Most of you should know the Snapchat App; the app that allows you to send fun snaps to your friends knowing it will disappear within 10 seconds and never come back. Or that is what you believed to happen..
In January 2014 Snapchat admitted that about 4.6 million usernames and phone numbers have been leaked. This week another event occured in which third-party apps promised to publish some 200,000 Photos obtained from Snapchat users online.
The Snapchat case illustrates a problem faced by many companies today regardingthe trade-off between big data and privacy concern. Will this result in Snapchat’s loss of members? Will users take more care using apps in general? The effects are still to be realised, but one thing is clear is that user privacy online continues to be exposed and companies will need to find a way to protect it, in order to maintain trust and avoid the loss of customers.
During my trip through Thailand there was one recurrent irritation. The fact that in every new city, bar or place I visited, I needed to make a new Wi-Fi connection. I only needed to use the internet to see what places to visit, what route to take, etc. This task could be done in five minutes, but the finding a connection, asking for the password made my Thai Life a lot harder.
Hopefully an answer to my prayers came up with Instabridge. The company that was founded in 2012 wants to replace your phone’s default Wi-Fi manager and give you access to a crowd sourced database of Wi-Fi. Originally you shared your Wi-Fi with friends on Facebook, but Instabridge developed to broader Wi-Fi sharing community. Community members submit their password information through the Instabridge Android app, thereby opening (parts of) their network to everyone else. In addition the aplicaton comes with a pre-loaded database of venues that have free Wi-Fi, for example McDonalds or Starbucks. You can find where these spots are by looking on a map but most of the times you can also be navigated by using your phone’s compass. (http://instabridge.com/en/)
Yesterday Instabridge stated that it is hosting 20.000 individual sessions and adding 1.000 new access points every day. The app is coming up in emerging market such as Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and India, but also in countries like Spain, Canada, The U.S. and last but not least The Netherlands. The app is momentarily only working on Android devices, but the developers are making sure that it will be usable for iOS in the near future.
The company just raised $1.000.000,- to help this free network of Wi-Fi grow. The biggest part of this was backed by Creandum (the venture capitalist that was also involved in Spotify and Izettle early on). But several angel investors and other parties participated in raising the money. This shows that there is great interest in the potential this app could have.
There are some other apps that automatically connect you to open Wi-Fi network or similar apps (Wifi Opener), but Instabridge easily wins this competition due to the fact that it managed to build up a quite big following since it launched in 2012. Also what sets Instabridge apart is the community of users sharing Wi-Fi, making sure you get more (and better) Wi-Fi by using Instabridge. Personally I really hope this becomes a standard application and maybe even include the option to share your mobile internet (limited) to (foreign) users of this application.
Fitchard, K. (2014, October 15). community-wi-fi-startup-instabridge-lands-1m-seed-round. Retrieved from gigaom: https://gigaom.com/2014/10/15/community-wi-fi-startup-instabridge-lands-1m-seed-round/
O’Hear, S. (2014, October 15). instabridge. Retrieved from techcrunch: http://techcrunch.com/2014/10/15/instabridge/
Working on your laptop while you’re heading to work. In the future you don’t need to go with the public transport or have to hire a chauffeur to achieve this. You can use your own car! If we believe the media about all these autonomous cars that are coming we might think that this is the near future, but are they?
From Ford to Volkswagen, almost every car manufacturer is working on a self-driving car. Every manufacturer is also very eager to show their prototypes of self-driving cars in the media. The largest issue in this new technology is safety. Can a computer have faster reflexes while controlling a car than a human being? It is certain that computers can do faster calculations for different scenario’s than humans, but would you put your life in the hands of a computer? A February 2014 research among 2000 U.S. adults showed that 88% of them is afraid of driving in a driverless car. They are most afraid for software glitches that will cause the system to fail or warning signs for danger that do not work.
An other question we have to ask ourselves is which skills does a person need to have to drive a autonomous car. Is it still necessary to get a drivers license when the car drives itself?
An other question that comes up is liability. When your driverless car ends up in an accident, who is liable for this? Is it the software company? Is it the car company? Or are you liable yourself?
