Archive | October 20, 2012

sixthsense gestural interface

The human body is one of the most incredible machines ever, but its sensory input methods are somewhat limited. We have these five senses to tell us all about our world. What if we had a sixth sense – one that allowed us to draw on collective human knowledge? That’s what Pattie Maes and Pranav Mistry of MIT’s Media Lab propose. They want to equip humans with a roving, interactive internet-equipped interface that gives instant, nearly unlimited information about our surroundings while letting us manipulate information like never before.

Their invention, called (appropriately) SixthSense, consists of a small wearable camera, a mini-projector, and colored finger markers. The colored markers act as cues to the camera to let it follow your finger movements. Simple movements are recognized by the system and act as commands. For example, drawing a circle on your wrist tells the system to project a watch face onto your arm. Framing a scene with your fingers will cue the system to snap a picture.

Any surface can be the screen for this ultimate computer. Pick up a book and reviews of that title will be projected right onto its cover. Hold up your hand and read which movies are playing, or even use your hand as a phone keypad. And you won’t even need to wear the goofy gloves Tom Cruise wore to interact with his system in Minority Report. You can wear the colored bands on your fingers, or simply paint your fingernails different colors.

The camera picks up information from just about everything in your physical environment. If you go into a store and pick up a product, the system will tell you how well it matches your particular tastes and possibly give you further related information. Holding a plane boarding pass in front of the camera will allow the system to project flight information onto the paper.

Although the incredible system is at least several years away from being ready for mass consumption, the team working on the project is confident that it will someday be a reality. The technology already exists, but condensing it into a small, inconspicuous package may be a challenge. According to the above video, the entire system will only cost about the same as a cell phone does today


you can see more about this technology on this link :

Algorithms controlling our world

Algorithms controlling our world

On May 6 2010 an event occurred where 9% of the US stock market simply vanished. Until today nobody knows why and how this happened. In financial markets, algorithm trading (aka called algo trading) is becoming more and more popular. So called financial engineers are creating codes which they enter in computers to trade stocks for us. It accounts for over 70% of the entire market.. all controlled by a bunch of algorithms on computers.

Nowadays the derivate market alone has a nominal face value of more than $791 trillion. Just calculate the amount which vaporized on 6th may 2010; trillions of dollars just disappeared. Large banks, insurance and pension funds are having difficulties in getting a profitable return; if they do bad; mortgages, pensions and other financial products will decrease in value and you and me will get less pension in the future. Is IT trading becoming too automated and too dominant in financial markets? Should algo tradnig be banned and should traders be shouting to buy stocks at the AEX again? For the latter, probably not.. but who tells that such an event won’t happen in the future on a larger scale? It is however very interesting to observe the development how we are losing control over little things, while IT is controlling more and more in our daily lives. Too which extend is this a good development?

Here is an interesting video on a Ted conference by Kevin Slavin where he expresses his view about these changes:

Fake Google data center pictures?


I guess everybody has seen the Google data center pictures, I can even recall that somebody posted about it within this Information Strategy blog.

Funny is that I just bumped into an article on NRC (Dutch newspaper) actually doubting whether the pictures are real. When I saw the pictures the first time, I was sure the colors where manipulated. Something I completely understand, I personally photoshop most of my pictures. But after thorough analyses of the pictures, you can see that lots of manipulation is happening, but are they manipulated to look better or is it completely fake?

The photo I posted at the beginning of this blog post shows the data center in Iowa. When you look at the picture you see deer in front of the data center. Obviously not very likely that they can just access the data center without running into a huge fence protecting the data center. So I am quite sure this picture isn’t real and the deer are photo shopped in the picture, but what else is photo shopped? Or is the rest real?

Please click on the link as I didn’t manage to save the picture with the infographics.

As you can see in the picture the right side is a reflection (spiegelbeeld) of the left side. When you look very carefully, you can see for example that the yellow cables, in the top of the right hand side, do not continue, so they are not connected to anything. This is another picture making me doubt the reality of the pictures.

On the internet you can find many discussions concerning the Google pictures. Some people arguing that it is fine to photo shop pictures in order to make things look pretty. Something I would definitively not have any trouble with. But what I am wondering, is why the pictures are mirrored? As in my opinion that is only something you would do, when the data center doesn’t actually look like this.

Do you think Google just fine tuned the pictures or are do the picture lie?

I want to post a blog about the current market circumstances of the telecommunications industry. It is a fact that large Dutch traditional companies, like KPN have encountered difficult financial times. This could happen due to the fact that KPN did not expect the Whatsapp serviced and other digital free chat option to diminish the use of the traditional SMS and phone options. 

