Archive | October 13, 2015

Skip the hassle. Your medicine, just a few clicks away.

Cure

The previous blog post of a co-contributor about tech start ups, where I posted a comment, inspired me to write this blog post. This post will take you to have a look at one of the most recent healthcare apps from a start up based in San Francisco.

Medical applications for handheld devices seem to be changing the health care landscape. Medical apps pop up everywhere and for every purpose. Some are meant for health professionals and other for patients (Hitconsultant, 2014). In Apple store alone, there are more than 45,000 medical apps. More and more health professionals are using medical apps to support themselves. These apps are for clinical use and allow doctors to look up evidence-based medical information while seeing a patient (Curtis, 2013). However, only about 31 percent of the medical apps available are for health professionals. Individuals use other medical apps to look up symptoms and conditions (Hitconsultant, 2014). Although the medical app market is being dominated by big players such as Novartis, Pfizer and Medtronic, innovative start-ups have the courage to stand against these giants and offer their medicals as their mission is also to improve lives. With this blog post, I would like to give an example of such company.

During my trip to San Francisco, I met Christal who works at Cure. She is the head of growth which involves marketing, sales, design, KPI tracking, creating processes, establish partnerships, implementing in our channels.

The aim of Cure to develop its app is to improve the access to healthcare. It is specially designed for the modern user who wants to easily purchase, manage and deliver his or her medications anywhere. It offers a full service pharmacy right on users’ their devices. Christal thinks that the pharmacy system in the U.S. is old-fashioned and it does not match to the need of consumers nowadays:

We are in the age of on-demand everything, and we believe medication should also be on-demand. Health is an intrinsic need!”

This is the main reason why the founders of Cure have decided to make an app that offers an added value by tailoring their service to the generation, who is in college at this moment, via texting/app access. Also, by not having heavy overhead costs, they are able to offer medication for a lower price. The medications of their customers will be delivered straight to their dorms/apartments/homes for free within the same or next day. No other online pharmacy can deliver these benefits all together, which make Cure unique. Christal truly beliefs that consumers of contemporary times deserve such service. She adds:

“It is about time. Computers has been around since 1993 yet some pharmacies are still using paper prescriptions and only recently started to email their patients. Technology hasn’t been as quickly adopted by the healthcare space, especially in the pharmacy field. R&D is rapidly growing but the deliverance of those medications has not equally improved. Cure is here to change that and improve the pharmacy space.”

A big part of us Cure’s social mission is their competitive advantage. Cure donates to nonprofits that promote health and health education. It is a pharmacy that gives back to the community and have the ultimate goal of increasing the access to healthcare for everyone – not just for those that can afford it.

As I have noted in my previous blog post, privacy issues can be a serious barrier to new technology in the health care. Christal ensured me that it was all taken care of. As Cure is a HIPAA compliant app, managers are HIPAA trained in order to keep all patient privacy safe and secure. HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portatbility and Accountability Act, which is a patient privacy, security and safety rules that protects identifiable health information of patients (HHS, n.i.). Also, payments are also safe and secure by using different softwares that keep information in a separate database that is only fetched through the app and not saved in the phone.

Christal believes that in order to grow and to stay ahead of the competition, Cure needs to keep on listening to its customers’ feedback and understand what they want. Their goal is to eventually expand internationally in 5 years, but their first milestone would be statewide expansion.

Innovation can be found everywhere. Whether it is in a big international company or a start-up. These companies all face different challenges and opportunities. The example of Cure has showed us that we should not look down upon start-ups and their apps, as they also have big dreams and are working hard to compete with bigger players in order to improve lives.

More information about Cure: getcure.com


Christal T. (2015, 10, 10). Personal communication with manager and co-founder of Cure.

Curtis, S. (2013, 12 4). Digital doctors: how mobile apps are changing healthcare. Retrieved 10 10, 2015, from The telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/10488778/Digital-doctors-how-mobile-apps-are-changing-healthcare.html

HHS. (n.i.). Health Information Privacy. Retrieved 9 21, 2015, from U.S.

Department of Health & Human Services: http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/

Hitconsultant. (2014, 6 23). The Evolving Landscape of Medical Apps in Healthcare. Retrieved 10 10, 2015, from Hitconsultant: http://hitconsultant.net/2014/06/23/the-evolving-landscape-of-medical-apps-in-healthcare/

Innovation can be found everywhere. Whether it is in a big international company or a start-up. These companies all face different challenges and opportunities. The example of Cure has showed us that we should not look down upon start-ups and their apps, as they also have big dreams and are working hard to compete with bigger players in order to improve lives.

More information about Cure: getcure.com

Mathematics, French and… Programming!

back-to-school-537x402Most people of our generation grew up learning languages like Dutch, French, English and German. It was obvious we were taught these languages as they were spoken in countries adjacent to us. Nowadays, as companies become more globalized, languages like Chinese, Spanish, Arab or Hindi gain more popularity because of the large amount of people that speak them. Governments and parents pressure their citizens and children to learn more languages. But some languages are still often overlooked: Java, HTML, C(++), PHP, Python.. programming languages!

However, not all governments overlook the importance of programming languages. Finland for example, the home of tech companies like Nokia and Supercell, has become one of the first countries to make learning programming compulsory for schoolchildren. Starting from 2016, pupils aged between seven and 16 will the learn the basics of programming in a renewed national core curriculum. This does not mean that children will have to sit through boring programming classes, instead it will be integrated into other subjects. A main focus will be on areas like practical skills, creative working and safe use of technology. A subject like mathematics could for example include assignments where pupils will have to write a script to perform calculations. More exciting subjects could integrate coding by applying it to for example product design or manufacturing.

Finland is not the first country to see the importance of introducing children to the world of coding. Estonia already implemented programming into their education in 2012 and the UK introduced a new computing curriculum in 2014. It is to be expected that many more countries will follow, as the introduction of programming into school curriculums is become an international trend. Technology has become a big part of nowadays’ daily life, with everyone – from pupils to elderly – using smartphones, tables and notebooks to communicate with each other.

What is your opinion about this new international trend? Do you wish your elementary education included programming, 10 or 15 years ago?

– 377578nb

Digital transformation of the Food Plaza – Group 15

The idea of the digital transformation suggested in our paper came along -as so many other new ideas- in a simple discussion about something that bothered us. Before an Information Strategy lecture one of our team members was really annoyed as she needed to wait more than 15 minutes to get her lunch on campus, making her almost late for class. As we were talking about the situation it turned out that almost all of us faced already similar frustrations. We all started thinking: “for sure there is a way to solve this” and this is how we decided that with our digital transformation project we want to contribute to something that can impact everyone’s life at Erasmus University.
So the goal of our research was to understand and if needed suggest a solution for a reported frustration of customers of the Erasmus Food Plaza: long waiting times. To understand the challenge better we examined the internal and external environment of both the Food Plaza as a whole and the restaurants within it. We found that the competitive advantage of the Food Plaza lies in the variety it provides both in the amount of choices and range of prices, but the average waiting time tends to be high compared to other restaurants located on campus.
We understood most important goals and expectations of the University Support Center, the unit responsible for the Food Plaza within Erasmus University towards its suppliers are delivering services in an innovative, professional and client-oriented way thus contributing to higher and higher customer satisfaction. By taking into account both the previously mentioned goals of the USC and the goals of the individual restaurants of the plaza we defined three key success factors (KSF). Key success factors being those areas where the facility needs to perform well in order to achieve it’s most important goals. We defined the key success factors as: pricing and variety (KSF1), reliable and consistent quality (KSF2) and speed of ordering process (KSF3).
Based on the findings above, the survey ran by our team among clients of the campus’ food facilities and interviews with the restaurants of the plaza we found that in order to be successful the Erasmus Food Plaza on one hand needs to improve its ordering process and on the other hand needs to enable the restaurants to have more data about their customers. As a solution we suggested the implementation of a pre-ordering and mobile payment smartphone application, as a tool that can give answer to both of the needs stated above. We also believe that it would help the implementation that students (the biggest customer group of Food Plaza) are familiar with using phone applications, although a thorough multi-channel promotion (with elements of resonance marketing and usage of word-of-mouth) in cooperation with the university would be needed to achieve the needed amount of users.
From the perspective of the companies: after the initial oneof investment the application would turn profitable if an increase in the customer basis is achieved. The restaurants would also need to put effort into the training of their stuff, and the reorganization of their current stands in order to provide a convenient way for fast food pick-up by the application users. Also changing the way how they make decisions to a more data driven way would also be needed to leverage all the potential benefits of the new technology.
To conclude: if we take a look at the impact the application can have on the Food Plaza we can see that: it contributes to the pricing and variety success factor by allowing customers to be better informed about the prices and products of the companies but also by allowing restaurants to better customize their products and prices to the needs to the customers. On the longer run has the potential to contribute to the consistent quality success factor by taking the burden of handling payments, registering cash and taking orders off from the shoulders of the restaurant employees and allowing them to focus on what they are the best in: preparing good food and beverages plus decreasing the chances of human errors in the case of customized orders. And it can definitely fasten up the order process thus contributing to the third success factor. So all in all we can say that a mobile pre-order and payment application would hugely benefit the Erasmus Food Plaza.

How Snapchat will earn money from your rainbow lens selfies.

Snapchat has created a real hype once again with its recent update where they have added several, entertaining lenses to the front camera. Even if you don’t use Snapchat yourself, it seemed impossible to miss out on this news, since it was the talk of the day on all social media websites. But Snapchat did not just add this feature so that you can entertain your friends with rainbows coming out of your mouth. This popular feature brings many advantages to the company, which could make them earn a lot of money and this is how.

Snapchat users may have noticed how on certain special occasions or holidays and at some locations, filters with a special sticker become available. The designs for these geofilters are submitted by users and originally started out as a holiday’s thing only, but in 2014 when Snapchat started gaining more popularity, big cities around the world started getting their own stamp. The popularity of these filters exploded and now there are over a million snaps with geofilter being sent every day (businessinsider.com, 2015). In july this year it was revealed how not only regular Snapchat users will be able to submit geofilter designs, but also companies (usatoday.com, 2015). The first company that submitted their design was McDonalds and Snapchat charged them $20 per 1000 views, which might not seem a lot, but as mentioned before there are over a million snaps being sent every day and only in America there are 14,000 McDonald’s alone (LA times, 2015). The companies joining in on the geofilters profit from it too, because this could easily become a new way of advertising and the best part of it is how users don’t seem to find the ads annoying or creepy like the ones of Facebook, since they see it as a creative way to share their current location with their friends, whether that is at McDonalds or Starbucks (LA times, 2015).

The new lenses feature offers many possibilities to take the ads to an even higher level, where Snapchat could make branded lenses that are location based. Currently these lenses make the users curious. Everyone wants to try them out, so if there was a lens you could only try at McDonalds, people would go there to try it. Not only would the companies be able to benefit from this, but Snapchat as well since they could charge higher prices, which accompanied by more users would result in more revenue.

references:

http://uk.businessinsider.com/snapchat-wants-you-to-brand-your-posts-with-a-mcdonalds-filter-2015-6?r=US&IR=T

http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2015/06/16/snapchat-sponsored-geotags/28822091/

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-0613-snapchat-geofilters-20150616-story.html

Online commenting, difference in behavior in real life and on the Internet

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‘I just came here to read the comments’ is a commonly known phrase nowadays on the Internet. Everywhere you go on the Internet, from Facebook to your local sports forum, you can enjoy the comments and discussion of complete strangers about politics, celebrities or just a picture of a cat. What are the up and downsides of commenting anonymously on the Internet and why do we react differently on the internet than in real life? If you want to know more, just continue reading.

Almost 25% of all comments on the Internet are posted in anonymity. Santana found out that in newspapers, anonymity increases the chance of offensive commenting (Santana, 2013). This observation can be supported by real life experience. As most of you can relate, the Internet is not always a place to find comfort and understanding. Although the Internet can be a hostile place, many people find comfort on the World Wide Web. Anonimity has also been shown to encourage participation; by promoting a greater sense of community, users don’t have to worry about standing out individually. In a study that examined student learning, the psychologists Ina Blau and Avner Caspi found that, while face-to-face interactions tended to provide greater satisfaction, in anonymous settings participation and risk-taking flourished (Blau & Caspi, 2009)

The tendency to react more emotional when being anonymous is called the online dishibition effect (Suller, 2004). The online disinhibition effect is a loosening of social constraints and inhibitions that would be present in normal face-to-face interaction during interactions with others on the Internet. Suller found six primary factors behind why people act differently on the Internet from the way they do in normal face-to-face situations:

  1. You don’t know me: People on the Internet usually have no clue of who you are. This can give a sense of protection and an outlet for the antisocial.
  2. You can’t see me: without facial expression, many social cues go unnoticed. It also gives people the power to create a different, visually better, version of them. This can empower an individual.
  3. See you later: reactions on message boards are not always real-time. It can take days or weeks for people to react, which can encourage people to give their opinion on the Internet.
  4. It’s all in my head: When missing social cues via the Internet, people can attribute certain characteristics to individuals that aren’t true. It allows individuals to fantasize and create certain character traits.
  5. It’s all a game: People underestimate the effect of comments have on the Internet. They don’t see the social implications and have the courage to comment more aggressively.
  6. No place for status: When on the Internet, you can be whoever you want to be. Nobody knows if you are a professional football player or a cashier at the local grocery.

Now you all have some more insight in the factors and effects of online commenting I hope you all try to be somewhat more sensitive with your comments. Let’s start with some positive ones on my blog 😉

357519rs

Sources:

Blau, I. and caspi, A. (2009). STUDYING INVISIBLY: MEDIA NATURALNESS AND LEARNING. department of eduction and psychology.

Santana, A. (2013). Virtuous or Vitriolic. Journalism Practice, 8(1), pp.18-33.

Suller, J. (2004). The Online Disinhibition Effect. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 7(3), pp.321-326.

 

 

Brick meets Click – omnichannel era

As BIM students, most of you will probably work in the near future on some IT projects and, thus, it may be worth knowing what does the future hold for you. No matter which industry you choose you will most likely be faced with a somehow omnichannel related project since nowadays companies worldwide are turning to omnichannel strategy. In the world populated by IT and brand savvy consumers, companies must abandon product-focused or channel-focused approach and embrace an unparalleled customer journey as their prime business imperative. Accordingly, in 2015 29 percent of retail companies’ capital expenditures has been destined for improving their omnichannel fulfillment capabilities [6], given that most of the expenditures are made up of IT spending [7]. This percentage will be even grater over the next few years taking into account the following insights:

In 2016 customer experience will garner the highest level of marketing investment; it is one of three areas in which CEO’s expectations of CMOs will increase the most; and bleeding-edge technologies to improve it will be the top innovation project marketers undertake. Marketers will lead the customer experience cross-functionally across all touch points in the majority of companies by 2016 [3].

By 2017, 50% of consumer product investments will be redirected to customer experience innovations [4].

By 2020, the need for a unified consumer omni-channel experience will be complicated by the need for nearly perfect execution. However, expert use of business intelligence tools, coupled with a profound understanding of shoppers‘ needs and experiences in real time, may make omni-channel a realistic goal [1].

 By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator [2]. 

However, though today’s consumer engages through a variety of touchpoints, most brands struggle to ensure seamless transition across channels being a seamless customer crosstouchpoint journey. Where is the root of the problem?

Most companies put emphasis on each touchpoint as a standalone channel keeping it in isolation what impedes smooth transition between them, even though common sense dictates the consumer that it should be possible during the experience.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 19.47.36

As range of touchpoints on the customer journey is ever swelling the journey is getting more and more complex. Stores, kiosks, tablets, call centers, mobile devices, social media, and more all create countless combinations of ways they mutually interact. It is interesting how all those touchpoints interpenetrate, e.g. smarthopne users use their devices in the store to discover products they are about to buy or they explore product in the store to order it online via selfcheckout kiosk in that store. Thus, companies are embracing this trend by tinkering with some app-driven store experiences, as an examble, Auchan is launching a mobile shopping list app including speech recognition technology to allow user to dictate their shopping items.

However, examples of brands that cannot optimize their cross-touchpoint experience are far more numerous and they are following:

So Mini looses your identity along the way. At first, it lets you explore and experiment with combinations of color, body style and optional extras so that you could configure your dream car. But as it comes to booking a test drive, the configuration is not passed to the dealership and user must fill in all the details again on a separate form. Mini is a prominent evidence how a brand fails to transition the potential buyer from the web to the dealership.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 19.47.18

Gap offer a flexible click-and-collect service, enabling pickup of online orders in any of its group stores – Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, etc. Yet product return is possible only through a store of the brand of the purchased product. This illustrates how retail brands struggle with reverse logistics and especially with a lack of web and store stock integration which is must-have for efficient omnichannel service.

And the last one, Air Canada which offers standalone mobile capabilities. Air Canada customer can book a flight via mobile application but cannot modify the booking on any digital touchpoint, the only way it can be done is on the mobile app.

Fortunately, there is a way to embrace the omnichannel disruption and it boils down to the three following rules.

  1. Limit the complexity and range of the patterns – focus on few high-value and most frequent experiences. Then express the cross-touchpoint experiences as action-oriented tasks that are meaningful to the consumer. Point out tasks which add value to both the consumer and the brand, for the former value stands for convenience or choice, for the later usually it is a sales increase.
  1. Optimize the journey, not the touchpoint – it is essential to identify the role of each touchpoint within the customer lifecycle in the context of a given journey or customer segment. The identification helps define the functionality, feature and design. These are some useful techniques for this task:
  • Mapping the end-to-end journeys
  • Identifying valid touchpoints within the context of the journeys
  • Tuning each touchpoint to its role in the ecosystem
  1. Focus on transition – the key area and at the same time the most vulnerable is transition from one touchpoint to another what comes down to the customer identity retaining and transitioning. It is difficult to recognize a single customer identity source across all the touchpoints, but there are some pretty good practices to overcome this problem:
  • Give the consumer a control of appointment booking – e.g. Bespoke tailor Cad and the Dandy offers shoppers an online suit design tool that allows them to select the style and fabric of their ideal made-to-measure suit. For the order completion, an in-person meeting with tailor is required to measure the customer. This meeting is handled via an online appointment booking system that offers customers a choice of appointments and emails them clear confirmation once booked.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 19.46.32

  • Use mobile to join the digital and physical worlds
  • Collect customer email addresses to enroll them in a multitouchpoint engagement.

Good luck on your omnichannel projects!


Sources:

1) Retailing 2020: Winning in a polarized world by PWC: http://www.pwc.com/us/en/retail-consumer/publications/assets/pwc-retailing-2020.pdf

2) http://www.parature.com/customer-service-predictions/

3) http://blogs.gartner.com/laura-mclellan/5-predictions-marketing-2016/

4) http://blogs.gartner.com/jake-sorofman/gartner-surveys-confirm-customer-experience-new-battlefield/

5) https://www.shopify.com/blog/14210261-10-slideshare-presentations-on-the-future-of-omni-channel-retail

6) http://bridgesgi.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/JDA-PWC-Executive-Summary_D.pdf

7) http://www.cognizant.com/InsightsWhitepapers/omnichannel-roadmap-vision-meets-reality.pdf

http://www.destinationcrm.com/Articles/Web-Exclusives/Viewpoints/The-Value-of-the-Omnichannel-Approach-85952.aspx

http://www.genesys.com/resources/Manage_The_Cross_Touchpoint_Customer_Journey.pdf

Tonight’s dinner will be served by…Sharing economy!

Sharing economy for a meal! Imagine this. One-hungry evening, you feel like eating at a stranger’s house. You go on Eatwith website, select the location and the verified-chef, the meal that you want to eat, you pay for it and then you go to the chef’s house to eat your dinner! Essentially, Eatwith charges the hungry people and for an individual to become a chef, it is completely free! (I guess Eatwith took some courses in BIM and knew all about Network effects and who to charge).

first-i-headed-to-the-eatwith-website-to-book-a-dinner-in-new-york-city

Anyway, Eatwith is a website that shares similar characteristics to Airbnb or Uber (I will be making a comparison on Uber later). 1. The service provider (in this case the “chef”) needs to be verified. 2. You choose the “chef” based on their ratings, descriptions. 3. There are other hungry strangers like you, attending the same dinner.

eatwith-provides-chef-profiles-to-give-you-a-little-more-information-about-who-will-be-cooking-you-dinner-heres-simons

The website has been around since 2010 and currently, it is active in 150 cities. But it made me curious because Eatwith sounds like an idea that could’ve easily become a household name. At the same time, maybe there were similar ideas before Eatwith. So I did a little more digging about them.