With new technologies it is likely that insurance companies will ask a premium for the extra-unknown risk. If the car manufacturer is responsible for accidents or damage, they will probably add this premium in the price of the car. This will delay the introduction of driverless cars to the big public who can’t afford these prices.
At this moment the costs of a self-driving car are very high. The laser system that Google is using for their driverless car costs approximately $80.000. If we add this to the cost of a car plus the possible insurance premium, the price is too high for the average customer at this moment.
And at last, another important characteristic of a car: design. All the technology that is needed for a driverless car is very large and blunt. The manufacturers of these cars have not yet achieved to integrate this technology in the design of a car. If you pay a lot of money for a car, you at least would like to see a slick design?
That autonomous cars are the future is inevitable but the current question is when will the first one arrive. I don’t believe that we will go from the current generation of cars to the driverless generation. We will probably see more and more autonomous features in cars in the near future. So step by step we will go to a completely autonomous car, but when this will happen, and when all the downsides have disappeared, only time will tell.
This report focuses on the IT strategy of the HR department of IBM. IBM has about 350,000 employees worldwide and 3,658 employees are situated in the Netherlands. In a company this size, the HR department is of great importance for optimal business practices. HR is an independent entity within IBM, which reports to the worldwide organization based in the US. The Dutch HR department receives guidelines from the global HR department in the US, which should be implemented locally. Therefore, the HR department in the Netherlands performs mostly an executive role. The HR department of IBM strives for data-driven decision making. At IBM, the implementation of IT in the HR department is in an advanced stage. Various tools are used and large amounts of data regarding employees are gathered.
However, parts of the information in these data are still hidden, because of lack in data analysis. This lack is caused by two factors. First, the existing tools are appropriate for data storage and sharing, but are not usable for analysis and subsequent actions. Secondly, human capital is missing in the form of HR employees who have the needed capabilities to perform and act on the data analysis.
In order to address IBM´s current business problem within the HR department, an HR analytics solution is recommended to be implemented within the IBM HR department. It is suggested that IBM’s HR department chooses the HR analytics service provided by IBM itself, since IBM provides an easy-to-operate end-to-end solution and the product is designed on the basis of values and beliefs of IBM.
This IBM HR Analytics solution enables the HR department to gather employee data in a structured manner and most importantly, it allows the department to analyze this data. With the obtained information, HR can compose tangible action points and goals. The information can provide insights in what is currently happening in the workplace and what can happen in the future. Research has shown that the implementation of HR analytics solutions can result in increased employee satisfaction and performance and reduced employee absenteeism and turnover rates. Furthermore, this solution can help the IBM HR department to more effectively recruit and attract new employees that best suit the organization. IBM HR Analytics can aid in identifying employee (personal) characteristics needed and can ultimately result in happier employees who better fit their job.
With the implementation of IBM’s HR Analytics, numerous risks are involved and will determine the success of the implementation. These risks concern employee privacy and compliancy issues, ethical questions and the usability of the performed analyses. Finally, the use of analytics can ultimately lead to the reduced need of HR staff. This can result in reduced motivation and engagement of HR employees, since they might fear losing their jobs to the new system.
IBM HR Analytics is the most feasible option for the IBM HR department to implement. First, it is financially feasible since it represents an ROI of 2.18. Second, it is technically feasible, as the old and new systems are easy to integrate, internal IT consultants are available and no fundamental architectural changes are required. Finally, the solution is operationally feasible if two conditions apply. First of all, employees who can work with the software and translate results into actions are required. Secondly, the HR department should even more focus on data-driven decision making.
When implemented, the IBM HR Analytics solution is expected to be in full operational use after two years, assuming that systems will be synchronized and employees will be able to perform data analyses and use the obtained information accordingly.
What if they cap out? The danger of using a pay-per-subscribtion model for digitalized information goods
It’s most likely that all of you will probably know Netflix by now. Netflix offers its subscribers a streaming service which can be described as an entertainment platform. Subscribers get unlimited access to TV shows and movies for a flat fee monthly subscription. Netflix achieved to capture a lot of customers in the video entertainment market. The key to their growth is rooted in the digital nature of their service and products, eliminating any sort of physical transportation, thus granting Netflix the ability to reach customers all over the world.
