Archive | October 11, 2015

Big data is better data

I found an interesting tedtalk about Big Data. Kenneth Cukier is telling us about the pro’s and con’s of it:

Data doesn’t just let us see more, more of the same thing we were looking at. More data allows us to see new. It allows us to see better. It allows us to see different.

In the past, we used to look at small data and think about what it would mean to try to understand the world, and now we have a lot more of it, more than we ever could before. What we find is that when we have a large body of data, we can fundamentally do things that we couldn’t do when we only had smaller amounts. Big data is important, and big data is new, and when you think about it, the only way this planet is going to deal with its global challenges – to feed people, supply them with medical care, supply them with energy, electricity, and to make sure they’re not burnt to a crisp because of global warming – is because of the effective use of data.

Now, we can store a lot more information, more than ever before. Searching it is easier. Copying it easier. Sharing it is easier. Processing it is easier. And what we can do is we can reuse this information for uses that we never even imagined when we first collected the data. In this respect, the data has gone from a stock to a flow, from something that is stationary and static to something that is fluid and dynamic. There is, if you will, a liquidity to information.

Now, one reason why we have so much data in the world today is we are collecting things that we’ve always collected information on, but another reason why is we’re taking things that have always been informational but have never been rendered into a data format and we are putting it into data.

But there are dark sides to big data as well. Privacy was the central challenge in a small data era. In the big data age, the challenge will be safeguarding free will, moral choice, human volition, human agency. There is another problem: Big data is going to steal our jobs. Big data and algorithms are going to challenge white collar, professional knowledge work in the 21st century in the same way that factory automation and the assembly line challenged blue collar labor in the 20th century.

Big data is going to transform how we live, how we work and how we think. It is going to help us manage our careers and lead lives of satisfaction and hope and happiness and health, but in the past, we’ve often looked at information technology and our eyes have only seen the T, the technology, the hardware, because that’s what was physical. We now need to recast our gaze at the I, the information, which is less apparent, but in some ways a lot more important. Humanity can finally learn from the information that it can collect, as part of our timeless quest to understand the world and our place in it, and that’s why big data is a big deal.

Click here to open the TedTalk.

Will robots take your job?

The number of robots and intelligent software are increasing enormously. As the figure below depicts the number of robots will have outgrown the number of humans before 2035. Besides the increasing number of robots and types of intelligent software, they are getting smarter and smarter. As IBM’s Watson showed, robots might become better employees than humans; they become increasingly smart, they tend to make fewer mistakes and do not get bored on the job. So will these ideal employees change the job market and take your job?

Screen Shot 2015-10-11 at 22.38.00

Figure 1: Depicts the growth of people and robots (Staniford, 2012)

Together with robots, the Internet of Things, Big data and cloud computing have drastically changed the labor market; competition has increased and revenues tend to fluctuate stronger. As a result of technology developments two main changes in the job market, where technology replaces humans, stand out:

  1. Intelligent software replaces administrative jobs
  2. Robots take over routine jobs

Currently robots have the ability to analyse documents, file prescriptions and handle administrative jobs. Based on these abilities a list is made of nine jobs that humans are very likely to lose to robots:

  • Pharmacists
  • Lawyers and Paralegals
  • (taxi) Drivers
  • Astronauts
  • Store clerks
  • Soldiers
  • Babysitters
  • Rescuers
  • Reporters and sport writers

Software and robots taking over human jobs will result in a decrease of 30-40% of jobs within the coming years. Especially workers that are older than 50 and low skilled workers will lose their job on the short term. Another change in the labor market results from heavy revenue fluctuations; companies will increase the number of flexible workers and decrease the number of workers with a permanent contract.

Fortunately, the increasing intelligence of robots and software comes with a large opportunity; the smart industry. A new job creating industry that makes broad use of systems with artificial intelligence. However, for jobs in this industry the right knowledge is required, which would result in retraining for a lot of current workers. Although this is a nice opportunity for BIM students! 😉

So with these increasing capabilities, what do you think, will robots take over the current job market?

To check how likely it is that you will lose your job to robots check:


Aquino, J. (2011). Nine jobs that humans may lose to robots. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Oct. 2015].

BBC News, (2015). Will a robot take your job? – BBC News. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Oct. 2015].

Staniford, S. (2012). Early Warning: Global Robot Population. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Oct. 2015]., (2015). Vermeend Van der Ploeg: Mogelijk vroeger pensioen door robots. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Oct. 2015].

Robotic God of Cookery

After a typical long day of studying and doing mindless household chores, the sensation of hunger has been slowly building up within me throughout the day and is almost reaching its limit…again. This is when my sense of smell starts to become more enhanced and is now even able to pick up the scent of freshly brewed coffee next door. Shortly after, my whole body is also experiencing the urge of eating any sort of ‘food’ that has been lying around the house for the past few weeks. From sugar heavy sweets to rotten Gouda cheese. I am literally stuffing anything that is somewhat comestible into my mouth. As a self-proclaimed healthy and sportive student, consciously eating a whole lot of rubbish feels absolutely demoralizing. Sadly enough, I’ve to admit for being a very lousy cook, because anything coming out from me and a kitchen is not even recommended serving it to farm animals (understatement).

Instead of ordering takeout food for the hundredth time, it’s time to find a permanent solution for this escalating issue. So I’ve been surfing on the web, doing some research on easy cooking solutions and what not. Soon enough, I am relieved to find out that I am not the only one in this same situation. In fact, a ton of people are in the same boat and they have come up with some unbelievable brilliant and utterly stupid ideas. I came across healthy microwave food (still not healthy enough), hiring amateur/professional chefs (not sustainable due to pathetic student buying power) and even some guy from a forum suggested to learn pets how to cook, which I sincerely hope that he was joking around. But anyways, after some more digging around I finally stumbled upon this incredible video.

Yes! This is exactly what I was hoping for and desperately need! A fully automatic robot chef that cooks perfect meals everyday. The company behind this sophisticated piece of hardware is Moley Robotics, founded by computer scientist Mark Oleynik. Their aim is to have professional chefs record themselves through special 3D motion capturing camera that mimics the techniques and processes of the dish. The robotic arms and hands are capable of grasping utensils, pots, dishes and various bottles of ingredients. Currently, the robot is only able to make one dish, the crab bisque. However, Moley Robotics is planning to build up a digital library of 2,000 recipes before the robotic kitchen is put on the market for the general public.

So what is a information strategy blog without a little pros and cons analysis on automation of cooking:


  • Consistency
    Highly automated robots have the capability to improve the consistency of every cooked meal. All recipes are performed with precision and high repeatability. The level of consistency is almost impossible to achieve by a human without error, hence every meal coming out of that kitchen won’t taste like horse dung anymore.
  • Speed
    With automated cooking processes, the throughput speed increases, which directly impacts the production speed of the meal. Because cooking robot is able to work in perfect sequence without pausing for breaks, the speed will definitely surpass human capabilities, maybe even ninjas.
  • Safety
    According to statistics, every year, over 100,000 people are injured in a kitchen related accident, myself included. Robots will replace humans in the kitchen and effectively eliminate the chance of getting injured while cooking.
  • Saves time
    Instead of wasting your precious time on cooking, spent more time doing more meaningful things. Like playing video games or doing pranks on your significant other.


  • Expensive
    Although this robot chef also comes with a specially designed automated kitchen, which includes a stove top, utensils and a sink, it will probably put on the market for a hefty price of €13,000. Have I already mentioned how pathetic my current buying power is?
  • Downtime
    Like any other computer automation technology, in case of a breakdown or system malfunction, the whole robot is useless. Ordering takeout food after this ridiculous robotic investment is not a option anymore.
  • Lack of creativity
    Because of the automated cooking processes, every meal will taste the same, there is no room for any creativity around the recipe. Sometimes you may want add a different ingredient to spice up the dish, unfortunately this is not possible with the robot chef.

