Archive | October 17, 2014

Coopetition, i.e. cooperation and competition among major players

In some occasions big companies which would usually be seen as competitors cooperate. Is it surprising? Would you cooperate with your competitor if you were the CEO of a firm? Well, that is exactly what I would like to look at below.


In particular, let’s look at different examples to understand the dynamics of cooperation/competition.
First, there are talks about the growing alliance between Microsoft and Salesforce. This is surprising especially if we think back at the times when these two companies were suing each other because of patent infringements in court. Nevertheless, now they seem to have made a deal.

Salesforce is known for CRM (customer relationship management). At the same time Microsoft also has a similar CRM product called Dynamics. But now it seems they have found a win-win situation. Why does Microsoft cooperate? Well, the answer is simple. Microsoft’s CEO has decided that being a trusted cloud vendor was more important than beating Salesforce in its CRM business. After all, CRM was never really Microsoft’s main focus. This decision gives Microsoft access to Salesforce customers who get the cloud and aren’t afraid of it, something that was a problem so far for company.
What does Salesforce get? Salesforce gets access to all Microsoft customers who might be now deciding in favor of Salesforce instead of Dynamics, and there will be an upcoming Salesforce app for Outlook, where many sales people work. So, this agreement seems to make sense to both sides.
Last year Oracle and Microsoft partnership brought Oracle applications to Azure. Later SAP applications were also announced to be made available on Azure. Salesforce probably did not want to be the one left behind. Microsoft is clearly showing that it will use popular applications instead of favoring its Dynamics unit.

Another example is the recently announced cloud partnership between IBM and SAP, though this is probably less surprising as these two companies have already worked together. In this case SAP gets to use IBM Softlayer’s 40 data center to run the SAP HANA without having to build the centers themselves, and IBM gets a huge customer that will help pay its high investments into the data centers.

Indeed, as can be seen form the above two examples, competing companies can gain from a little cooperation if it is done wisely. At the same time customers will benefit too. So, it is really a win-win situation.
Benioff from put it like this: “Today is about putting the customer first. Together with Microsoft, we are building bridges that allow customers to be more productive.” (Techtimes, 2014)
Of course this does not mean that these companies do not want to compete and win, just that in some situations they can win more if they work together.  They still try to outperform and beat their competition (including probably the one they cooperate with)!

As a side note: In class we already touched upon the dynamics of competition between big companies (e.g. through the envelopment example of Real Player and Microsoft WMP). Now, I looked at big competitors from a different side, especially at how they cooperate, like in the example of Microsoft with Salesforce. As it can be seen, this case is different from the example of Microsoft with Real Player, though the situation is a bit similar in both cases. In both cases Microsoft had its own products that were competing against Real Player and Salesforce.


Digital Transformation: Group 16.

Customer services play crucial role for the company’s success in modern business realms.  Different companies implement various hints and try to exploit new technological opportunities to make their customer service systems more sophisticated and more client-friendly. For online services it is more complicated, as human-to-human communication is impossible.

In our report we  focused on the website clients’ support. As the companies have a lot of information for the customers, website can become overwhelmed with links and thus more complicated for usage.  As a result, many companies now focus on trying to make their websites as customer-friendly as possible. One of the most successful tools for that appeared to be a Live Online Chat. The chat allows customers to receive help in website navigation and also to get a direct channel for finding the answers to the questions they have. The chat appears after a certain period of time spent navigating via the website. If it is relevant the customer can ask for a question in the appeared window.  If not he can just close it and proceed with navigation.

As this technology is quite innovative and has been recently launch by some companies quite successfully, we decided to try to integrate it to one of the major banks in the Netherlands, Rabobank Nederland.

Rabobank is one of the largest banks in terms of market share in the Netherlands, it has a lot of demanding clients, who opt for sophisticated level of services provided. Along with that, we have identified, that nowadays client orientation is the priority for Rabobank Nederland, as it has very weak connections to its customers and thus would like to eliminate these shortcomings.