Netflix’s vision is to make streaming service is available on ‘every screen with an internet connection’. They first introduced their service for personal computers in the year 2007. From 2009 and onwards, Netflix partnered with several electronic manufactures to enable streaming on several devices like the smart TV, Xbox, PS3 and many other internet connected devices. By extending their portfolio of compatible devices Netflix made their service more accessible to customers. This was Netflix’s first step to reach the masses of the market. The second step of Netflix to capture more customers was to expand geographically. In the years 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 Netflix spread its service to Latin America and the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Nordics and lastly to the Netherlands.
These developments have led Netflix to over 50 million subscribers, using 1000 and more kind of devices, in over 40 countries. Over the last 7 years the company has made an enormous expansion and will probably even grow further. Currently, revenues are growing due to the increasing amount of subscribers, but it seems like the rate of increasing subscriptions is already dropping. This years realized amount of subscriptions did not make the prospected ones, nor the ones of last year’s. It may be premature, what will happen if Netflix expansion opportunities caps out and the market will get saturated with their services?
Netflix’s business is based on a pay-per-subscription model. When growth by expansion is reaching its max, so will the accompanied revenues. Netflix currently offers 2 kinds of subscriptions, one better and more costly than the other. Trying to shift the subscriptions to their superior service is one way to achieve further revenue growth, but would still be very limited. Raising the monthly fee has also proven to be a no-go, as last quarter’s results show that the realized amount of subscriptions were far beneath the prospected ones, most likely in result of raising the subscription tariffs by 1 euro/dollar.
What do you think about this and what should Netflix possibly do in order to prevent this?
Ahold is a large retailer that operates in both the European Union as in the United States. The core business of the company has been “selling great food” and serving the needs of their customers through their different channels (Ahold, 2014). According to their business model, they offer a value proposition that promises a better place to shop, to work and being a better neighbor for customers. They fulfill the needs of customers by using the ‘wheel of retail’ (constant investments to ensure growth) to lower prices. Next to that, Ahold is targeting the mass market through its various companies. Their portfolio consists of grocery stores and stores in other segments (Bol.com, Etos, Gall&Gall and Peapod) through traditional and online channels. At last, they want to increase customer loyalty by practicing a customer intimacy driven strategy and offering good quality and up to date products through a well-organized distribution, purchasing and selling platform. Ahold currently uses its IT to gather consumer behavior data of each branch, which makes sure that there are still opportunities not being utilized. They simply do not use external data in order to improve data analysis. A proper vehicle that might enable Ahold to utilize these opportunities is Big Data analysis.
The Digital Technology Transformation and its impact
The way of using IT in business, especially in the supermarket industry has its shortcomings. Moreover, current IT strategies in this industry are not effective as it could be. This is due to the fact that opportunities are not being accomplished. Big Data analysis helps Ahold to accomplish their opportunities. Particularly, other sources of data can be valuable as well (sensor data, social media posts, weather at that location of the customer (Brown, Chui, & Manyika, 2011)). Big data also can increase the efficiency of Ahold’s business operations. In order to clarify, Big Data analysis influences the core objectives to ensure growth. The use of Big Data will help expanding geographical growth, since it has access to geographical diverse data. It also will help broadening their offerings as they will know what kind of products consumers will prefer to have. This will enable Ahold to increase consumer loyalty and improve their way of being more responsible for customer’s lives by providing them convenience. Big Data analysis will eventually increase the efficiency of Ahold’s operations, so that they will be more able to emphasize their value propositions and to be competitive.
Of course this disruptive technology has an impact on the supermarket industry as well. The net impact of Big Data analysis on the Porter’s Five forces will be positive. Also the implementation of a Big Data strategy will influence the SWOT-analysis as it allows Ahold to expand their current strengths and to utilize opportunities. However, the threat of customer privacy will increase after the implementation of this strategy.