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2010-2012
Guy Michlin, the CEO of Eatwith found 3 other similar ideas and he decided to contact all of them and discovered that 3 other ideas lacked future direction, had inadequate investment and faced some issues with functionality. They also stated that they got their financing in July 2012. It took them 2 long years to get the support.

Journey to success
What would be the difference between Eatwith and Uber? I’m making a reasonable speculation that the dinner usually lasts much longer than a ride. This implies that there should be a higher emphasis on the quality of the service provided. In another article, the CEO, Guy Michlin talks about the intensive vetting process that the potential chef has to go through. To become a chef, the application involves filling in an application form (where you have to submit photo/video of your meal). In the photo/video, the way they present their meals are also assessed because Eatwith perceives dining as a true experience which is not only about the food but how the food is presented. Furthermore, the CEO mentions that the experience-focus aspect as well as their global focus (their determination to encourage travellers to try a local cuisine using Eatwith) is what differentiates other similar services from Eatwith.

Kuni’s corner
To me, it makes sense that it took quite a while for Eatwith to become a major household name. Compare to Uber, they would have longer vetting process and that could take a while but at the same time, it guarantees the quality of the service.  Additionally, if you think about it, in terms of competition, Eatwith can be considered as one of the competitors for a local restaurant. An individual with confident cooking capability and a capacity to host can easily become a competitor of your neighbourhood restaurant. My next natural question is, how many of those individuals actually exist in a given city? I think the answer to this question is one of the possible starting points to assess whether Eatwith is actually considered as a “disruptive business model”. On one hand, like Uber did to the taxi industry, Eatwith can be drastically changing the business landscape of local restaurants. On the other hand, out of the total population in the city, how many people are actually able to become Eatwith-certified chefs? Something to think about..

Anyway, this blog post made me hungry, hope you enjoyed the blog post!

Kuni

Sources:

Bruce, B. (2015). Tesco commissions Anthesis Group to develop online sustainability community. [online] FoodBev. Available at: http://www.foodbev.com/news/tesco-commissions-anthesis-group-to-develop-online-sustainability-community/ [Accessed 11 Oct. 2015].

Cañigueral, A. (2013). Guy Michlin, Eatwith.com CEO, interviewed at Barcelona. [online] Consumo Colaborativo. Available at: http://www.consumocolaborativo.com/2013/01/13/guy-michlin-ceo-de-eatwith-com-entrevistado-en-barcelona/?lang=english [Accessed 13 Oct. 2015].

Eatwith.com, (2015). Eatwith.com – Dining Experience, Supper Clubs, Local Food and more. [online] Available at: http://www.eatwith.com/ [Accessed 13 Oct. 2015].

Jones, C. (2013). Interview: Guy Michlin, EatWith – The Culintro Blog. [online] The Culintro Blog. Available at: http://blog.culintro.com/interview-guy-michlin-eatwith/ [Accessed 13 Oct. 2015].

Kircher, M. (2015). I ate dinner at a stranger’s house using an app and I’d totally do it again. [online] Tech Insider. Available at: http://www.techinsider.io/eatwith-app-lets-you-eat-cheap-with-strangers-2015-10 [Accessed 13 Oct. 2015].

The Rise of Ransomware

Lately the issue of ransomware made it to the news again. Ransomware can be defined as: “A ransomware is a kind of walmare which demands a payment in exchange for a stolen functionality” (Gazet, 2008). McAfee Labs (2015) reported that ransomware increased by 165% in the first quarter of this year, mostly targeting small to middle companies. Ransomware has become more effective due to new families named CTB-Locker, Teslacrypt, new versions of TorrentLocker, Bandarchor and Teslacrypt, the improved quality of phishing mails and new technics to avoid security systems.

The act of ransomware can be divided in three phases (Gazet, 2008):

  1. Seek target: document formats like doc, zip, odt etc. are the most targeted files as ransomware because these files most likely contain personal data.
  2. Extortion: the blackmailer tries to get power over the authors, who lose access to their information and get their files encrypted.
  3. Display ransom message: finally the blackmailers write a text file whereas they ask for money in exchange for stolen files. (Gazet, 2008).

However, last week a big online criminal operation that had the estimated  worth of $30 million per year through the use of ransomware was taken down. It was Cisco System’s Talos security unit that was doing research on the Angler Exploit Kit, a distributor of ransomware that takes over personal computers and its files. It has been the most effective kit in the past year, taking responsibility for up to 40% of ransomware’s victims (Reuters, 2015).

ransomware-takedown-640x452

Despite the fact that it is a great progress capturing one of the biggest distributors, there are still other programs out there targeting victims. The main question here is whether to pay or not to pay in case you become a victim of ransomware.

For me, it definitely depends on the importance of the files that have been encrypted. Right now, I don’t have many important documents that I’ll be willing to pay a sufficient amount for. However I can imagine if companies lose crucial files, they take the risk of paying the ransom.

Nevertheless, it is still recommend not to pay for these files as there is no insurance of actually getting the wanted data. What is your opinion about this topic? And what would you do if you were in this situation: pay or not pay?

Sources:

Gazet, A. (2010) “Comparative analysis of various ransomware virii”. Journal in computer virology, 6(1). pp.77-90.

Reuters (2015) Cisco security researchers disable big distributor of “ransomware”. Available at: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/ites/cisco-security-researchers-disable-big-distributor-of-ransomware/articleshow/49244252.cms [Accessed 13 Oct. 2015].

Uberpreneurship: the newest form of entrepreneurship

Recent years has showed a significant increase in research done in the fields of entrepreneurship (Hulsink, 2013). It hasn’t been too long since the RSM has set up the Erasmus Centre of Entrepreneurship, which is now an important incubator for Rotterdam’s student entrepreneurs. Also, there is a course in the BA curriculum called ‘Orientatie op ondernemen’ (translation: Orientation on entrepreneurship’), which is a success and therefore will be implemented in the IBA curriculum in 2018 as well (Meijdam, 2015).
Other than the RSM, globally there have been an increasing number of new theories involved with entrepreneurship. Proof for this is that most of these theories aren’t older than ten years (Hulsink, 2013). Being a RSM student and having some great experiences while following ‘Orientatie op ondernemen’, I now feel it is my responsibility to increase insights in some of the newer forms of entrepreneurship.

Uberpreneurship
Combine Uber, the new international transportation company for taxis, private cars and ridesharing with entrepreneurship. Uberpreneurship is exactly what the name suggests. A clear definition would be the following; registered Uber users who use their rides with customers to promote secondary and personal products.

Cases
There are several creative uberpreneurs out there with a variety of businesses. The most famous one must be Gavin Escolar, who claims to earn over $252,000 dollars per year. His business consists of selling jewellery, which he displays all around the car (e.g. dashboard, mirrors etc.) and wears himself. Selling jewellery is how he earns his money next to his normal job as a taxi driver. This is quite a case, as he claims that his earnings per month consist of $3,000 for his normal services as a taxi driver next to $18,000 through selling jewellery.
Second, there have also been many reportings of real estate agents showcasing properties in their cars. Third, there is also a company which you can join as an Uber driver called It Works selling their health and beauty products. This has been a web shop for the majority of its life, but decided that having Uberpreneurs driving around and promoting their products would be a nice additional to their business.

What is Uber’s take on all of this?
The first question that pops in your head right now is if this is allowed by Uber, isn’t it? Clearly, Uber doesn’t profit at all from these side-businesses of their drivers. And what if customers would get annoyed by drivers who happen to turn out to be pushy salesmen?

However, Uber is very much aware of Uberpreneurs and is actually promoting ‘Uberpreneurship’. In a response to the question whether Uber was fine with these side-businesses, Uber spokeswoman Kristin Carvell says: “One of the greatest things about the Uber platform is that it offers economic opportunity for a variety of drivers — full-time, part-time, veterans, teachers, artists, and students — in more than 260 cities around the world. Supporting and fueling the local economy is important to Uber and our driver partners help us to achieve this goal.” Besides, Uber is build around customer reviews. If for any reason the experience would be unpleasant, this will definitely result in a low rating which would negatively impact their business.

Uberpreneurship: theory
Since we now know that Uber is fine with this and there are some successful Uberpreneurs out there, let’s find out what it takes to become one yourself.
Uberpreneurship seems pretty straight-forward. It is basically using your car as a storefront. But what products and services could be successfully promoted in a car?

• Lucrative margin – Product needs to allow you to make a margin which is worth the effort you put in selling your goods.
• Quality – Since Uber has a customer rating system which is the core of the Uber concept, it wouldn’t be wise to sell low quality products as it would affect your rating.
• Easily displayable – A car wouldn’t allow for the selling of oversized products such as home interior products. Products could however be displayed in a catalogue
So these are some of the criteria I thought of. I think Uberpreneurship has great potential as you get to pitch pretty much anything to anyone. Also, the time you get with each customer allows you to truly find out the preferences and interests of each person. I’m interested to see if we can work out more criteria or examples of potential Uber-businesses. To get you started, here are some of the other examples I thought of which could definitely be incorporated in successful Uber businesses.

• Selling concert tickets by listening to music of bands which happen to play in town
• Selling new gadgets
• Selling gifts
• Selling monthly subscriptions (e.g. HelloFresh, Dollar Shave Club, magazines)
• Selling personal services (e.g. massages, beauty treatments)

Meijdam, A. (2015) Minutes 168th Faculty Council Meeting. Rotterdam School of Management, 01 June, 2015.
Hulsink, W. (2013) Lectures Orientatie op Ondernemen. Rotterdam School of Management
It Works (2015) As found on http://healthwealthkit.com/
Youshaei, J. (2015) The Uberpreneur: How An Uber Driver Makes $252,000 A Year. Forbes, February 4, 2015

How to buy high quality low price cocaine with a five star review

There is only one viable and safe way; by using the darknet (also commonly referred to as the DeepWeb). This blog will not describe how to actual do this but it will describe some really interesting developments happening. The reason my attention was drawn was a really interesting TED Talk by Jamie Barlett a journalist and tech blogger for The Telegraph:

In this talk Barlett mentions a couple of really interesting innovations that were needed to build a safe marketplace to conduct illegal activities. These innovations were made to make sure that the goods that were bought were genuinely, that the purchase was made anonymously and that the buyer and seller would both hold up on their sales agreement.

To start the marketplaces on the darknet look very similar to a normal web shop, there is a search button, the price in bitcoin (to pay anonymously), a high quality picture and a button to report items if there is something missing or wrong with the product. You have a basket and the whole process is almost identical to a web shop like bol.com.

Site drug darkweb

The second interesting part is that goods almost always arrive in time and are of agreed upon quality. The sellers’ uses aliases that give their (illegal) goods certainty, these names can be found as user reviews on these marketplaces or on forums on the darknet. And because the customer is well informed and the market is transparent the market follows basic economic rules; prices go down and quality of product and service go up. Drug dealers have to become customer oriented and reply in polite ways to make sure their ‘’brand’’ keeps their value.

Because these sites are continually tracked and shut down by governments they need to keep innovating to make sure that their users keep being anonymous and that they are harder to shut down. An interesting example is the way that you pay, not by conventional ways of payments with banks and credit cards which can be directly tracked back to you, but with bitcoins. Bitcoin is an encrypted currency that is easily exchanged for real world currency. But in the beginning the sellers would keep their goods and the bitcoins, the community had to find a solution. This solution was called multi signature payments, in which a third party holds the money till the buyer received the goods and gives their digital signature to confirm the receiving the goods.

But there was also a flaw within the bitcoin system, the whole system keeps a register to make sure that a bitcoins are valid. The community saw that these could also be tracked and designed a tumbling service, users put their bitcoin on a central account on which then all bitcoins are tumbled and send back and forth a couple of times, after which the register has so many transactions it will be impossible to track, a micro  digital money laundering service.

This trend gives me mixed feelings, on the one hand criminality becomes more transparent, drugs will improve on quality which means less people will die from bad quality. But on the other hand drugs will become increasingly easy to procure.  If this has grabbed your attention I highly recommend to watch the following documentary which explains the darknet and how the first major bust of someone operating on the network happened:

Please let me know your opinion about the dark web.

-Siebe Kylstra

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darknet

https://www.torproject.org/projects/torbrowser.html.en

http://www.fastcompany.com/3050603/the-recommender/how-new-doc-deep-web-shines-a-light-on-the-dark-net

http://www.coindesk.com/bitgo-safe-aims-secure-bitcoin-wallets-multi-signature-transactions/

Sorry we lost you(r parcel)!

Sorry we lost you(r parcel)!

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The excessive growth of the parcel services caused by the rapidly increased online shopping has forced these parcel service companies to integrate a high efficiency and reliable system that can handle the huge amounts of parcels and reduce the time from order to delivery. There are many ways to secure the parcel you send dependant on the urgency of quick delivery or the value of the parcel. By paying an extra fee the customer can prevent the parcel to be transported via the larger parcel service centers and reduce the chance of the parcel to get missing.

parcel_203x150

One of the administrators, Hunter Kelly of accountancy firm EY, said City Link had experienced heavy losses over recent years brought about by “a combination of intense competition in the sector, changing customer and parcel recipient preferences, and difficulties for the company in reducing its cost base” (moneywise, 2014).