The proposed solution of the push online live chat platform allows for the mission of Rabobank to be applied more successfully. The proposed solution should be clearly apparent on the page so that customers can easily access the live online chat function. Since the chat function has a push function, it makes the customer relationships more interactive as they are more willing to help immediately.

From the strategic point of view  the initiative would be positive.  As mentioned previously, Rabobank wants to strengthen relations with customers. That is why it has created five promises to their customers; which are always personal, clear and trustworthy, involved and nearby, standing stronger together and focused on the future. Through the introduction of the push online live chat platform, these five promises will be amplified resulting in closer relations to their customers. Moreover, the new system will allow to receive faster and much more comprehensive feedback from clients and thus to ease the process of company’s effectiveness analysis.

From the financial point of view, the newly integrated technology, with 304 % ROI, would be profitable to the company.

From the technical point of view, the transformation proposed requires either outsourcing or off-the-shell production. This will allow to increase the technical deployment of Rabobank Nederland in order to make the company more innovative and state-of-the-art.

All in all, the new digital transformation would significantly enhance the overall strategy of Rabobank Nederland, especially in the customer service sense.

Application of MMORPG in Education

It is no secret that Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) is one of the most rapidly advancing segments of the gaming industry. As a matter of fact, World of Warcraft, one of the most popular MMOs, started out with about 1.5 million subscribers around 2005, while during the same year worldwide MMO revenues were just about half a billion dollars. Since then quite a few MMO games have been launched. In 2013, the number of worldwide MMO subscribers jumped to 628 million who accounted for 14.9 billion dollars in global annual revenue of the MMO industry.

Through their increasing popularity and their social nature, online games have become a major mechanism of socialization among a wide sector of the population. Certain games have become spaces where users of all ages can engage in various forms of social interaction (Suh et al., 2010). And these interactions mostly take place in the form of language and language skills, which implies that such mechanisms can also be used for educational purposes.

MMORPGs provide an ideal environment for users to improve their language skills for several reasons. One of the most important is that they provide motivation to the learners (users). First, by triggering the user’s participation in learning tasks and enhancing his/her engagement level to these tasks. Second, by giving the user the opportunity to interact using an avatar, which permits him/her to create a second life and be whoever he/she pleases (Suh et al., 2010). Apart from that, the games improve the learners’ critical thinking and problem solving skills. Last but not least, MMORPGs highlight the importance of guilds and groups and they trigger the creation of online communities, through which learners can engage into further interactions and information sharing, creating a new learning environment that was previously available only face-to-face.

These implications can greatly enhance the learning experience for English learners, especially in countries where the language is very separate from their real lives. In fact, study results show that students who study English utilizing online games scored higher in the areas of listening, reading and writing than students who attended face-to-face class sessions (Suh et al., 2010). These results allow for further research and perhaps the creation of a new educational model.

Since the theoretical background behind interactive learning environments involves students interacting with information, socializing and collaborating among them (Susaeta et al., 2010), we can assume that MMORPGs provide an ideal tool that allows students to perform these actions collectively. Thus, perhaps these online games could be adapted for use in the classroom to provide a unique interface through which students can learn various concepts and share further information (Susaeta et al., 2010). It would certainly be interesting to examine such educational models, ones that can combine the elements of entertainment with learning. They certainly provide further motivation to the learners and can enhance the whole “classroom experience”.

To sum up, gaming is definitely one of the most popular forms of entertainment these days. The increasing number of subscriptions of online games leads to the creation of a large number of online communities that provide an ideal environment for interaction due to their various characteristics. Therefore, more and more research is turning towards using such games for educational purposes and it should probably continue to do so.