Big Data can predict what customers are really looking for. Knowing your customer is key in predicting trends and creating value. Big Data helps Ahold to provide itself with valuable information, by collecting, integrating and analyzing large amounts of various sourced, timely data (Brown, Chui, & Manyika, 2011). To derive value from Big Data, Ahold needs to know how to analyze it. It has to follow a multi-step process in order to differentiate better: ‘Acquisition, information extraction and cleaning, data integration, modeling and analysis, and interpretation and deployment. Many discussions of Big Data focus on only one or two steps, ignoring the rest.’ (Jagadish, et al., 2014).
Ahold. (2014). Ahold . Retrieved October 9, 2014, from Ahold – https://www.ahold.com/#!/Media.htm
Brown, B., Chui, M., & Manyika, J. (2011, 10). Are you ready for the era of ‘big data’? . McKinsey Quarterly , 1-12.
Jagadish, H., Gehrke, J., Labrinidis, A., Papakonstantinou, Y., Patel, J., Ramakrishnan, R., et al. (2014). Big Data and Its Technical Challenges. COMMUNICATIONS OF THE ACM , 57 (7), 86-94.
Digital Transformation Project: Enhancing visitor experience at Natuurhistorisch Museum through iBeacon Technology (Team 19)
We have selected the Natuurhistorish Museum – the storyteller of our arts, history and culture – based in Rotterdam to embrace the benefits technology can bring to enhance visitor experience and contribute to reduce dependency on grants and subsidies.
Natuurhistorisch’s Vision and Current Issues:
The museum’s vision is “to have a social function as a knowledge agent” (Drew, 2011) and it wishes to increase the visitor attendance by 25% each year which is at the heart of museum’s business model (Falk et. al 2006). On the technology side, the museum uses Audio Guide tour normally while a new temporary exhibition “Pure Veerkracht” user more advanced technologies (action sensors, touch screens and projectors). Some of the major issues with these technologies are uneven technology spread, inability to track visitors’ location, absence of online ticketing system, absence of wi-fi and technology-user irrelevance. From the SWOT analysis, we conclude that it faces threats of losing even more revenues if it fails to innovate and increase visitor attendance. The museum seems to be stuck in a vicious cycle (depicted below) –
Introducing iBeacon Technology:
iBeacon Technology allows mobile applications to detect micro-location indoors and to perform contextual user interactions/engagements. This is compatible with both iOS and Android devices(Cavallini, 2013). Since each iBeacon has its own ID, the devices can tell each other apart.
Information Richness and Relevance –Using the iBeacon technology, richer types of information, such as videos, graphics and interactive content (ask visitors questions, post comments etc.) can be displayed which are relevant and are shown to be successful as this empowers the learning process (ScienceMuseum, 2014).
Analytics – The museum currently lacks visitor information such as behavior, data (average time in the museum, per room etc.) and feedback. Together, these can be transformed into real knowledge about visitors.
Risks and mitigation measures:
Some of the major risks identified with the project include using an early-stage technology, difficulty in funding process, resistance in adoption by visitors and developing a disturbance-free technology. Based on willingness of nearby museums, partnerships to develop common projects (such as developing a common mobile application to sell tickets) can be started in order to significantly reduce the implementation costs, attract funds under a common cultural project, and increase cross-selling strategies.
Shifts in Business model Canvas for new proposed model:
- From visitors to participators: Enabling a shift of consumers from mere visitors to active participators
- Information 1.0 to Information 2.0: Enabling a greater enhancement of information value transfer than ever before (Prophets, 2014)
- From no data to real time data: Allowing real-time analytic insights on visitor behavior to improve management decisions (Oros, 2014).
Conclusion & Recommendations:
By adopting the proposed iBeacon technology, monitoring and countering the risks involved with the project, and partnering with other museums, Natuurhistorisch will be able to fill in the gaps of the current IT infrastructure. Not only will the museum be able to attract more visitors, benefit from word-of-mouth marketing and gather needed media attention, it will most importantly be able to achieve its objectives, differentiate itself, fulfill its role of knowledge agent by improving the visitor’s learning process and engaging them with the life of the museum.