This is one of the examples that parcel service companies struggle with the fierce competition in this market. The profit margins have declined over the recent years (gurufocus, 2015). The differentiation of the service is the only way for these companies to distinguish themselves from the other competitive companies. To achieve this these companies rely very much on their information systems. The better the system the higher the chance of survival in the market. Over the years these market conditions have driven multiple small parcel services out of the market. What is left is a small amount of large parcel service companies like; UPS, DHL, FedEx. For the Dutch market the largest companies are PostNL (70%!) and DHL (Elsevier, 2015). Even though there are still a couple more companies for online purchases PostNL is used in most cases. Customers do not even have the option to choose between different companies. This is due to the contracts between the retailers and PostNL. On one hand this is because they are large and dependable on the other hand PostNL in mostly preferred by the customers in general. Apart from the high rate of delivery by the separate services still too many parcels get lost even via the extra secured shipments. This causes dissatisfaction for the concerned customers.

Having a optimal system for the parcel services is not enough. The enormous amounts have led to complex situations in the physical parcel centers. How are these relevant companies going to deal with this increasing complexity? The future increase in online shopping and the upcoming internet of things will influence their market, hence they can assure themselves that the parcel network will become more dense in the coming years. The high rate of successful deliveries needs to remain the same or, better, it should increase. Working on a future solution of this problem is essential to maintain a/the position in the market

online-parcel-delivery-company

Sources

http://www.elsevier.nl/Economie/achtergrond/2015/2/Iedereen-wil-uw-pakje-hoe-de-markt-van-pakketbezorgers-explodeert-1698247W/

http://www.gurufocus.com/news/366534/vilas-capital-managements-thirdquarter-letter

http://www.moneywise.co.uk/news/2014-12-29/city-link-collapse-how-to-get-your-parcel

Just For The Articles: The End Of Playboy

After  60 years of being a landmark when it comes to more or less classy nudity, Playboy anounced that it will quit printing nude pictures in its magazines in America. From now on the magazine will  only focus on providing quality content on the fields politics, lifestyle and culture. Nothing special right? I mean, for instance, i myself always thought that the articles in Playboy were very, very, interesting and wasn’t even aware of the fact that the magazine was actually printed to show nudes…

For now it is unclear whether Playboy in, for instance, The Netherlands will follow this move, but looking at the numbers it seems like a matter of time.

Sales of male glossies in The Netherlands

As we can see in this graph, male glossies providing quality conten, not focusing on female beauty, are pretty constant in their sales numbers whereas Playboy sees a sharp decline over the last decade. Taking this into account, a switch of topics seems like a smart move. One could however ask the question: Will anyone truly ever buy a Playboy for its written content? The internet, of course is skeptical.

Now according to Techcrunch, there a two main reasons that printed nudity doesn’t work anymore. First  of all, with everything you can find on the internet nowadays, the prudish stuff playboy prints works better as a healthy replacement of Diazepam. Second, paradoxically, Playboy is the victim of what Techcrunch calls the Disneyfication of the internet Major content carriers, like Google and Apple, don’t like nudity being sold through their stores. I said paradoxically because, this way Playboy falls between the two stools of pornography and prudishness. The only way for Playboy to make money now is to make content sellable in digital newsstand like Blendle and for that ,they reckon, a turnaround is necessary.

This goes to show, that even when you are a well regarded institute like Playboy, whose bunny covered shirts many a pubescent boy and girl wore, you are not immune to the creative destruction following the technological revolution.

In the end, i think we can all be happy for good old Hef that, at 89, he can finally drop the pimp charade, perch into a chair, and attach himself to a bar to enjoy his best years.

I’m interested what other people think about this subject? Will Playboy succeed as a pure content providing magazine? Is there any room in the near future for physical magazines at all?

References:

A New Media Market Makes Playboy Drop The Nudes. (n.d.). Retrieved October 13, 2015, from http://techcrunch.com/2015/10/12/a-new-media-market-makes-playboy-drop-the-nudes/

tijdschriftcijfers : Photo. (n.d.). Retrieved October 13, 2015, from http://tijdschriftcijfers.tumblr.com/image/106598797861

11 reactions that sum up Playboy’s decision to stop printing nudes | Irish Examiner. (n.d.). Retrieved October 13, 2015, from http://www.irishexaminer.com/examviral/fun-times/11-reactions-that-sum-up-playboys-decision-to-stop-printing-nudes-359057.html


Nice: a user-centred, open-innovation ecosystem. But how?

When entering the area of innovation there seems to be no single best way to do it. All over the business landscape we see companies with traditional R&D departments, skunk projects, incubators, venture capital-departments and so on. I would like to introduce you to what they call a ‘living lab’. Embraced by firms like WalMart and McDonalds, but also IBM and the Santander Group. So what is it?

A user-centred, open-innovation ecosystem, often operating in a territorial context (e.g. city, agglomeration, region), integrating concurrent research and innovation processes, within a public-private-people partnership.

That sounds awesome, but how do you set this up? As said, there seems to be no Holy Grail. Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble came to a similar conclusion while writing ‘The other side of Innovation: solving the Execution Challenge’, in which they stated that having employees dedicate a fixed amount of time to innovation, handing out bonuses for innovation or having a ‘playbook’ for innovation seems to encourage incremental innovation more than disruptive ones. However they did find that companies need to build so called ‘innovation machines’, which should embody a clear set of rules:

  • Attract people from outside the company, and doing so without constraints, makes them hire rule breakers instead of perfect stereotype employees
  • Be free of some of the metrics that dominate the rest of the corporation. Though so called ‘skunk works’, small autonomous units, should be avoided.
  • Maintain integration with the rest of the company, incorporating e.g. some staff to allow them to tap in to other company resources and departments.
  • Create dedicated management rules: generic company management rules might not be applied, e.g. accountability should be on the amount of lessons learned or ideas generated instead of budget control.

If you truly want to start innovating from within, the general thought has to change from innovation = ideas towards innovation = ideas + leader + team + plan. In which we identify that the disruptive innovations come from the best ideas, but need to be managed by someone who steps up and drives the execution continuously. Next to a leader you will need the right project team, which will enable you to actively develop and improve the (business) plan.

Still, if you have these innovative machines, why choose a living lab instead of your ‘regular’ R&D department? Living labs have proven to be a more ‘hands-on’ approach to development. They aim to involve users earlier in the process allowing them to search for deeper customer needs and discover new user cases. It bridges the gap between technologic development and the development of services and products, through the participation of all relevant stakeholders (companies, governments, research institutions and citizens). Meanwhile given them an easy understanding of the social and economic consequences of the introduction of innovative products and/or services.

And it might be for these reasons that we have seen increased corporate activity throughout the years in the area of this innovation machine. And though, as stated earlier, the Holy Grail is yet to be found (question remains, is there such a lab setting?). Mr. Pallot found that specifically living labs should be based on four other principles: co-creation, exploration, experimentation and evaluation.

  • Co-creation should be aimed at bringing together different points of view, sustaining ideation (e.g. new scenarios, concepts and related artefacts).
  • Exploration requires stakeholders to exploring the product or service usages and behaviors in live (or virtual) environments.
  • Experimentation on a large(r) scale should be implemented to collect data that could be analyzed later on during evaluation.
  • Evaluation of the ideas looks at various dimensions (socio-ergonomic, socio-cognitive and socio-economic) that should be addressed. In each, observations should be made on the potential of adoption of the newly found concepts.

Besides these four principles, living labs should be a place of open innovation. It relies on the assumption that companies cannot rely solely on their own R&D because knowledge is so widely spread.

Well, there you have the methodology. But if you want it to be effective, who should you incorporate. Most of the time you see a combination of the earlier mentioned four different stakeholders, including end users, corporates, educational/knowledge institutions and the (local) government. But what do they gain? End users often want to influence the development of products they use themselves, while companies try to make their road to innovation shorter by directly receiving feedback and thus creating a product that satisfies customer needs. Often theory is not put into practice, and that is why institutions that focus on the gathering of knowledge are often heavily involved in these labs. While governments often gain the same knowledge, they try to use this knowledge to cut costs. To see if there are any innovations out here that might make executing public services more efficiently. What do you think should be the objective of a so-called living lab?


Sources

Govindarajan, V. and Trimble, C. (2010). The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge. Harvard Business Review.

Pallot, M. (2009). The Living Lab Approach: A User Centred Open Innovation Ecosystem. Webergence Blog.

Technology Innovation Management Review (2012). September 2012: Living Labs. Carleton University

Last week I was reading a blog on this same site about the changing factors on war brought on by information technology by Glenn de Jong, in which the mainly focused on actual war but it got me thinking about wars not on the physical domain but on the virtual world.

The first major strategic attack was that of the virus Stuxnet that was built to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program, it has was carefully designed to be hidden was reportedly written by Israel and the United States.

The United States are already preparing for this kind of warfare; the classified documents of the NSA that were leaked by Edward Snowden contain information about the digital warfare capabilities. The documents mention various different ways how the NSA is operating in this new domain of warfare.

The NSA is mainly focusing in gathering information, in which the Remote Operations Center (ROC) is in the central unit of operation, their motto: ‘Your data is our data, your equipment is our equipment — any time, any place, by any legal means’.

But the NSA goes further than just gathering information their TAO/ATO Persistence Politerain (CNA) is tasked with remotely destroying other countries network devises like computers, routers, and network-enabled devices by using young hackers and low-level program.

But the NSA is not only looking to gather information from its enemies even befriend countries like Germany are being hacked, in 2013 news broke out that the NSA had hacked the mobile phone of chancellor Angela Merkel.

I found a really interesting quote that in my eyes really describe how information technology is changing modern warfare:

Warfare is no longer adequately defined as violent campaigns and battles sought among armed fighting forces occurring between periods of peace. War is now a continuous battle between diverse multi-faceted actors waged primarily in the virtual cyber domain, occasionally accompanied by violent clashes in the physical domain. When changes to warfare are this fundamental, it requires a new framework of war to guide strategy, doctrine development, and military operations at all levels of warfare. (M. Williamson, 2012).

To illustrate how relevant this new framework of war is, on http://map.norsecorp.com/ you can see a real-time map of IT attacks, you can see the orgin region of this attack, the target and the type of attack. While writing this piece China launched 1181 attacks and the US was targeted by 3003 attacks, this all happened in around one hour;

Online hacking

For me the idea of a world constantly in cyber war, in which you do not know if information is real, where all your tracks are being followed is a scary and frightful world, what are your opinions about his?

-Siebe Kylstra

Sources:

http://www.zdnet.com/article/snowden-docs-reveal-nsa-digital-warfare-capabilities/

http://map.norsecorp.com/

http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a562392.pdf

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/18/germany-nsa-angela-merkel-hacking

How domotics will take over your home

Think a moment about how many energy wasting electronics you have in your own home. A television that you leave on running while you were in a rush to be in time for college, a computer that runs all day because you had to check Facebook in the morning but forgot to turn it off and a phone charger still left in the wall socket next to your bed. These are all great products which, if you use them right, provide a certain level of comfort but are wasting energy. This will cost you money, precious money you could have spent on let’s say… Beer.

Home automation, also known as domotics, is your saviour. Domotics is an upcoming market which target is the home of people.(Cnet.com, 2014) Domotics will improve the way we live. Think about the television mentioned earlier. You made it just in time to college. After a few minutes your thoughts wander of and you recall that you left your television on. Well… Nothing to do about it. Or maybe there is? If I could just turn it off by thinking about it.

Domotics will provide you the solution. Home automation has the possibility to include every home, housework or household activity in a centralized system. (Tweakers.net, 2015) The home owner can control everything just by accessing this centralized system by a computer, tablet or phone. Thinking about that television? Just grab your smartphone and turn it off. Energy management will provide you with the opportunity to turn electronics on or off. Still, you have to do it all by yourself.

After years of development in the business sector, automation systems now come to your home. And they take their experience from the business sector with them. (Triplepundit.com, 2015) The private home market is a lucrative sector because of rising energy prices. Big companies like Apple and Google are trying to penetrate the market (Tweakers.net, 2015). Google bought Nest labs in 2014 for 3.2 billion dollars (Cnet.com, 2015). Nest is a producer of a learning thermostat and a smart smoke / carbon monoxide detector. Nest (and Google’s) ultimate goal is to create so called smart homes. With Nest it is possible to control the temperature in your home via your smartphone. Nest eventually detects patterns in your temperature configuration and programs itself. (Nest.com, 2015)

Slide1 c

How will the future looks? The answer to that question is simple: domotics will be adopted by the households that benefits from them. Currently the problem lies in the messy and disjointed Internet of things. Most of the systems running consumer electronics are different from each other. To integrate all these different systems in one central system takes time. What you will see is that companies like Google will integrate their own operating systems in household electronics.(Cnet.com, 2014) Think of a refrigerator and television running on Android and a Nest thermostat. Apple will do the same with apps like Homekit, and probably other big companies will follow.

So when are you, as a consumer, going to benefit from home automation? When is every electronic device in your household connected? When will you stop wasting energy? You can do it now, with all the different solutions available or you have to wait for fully integrated systems. The domotics available right now are expensive (Cnet.com, 2015) but the big companies are joining in the fierce fight for the control over your home. You just have to be patient.