Suh, S., Kim, S.W. and Kim, N.J. (2010), “Effectiveness of MMORPG-based Instruction in Elementary English Education in Korea”,

Susaeta, H., Jimenez, F., Nussbaum, M., Gajardo, I., Andreu, J.J. and Villalta, M. (2010), “From MMORPG to a Classroom Multiplayer Presential Role Playing Game”,

Airbnb’s New York City battles


Airbnb is fighting battles on multiple fronts in New York City. Its most apparent battle is of legislative nature, where regulators accuse Airbnb of enabling the running of illegal hotels that disturb neighborhoods and residential building, whilst dodging various taxes, including hotel taxes. Another of Airbnb’s battles is against these ‘commercial’ hosts, of whom the top 12 had revenues of over $24 million combined over the past four years. These ‘commercial’ hosts lead us to the next battle Airbnb face; the battle against itself. On the one hand these hosts in particular account for a large chuck of availability, listings and revenue, but on the other hand these hosts are of the kind that legislators may use as example to enforce regulations on their market and business.

Earlier this year, Airbnb took around 2000 New York City listings off its website, for the reason for being ‘bad actors’. This was undoubtedly a trade off between protecting itself against regulations, providing its customers with a variety of listings and to ensure its own revenue.

The top ‘commercial’ host made over $6.8 million in revenues over the past four years – not too bad for renting out some (272) of his unused units, right? These are the kind of hosts that draw the attention of regulators, as these may easily be considered illegal hotels, albeit not in one building. Regulators believe up to 72% of Airbnb listing could be illegal; those rented out while the owner is not home.

Obviously it is in Airbnb’s interest that such regulations are not going to be instituted. Primarily so the total number of listings in their largest market (NYC) remains high, which draw customers to their service. The so-called ‘sharing economy’ idea, on which the Airbnb platform is based, is a two-sided network that relies heavily on positive cross-sided network effects. When Airbnb would start losing either of the two parties involved with the platform, in this case the providers of the good, both parties as well as Airbnb would be adversely affected; especially when this would happen in its largest market.

Do you think Airbnb can win the battle against the New York City regulators? Or is regulation unavoidable when dealing with ‘illegal hotels’ that have revenues in the millions?


High-tech Gym

In general fitness centers are relatively low-tech. Maybe this is the charm of a gym, its rawness. Still there is a lot of technology that can actually make our training more effective and efficient. This article will discuss several of those technologies.

Nowadays, technological progress allows more and more sensors to be manufactured on a microscopic scale due to MEMS technology. The basic idea of a sensor is that it detects changes in the environment and provides an output.

For instance, “the beast” is a little device that is suitable for all exercises and gives results in real-time. In theory this is supposed to motivate and prevent you do the wrong movements when you lift. This beast sensor is configured as a small magnet, which enables it to be easily plugged any gym equipment. The beast is originally developed for pro athletes and coaches, yet an initiative on Indiegogo crowdfunding platform wants to make it publicly available.

Another example of sensor use that could be implemented in the Gym is “the Dash”. It’s a pair of Bluetooth in-ear headphones that also offer up performance tracking via in-built health and body sensors.

Next to sensors, there are a lot of application and web-based initiatives that help us with our workout and corresponding diets. Examples are Traineo, and Wellsphere. Also the smart watches and other wristband will join our Gym. Look at for example PushStrength, which will be available from this fall onwards. This device will track, visualize and optimize your results.

Furthermore, one of the biggest burdens in a gym is the occupancy. Try to go the gym around 6PM. For most gyms – especially low-budget gyms, which basically have no limit on members – it’s nearly impossible to get you workout done around that time. A problem so obvious can be reduced significantly if one would just build an app that shows the occupancy at the gym at a certain time.

I, for one, would welcome these technologies at my Gym. I would be great to see how these technologies would change (and improve?) our time at the gym.

Why are we accepting Google gathering our data?

In March 2014, ING announced it would start doing tests with customer data. The idea was that a group of customers could sign-up for an experiment. In this experiment the bank would use customer and transaction data to target advertising. According to Tros Radar about 30% of all ING-customers considered switching banks after this announcement.

A lot of these same people who considered switching banks probably have a Google account. For the sake of the argument I recently downloaded my own Google data. I had a total of 6GB of data, which included my locations of the past 8 years, conversations, photos, and many more. Google combines data that are collected by all kinds of different Google services, without adequately informing the users in advance and without asking for their consent. How is this different to what ING does? At least ING is asking explicitly for customers consent.