- Cavallini, A., 2013. iBeacons Bible 1.0. [Online] Available at: http://meetingofideas.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/ibeacons-bible-1-0.pdf [Accessed 7 October 2014].
- Drew, J. (2011). Het Natuurhistorisch een stadsmuseum vol kennis.Available: http://www.hetnatuurhistorisch.nl/fileadmin/user_upload/documents-nmr/MissieEnBeleid/Beleidsplan_HetNatuurhistorisch__2013-2016_DEF.pdf. Last accessed 8th Oct, 2014
- Oros, B. (2014). WiFi vs iBeacon solutions to provide analytics.Available: http://www.onyxbeacon.com/tag/ibeacon-analytics/. Last accessed 12th Oct 2014
- ScienceMuseum, 2014. Science News Now: think, talk, share. [Online] Available at: http://antenna.sciencemuseum.org.uk/topiczone/innovationnow [Accessed 05 10 2014].
- Prophets, 2014. Apple iBeacon technology applied to classical art in Antwerp Museum. [Online] Available at: http://vimeo.com/84760383 [Accessed 11 10 2014].
- Falk, J et al. (2006). Building a Knowledge Based Business Model. In: –Thriving in the Knowledge Age: New Business Models for Museums and Other Cultural Institutions. UK: Altamira Press. 29-45
“Leuker kunnen we het niet maken, wel makkelijker.”
This famous quote from the Belastingdienst translates into “We cannot make it more fun, but we can make it easier.” As the tax collecting institution of the Netherlands, most of the Belastingdienst’s processes are related to collecting taxes and paying fees. This all to make the Netherlands more liveable. However, in general many people are not satisfied with its performance, because many mistakes are made and the impact is considered substantious.
The Belastingdienst does not always fail to implement IT projects. In 2011 it successfully implemented the Nieuwe Toeslagen Systeem, which makes it possible to access all information concerning allowances in one portal. Thus, for all allowances only one year income can be filled in. Before, one could fill in different (estimated) incomes in the different allowances portals. After introducing this system the fraud rate decreased and the customer satisfaction increased.
Still users remain dissatisfied with the Belastingdienst. The biggest problem causing the dissatisfaction are the disintegrated systems at the Belastingdienst. Over time many changes have been made in the concerning systems which make them incompatible with each other. Because of the lack of integration mistakes can easily be made and fraud is not always detected. Another problem is that information is not easily accessible for many users. Different websites and applications exist which makes users to navigate to different platforms in order to find the right information, which causes dissatisfaction, confusion and increases the user’s search costs.
We believe that we found a way to finally make it easier: one integrated online platform. The first step is to integrate the existing systems from the different departments. When this is done successfully, the platform can be build and the users can access their personalized information on one screen. With this platform, the Belastingdienst can provide its users with information adapted to their specific situation. For example, for us as students information will be provided about side jobs and about our rights to receive rent allowances.
The figure below depicts the different departments of the Belastingdienst that need to be integrated. In order to achieve this the information exchange between the departments needs to both increase and smoothen.
We conducted a feasibility analysis and concluded that the proposed platform would be challenging to implement, however possible. The principal challenge is the Belastingdienst’s outdated database. Its database dates from the sixties, and over time different applications have been added with their own programming style. Another difficulty is that the Belastingdienst has to deal with Big Data. Many researchers claim that big data provides a lot of benefits for companies, but it is for sure that this recent development also presents firms with challenges. The managers need to set clear goals and define what success looks like. Furthermore, the right talent needs to be attracted and retained within the organisation to optimize the use of big data. All these factors need to be taken into account by the Belastingdienst in order to successfully use its IT structure (McAfee & Brynjolfsson, 2012).
We believe that this can make a difference, both for the Belastingdienst and us as users. What do you think? How do you envision this platform?
Dear readers of the Blog,
The focus of our ‘Technology of the Week Project on Digital Transformation and Business Models’ lies on De Slegte and Spotify.