Watching Moley Robotics’s robot chef perform is quite impressive to say at least, it could potentially be my ultimate savior from my cooking nightmares. The overall concept sounds promising, but there is still a lot of work to be done on Moley’s robotic kitchen before it would be even remotely practical for consumer use. As the robot doesn’t have any way of visualizing its surroundings, it’s unable to locate an ingredient or utensil that might be moved or knocked out of place. Another key limitation of the system is its lack of robustness. Failure in any of the robot’s systems leads to a failure to successfully follow the recipe and has to start the whole cooking process over again. Even though the price seems quite expensive at first, but considering the fact that a fully equipped kitchen is in the price range of €7,500 – €25.000, the robot chef is an affordable alternative. Will this robotic chef replace every human chef in town and disrupt the restaurant business forever? Who knows? Well, at least for now, I should probably try prepare myself a meal again before I starve to death, wish me luck!


1. Kim J. Kitchen Accidents & Safety Guidelines. Avvocom. 2012. Available at:–safety-guidelines. Accessed October 11, 2015.

2. Charlton A. Robotic chef can cook Michelin star food in your kitchen by mimicking world’s best cooks. International Business Times UK. 2015. Available at: Accessed October 11, 2015.

3. Gibson M. Meet The Robot Chef That Can Prepare Your Dinner. TIMEcom. 2015. Available at: Accessed October 11, 2015.

4. Moley. 2015. Available at: Accessed October 11, 2015.

5. Packing Robots Offer Flexibility P. Advantages and Disadvantages of Automating with Industrial Robots. Robotscom. 2015. Available at: Accessed October 11, 2015.

6. Desai J, Dudek G, Khatib O, Kumar V. Experimental Robotics. Cham: Springer; 2013.

Facebook causes depression

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

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

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

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

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

Author: Jesse van Hofwegen (375283jh)


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

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

More is Less? How Facebook emotion reactions will change marketing strategies

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, announced the implementation of ‘reactions’ an emoticon version of the like or dislike button. It will allow us to not only click on the thumbs up button, but choose from a wide range of emoticons like: love, laughter, sadness, anger of wow. This allows users to react more in depth to news which isn’t necessarily something you like.

The question however is how these reactions will affect Facebook’s business model. Since Facebook’s biggest source of income is advertising, company pages and advertisements can profit from users liking their products. But what happens when users will be able to express other emotions towards their posts and pages as well? Zuckerberg hasn’t mentioned anything about this subject yet and how it will affect companies. But I’m sure that the reactions will change a lot.

It might be a shock for companies soon, when people start expressing how they feel about their content. What if your products make users sad or angry? Will it still be a good promoting medium for their products? However companies may also get a clearer view of what a like actually means to people. Which may in turn be helpful to produce even more personalized content for their customers and help companies analyze different types of marketing strategies.

From a more technical perspective the algorithm may also be affected by the reactions, since users can now also show their dislike to Facebook pages. Similar pages may then also not be displayed anymore and the classifications may differ. Currently if a user likes a post or page, he or she will be served up more content from that page. However, what will happen, when a person on Facebook shows anger or sadness towards a company. Will the algorithm stop showing content from that page to that user? And on the same note, how will the algorithm react to some of the more ambiguous emotions that are not that easily classified. For example the ‘wow’ emotion can be used both in very nice, shocked or sarcastic reactions. It will be interesting to see how Facebook will adapt its content afterwards. And brands may have to drastically change their ways of marketing in these situations.

What drives website registration?

The following post represent a summary of a research article arranged by Ting Li and Paul Pavlou (2015).


registration form

A lot of websites rely on users’ registrations in order to create network value, as increasing number of users lead to positive network externalities. However, it is not desirable for users to register on such websites because they need to disclose their personal information to others. This raises information privacy concerns from negative network externalities as the number of people who have access to user’s personal information increases. Basically, with increasing number of users, both network value and information privacy concerns increase. Researchers were interested which of these two externalities has more effect on user’s website registration behavior. Researchers proposed network value-versus-information privacy concerns dilemma due to the fact that users always have to give up personal information in exchange for network access.

Article’s goal

The following article analyzes the drivers of user’s website registration behavior.


In order to understand the essence of this article you should be familiar with two frequently used definitions. Network externality (alt. network effect) is the effect that one user of a good/service has on the value of that good/service to other users. There are two kinds of network externalities: positive and negative. Examples of positive network externalities include Facebook, Twitter, telephones and generally everything that increases in value as the number of users rise (more users -> more value). If only a few people used Facebook, it wouldn’t be valuable and no one would use it. Example of negative network externality is traffic jam, where increasing number of cars on the road reduces the total value of the road due to emergence of car queues and speed reduction of the whole traffic (more users -> less value).


In order to tackle the network value-versus-information privacy concerns dilemma, researchers conducted a field experiment. They created a website with phone numbers directory (valuable network) which can only be accessed after user’s registration. Registration required user to share his phone number as well and assume the risk of his phone number misuse (privacy concern). Researchers manipulated website’s value in terms of popularity (number of visitors and registered users) and positive Word-of-Mouth (WoM) opinion (of an expert, user, none) by displaying these parameters on the website. By doing so, they aimed to create trust and reduce information privacy concerns (you are more likely to trust & register on a website which shows 10,000+ registrations & visitors and excellent user feedback, and not trust & not register on a website with 500 visitors, 20 registrations and no feedback). Then, researchers measured the number of user registrations under different scenarios, e.g. displaying “number of visitors” along “expert” WoM opinion, “number of visitors and registered users” along “user” WoM opinion, “number of registered users” along “user” and “expert” WoM opinion, and so on. In the end, researchers aimed to find out whether perceived positive network externalities in terms of website’s popularity and positive WoM opinions will outweigh the user’s perceived negative network externalities in terms of privacy concerns.

Research hypotheses:

Website popularity
H1a) Displaying popularity information on a website (either the number of visitors or the number of registered users) increases a user’s website registration more compared to not displaying any popularity information.
H1b) Displaying the number of registered users on a website increases a user’s website registration more compared to displaying the number of visitors.
H1c) When both popularity information numbers are displayed on a website (i.e., number of visitors and number of registered users), displaying a higher number of registered users relative to the number of visitors positively affects a user’s website registration.
H1d) When both popularity information numbers are displayed (i.e., the number of visitors and the number of registered users), displaying a higher number of visitors negatively affects a user’s website registration.

Word-of-Mouth opinion
H2a) Displaying WoM information (from either an expert or a registered user) increases a user’s website registration more compared to not displaying any WOM information.
H2b) Displaying expert WOM information increases a user’s website registration more compared to displaying WOM information from registered users.

Information privacy concerns
H3a) Information privacy concerns decrease a user’s website registration.
H3b) Displaying popularity information on a website decreases a user’s information privacy concerns compared to not displaying any popularity information.

H4a) Trust increases a user’s website registration.
H4b) Displaying WoM information on a website increases a user’s trust compared to not displaying any WOM information.


The findings suggest that the positive network externalities from displaying both types of information (popularity and WoM) outweigh the negative effect of information privacy concerns, leading to higher user website registration. Specifically, displayed number of registered users increases the likelihood of a potential user’s registration by 47% (versus when the visitor information is shown). In addition, when both numbers are present, displaying the number of registered users encourages future registration, whereas displaying the number of visitors reduces the number of future registrations. As a possible explanation, people might perceive that a high number of visitors and a low number of registered users implies that people do not trust a certain website (privacy concerns), making the high number of visitors a potentially negative signal. Finally, compared with displaying “user” WoM, displaying “expert” WoM increases the likelihood of registration by 69%. In addition, when only the number of registered users was highlighted along with only “expert” WoM, the website achieved over 7.5% higher registrations among potential audience than without any information being displayed.


  • Researchers relied only on website’s popularity and WoM opinion, while ignoring potential extrinsic motivators (e.g. money, benefits, time savings, etc.) that companies may offer to customers in exchange for personal information. In addition, study used only positive WoM opinion to attract users, while prior research found that negative WoM opinion has a greater impact on users’ decision making.
  • While study assumed a “heavier” weight of “expert” WoM opinion on users’ decision making, previous research has showed that users can actually be more influenced by similar users’ opinions.
  • In order to reduce the time and effort needed by the natural (versus paid) visitors to participate in the study, researchers used a short-cut version of the survey, which is a natural limitation.
  • Study relied on large, but not intense website traffic, while previous research shows that displayed numbers (visitors & registration) have more effect on user registrations for traffic-intense websites.

Managerial implications

Article suggests that websites should mitigate user’s information privacy concerns and focus on building trust in order to encourage website registration. In addition, websites should give users control over their privacy information, as well as inform them on how their personal info will be used.
In regard to practical recommendations, website managers should keep in mind the following facts:
1. Displaying user registration number increases the potential user registration likelihood by 47% in comparison to displaying visitors number.
2. Displaying the visitors number generally discourages users’ registration.
3. Displaying positive “expert” Word-of-Mouth opinion in comparison to “user” WoM opinion, increases the likelihood of users’ registration by 69%.
4. It’s better to display “expert” Word-of-Mouth opinion in together with number of registered users in comparison to not displaying any information, as this strategy increases the likelihood of website registration of users by 7.5%.

Li, T., and Pavlou, P. 2015. “What Drives Users’ Website Registration”. Working Paper.

Tutorial 101: How to fill your Airplane

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


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

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

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


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


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

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


Online grocery shopping

After reading and reacting on the blogpost about Picnic, I was wonder how the industry of online grocery is currently developing. Customers are increasingly exposed to the internet these day. And, of course, this will change the way we live. Lots of companies try to adapt their strategy to the current situation. Also the Fast Moving Consumer Good (FMCG) companies try to optimize their performance within the online channel. About 15% of their budgets are spend on marketing and research in order to win some share in e-commerce. Currently, 2% of all the groceries are ordered online in the Netherlands. In October 2015, ING published a research in with they expect that this will be 20% in 2020.

In the UK, 22% of the household shopped online for groceries over the past 12 months and even these still spend 75% of their money in an off-line environment. As you can see in Figure 1 and Figure 2, the total e-commerce spending’s are grown from 1.1% in 2003 to 5.1% in the UK. The online grocery market is being worth £ 5.6 billion, compared to the whole grocery market of being worth £ 157 billion. The biggest online grocer of the UK, Tesco, has a share of 2.4%.


In the Netherlands, 1 out of 5 customers (19%) buys some groceries online ones in a while. People under the age of 40 and families with young children are represented above average (32% and 34%). This 19% will double to 38% in the close future, since lots of people indicate that they are willing to buy their groceries online. Most of the customers think that online shopping can replace the weekly trip to the store. However, to buy fresh or forgotten product, visits to the physical stores need to be done. The three most convenient advantages people experience with online grocery shopping are that they are able to do their groceries before or after the opening hours, they do not have to carry the heavy groceries anymore and it saves them time.

Although the prediction of growth, not every person is a fan of doing groceries online. A few reasons for this are that it is boring to do groceries online, it is complex (one has to be at home at delivery time, one has to go the shop for miscellaneous articles and one has to check the billing) and it is more expensive due to the delivery cost.

Nowadays, Ahold and Jumbo are the major companies that offer, besides the physical stores, also the opportunity to buy the groceries online in the Netherlands. What will happen when Picnic becomes one of their competitors? Will they change their strategy?


The electronic patient dossier (EPD): why so many great benefits still resulted in a NO.

The use of digital tools in the health care is increasing. This trend is also visible in the Netherlands. To share knowledge about the development of health information systems in the Netherlands and to create more understanding for them, this post will describe one famous case illustrating the difficulty of implementing an information system, regardless of its good prospects. One tool that has been under debate in recent years was the Electronic Patient Dossier (Elektronische patiëntendossier or EPD), which can be defined as a national electronic health record containing the medical data of a patient. The EPD is an example of a health information system that seems to come with great benefits, but also harbors one main ironic drawback.

The first benefit is being able to register medical data more accurately. Information about a patient is readable to all health professionals who have access and no longer subjective to individual handwriting styles. Also, health professionals are given reminders while documenting data in the EPD, which allows the patient dossiers to be more complete. A third benefit is that the EDP prevents less medical mistakes and double examinations, as different health professional views the notes of each other. Furthermore, due to fast exchange of medical data, health professionals can make better decisions during emergencies. Lastly, paper medical dossiers can be viewed by anyone who, legally or illegally, has access to them. The aim of EPD was also to prevent unauthorized individuals to view the patient files. All these benefits came to this: increase efficiency and improvement of the quality of health care. However, with preventing privacy violations in the physical world, privacy concerns of the digital world started to emerge (Centrum voor ethiek en gezondheid, n.i.).

The first proposal for the implementation of the EPD was turned down by the Dutch parliament, a majority of health professionals and the Dutch citizens due to the concerns of privacy, as serious doubts of the security of personal medical data existed. As the EPD was not 100% safe for hackers, it caused fear of exposing personal medical data to persons who were not authorized to view the data (ANP, 2013). This was the main reason why the implementation of the EPD was declined. This case illustrated that regardless of the great benefits one information system might have, it is still subject to different factors that are not necessarily linked to the development and decision-making process of the system. The weight of benefits and drawbacks of one system might be different for the various stakeholders, which leads to difficulties in pushing the system through.

What can be done is such situation? There are two options: Give up on the system or adjust it to minimize the critiques. The proponents of EPD chose for the second option. Three years after the EPD was turned down, two general practitioners (GP’s), together with developers, are creating an alternative for the EPD (Rijksoverheid, 2015). This new version requires the patient dossier to stay at the GP of the patient and the patient needs to give his or her approval each time their data being shared with other health care professionals. Together with the GP, a patient will decide what will be shared and what will not. This means that the dossier will be managed regionally and it cannot be saved by health care professionals other than the GP. This way, the patient and his or her GP will stay in control of patient’s dossier, while only few relevant health care professional will have professionals have access to the patient’s. Fewer people having access to this medical data means that the chances of a hack will be minimized (NOS, 2015). However, the question that remains: will the different stakeholders accept this modified system?



ANP. (2013, 2 5). Moeizame weg naar e-patiëntendossier . Retrieved 9 21, 2015, from NU:

Centrum voor ethiek en gezondheid. (n.i.). De voor- en nadelen van elektronische patientendossiers. Retrieved 9 21, 2015, from Argumentenwijzer over Elektronische Patiëntendossiers:

NOS. (2015, 10 10). De Nederlandse Publieke Omroep. Retrieved 9 24, 2015, from Nieuw systeem moet veiliger patiëntendossier mogelijk maken:

Rijksoverheid. (2015). Wat is de zorginfrastructuur (eerder het landelijk elektronisch patiëntendossier of EPD)? Retrieved 9 21, 2015, from Patientenrecht en clientenrecht:

What happens when computers outperform humans?


When we look at the evolution and growth of industries in the past 2000 years we see an almost 90 degrees line rising straight upwards. What could cause this improved productivity, this increase in industrialism? Well some say its due to the technology. Technology has accumulated through human history, and right now it advances extremely rapidly.

world population and GDP growth

world population and GDP growth

A lot of things we have achieved have been the result of the human mind. Everything that we have right now is a cause of the human mind; it is based on relatively minor changes through time. Currently we are working on machine super intelligence.

Artificial intelligence (AI)

AI is defined as intelligence or the ability of a computer to act like a human being. With machine super intelligence we go a little bit deeper. Earlier we wrote algorithms that functions in the following way, we get out of the algorithm what we inserted in the algorithm. However a big shift is happening now, we are currently more focused on machine learning, rather than just the traditional way of machine work. Now we are producing algorithms that learn from raw data, and improve through time.

What will happen?

The improvements can be endless and therefore we should ask ourselves, what happens when a computer will become smarter than humans? What will be the consequences? And when will this happen?