References:

Statt, N. (2014) How Google and Nest could get the smart home all wrong, retrieved at: http://www.cnet.com/news/how-google-and-nest-could-get-the-smart-home-all-wrong/

Whitney, L. (2014) Google closes 3.2 billion purchase of Nest. Retrieved at: http://www.cnet.com/news/google-closes-3-2-billion-purchase-of-nest/

Kaye, L (2013) Home automation systems forefront energy savings, retrieved at: http://www.triplepundit.com/2013/03/home-automation-systems-forefront-energy-savings/

Nest Labs, retrieved at: https://store.nest.com/nl/product/thermostat/

Reijerman, D (2015) De opkomst van domotica – intelligentie sluipt de woning in, Retrieved at: http://tweakers.net/reviews/3876/1/de-opkomst-van-domotica-intelligentie-sluipt-de-woning-in-inleiding.html

Gartner’s Hype Cycle: a quick review

For internal students from (I)BA, Gartner’s Hype Cycle should sound and look familiar, as we discussed it during the BIM class in our 3rd year. For those of you who may have forgotten or that have transferred from other universities or hbo, the hype cycle describes the life cycle of technologies, and contains 5 phases. The life cycle starts off when a technology trigger takes place; a technological breakthrough can cause increased interest and publicity. After the trigger, technological developments quickly move up the graph towards the peak of inflated expectations. In this phase, as the name suggests, expectations peak often beyond an inflated point, only to plummet into the trough of disillusionment, the next phase. In this phase the interest for the technology fails to satisfy the set expectations. If the technology survives this trough, it will slowly climb the slope of enlightenment, where the usefulness and benefits of the technology are discovered and proved. Finally, hopefully, it will reach the last phase; the plateau of productivity, which is characterized by more widespread adoption. [1]

Each year Gartner releases a new hype cycle, on which they locate the current placement of technologies along the graph, as well as an estimate on how long, if at all, it will take that technology to reach the plateau of productivity. Below you will find the hype cycles from the past 3 years:

Gartner’s Hype Cycle 2013 [2]

Gartner’s Hype Cycle 2014 [3]

Gartner’s Hype Cycle 2015 [4]

The hype cycle aims to help managers understand if and when to invest in a certain technology. This is important because not every technology makes it past the trough of disillusionment. Some technologies require early adoptions in order to pay out massive profits, while others require a more careful approach and moderation, and some are better left alone until others have proved the profitability of the technology. [1]

Sources:

[1] Gartner Hype Cycle, retrieved from http://www.gartner.com/technology/research/methodologies/hype-cycle.jsp accessed on October 11, 2015
[2] Gartner Hype Cycle 2013, retrieved from http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2575515 accessed on October 11, 2015
[3] Gartner Hype Cycle 2014, retrieved from http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2819918 accessed on October 11, 2015
[4] Gartner Hype Cycle 2015, retrieved from http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3114217 accessed on October 11, 2015

Hacking a bank: ‘Low risks, high returns’

Banks use information systems to keep record of all the transactions that happen. This system is created by humans. Does this mean it is possible to hack it? And I am not talking about the ‘simple’ hacking. Like phishing, where the perpetrator sends out legitimate-looking email in an attempt to gather personal and financial information from recipients. I am talking about the real deal: getting into the system of a bank.

This year, hackers stole 650 million pounds of 100 financial institutions. The hackers infected the internal systems of several banks with malware, which enabled the hackers to see video feeds from supposed secure offices. After they discovered the banks cash handling routines, they transferred millions of pounds into dummy accounts, which were created by electronically pretending to be a bank employee (Telegraph, 2015). This hack is known as the biggest bank raid in history.

A few years earlier, in 2013, hackers broke into the system of two banks and increased the credit card limits of customer. They made copies of the physical credit cards, which they used to get money out of ATMs. In a few hours 45.000 withdrawals from ATMs were made by accomplices. The total estimated damage is 34,3 million euro. Some of the accomplices were caught, but the hackers are still as free as a bird (NU.nl, 2013).

I bet there are hackers active right now in internal systems of the banks. These hackers are not found yet, or will never be found. The hackers who stole 650 million pounds made the mistake to let a cash machine spit out money at random times. If this mistake was not made, the chance that they were discovered would be very small. After the cash machines spitted out money, the bank informed Kaspersky Lab, a Russian cybersecurity firm. They found out about the hack and made the following statement: ‘The plot marks the beginning of a new stage in the evolution of cybercriminal activity, where malicious users steal money directly from banks, and avoid targeting end users’ (Telegraph, 2015).

Being a cybercriminal is a very lucrative business. The chance of being caught is low and the returns are high. None of the hackers got caught, only some of the helpers. So is it possible to hack a bank? Yes, and as long as they do not detect you, it never happened.

Reference

Telegraph (2015) ‘Hackers steal 650 million in worlds biggest bank raid’ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/11414191/Hackers-steal-650-million-in-worlds-biggest-bank-raid.html, 9 October 2015

NU.nl (2013) ‘Hackers stelen in uren 34,3 miljoen euro bij banken’ http://www.nu.nl/internet/3418844/hackers-stelen-in-uren-343-miljoen-euro-bij-banken.html, 9 October 2015

Make your Android faster

“My phone has to be incredible fast.”

“Waiting for an application to be loaded is annoying.”

Did you ever think something like that? Well, continue reading. Below will be explained how you can make your Android phone faster.

If you are a geek, you may already have looked around in the developer options. If not, look it up now. It can be found under phone settings. However, for some phones, it is a little bit hided. In that case, follow the following steps: Settings > About phone > (Software information >) Build number. Once the build number is shown, tap on it for seven times. When done, you’ve unlocked the developer options.

In the developer options, look for the Drawing section. There are three entries which are about the speed of animations: window animation scale, transition animation scale and animator duration scale. The lower the number you set, the faster your screen will update. Try different settings and you will be amazed by the difference!

Have you turned all three off? Congratulations, you made your android faster.

Arjan de Winter

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How to start a [tech] start-up?

I’m an information geek.

And I’m going to share with you some useful sources. This time on how to [successfully] start your start-up.


How to start a start-up lectures
 Everything you need to know in order to start a start-up

Best lectures from Harvard. Read by Ben Horowetz (Facebook founder), Peter Thiel (PayPal founder) and folks like that.
Well. Thanks, I’m done. This is all you need to know, to launch a start-up.


Ultimate growth hackbook
 More than 70 innovative growth hacks

I was reading this guide, and after every second post I was like: “How did they come up with that?” or “Does that really work?”. Everything from “5.15 Show a dancing cat” to “6.2 Establish partnerships”.
And even if you don’t have a start-up, it is just fun to read! 


Blog that truly is your sidekick 
 The hacks and knowledge every start-upper dreams of

Cool reads. As well a lot of creativity is coded in. Just a minute ago read an article about how to get an email just from the social networks. As well this is more oriented towards the growth hacking and marketing in general.


300+ Free tools for your start 

 Well… More than flippin 300 free services from all around the web

“Freemium” model is awesome [and “free” model as well]. When I stumbled upon it the first time, it was even hard to comprehend that there are so many services, which basically can survive by giving free services, and then…


Annie Cushing’s Must-Have Tools 

 Definitely more than 300+ free tools and services

… and then I was astonished by this. The collection is so massive, that I didn’t even feel like going into it. For short representation: Just the titles of the spreadsheets include: SEO Analysis; Domain; Links; Keyword; Competitive analysis; Tracking; Social; Spam/Hacking; Structured Markup and 5 more.


Some additional sources that are worth checking:
As already mentioned in my previous post: Mattermark is the go-to place for start-up news. As well as Evergreen which gives a nice insight into more elaborate problems. Read as well Crunchbase to learn more about the evaluations and seeding rounds of the start-ups.

Explore!