De Slegte is an independent chain of bookstores founded by Jan de Slegte in Rotterdam during the 20th century. Whilst the chain initiated in the Netherlands, it currently solely operates a total of eight stores across Belgium. The firm offers a wide selection of literature; it specializes in offering antique and second hand books often sold during book fairs. However, with the rapid advancement of the Internet and thus also of online competitors, such a service has failed to prove sufficient. The traditional store was struggling to stay ahead with their business model at that state in time.
Thus, De Slegte has decisively launched its primary website in 2010 in efforts to stay ahead of the competition. Despite the chain’s attempt at digitalization, and further efforts to remain in business, the firm has eventually claimed bankruptcy in the Netherlands. The company intends to remain with its preliminary aim of offering second-hand books, textbooks and cut-price editions as its main base product. With such financial inconsistency endured by De Slegte, it seems to require a new innovative, technical business model if it wishes to operate in the long-run and keep up to par with fierce competitors, especially in the growing online industry. As previously mentioned, the sole digital mechanism utilized by the company is in the form of an online web shop: http://www.deslegte.be. Despite the website possessing a growing online traffic from 500 visits in March versus 40,000 views in August, it still suffers from a bounce rate of 30% and a mere 4 minute page view on average.
Although this is a promising first step, it now faces competition not only from renowned brick-and-mortar stores such as Barnes & Noble, but also from major digital platforms such as Bol.com and Scribd. In order to compete, it must differentiate. In purpose of innovating De Slegte’s business model, a streaming Freemium strategy such as that implemented by Spotify would be highly recommended.
This implies offering free services, yet incorporating means such as ads or limited usage with respect to time, in order to firstly still earn a small income through the free model on the advertisers side, and secondly, catalyse the desire for customer subscriptions. Thereafter, there is also an unlimited and premium model that offers upgraded versions with additional features which greatly enhance customer satisfaction when active on the website or application. Spotify’s revenue rose immensely within even the first year of public operation, representing a 458% in growth. Such success is attributed to a large user base, a low marginal cost to serve each subscriber as well as a product that increases in value to the user over time. De Slegte could strive to achieve similar growth its user base through offering a more advanced digital model. As opposed to the current technical utilization, the system should be enabled across all platforms including PCs, tablets and mobile devices. Furthermore, it would require offering a much larger range of books that would be streamed on a free basis reading time constraints and possibly a limitation of the number of pages per day limitations. The revenue would thereafter mostly be generated through subscriptions to more unique features.
Just about twenty years ago it seemed unreal: robots that are capable enough to threat, compete and even win from human labour in certain work industries or even in general. However this strengthens the vision that nothing is impossible. Carl Frey and Michael Osbourne concluded that 47% of 702 occupation types can be replaced by robots. Also they found a negative relationship between wage and educational level and risk of being replaced by robots.
The BIG question
Since then there is a lot of research and discussion going on about the upcoming changes with the increasing capabilities of robots and the relationship with human labour. It lead to various discussions at or around the kitchen table worldwide, it even led to various discussions at governmental level. In the Netherlands they seem to be very negative towards the increasing amount of robots used. Lodewijk Asscher, a minister in the Netherlands, thought that this will lead to less jobs and more inequality. (Bouman, 2014) Some state that ‘robotization’ will lead to less poverty worldwide while others state only the educated countries will benefit of the increasing intelligence of the robot. However, will this actually lead to less jobs and is the growth of robots actually that high that we should see this as a potential threat to common welfare?
To be honest I do not add myself to the sceptical attitude towards the increasing amount and ‘threat’ of the increasing intelligence of the robot. Yes, some of the lower educated jobs will be replaced by more efficient working standardized robots that can work 24/7 without any complaints about a salary raise. However, this should not immediately mean that the unemployment will increase and the unfortunate stay homeless. This is a process that takes time and should be researched more before jumping to quick conclusions. However I think it is important to re-think the education system of each country on itself to adapt to the upcoming changes. On lower level of education, people should be schooled more flexible. Especially in the sectors where the work is routine-based, there should be considered if it is worth maintaining this specific study. However I see many occupations where people are willing to pay more to get human service and will always get the benefit of the doubt when both of the options are available.