The imitation game (Enigma)

One of the first machines or computers that sort of outsmart a human brain was the enigma machine. A machine that had to be developed by humans and that could crack such a complicated code that could not be cracked by a human brain. The recently published movie ‘The Imitation Game’ tells us the story about the development of the machine. (movie clip, breaking Enigma code: ‘The Imitation Game’)

Another consequence is that by time we are able to create a super intelligence machine, from that point on the machine will invent for us.

Humans versus Computers

There are of course several differences between humans and computers that need to be taken into account before we can start thinking about when computers will become smarter than humans.

The speed of information that is processed in a human mind goes by the speed of a neuron to the brain. For computers the speed of information can travel as quickly as the speed of light. Another difference is the matter of size of the processor. Where a human processor (or the brain) is limited in its size (the size of the skull, computers can be the size of a warehouse or even larger.

On the other hand, humans do not have an off switch (besides killing a human being) and with developing a super machine we can implement an off switch. Also humans can’t be digitally bugged and a computer can incur a virus.

So when will we reach human level of machines?

I do belief that there will be a time in the future where computers will outperform a human, but when is still a big question for me. Looking at another movie (iRobot) we should be careful not to haste ourselves. Of course this is still one of the crazy robot or machine fiction stories, some day this can be our future.

Relevant readings:

Turing test

The Imitation Game

Digital Business Strategy

Which alignment perspective is the best?’. Henderson and Venkatraman argued that neither of their four strategy alignment perspectives was superior to formulate and implement strategy. The business strategy as well as the IT strategy could be chosen as starting point for guiding management decisions [1]. As a student we are very familiar with this ‘alignment thinking’ and in several of research studies this framework is applied. Essentially IT Strategy is seen as a function supporting the business strategy. Question is: does the framework itself still align reality with ongoing information technology and infrastructure developments?

Impressive improvements in information, communication, connectivity technologies, changes in social relations through social media and networking, cross-boundary industry disruptions and cloud computing let a few researches believe that it is time to formulate an overarching phenomenon in which IT-strategy and business strategy are fused together into an overarching phenomenon digital business strategy (DBS) [2].

In their definition of organizational strategy formulated and executed by levering digital resources to create differential value [2] importance in recognising digital resources for creating differential business value is being stressed. IT is no longer a simple mean of efficiency and productivity but a competitive advantage and strategic differentiation itself. Four themes have been selected to guide and better understand future developments. The drivers of the four key themes of digital business strategy are presented in figure 1.


For example drivers that put pressure under the current view of Information Strategy are big data, that created abundance in data through is massive size, detail and direct availability. Consider the rapid digital scaling up and down capabilities that cloud computing offers to adapt to dynamic market demands or network effects that become to key differentiation and diver of value creation in certain industries. Scale through alliances can be easily established, as partnerships are more time-efficient to connect. Speed of product launches and decision-making can be the difference between keeping customers and seeing them move to competitors [2].

What do you think? Are digital resources in line with the resource-based view of strategy or are they rather at the functional-level of business strategy (and subordinate to)?

[1] Henderson, J. C., N. Venkatraman, N. Strategic Alignment: Leveraging information technology for transforming organisations.  IBM systems journal, VOL 32, NO 1, 1993.

[2] Bharadwaj, A., El Sawy, O. A., Pavlou, P.A., Venkatraman, N. Digital Business Strategy: Toward a Next Generation of Insights‘. MIS Quarterly VOL 37, NO 2, pp. 471-482, June 2013.

Mars Trek: The Google Earth of Mars

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

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

Scene from 'The Martian'

Scene from ‘The Martian’

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

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

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

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

'The Martian' track in Mars Trek

‘The Martian’ path in Mars Trek

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


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

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

SCiO: Your sixth sense?

Always wondered how much fat your salad dressing contains? Whether that chicken is fresh? How much sugar is in a particular piece of fruit? How pure an oil is? Not sure if that pill you’re about to take is Aspirin or Ibuprofen? Worried that your local pharmacy is slipping you some sort of generic drug instead of the real medicine? Or curious how much alcohol is in your drink?

In the last 10 years, we have all gotten used to having an instant ‘search button’ in our pocket that lets us know for example the ingredients of a certain product or how many calories a snack contains. Nowadays it is possible to simply use the SCiO scanner, a new pocket-sized molecular sensor. It lets you skip the typed-in search words and after scanning the physical object it quickly analyses the molecular levels and you instantly see, for example, its quality, ripeness and nutritional value with results sent straight to your smart phone.

How it works

This device uses near infra-red spectroscopy  and a cloud-based database of items to quickly scan and identify items based on their molecular structure. Spectrometers collect light reflected off the molecules comprising an object’s surface and convert this into a spectrum. All molecules vibrate in a unique pattern, and the spectrum shows how the reflected light interacts with those molecules.

When you scan a tomato, for example, the sensor is not identifying your target as a tomato, and looking up a typical tomato’s average nutritional scores in a static database. This device finds out the specific fat, carb, protein and calorie content for each tomato you have scanned.

A learning device

Nowadays it is possible to analyse food, plants, and medications with the SCiO scanner.However, these are just a few of the starter applications, new applications will be developed and released regularly. The possibilities of SCiO applications are endless since the aim for the future is to use this device to measure properties of cosmetics, clothes, flora, soil, jewels, precious stones, leather, rubber, oils, and plastics. Wouldn’t this be handy?

The SCiO scanner could for example be used by home brewers to establish a beer’s alcohol content, by consumers to find out allergens in food and cosmetics, by shoppers to authenticate luxury goods like gemstones and leather, and by anyone who wants to identify an obscure plant species.

Do you think this is a platform for future development? Would you use it? Could this SCiO scanning device revolutionize the way that everyday consumers interact with the world?


Consumer, (2015) Myscio [online] Available at: [Accessed on: 10 Oct. 2015], (2015) tinyscioscanner [online] Available at: [Accessed on 11 Oct. 2015], (2014) projects [online] Available at: [Accessed on 10 Oct. 2015], (2015) Articles [online] Available at: [Accessed on 10 Oct. 2015], (2015) thesciohandheldscanner [online] Available at: [Accessed on 10 Oct. 2015], (2015) Meet scio [online] Available at: [Accessed on 11 Oct. 2015]

Sprinter, will it work out?

Register now! Become a member! We see and hear these phrases everyday. More and more companies seem to use memberships to get customer loyalty. We see a lot of retailers that display new collections on their mobile apps, provide special offers or interact with customers.

But Björn Borg is trying to out a different strategy. The sports fashion brand had not yet released an app but is now trying to build an entire platform. With their new app, Sprinter, they want to help people find a workout buddy (Fashion Insider, 2015). The application is compared with the dating-app Tinder, where daters are able to see nearby users and swipe to like or dislike them. Sprinter uses the same principle, liking nearby people that you want to work out with. Theory describes both these platforms as one-sided networks, as the users are homogenous, both the buyers and sellers on the network (Eisenmann et al., 2009).

However as we compare Tinder and Sprinter there are some differences. I want to highlight one of these differences. Tinder is owned by IAC, a holding that owns multiple dating sites (IAC, 2015). This means that Tinder and its platform are part of the core business of IAC. Bjorn Borg is a fashion company, specialised in sportswear (Björn Borg Corporate, 2015). By launching this app, Björn Borg is entering a new market. I think that the app will not directly support sales of the goods. Therefore I think that Björn Borg is taking a lot of risk to become the provider of this platform-mediated network. It takes more time to maintain a platform than it will to maintain an retailer app. It is also a lot harder to make changes to the platform later on. In my opinion this is a risky but interesting move, but I will leave it up to you to decide. Do you think Björn Borg’s Sprinter is a good move or should they have stayed within their core business?