As Edward Snowden recently said in an interview “people who care about their privacy should stay away from popular consumer Internet services like Dropbox, Facebook, and Google”.

Regulators in six European countries, Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Britain and the Netherlands, have opened investigations into Google after it consolidated its 60 privacy policies into one and started combining data collected on individual users across its services, including YouTube, Gmail and Google Maps.

According to the Dutch data protection authority, the combining of personal data by Google since the introduction of its new privacy policy on 1 March 2012 is in breach of the Dutch data protection act.

On the 30st of September a German data authority warned Google that its user profiling activities are violating Germany’s Telemedia Act & Federal Data Protection Act, owing to the lack of explicit user consent to how the data is processed. Processing data that reveals financial wealth, sexual orientation and relationship status, among other aspects of private life, is unlawful in Germany unless users give their explicit consent.

These developments show that Google shall have to change its policy somewhere in the future.


Should our professor be afraid of her job ?

Emerging information technologies have changed the world. With the development of mobile devices like mobile phones, tablets and smart watches in combination with a still growing internet network anyone is connected anytime, anywhere and anyplace.  In this connectivity, users do not only consume but also generate vast amounts of information. Sounds not that bad at all, having access to information available anywhere and anytime! But what about the other side of the coin? Is knowledge becoming less valuable ?

Based on the past, every revolution costs jobs ,so does the digital revolution. It seems obvious to anyone who studies BIM that robots and software can replace people, but the digital revolution goes further than ever before.  As a consequence of automation and digitalization jobs are taken over by for example digital agents, mobile applications or web applications. Which means this time, it does not only affects ‘unskilled jobs’ but the huge middle-class workforce and even professions such as law, financial services, education, and medicine.

To give you a feeling over jobs that already been changed or even displaced by disruptive technologies.

Besides the fact that Digital technology also creates new jobs and interesting products, this time it destroys more jobs than it creates. But why does the digital revolution present such a threat to our work force?

From an economical point of view, productivity is an important indicator. Productivity can be measured by the amount of economic value created for a given unit of input, such as an hour of labor. It is a measure of progress and the creation of wealth. As businesses generated more value from their workers, the country as a whole became richer, which fueled more economic activity and created even more jobs. But since 2000 there has been an break-up between productivity and job creation.


Thereby I would like you to think about a broader trend Brynjolfsson and McAfee noticed : “The rapid acceleration of technological progress, they say, has greatly widened the gap between economic winners and losers” in other words, income gaps will widen, causing huge social dislocation and perhaps even changing politics.

The main question to me is, are we ready to deal with the effects of nowadays technology on the labour market and the consequences society will have from it?



Let’s consult social media

How many hours a day am I on social media? What are the kinds of things (activities) that I post on the net? Do I ask someone’s opinion before I post my things online?

Have you asked yourself these questions lately?
You’re surely wonder why I think you should ask yourself those questions. Well, let me explain myself:

Most of us are constantly on social media, posting our activities like relationship status, vacation trip, party photos etc. It’s already a fact that most of the things you post online are visible for others, even things you don’t want everyone to see (mostly seen via via). This could be your classmates, your (future) work colleagues or even your (future) boss and/ or teachers.

A research in 2012 showed that 1 out of 3 entrepreneurs monitor their workers. 10% of them do that regularly. Previous cases in the past showed that many bosses fired their workers based on their online behavior.
On the Dutch webpage   you can see some examples that took place in the past in the world of journalism.

Another Good example is the one that appeared last year on the Facebook page “AH Medewekers be like”. The employee was fired online.

AH be like

There is a chance that this is just a joke, but it’s a good example to show what really happening around the world. There are also many of the HR peoples that use the social media when reading your application and CV.

Now I want to ask you my dear readers; do you agree with the fact that leaders are following their workers behaviors online?  Are you someone who also uses (consult) the social media regularly if you want to know who someone is or are you the -“That’s not my business type”-?? Do you see yourself as a future Business Information Manager/ leader/ consultant that will follow their clients/ employees on social media?


Paradigm shift in E Commerce: Move from Product Sales to Service Marketplaces

E commerce growth till recently was dominated by product sales companies like Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Best Buy and Staples. (Laumeister, 2014). But recently the industry has witnessed a tremendous growth in service marketplaces which gives us a slight glimpse of how the industry is going to shape up in the near future  Online marketplaces are transforming retail industry, creating huge value for some players in the market and huge challenges for some of the others. (Bellaïche, Chassaing and Kapadia, 2012)

The aim of this post is to analyse why service marketplaces are booming, why is it difficult to create a service marketplace, how did successful marketplaces overcome these difficulties and finally why are venture capital firms pouring huge money into these marketplaces. This closely relates to the discussion on E Commerce & Electronic markets and Platform Mediated Networks in the course.

Growth of service marketplaces (Laumeister, 2014)

There are several marketplaces which carved out new categories of e commerce. For e.g. Fiverr has created a category of micro services. It is a global marketplace where in customers can pay as little as $5 per service or task from a swarm of freelancers (Rao, 2012). Services marketplaces like Airbnb, Uber and E-lance are each expected to process over a billion dollars’ worth of transactions in 2014. The tremendous growth of existing marketplaces and emergence of new marketplaces raises the question ‘Why are these marketplaces booming?’

The primary reason for this growth is seen to be the focus that is being laid on solving the problem of buyers which is universal and removing the barriers that existed with transaction offline (by making the transaction online). Since the problem is universal i.e. customers across the globe are facing the same problem, these solutions are scalable with minimal localisation and grow exponentially after reaching a critical number of users (due to positive network effects). The other important reasons for the tremendous growth are focus that these marketplaces place on consumer delight and obsessive compulsive nature of these businesses. For online marketplaces the most important form of publicity is through word of mouth and hence it is important for them to not just serve their customers but delight them so that they are compelled to inform their friends about the service. In fact, the customers are most attracted to a services marketplace by their belief that the company thinks about the user experience, the services being provided and the benefits to the customer in an obsessive (details and more details) and compulsive (24/7) way.

Why is it difficult to create a service marketplace?

Building a service marketplace is difficult. These models work extremely well with scale but how does one achieve scale? If you have buyers in your system but few sellers, then buyers leave yet if there are no buyers than sellers won’t join. It is this chicken and egg problem that makes it extremely difficult to kick start. Thus it is easy to see that no service marketplace can be built overnight. It in fact takes 18-36 months for majority of these marketplaces to start growing into considerable size (Wertz, 2013). So if you are building an online marketplace how do you get traction and build your buyer and seller communities?

How do you overcome this problem? (Wertz, 2013)

Wertz, in his article on Forbes, lists 5 important tips for building a marketplace. Here is a brief summary:

  1. Don’t be too quick to pivot: Unlike eCommerce or SaaS product based companies, online marketplaces take 18 months to 3 years to gain traction since you need to establish both supply and demand side communities. So stay patient.
  2. Keep the burn as low as possible: Burn rate needs to be as low as possible which gives the business enough time to flourish. Money cannot buy speed when it comes to building out a marketplace. Most marketplace businesses only need two functions early on: people building product and people building the buyer and seller communities.
  3. Tighten your focus: Marketplace businesses need to build traction in smaller verticals before expanding into bigger markets. So ideally they should start by focussing on a particular category or sector or geography based on the tye of business.
  4. Focus on your most passionate users: Great marketplaces are built from the niche to the masses. By engaging your passionate users and catering to their needs, you increase the likelihood that they will tell their friends about the experience and your marketplace can spread outward.
  5. Believe in your vision: When trying to create a new marketplace or market category, you’ve got to believe in your idea even when no one else does. However, you should continually look for small signals that you’re on the right track.