Like mentioned before this is a point that stands open for discussion. However the only way we will find out what precisely is the impact of the increasing artificial intelligence is by doing research and let time do its job. What do you think about the increasing intelligence of robots and their relationship with mankind?
Benedikt Frey, C., Osborne, M.A., (2013), The future of employment: how susceptible are jobs to computerisation
Bouman, M., Nederland is nog lang geen robotland, Het Financieel Dagblad, 4 Oktober 2014
On monday, a handful of files surfaced on the Internet containing hundreds of username and password combinations for Dropbox accounts. The files were accompanied by an anonymous message, which claimed that the files were just a small batch of 6,937,081 hacked Dropbox accounts. Some of the username password combinations were confirmed by Reddit users, before Dropbox disabled the accounts. Soon after the files appeared, Dropbox responded by denying it was hacked. In a statement the file hosting and sharing company declared: “The usernames and passwords referenced in these articles were stolen from unrelated services, not Dropbox”.
Of course it is easy for a random hacker to claim he published just a small batch of 7 million hacked accounts in total, as well as it is easy for Dropbox to claim it has no involvement and has not been hacked. Yet again, people allegedly had access to other people’s accounts and files.
With Dropbox being the #1 file sharing and collaboration program for group work at RSM, I realized that over time quite some files of others and myself have gathered in my Dropbox folder and that those could be at risk. The use of Dropbox on campus took off in particular after the ‘Great Space Race’ took place in October 2012, and university students all over the world received large amounts of free storage.
The Dropbox service and the ‘Great Space Race’ in particular show clear signs of network effects. You probably were first required to sign up for the Dropbox service because a group you were collaborating with used it. You also probably referred at least one other person to the service. Now you won’t leave the service because every new semester your group uses it again, you use it at work or with a friend and you cannot switch one without switch away from all. Another possibility is that Dropbox is integrated on your mobile device and backs up your pictures, or integrates all your files across platforms.
Do you reckon your files on Dropbox to be safe? Did, or will you change your password after reading this news?
Costco, the US second largest retailer, is opening an online store in China through e-commerce giant Alibaba’s Tmall platform.
Costco Wholesale Corporation is a membership-only warehouse club, providing a wide range of products at relatively low prices. However, there is no restriction of membership on Tmall. Consumers can buy any products, which are available for members only previously. In addition, this cooperation between Costco and Alibaba makes it much easier and cheaper for consumers in Chinese to buy imported products, which is expected to change the pattern of retailer industry in China.
The main reason for this cooperation is to improve the performance of Costco. Actually, the firm performance of Costco this year was not satisfying. None of its periodic revenue, total profit and earning per share achieved the prospective level. Therefore, it is crucial for Costco to explore and develop new market. According to Costco executive vice president Jim Murphy, since Chinese consumers’ demand of imported products is increasing significantly, Costco predicts enormous potential and growth opportunities in market of China.
Tmall is a business within Alibaba Group. Having storefronts of thousands of international and Chinese brands, Tmall has become the largest B2C online retail platform in China. It has taken only several months since both sides came into contract. With positive effects, Tmall can help Costco be recognized and therefore occupy the Chinese market rapidly. Moreover, Tmall’s bonded warehouse model can reduce logistics costs and shorten delivery time. As a result, Costco can provide lower prices and better shopping experience and services to Chinese customers. Maggie Wu, the General Manager of International B2C Division of Alibaba, said “As Tmall and Costco deepen their collaboration, Tmall will connect Costco with our Group’s C2C platform, Taobao and group-shopping site, Juhuasuan.”
As expected, Costco’s products are very popular among Chinese customers. Some products were sold out in one day, especially Costco’s own flagship brand Kirkland. Through Costco’s analysis and Alibaba’s expertise in big data, Costco will continue providing the most suitable products and brands for Chinese consumers at attractive prices. It is definitely beneficial for Costco to enter China through Tmall platform of Alibaba.