In response to the ever declining revenue stream of SMS´s and phone calls, the providers in the Dutch Telecommunication industry have decided to raise their prices of mobile subscriptions fees per month in a drastic way. A couple of years ago, it was even possible to get a full internet access bundle, with no additional costs for usage, of just 2 euro and 50 cents. 

This price war actually lasted for just a couple of months, until the providers realised that this would ruin their entire revenue stream, thereby destroying their profit. Now, monthly subscription fees for new smartphones lay around 40 euro´s on average, most of the time with a ´discount´ of 50% in the first 12 months. It is nowadays normal to pay 27,50 in the first year and then 55 euros per month in the second year. The new IPhone 5 even has a monthly subscription fee of 70 (!) euros in the second year.


In my opinion the telecommunication industry is now a newly vulnerable market. If for example Microsoft’s decides to create their own phone, which would not be very surprising due to the fact that they will launch their first tablet within a month or two, Microsoft could encounter a very ‘sweet spot’ in the telecommunications market. They could integrate their mobile phone with the main concepts of their desktop services and with their new tablet. This would give Microsoft the opportunity to create the same hub that Apple currently has, with their MacBook’s, IPhones and IPods. 

Because it is possible for Microsoft to set the price lower than other telecommunications providers, these could give them a major pricing advantage. And in the end, this would lead to price discounts at other telecommunications providers, which we as customers would very much appreciate!



Social media and strategy

When we stop to look how the business environment has changed we see that there are a lot of brands which have realized the importance and the value which social media could add to its business. Social media has emerged and become a critical component of the new business environment. According to eMarketer (2011), more companies featured in the Inc 500 list are implementing social media as part of their business and marketing strategies. Of these companies 71% used Facebook in 2010 opposed to 61% in 2009, 59% used Twitter in 2010 and 50% participate in blogging. And according to V3 Integrated Marketing, 23% of Fortune 500 companies have a corporate blog, 35% of the top 100 Fortune 500 companies have a corporate blog compared to 14% of those Fortune 500 companies in the bottom 300-500 of the category, 62 % of Fortune 500 companies have an active corporate Twitter account and have tweeted in the last 30 days, and 58% of Fortune 500 companies have a corporate Facebook page.
Not all companies implement social media the same. Some have a more complete strategy whereas others might only want to increase sales for example.

Not all companies utilize social media appropriately and thus don’t achieve the desired results. A study done by the Altimeter Group (2011) gives the following steps to building a business-focused social measurement strategy. It is perceived that following these steps would increase the chance of creating a successful social media strategy.


auhtor: J. Duin

Underwater Street View

Underwater Street View

In preparation for the exam I was searching on the internet about Google. I was surprised to find out that Google started to extent Street View with underwater pictures.

Since the oceans cover 70% of the earth, the underwater pictures of Google Street View seems to give a more complete image of the world.
This extension is, according to Google, not only for fun, but could also have scientific potential. Already a seahorse has been spotted in a place where it has never seen before.

I am curious about what the next step in Google Street View will be. Maybe images of the space?


How to identify and exploit lucrative hot spots in B2B markets

For years companies were deploying their salesforce on the basis of historical performance of sales regions. Now, thanks to big data B2B organizations can identify new-growth hot spots and align sales coverage and strategies with opportunities discovered. The idea of how to sell into micromarkets was presented in HBR July-August 2012 (M.Goyal, M.Q. Hancock, H.Hatami).

Developing micromarket strategy

  1. Defining micromarket size – Given the company’s resources what is the optimal size of the micromarket? County, zip code? It doesn’t have to be a physical region. A cargo airline delineated micromarkets according to flight paths.
  2. Determining growth potential – Based on the industry knowledge, interviews with customers and sales representatives drivers of customer’s demand have to be defined. Historical data may be useful to assess the influence of each driver on customer’s purchases in every micromarket. Then as final step , future growth opportunities (depending on the micromarket) should be determined.
  3. Gauging market share for each micromarket –  To determine the firm’s market share in a micromarket data on revenues and margins across lines of business should be used. Furthermore, a company has to calculate micromarket sales trends for next quarters and compare them with data from the opportunity map. The trends in market share should be discovered.
  4. Identifying the causes of differences in market share –What are the main causes of the variations in the company’s market share across micromarkets? Internal and external data on the marketing and sales activities may be analyzed in order to understand how the company’s sales strategy and and competitive factors affect market share in each micromarket.
  5. Prioritizing growth pockets – When root causes of market share variance are dicovered, the company can prioritize the micromarkets and determine on which areas to focus. The resources should be deployed according to expected future opportunites. Moreover, micromarkets that share the certain characteristics should be grouped together  into “peer groups”. For each “peer group” relevant strategy should be developed (the primary goal may be to maintain, acquire customers, etc.).