Zillow vs. Houzz: The battle of platform-mediated networks

In our paper, we chose the companies ‘Zillow’ and ‘Houzz’ as platform-mediated networks, who both act as intermediaries in the real-estate and home remodeling business. Zillow is the leading online real estate marketplace in the United States. The company assists its users throughout the entire process of finding, purchasing or renting, financing, remodeling and furnishing their home by connecting them to local and dedicated professionals. Houzz is an online platform for home remodeling and design connecting homeowners to home professionals and product vendors. The following table gives an overview of the oppennes and participants of the network:

Screen Shot 2015-10-11 at 13.57.00

Platform-mediated networks face different challenges in formulating and executing a strategy compared to traditional offerings, due to the balance-act necessary between the demand and supply participants. The different sides of users in the networks require a new approach to strategy. The article ‘Strategies for Two-Sided Markets’, by Eisenmann et al, provides a strategic framework for platform-mediated networks by addressing three major challenges; pricing strategies, winner-take-all competition and avoiding envelopment.

First of all, both firms clearly opt to subsidize quality- and price-sensitive users; the demand-side consisting of homeowners and people looking to redesign their homes. Professionals offering their are for both firms selected to serve as the money-side and, due to the effect of cross-side network effects, the money-side for both firms is willing to pay handsomely to reach the demand-side. Secondly, while Zillow has been actively involved in acquiring other firms in order to become significant in other, relevant markets, Houzz just commenced using vertical integration in order to increase value of its network. Lastly, where Zillow owes its main source of income to envelopment, Zillow has not exhibited this and rather flourished due to vertical integration. Interestingly, Zillow has the potential to envelop Houzz by means of Zillow Digs and, when successful, make Zillow into a gigantic successful one-stop-shop for buying, selling and remodelling houses

Both Zillow and Houzz fit the description of market networks creating and maintain a many-to-many transaction market. This characteristic forms the number one competitive advantage for both firms and although both operate in different industries, their market network identity equally helps them to grow and maintain their respective user base. While Zillow relies on its large database of homes and use of Zestimates and Zillow Digs, Houzz builds upon its inspirational content, ‘click-to-buy’ functionality and ‘one-stop- shop. Therefore, Although operating in different industries, both companies recognize the vital role of their platform as a facilitating intermediary allowing transparent, quick and extensive exchanges.

The following table gives an impression of the SWOT analysis:

Screen Shot 2015-10-11 at 13.57.56

In conclusion, both the analysis and comparison leave room for four strategic moves, which can be implemented in order to stay ahead in the market: Winner-takes-all, envelopment, effects of Word of Mouth (WOM) and Observational Learning (OL) and the role of platform exclusivity agreements.

Please comment if you have any questions regarding the theories or want to know more about specific aspects of Houzz and Zillow as well as their role in the battle of platform-mediated networks.

(Group 45: Florianne Griffioen 355919 , Christian de Wit 356443, Roeland Diks 357272, Carlo Bruno 353381 and Lennart Schwung 355210)

Precision Farming

In this blog I want to introduce the concept of Precision Agriculture (PA). The traditional process of growing of crops has been replaced by complex systems monitoring and regulating the agricultural processes. This revolution has led to a new agricultural form: precision agriculture. Which is “a farming management concept based on observing, measuring  and responding to inter and intra-field variability in crops” (Wikipedia, 2015). This definition is still growing because technology changes and the idea of what is achievable changes accordingly (McBratney, et al., 2005).

Farmers need to change their way of information processing. In the past, human experience and knowledge was the main ingredient of a successful agricultural business. Nowadays intelligent systems become more and more important, and so does advanced information management. As argued in by Fountas (2015)“Precision farming requires an increasing amount of information in order to be sufficiently managed”.  An example of this is given in Precision Agriculture in Potato Production where the farmer uses spatial and temporal variability of soil conditions and also crop growth for documentation. This information is then used to analyze and manage the crops (Cambouris, et al., 2014). This approach leads to increased production and the reduction of environmental impact of agricultural activities

There are however, several drawbacks to be addressed in order to fully benefit from PA.  First, Precision Agriculture may lead to information overflow for farmers. Second, the collection of data is costly and data intensive. Last, there is a lack of technology transfer channels (Zhang, et al., 2002). For this it is important that correct systems are in place that effectively collect, store and analyze the data.

When looking at the existing literature and practices, it might very well be possible that in the future, a farmer won’t have to be physically present to inspect the crops. Farming will be about having the right measurement and data-collecting systems end the ability to analyze those data.


Chris Stam


Cambouris, A., Zebarth, B., Ziadi, N. & Perron, I., 2014. Precision Agriculture in Potato Production. Potato Research, 57(3), pp. 249-262.

Fountas, S. et al., 2015. Farm machinery management information system. Computer and Electronics in Agriculture, Volume 110, pp. 131-138.

McBratney, A., Whelan, B. & Ancev, T., 2005. Future Predictions of Precision Agriculture. Precision Agriculture, Issue 6, pp. 7-23.

Wikipedia, 2015. Precision Agriculture. [Online]
Available at:
[Geopend 10 October 2015].

Zhang, N., Wang, M. & Wang, N., 2002. Precision Agriculture – A worldwide overview. Computer and Electronics in Agriculture, 36(2-3), pp. 113-132.

Tesla: Driving Electric Car Innovation

“To accelerate the advance of sustainable transport”, so sounded the starting line of Elon Musk, the polymath gigabillionaire who invented PayPal and is co-founder, CEO and product architect of Tesla Motors, at the special launch event held on the 29th of September 2015 at Tesla’s Fremont factory. In front of lucky owners and members of the media, the launch concerned the Tesla Model X; the first all-electric SUV, the bigger brother of the popular Model S sedan car, on which the Model X is based. (Musk, 2015)


With the so-called ‘three-stage strategy’, Tesla strives to show that any type of car could go electric. It all started with the compelling sports car; the Tesla Roadster in 2002. The Model S was launched in ten years later, and sold 90,000 vehicles by the beginning of October this year. The Model S was a statement regarding the possibility of a fashionable electric car, hitting 100 kilometers per hour from a standstill in 2.8 seconds, putting it on par with, yes, the Lamborghini Huracán and McLaren 650S. (Davies, 2015) Now, the seven-seater all-wheel drive with automatic falcon doors that open upwards instead of outwards when moving towards the front door (by triangulating the position of the driver), has a 470 kilometer radius per charge range and is able to hit 100 kilometers per hour from a standing start within 3.4 seconds with a top speed of 155 km/h. (Gibbs, 2015) This all, driven by a lithium-ion 90 kWh battery and some impressive technology.

The Model X is Tesla’s most advanced car yet, with a range of sensors including cameras, radar and sonar systems enabling partial self-driving and automatic braking safety features that can even work at high speeds. It also features a large 17inch touchscreen that has two critical computer systems; one is responsible for driving the screen and running the browser, while the other is a gateway system that operates the car. (Musk, 2015) Fully driven by this impressive computing system, the car is in continuous WiFi-connection with some unique features, including upgrades of the car’s operating system, making Tesla the first car that regains value after an update. In case of malfunctioning, the driver can connect at any time to the local Tesla service, has the ability to view all car information and quickly and remotely deliver software updates to its vehicles. When they see a prompt asking if they want to install the upgrade, car owners only have to click “yes”. Although not really clicking, a vibration of the screen imitates exactly that same feeling. Just as the (inner and outer) sound system that imitates the sound of an engine. (MIT, 2015) (Forbes, 2013)

Tesla is extremely cautious of the vulnerabilities around their digitally connected cars, especially on the critical drive system. Just a few months back, Fiat Chrysler had to recall 1.4 million hackable vehicles after Miller and Valasek were able to find a possible way to hack the multimedia computer of a Jeep Cherokee, which runs on a Linux operating system. Exploiting some pretty guessable issues in the software, they finally took control over the head unit’s system. The two hackers even took over the steering wheel of the Jeep that, till then, was driven by the maker of a television item. (Wired, 2015) Concerning Tesla cars, two researchers were able to start the car with a software command, and drive it, after plugging in their laptop into a network cable behind a Model S’ driver’s-side dashboard. By planting a remote-access Trojan on the network during the physical access, later they were able to remotely cut its engine while someone else was driving. Tesla reacted by further isolation of the browser from the rest of the infotainment system by using several different layered methods. (Musk, 2015) (Wired, 2015)

The Wi-Fi systems offer great added value and is hacker proof, at least, until it is proven otherwise. For now, the only real issue is charging. When you buy a Tesla they install a supercharger in your garage, but it still takes up to four hours to fully charge (110 kilometer range per hour of charging). But what if the battery is flat, you have an important business meeting, or worse, your family member just had an accident and you suddenly have to drive to hospital? Tough, you can’t. But I’m sure Tesla is working on that…

Wired. (2015, July 7). Wired. Retrieved October 1, 2015, from Hackers Remotely Kill a Jeep on the Highway—With Me in It:

Wired. (2015, June 8). Wired. Retrieved October 1, 2015, from Researchers Hacked a Model S, But Tesla’s Already Released a Patch:

Davies, A. (2015, August 28). Review: Tesla Model S P90D. Retrieved October 1, 2015, from Wired:

Forbes. (2013, October 17). Forbes Tech. Retrieved October 1, 2015, from Tesla Now Connects Every Car To Internet:

Gibbs, S. (2015, September 30). Tesla Model X: Elon Musk launches first all-electric SUV. Retrieved October 1, 2015, from TheGuardian:

Love, M. (2015, July 5). Tesla S: car review. Retrieved October 1, 2015, from TheGuardian:

Musk, E. (2015, September 29). Lauch: Tesla Model X. Fremont, California, US.

MIT. (2015, August 7). How Tesla Is Driving Electric Car Innovation. Retrieved October 1, 2015, from MIT Technology Review:

What is a Trojan Horse, and how can we protect ourselves from it

One of the biggest fears of an IT department within a company is obviously the possibility that it will be ‘hacked’. This can be done in a wide variety of ways, and each day mischievous programmers design new methods. One of the most common forms of computer malware is called a Trojan Horse1, named after the Greek story of the wooden horse which was used to sneak into Troy.  In this blog I would like to explain what a Trojan is, what it can do, and how we can try and prevent them.


A Trojan is a program in which malicious or harmful code is contained inside apparently harmless programming or data in such a way that it can get control and do its chosen form of damage2. Trojans are usually spread through some form of social engineering. People get tricked into executing unsuspicious software, e.g. they receive an e-mail from someone they do not know containing a hyperlink to some funny video or picture.

Once someone is tricked into opening the infected software the Trojan will spread throughout the infected computer, leaving the ‘owner’ of the malware with a lot of different options. The following are capabilities of a Trojan malware3:

  • It can be destructive (e.g. crashing the computer, modifying or deleting files, corrupt data, etc.)
  • It can use the resources or identity of the host (e.g. use the machine as part of a botnet, infecting other connected devices on the network etc.)
  • Money theft and ransom
  • Data theft
  • Spying, surveillance or stalking

So now that we know what a Trojan is and what it can do, how can we protect ourselves from them? The first and foremost prevention is to never open an e-mail attachment or run a program if you are not 100% certain of the source. However due to the interconnectedness of today’s world this is hard to accomplish. Therefore the following tips should help you even more4:

  1. Always keep your software up to date. By keeping your software up to date you prevent hackers from exploiting known security issues in older software.
  2. Always keep a firewall up. Both software and hardware firewalls are excellent at controlling malicious internet traffic.
  3. Install a brand-name anti-virus program. When kept up to date these kinds of software will scan your computer to make sure you have not downloaded a Trojan. Watch out with downloading free anti-virus scanners from the internet, as these are often viruses themselves.

Maikel Ooms


Zalando from shoe e-tailer to the AWS of the fashion world

The once named European clone of Zappos has become the European e-commerce fashion powerhouse. Within the last years Zalando managed to ramp up its tech and build more than a standalone IT e-commerce function. News announced that Zalando is the most visited fashion website outside China since last year, thereby beating H&M online shop as well as other market giants (Mac, 2014).
Zalando began as a start-up at the German incubator Rocket Internet in 2008. During this initial start-up phase Zalando specialised in selling shoes, which become known through its aggressive marketing strategy. In case you need a reminder:

Within the last years Zalando heavily invested in data engineering transforming from a pure e-commerce to a platform provider for the fashion world with data at its centre. Robert Gentz one of the three founders and current CEO points out that “consumers don’t come to Zalando because we sell them fashion. They come to us because we provide them with solutions and convenience” (Kennedy, 2015). The idea is that the basis of this value proposition will also apply for Zalando’s suppliers, whereby fashion brands, retailers, designers and manufacturers can adopt services to increase customer insights such as purchasing patterns and mobile behaviour. Thereby the company is aiming to become a platform like Amazon Web Services (AWS) but for fashion. This comparison to AWS by Gentz stresses the gravity changing from a retail model to a platform model. To guarantee the success of this platform, Zalando needs to yield the best proprietary data on fashion to connect brands with their customers, propose the right personalisation recommendation for customers and give insights to designers and manufacturers on where the customer preferences are going.      

To attract the best talent in data science Zalando is relying on the tech cluster Dublin as its source of new strength. In addition to its approximately 800 employees in the Berlin tech area (Shotter, 2015), Zalando has announced to create 200 new positions for data scientists to join its fashion insights centre in Dublin. Thereby the company takes its own approach to integrate data scientist with tech-engineers.   

For more in-depth news you can check out the Zalando tech blog:


Kennedy. (2015). Zalando CEO: ‘We are building the AWS of the fashion world’

Mac. (2014). Revenge Of The Ripoff: How Zalando Became A $5 Billion Retailing Sensation. Forbes.

Shotter. (2015). Zalando focuses on tech for growth – Retrieved October 10, 2015, from

Shotter. (2015). Zalando’s growth mirrors Berlin’s vibrant entrepreneurial scene –

Platform Mediated Networks

Helpling vs Work Hard Anywhere

For our report we made an analysis on platform mediated networks and chose to compare Helpling and Work Hard Anywhere (WHA). Below a short summary is written, where we describe the business models of each platform and will then shortly discuss their differences.

Helpling is an online platform where people can find a cleaner in a fast and relatively cheap way. Helpling is a closed platform, meaning that a company controls and limits the services that can work with the system (Sherr & Totty, 2011). They are also offering insurance in case things go wrong. One of the main values is quality; Helpling checks every new potential cleaner. Helpling’s service is based on customers’ reviews and feedback. Their platform is growing fast. Besides their original service they also want to offer healthcare solutions and cleaning services in the business world.

In the upcoming years Helpling will still be able to expand. Many households prefer hiring a cleaner and Helpling’s services make it easier to find someone for a good price (van Noort, 2015). At the moment the main competitive forces the company experiences are coming from the black economy and professional local companies that are part of the offline market. But their most direct competitor is another platform ‘’.

To fight there forces and turn them into an opportunity or strength Helpling needs to make sure that switching costs stay high for the customers and network effects on both sides will add value.

WHA is a free online platform in the form of an app which provides a community directory of workplaces. WHA enables the user to have access to a large database of reviewed workspaces. Already 2500 locations are scanned on attributes such as loudness, Wi-Fi speed, outlets availability, crowdedness etc. Also, WHA posts good looking photographs of the workplaces. The app increases informedness and lowers search costs of the users. Word Hard Anywhere is an open platform, meaning that there are no restrictions placed on participation and when there are restrictions they are reasonable and non-discriminatory (Eisenmann, 2006). WHA is a pioneer in the industry but still needs to take into account the threat of competition. For example competitors in the offline market that offer workplaces like HNK (www.hnk.nk) and other platforms like ShareDesk. Besides the easy access for users (no paid subscription), WHA takes advantage of positive word-of-mouth/mouse.

If we compare these two platforms we can say that both are very young and fast growing networks. This implicates the possibility to grow even more, for Helpling this could be globally as well as in different markets such as the cleaning for businesses. For WHA this means connecting more workspace per area and also expending globally. A difference between the two platforms is the price. Helpling has a fixed price while WHA offers it services for free. For the future we think that both companies have great possibilities to  grow as customers will keep creating value for each other with the means of these platforms.