In the last section of this post, the focus is on why venture capital firms (VCs) are investing heavily in marketplaces. This is an important aspect since VCs fund most of the online marketplaces, given the time needed for gaining traction and burn rate in these marketplaces. In 2013, Simon Rothman, partner at Greylock spearheading their $100 million commitment to investing in marketplaces, mentioned he factors that VCs typically consider while investing in a marketplace:

  1. Big (10s and 100s of billions of dollars) and broken market (an experience that doesn’t work or lot of rents being absorbed by supply chain)
  2. Passionate team with an emotional connection
  3. Structure of the marketplace – it should not shift too much as it is growing. It should start at the right place.

He also mentions that in the next 5 years the number of marketplaces would be greater than the number in last 20 years combined because there are many markets which are broken and with mobile and social platforms at their apex there is an opportunity to create online marketplaces in plethora of industries.


Any inefficiency (broken) in the market (in any industry) is leading to a disruptive billion dollar opportunity for online marketplace. With mobile platform and social networks growing stronger, it is easier to gain trust which is at the heart of service marketplaces. Next 5 years in the eCommerce space is likely to be dominated by online service marketplaces.


  1. Laumeister, G., 2014. Why Online Marketplaces Are Booming [Online] Available at: [Accessed 04 10 2014].
  2. Bellaïche, Chassaing and Kapadia, 2012. Secrets of Online Marketplaces [Online] Available at: [Accessed 04 10 2014].
  3. Wertz, 2013. 5 Tips For Building A Two-Sided Online Marketplace [Online] Available at: [Accessed 04 10 2014].
  4. Rao, 2012. Task-Based Marketplace Fiverr Raises $15M From Accel And Bessemer [Online] Available at: [Accessed 04 10 2014].

How will you be paying in 2020?

Let me give you a quick look into my wallet. I open it and the first thing you find is a debit card. It has the Rabobank logo on it, my name and some random number. This card allows me to pay at most shops. Next to that is my ‘OV-Chipkaart’, again it has my name on it, a beautiful design and some random numbers. This card allows me to pay for my travel. Behind that one is a card from my student association. Again it features a name and some random numbers but this one allows me to buy drinks. In my wallet you can also find a printer card, a cinema card and a coffee card. I bet some of you guys have even more cards. To be honest, this annoys me. I can’t leave the house without at least bringing 4 or 5 cards with me.
This is exactly the problem the guys and girls at Coin were facing. Let me introduce you to a smart card: “Coin is a connected device that can hold and behave like the cards you already carry. Coin works with your debit cards, credit cards, gift cards, loyalty cards and membership cards. Instead of carrying several cards you carry one Coin. Multiple accounts and information all in one place.

Are you interested? Well, you’re not alone. Within just 40 minutes Coin had raised its crowdfunding target of $50.000. Their video on Youtube went viral and twitter literally exploded. Praised by many, Coin seems to have a bright future ahead. So how does it work? Although the technique is quite sophisticated, the usage for the end user is made very simple and accessible. With your personal ‘Coin’ card you also receive a scanner. Simply scan your cards that you want on your Coin and with the Bluetooth technology build in the scanner and card, your cards information will be transferred on your Coin card. Coin also offers an App for your phone to connect to your card. This offers possibilities to manage, transfer or delete your cards from Coin. Another smart feature is the tracker. If Coin gets too far away from your phone you get a notification warning you about possible danger. Is your card stolen? Simply erase all data.

Although this sounds like an awesome gadget, not all is going well for Coin. First of all, you can’t actually buy it yet. The initial launch somewhere in 2014 has been delayed multiple times and at the moment of writing the release has been delayed again until spring of 2015. Skeptics are doubtful about this release date too, and predict an even later release. Plus, this technology might be arriving a bit too late. Having all your cards into 1 sounds great, but who needs cards in 2020? More and more companies are working on payment through phone, totally removing the need of a physical card. So even with its initial success, Coin’s future might not be as bright as thought.


Coin delays product launch, 22-08-2014,

The Only Coin You Need To Replace All Your Cards,  02-12-2013,

General information Onlycoin

Rabobank and W3C Work together for an open online payment standard, 16-10-2014,