 Rethinking sales force management

Implementation of micromarket strategy requires companies to change their approach to sales force management. Sales representative performance should be assessed based on micromarket opportunities not relative to the entire salesforce. Furthermore, the cross-functional collaboration between marketing and sales should be enabled especially when developing and testing sales strategies for specific “peer groups”.

Micromarket strategy is demanding – it requires a company to incorporate big-data mind-set into operations and organizational culture. However, the study conducted including 120 companies worldwide indicates that the strategy is most likely the most potent new application of big-data analytics in B2B sales.

Big Data in Farming

Talking about farmers with cows, most people can only think of stereotypes. Grumpy men in blue clothing with boots or wooden shoes and riding a tractor. Getting out of bed at 6 o’clock in the morning to milk the cows. This last point was actually true. And if the farmer was sick or not home to what reason soever, someone else had to do it. Nowadays, robotic systems entered the world of farming. New systems from the Dutch company “Lely” feed the cows, clean the cows and the cowshed and milk the cows. The farmer gets his tablet in the morning, and sees that every cow has already been milked and the exact amount of milk produced this morning. He gets some milk from the tank and puts it in a new product from the canadian company “diary quality”, this is a really small casing where your iPhone fits in. It checks the milk for its amount of somatic cells, so the farmer can check the quality of the milk.

The farmer is getting data, big data about al of his cows. What to do with this? Check the article on Bloomberg Businessweek:

Big Dairy enters the era of Big Data

How (not) to create business advantage with IT?

Session 2 of this this course was all about Information Strategy. As stated in one of the key learning points, it is critical to identify strategic impacts of IT on an organization and to know how you might or can create value through the use of information. Furthermore, (also) due to the Digital Information Project we all know that the business strategy and IT strategy should be aligned. Now we all know what to do, I found it interesting to take a look at the other side: how not to do it!

This February, Adam Davison placed an article titled “6 Reasons Why IT Strategies Fail”. He argues that, whilst there are many successful IT strategies, there are also a lot of unsuccessful ones. The author itself has an MSc in IT from the University of Aston and has filled a variety of senior IT strategy roles for organisations. In his article, he discusses the six most common reason he has seen why IT strategies fail.

I think this blog is a really interesting one, mainly because it’s also about the human side of (IT) strategy and not just about the teccch stuff! Besides, it helped me understanding IT strategy and its importance by viewing it from a whole other strategy perspective: how not to do it!

If you’re interested too, you can click on the following link:!

Copy/Paste Commnuism

Although I am usually a proud Austrian, I must admit that my national pride has experienced several bumps on its recent legislative decision and especially its telecommunication regulations.

Another such bump occurred this week, when around 150 people (mostly cultural communities and independent artists) demonstrated for the adoption of a GEZ like (in the Netherlands Publieke Omroep) fee for hard drives. It has been their objective and slogan to stop “copy/paste communism”.

I certainly do not advocate piracy and the illegal distribution of content, but I don’t believe a universal fee is the path to follow. My most important reason against it is based around the legal principle of “burden of proof”. In most legal circumstances, the claimant must prove all elements required for his claim against the defendant. It is certainly not possible nor is it humane to assume a priori that all people are “criminals” and pirating. And why should I pay a fee, when all my software, music, videos, pictures, etc. is legally purchased – I have never seen on my IKEA receipt an additional tax on shelves that is for artists, because I store my Vinyl, Books, … in it.

Supports of such a fee, are now also widely arguing for an even broader adoption on mobile phones, mp3 players and ultimately any medium capable of potentially storing pirated content. By imposing fees, they hope that microeconomics plays in their favour and leads to less adoption of such “evil” devices. After all even some protestors claimed that “culture needs to be only limited available”. It seems to me that these supposedly open minded and culturally aware artists fight a battle that does not suspect innocent people of illegal activity, but ultimately limits the potential of knowledge, information and (what should be most important to them) cultural exchange. Referring to former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder I support his statement that it should be the objective of a modern society to facilitate the interchange of knowledge, information and culture across borders – to add value to every day life for all people.

In this spirit I believe it is living the 21st century to say, instead to fight, we should embrace “copy/paste communism” (within the legal boundaries).