Technology of the Week  Group 48


Eisenmann, T. P. G. a. V. A. M., 2006. Strategies for Two-Sided Markets.. Harvard Business Review, 10(84), pp. 92-101., 2015. Ik zoek een schoonmaakster. [Online]
Available at:
[Geopend 28 September 2015].

Li, T. & Pavlou, P., 2015. What drives users’website registration. Issue Working Paper.

Sherr, I. & Totty, M., 2011. Is It Better for Businesses to Adopt Open or Closed Platforms?. [Online]
Available at:

Tiwana, A., 2014. Platform Ecosystems: Aligning Architecture, Governance, and Strategy. Morgan Kaufmann.). In: Platform Ecosystems: Aligning Architecture, Governance, and Strategy. sl:Morgan Kaufmann.

van Noort, W., 2015. Schoonmaak-app Helpling krijgt investering van 43 miljoen. [Online]
Available at:

Work Hard Anywhere, 2015. About. [Online]
Available at:

Buying a new laptop? Wait a few more days!

The new era for laptops would start in the Fall of 2015. At least, that is what I was hoping when I postponed the purchase of my next laptop. Why did I have such high expectations you may think? It’s because both Windows 10 and Skylake will be released. Skylake is not a new James Bond movie, it’s Intel’s 6th generation Core processor microarchitecture. In my head this would be the perfect timing for all the big companies to introduce their new models.

It seems like it was worth the wait, as the fireworks have already started. Microsoft revealed their first laptop, the Surface Book ( during their event on October 6, as well as the Surface Pro 4, the successor of the very successful Surface Pro 3.

So why wait a few more days? Because many laptop companies will launch their new Windows 10-based devices in the upcoming weeks. After all, you don’t want to buy a new laptop and then see it become outdated in a matter of weeks. Microsoft offered a schedule for when and where these third-party announcements will take place:

  • October 7, we’ll take the stage with HP in Barcelona
  • October 8, we’ll be in New York City with Dell
  • October 9, we’ll be in San Francisco, with ASUS
  • October 12, we’ll be in Taipei with Acer
  • October 13, we’ll be in Tokyo with Toshiba
  • October 19 we’ll be back in San Francisco with Lenovo

skylake-vs-broadwell_thumb800One could argue that for those with high expectations, the desktop version of the Skylake processor series was a slight dissapointment. It offered only a five to ten percent performance increase over it’s predecessor, the Haswell CPU. However, the area in which the new Skylake structure shines is far more interesting for laptop users: power consumption and efficiency. With a Skylake processor your laptop will last longer. Also, the chips are smaller and the internal graphics card is improved.


In case I’ve just convinced you of the advantages of Skylake, let’s take a look at the new laptop models announced and quickly discuss their unique selling points. The first one on the list is HP. HP has just announced 2 new models. The Spectre x2 and the Envy laptop. The Spectre x2 is a tablet in combination with a keyboard. It is very similar to Microsoft’s Surface Pro. In short, it is a convertible with a 12’’ screen and a 1920×1280 pixels resolution. It is very light with 0,84 kilo without- and 1.24 kilos with keyboard and will contain an Intel core M Skylake processor. The Envy laptop is a 13’’ laptop, which is claimed to be the slimmest laptop the company has ever built. HP will also revamp its popular Spectre x360 with new Skylake processors.

Dell is not lacking behind. The company has just updated its full XPS line. The XPS 15 now comes with Dell’s patented Infinity edge screen. This means that while the screen is 15,6’’, the laptop will only be 14’’, due to the small bezels. This laptop however is not available for those on a student budget, as it starts at €1479 (including taxes). The very popular XPS13 now comes with a Skylake processor and different RAM and memory possibilities. Last but not least, Dell introduced a 12’’ XPS convertible. You can even configure this model with a 4k touchscreen. Personally I do not see the benefit in that, as many applications do not support 4k yet and one wil therefore experience scaling issues too often. Besides, it is debatable whether a 12’’ screen is big enough to warrant a 4k resolution.


I plan to update this blog when Acer, Asus, Toshiba and Lenovo announce their new models. For now, I’m also quite intrigued by the recently announced Microsoft Surface Book, however that one will not be released in Europa for the next 6 months, For the Apple users out there, I’m afraid you’re also going to have to wait a bit longer to enjoy Skylake. Apple has updated it’s Macbooks not too long ago.

I don’t think it’s worth it to upgrade to a Skylake model if you have a fairly recent laptop, just for the sake of Skylake. Do you plan to upgrade? And if so, share your train of thoughts here!


Crijns, K. (2015). Intel Skylake architectuur review: Intels 6de generatie Core CPU’s | Hardware.Info Nederland. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Oct. 2015].

Tweakers, (2015). Dell geeft XPS 15-laptop een update met dunne schermranden en uhd-resolutie. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Oct. 2015].

Tweakers, (2015). HP brengt Spectre x2-convertible en 12,9mm dunne Envy-laptop uit. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Oct. 2015].

Ung, G. and Ung, G. (2015). Intel Skylake CPU details revealed: These faster, more power-efficient chips can even drive three 4K monitors. [online] PCWorld. Available at: [Accessed 9 Oct. 2015

Do you feel unsafe with less contact?


In the last few months, you might have experienced it when you ordered a cup of coffee. The checkout display shows the price, 2.95 euro and the cashier lovely asks you to pay. You reach in your pocket for a bankcard and just when you want to stick the card into the cardholder, the cashier suddenly tells you to gently tap the card on top of the payment device. The screen displays that the transaction is done and you can take your coffee with you.

How does it work?

The new bankcards consist of a chip that is a few millimetres big and can save dozens kilobytes of data. These chips communicate via the radio-frequency identification (RFID) technique. When a payment occurs, the device will make contact via RFID with the card chip to send out data. This data contains information about the transaction, like the price for example. Then the card chip will encrypt this data by an unique code. The encrypted data will be sent back to the payment device to be checked by the bank. When the bank gives permission for the payment, the transaction is completed. All will happen within seconds.

Threats and weaknesses

This kind of payment is similar to the public transport card (OV-card) that is used in the Netherlands. A while ago, scientists found out that the cryptography of the transport card was cracked. Assumptions about the unsafe cryptography of the bankcards were quickly made. Another weakness is that the bankcard does not necessarily need to be taken out anymore. You could complete the payment without taking the bankcard out of your wallet and your pocket. This makes the non-contact method vulnerable for relay-attacks. Modern mobile devices are equipped with near field communication (NFC). When a relay attack occurs, two mobile devices will create a gate between the payment terminal and the bankcard. NFC will provide the communication with the terminals and the chips. Although it seems tempting for thieves, they can only acquire a maximum of 50 euros per card, the daily limit of non-contact payment. This can be seen as a benefit too.

Opportunities and strengths

Firstly, losing your bankcard could cost you a maximum of 50 euros. It is not less safe than having 50 euros cash with you. In the beginning, banks will also be understanding and compensate your possible losses. Furthermore, this new form of payment is more profitable for banks. They do not have to install ATMs for instance and money transport will be less needed. Lastly, non-contact payment is so much faster than the classic payments. This will reduce waiting lines and improve the customer satisfaction.

The rise of technology brings us new products, new information and new methods. Cash payments made room for digital payments. Nowadays, even non-contact payments are possible and it struck me. Do you feel unsafe with less contact? (2014). Contactloos betalen. Accessed: October 4, 2015, from:

Heijden, van der R. (2015, February 4). Digitaal zakkenrollen met contactloos betalen. Accessed: October 4, 2015, from:

Francis, Lishoy et al. (2011). Practical Relay Attack on Contactless Transactions by Using NFC Mobile Phones. Accessed: October 4, 2015, from: (2009). Wat is RFID technologie? Accessed: October 4, 2015, from:

What is the future for Windows Phone?


It was in 2010, when Microsoft brought a new innovation to the Mobile OS market, with its Windows phone 7. Although it did not turn out to be a game changer in the market, it had really brought in some interesting innovations for a mobile phone OS. ‘Live tile’ was the most important of them. It allowed users to see all the information they needed from the start screen. And they were not standalone icons like in iOS, but live tiles, which kept on updating real-time. Windows phone came at a time when Nokia was seeing its initial downfall in the market and was looking for a solid OS to compete with the likes of Samsung (Android) and Apple (iOS).

With the introduction of Windows Phone 8 in late 2012, its devices started to see some significant growth in the market. Nokia introduced Windows Phone 8 in the market with its Lumia 920 and 820 range, following it up with a low-cost Lumia 520. The devices turned out to be a hit and windows phones started seeing more than 100% year-on-year growth. Unfortunately, that saw windows phone’s last smile.  Despite the growth, Nokia could not manage to financially lift itself up from the big losses it had undergone in the previous years and ultimately ended up being acquired by Microsoft in late 2013.

What seemed to be a good deal for the growth of windows phone, turned out to be more or less the beginning of downfall of the Operating System. Since then, windows phone is making news for the wrong reasons more than the right reasons. The most important of them was seen in July 2015, when Microsoft decided to write down Nokia’s acquisition deal of $7.5b, which indicated nothing but negative signals for the future of windows phones.

A recent article published by PC Mag claimed “Microsoft Doesn’t Really Want to Sell Windows Phones in the U.S“. In the US, Microsoft Lumia devices are only available with AT&T.  Does it mean that no other carrier is interested in Windows Phones? Apparently, that is not the case. Almost every carrier in the US is open to having windows phones, but Microsoft gives them the cold shoulder. Infact, the CEO of T-Mobile, John Legere, himself had tweeted saying

Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 23.59.47

Is Microsoft deliberately trying to jump into the well?  It does seem so.

What is the future for windows phone? Will it continue to exist? Was Microsoft too ambitious when it had decided to become a smartphone device maker, rather than just a software maker? Would Microsoft and Nokia have remained better off without the acquisition?

These are some of questions that pop up in everyone’s mind and unfortunately, are still debatable.

Author: Gaurav Kumar


Team 43 – Technology of the week: Platform mediated networks: Uber and TransferWise

Traditional industries have been disrupted by technology-enabled platforms. Innovative business models have found ways to keep cost and prices significantly lower for the users, capturing significant market share in a short time. Two of such companies are Uber and TransferWise. Uber makes it easier, quicker and cheaper to get a ride. While TransferWise makes it up to ten times cheaper to send money abroad.


Uber is a ridesharing platform that acts as an intermediary by matching passengers with the nearest drivers through a smartphone application. More drivers will result in more passengers subscribing and vice-versa (positive cross-side network effects), while too much of one side leads to negative same-side network effects. Uber succeeded in achieving a competitive advantage through not having to pay licenses and not employing drivers. Although Uber is aiming at becoming a price leader, when demand is larger than supply, the company applies surge pricing to encourage drivers to supply. This has led passengers to become increasingly price-sensitive.

The taxi-and ridesharing industries are expected to grow, which will contribute to Uber’s expansion in the future. Furthermore, Uber’s potential to grow will depend on (1) adoption by the status quo, (2) response by competition, and (3) regulations. Currently, Uber has achieved a competitive advantage by being faster, cheaper and allowing a mobile feedback system. However, it is facing competition from similar applications and legislative obstacles that could limit its growth and profitability.


TransferWise is a currency conversion transfer service which is cheaper and faster than conventional transfer methods. Each outgoing transfer matches an ingoing transfer. The peer2peer mechanism and working without cash reserves keeps the service much cheaper and faster. It has positive network effects between different currencies, and negative network effects among the same currencies. Another secret is that money transferred never actually leaves the country. The future of TransferWise depends on (1) growth of bank-to-bank currency transfers, (2) response from competition, and (3) strategic maneouvering by TransferWise. Competition, both large financial institutions and fintechs, are expected to respond by envelopment and improvement.


Both companies have a strong cost position and aim to be cost leaders. Neither of the two platforms have reserves (drivers, cars or cash) or any control over the platform users (supply or demand). Although TransferWise does not have a first-mover advantage as Uber, the peer-to-peer mechanism is a new way to do business providing the platform competitive advantage. Technology truly enabled a market disruption in traditional industries. However, both models face a strong threat of imitation.


While TransferWise is a one-sided network with transient roles, Uber is a two-sided market (passengers vs. drivers). Furthermore, Uber has the flexibility to lower their currently high revenue share while TransferWise, already at marginal pricing, cannot. While Uber is currently facing uncertainty due to many legal issues, TransferWise is operating fully legally and authorized by FCA.

TEAM 43 

Rabab Laarabi – 371492

Dilara Okci – 366348

Lilian Geniz Shann – 342890

Dénise Breemans – 373666

Team 41 – Technology of the week: Waze & LEGO Ideas

Nowadays, platform-mediated network is of importance and interest. As noted by Eisenmann (2011), “ranked by market value, 60 of the world’s 100 largest corporations earn at least half of their revenue from platform markets”. Now let’s have a look at two examples of platform-mediated networks: Waze & LEGO Ideas.

Waze is a free community-driven GPS application, which has been founded in 2008 by an Israeli company and working under almost every operating system. Waze has nevertheless been bought by Google in 2013. As it is community-driven, every user can update information such as route details, travel times, speed traps, etc. on the network and they can report navigation and/or mapping errors as well. Users can also synchronize with their Facebook account and add friends to share their positions, travel routes and arriving time. Waze incentivizes the members of its community to be active by gaming experience, e.g. earning points. Waze makes money by its location-based platform Waze Ads. Companies pay to be added on the map and the users’ search results. Users would see advertising for products available in the region. However in order to maintain quality of the application, Waze decided to limit the number of advertising within a certain radius. Only the firms with the highest willingness to pay will appear on the map and the firm will only pay advertisement fees if the advertising is displayed on the map.

LEGO Ideas is a platform-mediated network that allows LEGO fans to be involved in the development of new product ideas. LEGO Ideas users submit their ideas on the platform and the LEGO Ideas team publishes the ones meeting the basic requirements. Then other users could decide whether they would support or not. When a project gets 10,000 votes within two years, it will be evaluated by the LEGO review board. If review board gives a “go” to the project, LEGO will optimize and produce the model and finally the creation will be sold around the world. The user who submitted the project will be rewarded by getting the royalties of the particular project.

Waze and LEGO Ideas are both one-sided platform-mediated network because their users are homogenous. Waze users can not only use the application as the demand-side users but they also play the supply roles by upgrading and improving the quality of the application. Lego user can freely participate in the development of a project and therefore being part of the supply side and at the same time, they can vote for the projects they like as the demand-side users. Regarding the four roles of the network, they are open to supply-side and demand-side users because they don’t have discriminatory restrictions on the participants. However, as they are the only platform providers and sponsors, they are closed in these roles.

Waze and LEGO Ideas have the strength that they don’t need to involve largely in the interaction; however, their success heavily depend on the large amount of users and their participation. The more active the community is, the more useful the platform is. Hence, the incentive strategy is a challenge for both company to maintain and grow their businesses. Moreover, they both face the threat of copying by competitors as well as the lack of revenue. In spite of these challenges, Waze is expected to have a bright future as the first mover in the market while LEGO Ideas needs to consider their IP and 3D printing challenge.


  • Eisenmann, T., Parker, G. & Alstyne, M. Van, 2006. Strategies for two-sided markets. Harvard business review, pp.92–101.
  • Eisenmann, T., Parker, G., and Van Alstyne, M.W. 2009. Opening Platforms: How, When and Why? in Platforms, Markets and Innovation, Gawer, A. (ed.), Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, pp. 131-162.
  • Eisenmann, T., Parker, G.G. & Van Alstyne, M.W., 2011. PLATFORM ENVELOPMENT. Strategic Management Journal, 32, pp.1270–1285.
  • Lego Ideas, retrieved at on 1 October, 2015
  • Waze, retrieved at on 5 October, 2015