficial to use tailor made software in order to achieve the most efficient IS. What do you guys think?

References

Oh, W. and Pinsonneault, A. (2007) ‘On the assessment of the strategic value of information technologies; conceptual and analytical approaches,’ MIS Quarterly 31(2).

New Silicon Valley in Mother Russia. No kidding!?

At the moment Silicon Valley is the number one place in the world for high tech growth and innovation. However it success does not allow presidents and prime ministers around the world to sleep well at night.

East London Tech City in UK, Zhongguancun in China and now Russians are coming up with their own version of Silicon Valley- Skolkovo Foundation Technology Park.

Situated 20 km west of Moscow it is supposed to become one of the world’s biggest high tech cities in just a few years. It will include a research university with 1800 students, 40 corporate research and development centres and “Technopark” housing up to 1000 start-ups (Economist, 2012). The project cots a whopping $4.2 bn, but Russian government strongly believes that that the investment will pay off in a new generation of entrepreneurs (Bloomberg, 2012).

The initiative seemed to get attention of some big name companies. Attracted by tax breaks and other incentives Cisco, Google, IBM, Microsoft, General Electric, Siemens, Intel and SAP have already signed up to participate and planning on opening R&D laboratories in SkTech. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) agreed to collaborate with Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology.

This all sounds promising. However, one should not forget the big black cloud hanging over this plan. Russia would always be Russia. Bureaucracy and corruption are still the two major challenges any company would face when doing business there. And my guess is they are not going anywhere any time soon.

I am quite excited to see whether Russia would be able to create and sustain this new “Silicon Valley”. Are you?

Sources:

http://www.economist.com/node/21558602?fsrc=rss|bus

http://www.theneweconomy.com/international-affairs/silicon-valley-the-new-contenders

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-20/russian-silicon-valley-plans-first-ipo-as-venture-capital-booms.html

ebay Going Social

One of our lecture topics was e-commerce and its ongoing trends in 2011 and 2012. Ting pointed out that a major development of e-commerce is social shopping.
Today I came across an article on allthingsd.com which takes a closer look at what ebay has recently been up to in terms of its shopping experience. It highlights the redesign of the ebay.com website and the emphasis that was put onto the social experience. Social shopping is now deeply integrated!

I personnally am not keen on any recommendations on social sites and never buy anything online based on them. However, I think many people do and this is a good way of better engaging them into the shopping experience.
Have a look and see the new design for yourself. Do you think this will increase traffic and revenue for ebay?

In other news: Dutch universities are educating the wrong IT personnell

And now for some non-technical news. According to AkzoNobel and Stork, two Dutch multinationals, universties and schools are educating the future’s IT-personnell in the wrong area. At this time (according to those companies), education for IT-personnell is geared too much towards programming and far too little towards IT management (site in Dutch). On the short term this will lead to a shortage of IT-managers and possibly the loss of thousands of jobs to foreign countries. As bad as it sounds the news is not that bad for us BIM students, we will still have enough choice of employment next year when we are finished.

The most annoying technologies

Dear Bloggers 😉

Our Information Strategy course is almost finished. Everyone is probably now thinking about exams.  I believe this is also just right time to somehow summarize our ideas.

My personal summary will be a little disruptive and rather unusual.

I would like to encourage you to think of examples of technologies which you find particularly annoying/ useless.

My personal technological, digital public  enemy are ‘Captcha codes’ – the ones you find on almost every single website to provide veryfication of your human identity.

Below I present one example of those bastards:

Captcha is good for exactly two things: stopping really stupid robots and getting frustrated humans to click on a refresh button to show a brand new Captcha that they still can’t read.
Which technology/ gadget  would you discard immediately and why ?

[ if you are looking for inspiration, follow this link -> http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/09/the-worlds-most-annoying-tech/?utm_source=Contextly&utm_medium=RelatedLinks&utm_campaign=Previous ]

 

 

The Times They Are a-Changin’

Words once sung by a young artist in a society so different from ours today. A society where conversations still flourished in trains or busses. A society where people still read books. A society in which handwritten letters were not merely written with romantic intentions. A society where children still played outside. A society in which the word ‘new’ in ‘newspaper’ still really meant something.  We are talking about a society without the Internet. A thought that today would be unthinkable, maybe even a bit frightening.
The Internet has become an indispensable tool in people’s social and business lives. Without it, people would feel intense feeling of withdrawal, frustration and loss. Through the years, humanity has become dependent on the Internet. Everyone, both companies as individuals, had to catch up in order to stay in the game.

Although it’s easy to be wise after the event, the predictions about the Internet haven’t always been all happy-clappy. For instance, a prominent engineer, Ken Olsen, saw no reason for any individual to have a personal computer at his home. Nowadays, it is estimated that there will be more than 2 billion PCs in use by 2015.  The editor of Prentice Hall Business books assured his readers in 1957 that data processing was just a fad that wouldn’t last out the year. Former richest guy of the planet, Bill Gates, once stated that “no one will need more than 637KB of memory for a personal computer. 640KB ought to be enough for anybody.” You can find more wrong predictions here: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/8-spectacularly-wrong-predictions-computers-internet/

Fortunately there were also people back then who did believe in the potential of the Internet, even when it seemed very far away, in a society in which the man still paid for his wife’s purchase: