Archive | October 14, 2015

F*cked by the Cloud

On the 12th of October, Dell Inc. announced that it acquired network storage giant EMC Corp. for approximately $67 billion, making it the largest tech merger of all time (and the second-largest overall). That same morning, before the merger was actually made official, I came across an interesting article on this topic called: “Dell. EMC. HP. Cisco. These tech giants are the walking dead” (the first episode of the 6th season of AMC’s television show The Walking Dead premiered the same day).

In this article, it is argued that the aforementioned tech giants are, in fact, dead. And here’s why. For decades, these large companies ruled the market of enterprise computing. When one needed to store lots of data, EMC was your main option. It offered the machines and complementing software to the company, in return for a considerable amount of money. However, as EMC was the only distributor of the software, when the amount of storage needed to be expanded, more money was paid to EMC. The same goes for the other companies. In need the need of servers? Dell, HP and IBM were the ones to go to. Networking gear? Bought form Cisco. The provider of database software? Supplied by Oracle.

In the current environment, however, this is all changing. New players have arisen in the market. Players like Amazon, Google and Facebook, who have changed the existing establishment. The biggest change: the Cloud. These internet businesses became so large, that eventually they realized they could not sustain with hardware and software of the established vendors. The sheer quantity made it too expensive and
they were unable to scale on the assets. Therefore, they simply designed their own hardware and software. This made it less expensive and faster. But most importantly, they did not keep the technology to themselves. They have published it to the world, as open source designs, while at the same time offering their own infrastructure to third parties.
This has caused new vendors to emerge, selling the hardware and software solutions the internet giants came up with. Additionally, more and more companies store their data in the cloud – on the infrastructure of the same tech giants.

Then, why don’t the Dells and IBMs of this world do the same and offer cloud storage? They have in fact, but they can’t stretch it too far. Otherwise, they will cannibalize their existing business. Due to this innovator’s dilemma, these companies are – as the author of the previously mentioned article states – “fucked by the cloud”. By using Amazon’s cloud to store data and run software, you simply don’t need the hardware and software from Dell and HP anymore.

So, what should be the right strategy for these companies in trouble? Dell and EMC have chosen to merge, but analysts do not expect this merger to radically reshape the technology market. It might strengthen their position against direct competitors like HP and IBM, but due to the increasing pressure of cloud-storage, it just seems like a bigger fish in an ever shrinking pond.

Bas van Baar (358545sb)


http://uk.businessinsider.com/this-is-why-dell-is-paying-67-billion-for-emc-and-how-it-could-backfire-2015-10?r=US&IR=T

http://fortune.com/2015/10/12/dell-and-emc-merger-official/

http://www.computerworld.com/article/2991765/it-industry/what-the-dell-emc-merger-really-means.html

http://www.wired.com/2015/10/meet-walking-dead-hp-cisco-dell-emc-ibm-oracle/

Information Technology: Business Models Revisited!

The information revolution is sweeping through our economy” is what Michael Porter and Victor Millar stated in their article How Information Gives You Competitive Advantage in 1985. “Dramatic reductions in the cost of obtaining, processing, and transmitting information are changing the way we do business”. They were one of the first not asking if information technology would have a significant impact on the competitive position, but when and how this impact would strike. Then in 2007, Henry Chesbrough stated that Information Technology was not just a source of competitive advantage anymore, but that innovation must include business models, rather than just technology and R&D – predicting the Internet bubble, that was characterized but the first part of the sentence, to collapse. Whereas first, information technology was applied to support the traditional channels to increase effectively and efficiency, now, information technology becomes the driver of business strategies.

In the publishing industry for example, traditional printed media is suffering significant decreases in demand and revenues due to a rapidly changing (technological) environment. In 2018, the turnover in this entire market is forecasted at 2.8 billion euros, as compared to 3.6 billion euros in 2013. In other words, a 20% decrease in total revenues within five years, whereas advertising budgets for Internet are expected to almost double up in the period from 2009 to 2018 (PwC, 2015). Recognized publishing companies lose market share even though innovative information technology is introduces. New business models arise as a result of radical innovation.

Blendle – founded in 2012 by the Dutch Alexander Klöpping en Marten Blankensteijn – is an online news platform that aggregates articles of a wide variety of magazines and newspapers in order to be redistributed on a pay-per-article basis. In October 2014, the business is valued at thirteen million euros at the moment when Alex Springer, the largest German publishing company, and The New York Times, the large American media company, together invested three million euro’s in exchange for 23% of shares in the digital news kiosk to expand to respectively Germany and the United States. The business model of Blendle is based on a pay-per-article basis; 30% of the article price, ranging from €0.10 to €0.89 dependent on the media and length of the article, is for Blendle. The publisher gets the remaining 70%, but their bargaining power is decreasing.

From my point of view, the reason that the traditional publishing companies were struggling with the so-called “payment wall”, is that they were biased and wanted to build on their current business model, viewing Information Technology as a tool, or channel, to support their current business strategies, rather than base strategies upon a solid foundation of analysis. Once you start thinking from the solution rather than from the problem, you are biased and will forget to take into account important aspects for success. But then again, big recognized firms have some solid financial back up, being able to buy that success from “the smart people”.

Henry Chesbrough, (2007),”Business model innovation: it’s not just about technology anymore”, Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 35 Iss 6 pp. 12 – 17

Maarten van Tartwijk for Wall Street Journal. (2014) New York Times, Axel Springer Invest in Dutch Startup Blendle. [Online] 27th October. Available from: http://www.wsj.com/articles/new-york-times-axel-springer-invest-in-dutch-startup-blendle-1414408997 [Accessed: 14th October 2015].

Porter, Michael E., and Victor A. Millar. “How Information Gives You Competitive Advantage.” Harvard Business Review 63, no. 4 (July–August 1985): 149–160.

PwC. (2015) Advertentiebudgetten definitief van tv naar internet. [Online] September. Available from: http://www.pwc.nl/nl/perscentrum/persbericht-archief.html [Accessed: 14th October 2015].

New way to catch a cheater?!

Marriages and long lasting relationships seem to be harder to achieve and even rare nowadays. When we take a look at the cheating statistics we see that they are at an unbelievable level and are still increasing every year.

The facts are, that about 17% of the divorces are caused by infidelity and that 70% of married men admitted cheating on their wives. The maturity of these women are not aware of their husband’s affair. Off course not only men but also women cheat on their partner. Almost 50% of women admitted to having an affair in the past. This is an problem that could be prevented or reduced using relationship counseling but there is another way!

Most of the time it all start with the use of a mobile phone. A lot of people have a mobile phone and bring it everywhere they go. With the current technology it’s possible to track and locate phones with GPS and also see the activities on the mobile phone with the use of several Spy applications.

Of course relationships are built on trust, respect and loyalty but if you’ve any suspicions and uncertainty that ruin your mind and your relationship, the following application can be considered.

mSpy

mSpy is an software application that could be installed on any Android and Apple iOS device. It is a mobile monitoring software that gives you access to all functions and options within the mobile phone on which the application is installed. The software is primarily market at parents and business owners which enable them to monitor smartphone, tablet and computer usage of their children and employees. Already more than 1 million people make use of this application.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/LkiLQWMgBgI“>http://

After the application is installed you get access to an unbelievable number of features. mSpy charges a monthly subscription fee that is 40$ a month for the basic features such as the logs voice, GPS, email, and SMS data and provides access to the device’s gallery, calendar and address book. If you want extra features, the subscription fee will increase to an amount of 70$ to 200$ a month.

Features

Monitor calls

With this feature you will be able to monitor exactly to which number the owner of the mobile phone makes a call and how long the conversations are.

call

Bugging feature

This feature enables you to command the monitored mobile phone to start recording surrounding sounds. It is also possible to schedule the recordings on a specific time without being physically logged on the system.

bugging

Besides these two features, the application provides other features such as reporting, video logging and battery state of the monitored mobile phone.

Infringement of personal privacy

Getting caught stalking with this application on your partner can end the relationship as being a total creep. Also consider the fact that monitoring and tracking applications are strictly illegal in many countries.

With this in mind, would you ever consider an applications such as mSpy?

Did you already used it?

Reference

http://www.mspy.com

Digital Transformation Project – Rurtalbahn Cargo – Group 21

Rurtalbahn Cargo is a company in the rail freight industry transporting various sorts of cargo from the ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam to Eastern Europe (figure 1). Rurtalbahn Cargo differentiates itself in the market by focusing on personalized contact with customers and their reliability. Currently, there is an excess of demand in the market and the market is static as no disruptive innovations have been implemented over the last decades (Zimmermann, 2015).

Figure 1. Transport routes of Rurtalbahn Cargo

IS A2 blog

In order to enable Rurtalbahn Cargo to make use of the current excess demand and to enable them to optimally use its own generated information and that of supply chain partners, two solutions are recommended: Supply Chain Integration (SCI) and Intelligent Transportation System (ITS). The former is a solution where (optimally) all players in the supply chain of the transportation of goods share their information. This can enable them to better respond to each other and consequently make better use of their resources. ITS is a solution where whether conditions, railway signs, railway traffic (all movement on the rails), train performance and many other information variables are combined. This can result in costs reductions and a better allocation of resources. The proposed solution fits well with the current business model and IT structure of Rurtalbahn Cargo. The solution focuses solely on improving their current business model and enriches their value proposition.

Since both extensions involve relatively high costs, it is recommended to implement the extensions subsequently starting with implementing the SCI system and it supporting extensions, and secondly ITS. This order is specifically important because ITS is not possible on the short-term as all systems of competitors would need to be centralized for this. This is, for the most part, not under the direct influence of Rurtalbahn Cargo and it will require a diplomatic approach. The development of the base system and the extensions SCI and ITS will be done iteratively since this will reduce uncertainty (McConnell, 2006) and input from planners and SC partners can be used, anticipating changes that the system may have to undergo in the future (Ghiassi-Farrokhfal & Kahlen, 2015). The overall development is expected to take 1.5 year assuming that the current structure and occupancy of the IT development division remains stable.

Implementing the recommended solution will enable Rurtalbahn Cargo to optimize its value proposition and optimally utilize the excess of demand relatively to the supply within the train freight industry. Furthermore, the base system centralizing the data can potentially be the future source of more extensions and business enhancements.

References

  • Ghiassi-Farrokhfal, Y. & Kahlen, M., 2015. Introduction to design. Designing Business Applications. [online] https://bb- 29app01.ict.eur.nl/webapps/blackboard/execute/content/file?cmd=view&content_id=_49087_1&course_id= _489_1 [Accessed 9 October 2015]
  • McConnell, S. (2006) , Software Estimation: Demystifying the black art (developer best practices), first edition, MicrosoftPress
  • Zimmermannf, B. (2015, 9, 21). MSc Managing Director. (G21, Interviewer)

On-demand services platforms: Bubbles or real value?

A few minutes ago, I read an article about Uber replacing one-to-one yellow taxis in Manhattan. It seems no week goes by without a new big headline regarding some Uber development. I am very interested in the shift Uber created in the world, it’s revolutionary platform, and all its global battles.

A new term has emerged due to Uber’s success and worldwide attention: ‘uberfication’, “the process of booking a service with only using a few button presses on a smartphone. These on-demand services are profligerating, leading to shake-ups in existing industries and introducing these services to people who may not have considered them before.” (ZDNet). The shared economy is revised and many companies from all parts of the world are trying to get a little part of the ‘pie’, leading to a flood of on-demand service platform available to consumers. Need help to clean your house? There is Helping to help you out. You need a car on demand? Smove is your thing. Do you think it’s time for you to have personal butler? Here you go: a few touches on your phone and he is on his way through the service platform GoButler.

Our course (and probably many other business courses) dive into the power of service platforms such as Uber, its business model and future projections. However, it seems that no one can get a hold of the future of on-demand service platforms like Uber. We should not forget these services are only a form of very modern intermediaries, earning some percentage of each transaction, but not owning any assets or housing skilled personnel at the supply side.

I present to you 3 valuations for Uber, from 2013 until now:

Business Insider – August 13th 2013 – The Vision For $3.4 Billion Uber Is Much More Than Just A Car Service, And It Could Vastly Improve Our Lives

Forbes – July 9th 2014: Are Investors ‘Nuts’ To Value Uber At $18 Billion? In A Few Years, That’ll Seem Like A Bargain

Engadget – August 1st 2015: Uber reaches $50 billion value thanks (in part) to Microsoft

An increase of an approximate 46.6 billion US dollars in 2 years. Yes, skyrocketing! Why? How? Is this justified? Questions many economists are trying to answer.

Professor Aswath Damadoran, Kerschner Chaired Professor of Finance at the Stern School of Business at New York University recently was featured in an article on TechCrunch revising his own valuation of Uber and providing an explanation. Based on his findings and elaborations, I would like to share his rationale with you all:

In short, Damadoran realized he took his valuation of Uber in 2014 (just under $6 billion) too narrow. There are a few reasons for this:

  • Going global: the ride sharing market exploded in regions like India and China
  • Not just urban: it seems quite logical that Uber would be limited to dense, urban areas. Yet, Uber seems to have made a big entrance in suburbia and exurbia in the US.
  • New customers: a lot of people who have never participated in the car service market entered due to the success of Uber.
  • Diverse offerings: car service platforms do not simply offer cab service, but have expanded alternatives such as car pooling services and high luxury transportation.
  • More disruption: Uber moved into businesses like logistics and food delivery. Disrupting!

His new valuation $23.4 billion…. Not bad for an intermediary!

Surprising since Uber is still making a loss on each journey. Although the company itself requires minimal capital requirements, Uber’s business model experiences high costs to sign up drivers, free agents without contracts.

My question to you, how do you valuate a company that has no assets (surprise me!)? Do you believe Uber, the first-mover, will survive? Do you believe we will live in a shared, on-demand service based, economy with services operated by freelancers two touches away?

Looking forward to read your thoughts!

Sources:

http://www.zdnet.com/article/uberification-in-singapore/
http://www.theweek.co.uk/business/57184/uberfication-everything-sharing-economy-here-stay
http://techcrunch.com/2015/06/28/why-your-next-package-will-be-delivered-by-an-uber/
http://ubereats.com/eats/la/
http://techcrunch.com/2015/10/10/valuing-uber/

Hospitality Horrorganizations

I have been working in the hospitality industry for almost six years now and I can tell you: Fiesta! I am enjoying my work and I am working in a great team, but sometimes it is comparable to a horror. Do not forget, you always have to smile, because ‘the guest is king’. Since complaining-free-Monday (yes, last Monday it was the so-called ‘klaagvrije maandag’) is behind us, I will share some juicy – and complaining – stories about my life as a waitress at a restaurant with you, before I am going to the serious – mandatory – part of this blog.

First of all, I am bombed with rhetorical questions as: “Can we eat something here”? What do I think when I get that question? Well: “Of course not! We are selling bikes sir”. Or: “Do you have a toilet?” My thoughts: “No we are all peeing outside in the bushes!” As a waitress, I have to answer all those questions politely. Working in the hospitality is a profession.

However, I am not finished yet. Things as: may I have a white Chardonnay? (Chardonnay exist only in a white wine), I would like to have a Baco-Cola (It is Bacardi-Cola or, the abbreviation, Baco), and – my favorite – a Bailays on the rocks without ice please (on the rocks is WITH ice), such things could be funny sometimes, but are mostly quite annoying; like really annoying. For some comments as: “Wauuuuuw that looks tasty!” I got my standard reply as: “Thank you, and what do you think of the food?”

Another situation that commonly occurs is when you are welcoming a guest and asks: “Good evening, do you have a reservation?”, which is followed by a look as if I am talking Chinese. Those guests are typical people who think that making a reservation is needless, especially on the Saturday evening.

People who never know if they want something to drink illustrate another example. Guest Dracula orders another drink, while I am asking whether someone else wants something to drink, and – you can guess – no reaction. A bit later I am serving the ordered drink and Guest Dracula 2.0 decides to order a drink, no problem! I am asking again: “Does someone else want something to drink?” And – again – no reaction. Well, you can guess one more time… Guest Dracula 3.0 decides to order a mineral water when I come back with the ordered drink, for the third time.

However, I will finish this complaining-Wednesday and continue with the serious – mandatory – part. Many hospitality organizations are facing some schedule problems on a weekly basis since they are working with many part-time employees. Examples of schedule problems are (1) arranging replacement and (2) reaching all employees at once for some important information.

We have no control over the behavior of the guests, but we can partly control the schedule problems by increasing the efficiency and effectiveness. Last year, a helpful and easy-to-use application regarding schedule problems is introduced: Flex-Appeal. Flex-Appeal includes the feature Flexchange, a simple planning tool that is able to work alongside each planning system. Mostly planning systems can only schedule employees. However, after the scheduling, the real hassle will show up: (1) employees who – after closer inspection – cannot work, (2) sickness cases or (3) regarding the reservations it will be extra busy and you need an extra employee. Flexchange captures this. Some features are:

  • Replacement Calls: place an extra shift to the right group of employees quickly. The system will show an indication of the salary to potential replacement employees, what motivates them to take the shift.
  • Swap Shifts of Employees: by using the Flexchange, employees can find a replacement for a certain shift quickly. They manually insert the shift in which they cannot work. In that case, the application will send a message to all colleagues who may take over the shift.
  • Summary of Changes: the employer has an overview of all the changes that take place in one week and is able to approve or reject these changes (Flex-Appeal, 2015).

A benefit of this award winning system (ING, 2014) is that it can be applied to many devices, like smartphones and tablets instead of only the PC. Currently, my working hours are scheduled and denoted by making use of a pen and paper. When I cannot work, it is a time consuming task to find a replacement. In my opinion, Flex-Appeal is a great application and makes the tasks more efficient – it is practically in use – and more effective since you got what you want quite quickly. Of course it is not only applicable at hospitality horrorganisations but also, i.e., supermarkets and call centers. What do you guys think of this application?

Schermafbeelding 2015-10-14 om 10.10.23

“An application that connects colleagues

357398br


References:

http://www.flex-appeal.nl

http://www.flex-appeal.nl/over-ons

http://www.flex-appeal.nl/nieuws

https://www.ing.nl/nieuws/nieuws_en_persberichten/2014/10/flex_appeal_en_talentsbook_winnaars_ing_jumpstart.html

Let’s get our head up in the clouds

It wouldn’t be much of an exaggeration to say that everyone uses the internet nowadays. With this development, this also means that companies have to change their business models. An important development in this is the need of consumers for more mobility. This has results in cloud services. But how much has it really impacted the business world so far?

First of all, what are cloud services? Cloud services allow us to store files online on a server, which can then be accessed on multiple devices anywhere. There is no need for a physical infrastructure anymore such as file or e-mail servers. This sounds great, as this provides entrepreneurs with the ability to collaborate with their partners and employees in a hassle-free way anywhere and anytime.

It appears that nowadays it is more rewarding to invest in IT systems based on cloud services, instead of investing in legacy IT systems which are connected to hardware. The downside of the cloud services are the fears that come along with it. People will always have a status quo attitude when it comes to change and this is no exception. What if all my files get deleted? What if a hacker modifies my files? What if it all disappears from the internet? Such fears cannot be avoided. The cloud has proved its worth though with the staggering amount of organizations now using it worldwide.

It has been said that over half of the companies in the  United States now use cloud computing. Many are using different types of IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) clouds. Well-known public clouds from Google, Microsoft and Amazon are not able to satisfy all the needs of IT organizations because of the huge growth. The impact of this growth has resulted in smaller business forgoing traditional offices and now opting for smaller physical spaces. The reason being that everything can be done through a cloud.

We are entering a new era with the impact of cloud computing and IT infrastructures are changing. With innovative ideas it can grow beyond our imaginations.

Sources:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/reuvencohen/2013/04/16/the-cloud-hits-the-mainstream-more-than-half-of-u-s-businesses-now-use-cloud-computing/

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2361500,00.asp

http://www.circleid.com/posts/20140619_big_impact_how_cloud_computing_is_changing_face_of_small_business/

HomEat: the Airbnb in dining industry

Maybe you have heard about EatWith, the technology platform that brings the travelers to discover the delicious part of the destination at the chef’s house. EatWith was founded in 2010 by Guy Michlin and Shemer Schwarz and since then, it connects tens of thousands people together over one meal. Inspired by EatWith, Fan Zhang (Lamy), the former Managing Director of DigitasLBi, left the advertising industry he had worked for almost 10 years to start the dining sharing platform HomEat early this year. HomEat is the sharing service platform for chefs and diners and it connects chefs who are enthusiastic cooking and diners. HomEat invites anyone who would like to share his/her dishes to be the chef and to provide unique dining experience at his/her place. Chefs could publish the meal and list the menu on the platform; diners, on the other hand, could search for chefs and meals to reserve the ones they would like to join. Besides chefs’ places, HomEat also launched a common kitchen where meals could be held, so diners would not be concerned about eating at strangers’ places.

When asked how he came up with the idea, Lamy said traditional restaurant industry is facing bottleneck due to high costs, while eating is a frequent and diverse rigid demand. In China, there is no other platform helping people to find great food than Dianping and with increasing popularity of P2P, platforms like Airbnb and Uber meet users’ needs quite well. Known as the Airbnb in dining industry, HomEat aims at higher level of sharing platform – common interest in food and extraordinary dining experience.

HomEat not only brings chefs and diners together on the platform, but establishes online payment, standardizes the process of reservation, payment, occurrence and feedback, optimizes the experience of chefs and diners, and build the mutual rating system for both chefs and diners. Lamy said there would be an internal meal testing before any chef start offering the first meal to diners. HomEat would give chefs advice on menu and pricing based on the testing and also help chefs understand their characteristics and unique selling point in order to better promote and advertise themselves on the platform.

HomEat connects online and offline and this is how Lamy sees restaurants in the future. The revenue of HomEat comes not only from traditional commission but the common kitchen. In addition, when the platform obtains large amount of users, the value of advertising and e-commerce could also be explored. HomEat started A round of funding besides the angel investment of more than one million dollars. Lamy also plans to achieve 200 private/common kitchens and 500 chefs in October 2015 and introduce more functions, e.g. cooking lessons and chefs competitions, to the platform.

According to Lamy, there are many foodies in China and many of them have restaurant/café dreams. HomEat offers the platform to lower the entry of owning restaurant and helps them fulfill their dreams.

References:

http://www.moneyweekly.com.cn/MoneyWeekly/Article_14934.html

http://chuansong.me/n/1790562

http://www.eatwith.com/brand/about/

Future of Health Care?

There is a change going on in how we treat health issues. For a long period of time, you would have to go to a physician. This is time consuming and costs a lot of money. This is changing by eHealth. This is a very broad term, it comes down to “the usage of new online and communication technology to improve health and healthcare.” In most cases this comes down to chatsessions with trained physicians and healthcare apps.

There are numerous examples already as this industry is now entering the growth stage in product life cycle stage. There is for example an app called Robbin which helps women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. This is a devastating experience for most women. This app allows women to find fellow sufferers to help each other with sharing experience and supporting each other in these bad times. Also it provides exercises and insights from positive psychology and cognitive behavioral therapy. These exercises and insights have been proven to reduce stress and depression.

There are a lot of advantages. The cost of health can drop significantly as the physician is no longer needed or can help more patients at the same time. Also it will be easier for people to find help if they need it as they can decide the time and location of the treatment. This medium also provides its users anonymity.

There are some disadvantages. The credibility of the security is sometimes at issue, everyone can make an app. As well the privacy and confidentiality of the users will be at stake.

What about you? Will you trust an app for your treatment or will you only trust your physician?

 

Sources:

https://www.metrobbin.nl/

http://nos.nl/artikel/2061892-vaker-therapie-via-de-mobiele-telefoon.html

Andrews, G., and Titov, N. (2010). Treating people you never see: internet-based treatment of the internalising mental disorders. Aust. Health Review 34, 144–147.

http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1471-244X-14-109.pdf

Group 41 Digital Transformation Project: Xperthis e-health platform

In a few years, we can observe how IT is integrated into hospitals’ value chains and how the trend of e-health is evolving. The World Health Organization defines e-health as “the transfer of health resources and care by electronic means”.  E-health can be defined in three axes: transfer of health information for health professionals and consumers, improve public health through the use of IT and enforce health systems management by using e-commerce and business practices.

Some private companies specialized into the development of IT health care solutions. One of them is among the leaders in Belgian healthcare market, Xperthis. Xperthis is active on Belgian market and right now, its IT products cover totally or partially 75% of the Belgian hospitals. The company is using partnership and acquisition strategy in order to become the leader of Belgian health care sector. Xperthis currently offers solutions within a hospital among three main axes:

  • Electronic patient record (Xperthis EPR): a software optimizing the communication within hospital to enable for an immediate transmission of patient data among hospital staffs.
  • Hospital administration (Oazis): a software providing solutions at the admission of the patient in the hospital and for charging costs.
  • Management (ERP for HealthCare): a software optimizing the logistic and financial management of the hospitals.

Although Belgium is one of the most developed countries in terms of e-health, an important weakness remains: the e-health applications are not standardized and they are not connected among all healthcare stakeholders. This means that each hospital has its own IT system, leading to a lack of efficiency of the whole healthcare system. Having identified this, we decided to analyze the solutions developed by Xperthis and come up with a disruptive patient-mediated platform that will harmonize and coordinate all stakeholders in the healthcare sector.

Besides hospitals and their staff, stakeholders such as pharmacists, patients, general practitioners, laboratories, private cabinets and so on, will be included. These stakeholders could be divided into 4 groups: the demand side (patients), the supply side (healthcare stakeholders), the platform provider (Ministry of Health, the mutualities, Belgian Hospital Association and other associations or institutions representing different medical stakeholders) and the platform sponsor (Xperthis).

The main objective of this project is to give patients the possibility to have all the information in a well structured way and an access to their profiles from any mobile device. The platform will be centered on the patient’s profile, and each stakeholder will also have its own profile. The connection is established when the patient gives the authorization with his/her ID-card, and this is the only legal way of giving access to medical information. In order to protect privacy, access rules will enable each doctor of the patient to have access only to the relevant information and not more.

In fact, the utilization of the platform will lead to a decrease of the number of admissions in the hospitals (notably due to the tele-medicine), a decrease bed days in the hospitals and to an increase of the efficiency of the whole healthcare sector in general.

IT in political campaigns

When we think about the elections, the first image that appears in our mind are probably stadiums and concert halls full of people yelling during hours the slogan of their favorite candidate and debates viewed by millions of people during the American presidential campaign. But the last two decades a new campaign instrument appeared: IT. In most of the countries, IT is a new campaign instrument and has to be managed by the campaign teams as a useful tool to improve the popularity of a candidate or avoid the destruction of the reputation of a candidate.

From country to country, the campaigns benefit form IT for different objectives. In general, they use it for a better advertisement strategy and interactions between the potential voters and the candidates. In the USA, it is also used to target small sponsors.

Among all them, four findings can be deduced:

  1. Increase in use of social media
  2. Increase in budget for digital campaigns
  3. Digital campaign is more effective for individual politicians than for political parties
  4. Big Data to better target the different groups of voters

In the recent years, more and more politicians or political parties are active on social media. One of the principal reasons is that communication experts and spin doctors have made of the internet their new play garden. With the appearance of new social media tools, they wanted to follow the flow. Also, a large part of the target audience (In Belgium, more than 60% of the +18 years) has an account on one or more social media. Facebook and Twitter have special teams to attract and support political campaigns their social media platform.

During the US presidential campaign of 2008, Romney and Obama spent around 10% of their campaign budget in digital campaigns. In opposition to the expenses in TV-spot (+/- 70% of campaign budget), this sounds light. Many political scientists suppose that the 2016-campaign will be more digital. It is difficult to estimate in advance. A first example is Donald Trump. His expenses in social media and digital campaign are huge and it even has a great responsibility in this current popularity. For a European example, we can consider the 2014-campaign of the NV-A, a Flemish nationalist right wing party, used intensively social media and more precisely Youtube to promote their five core ideas. This was translated in a spectacular win.

Political campaigns are like marketing campaigns. To win an election, you have to create a product that sells. In most of them, this product is a politician. By comparing campaigns who focus on political parties and individuals, there is a significant correlation between the digital campaigns focusing on individual and the results. So, it is better to create a digital campaign around one person. People need to recognize a face linked to an idea, not ideas linked to faces.

In the UK, the conservatives used extensively Big Data in 2015 national campaign to target the different groups. This appearance is relatively new. Lobbies and think tanks help political parties in analyzing those data and to re-translate this in the campaign strategies. The data is mostly provided by the voters during polls on the internet.

In a few words, it can be concluded that the importance of digital campaigns is going upward. Internet has become a place where a large number of voters are presented. However, we do not attain the limits for the moment and the impact of using IT in political campaigns will evolve the following decades.

References:

Doubek, J., (2015). Political Campaigns goes Social, but Email is still the king.  http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/07/28/426022093/as-political-campaigns-go-digital-and-social-email-is-still-king, consulted on the 7/10/2015

Douglas, J. (2012). Political Campaigns and Digital Marketing Trends. http://www.bluespiremarketing.com/blog/november-2012/political-campaigns-and-digital-marketing-trends, 7/10/2015

Gilmore, J., & Howard, P., (2013). Does Social Media has an Impact on Political Campaigns: Digital Dividends in Brazil’s 2010 election. http://ccce.com.washington.edu/projects/assets/working_papers/Does%20Social%20Media%20Make%20a%20Difference%20in%20Political%20Campaigns.pdf, consulted on the 7/10/2015

Howard, P., (2005). Deep Democracy, Thin Citizenship: The Impact of Digital Media in Political Campaign Strategy. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 597, 153-170

Lapowsky, I., (2015). Political Ad Spending Online Is About To Explode. http://www.wired.com/2015/08/digital-politcal-ads-2016/, consulted on the 7/10/2015

Passport to trade 2.0., (2014). Social Media Guide for Belgium. http://businessculture.org/western-europe/business-culture-in-belgium/social-media-guide-for-belgium/, consulted on the 7/10/2015

Quipp, J., (2015). What Political Campaigns Need To Learn From Digital Marketers. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/jeff-quipp/election-campaigns_b_7648490.html, consulted on the 7/10/2015

Collecting Data in the Sports World

Collecting data has become a known phenomenon these days. A lot of companies are using to its benefit. However, the people whose data gets collected are not always aware of this fact and it can be questioned whether this is fair or not. Besides gaining personal data in the shopping industry, it now also has taken its place in the sports world.

The National Football League has recently teamed up with Zebra Technologies. A new system is being developed, called the MotionWorks RFID chips, which purpose it is to be implemented in the football players shoulder pads. These chips collect data regarding running speed, distance, direction of travel and players’ statistics (Passary, 2015). This data will also be available to fans.

nfl-rfid-chips

After reading the article that mentioned this issue, several questions crossed my mind. First of all, it is questionable if the chip provides data that might be beneficial to the sport itself or its players. If not, this brings me to my next thought: if it does not have beneficial outcomes for the players itself or the sport in general, should the football players not have a say in deciding whether they would give their permission to collect their personal data via a chip. I think this should be the case as wearing a chip could also have a negative impact on the performances of the players due to i.e. pressure.

Another interesting question that can be raised from this is whether the gathered data can help simplify making money on sport bets. Statistical advantages could improve one’s estimation. However, I think this will be hard for people who do not have a sufficient understanding of the human body. Football is a dynamic sport and therefore a lot of factors play a role.

And my final question, would you, as a fan be willing to pay for data about your favorite player? Let me know what you think.

Source:

Passary, A. (2015) NFL Players Will Sport RFID Chips In Their Shoulder Pads: How It Will Make Football Better, Available at http://www.techtimes.com/articles/75130/20150810/nfl-players-will-sport-rfid-chips-in-their-shoulder-pads-how-it-will-make-football-better.htm [Accessed on 14/10/2015].

Possible effects of offshoring on Bim students

There is an ongoing trend of offshoring IT capacity (Tjia, 2015). Every year more companies start with putting their software development in developing countries, known for their relative low wages. Even though the cost reduction could be a major reason to decide for offshoring, in the Netherlands it seems like that is not the biggest concern. According to research by Brunel Nederland (2015) 41% of big IT players within The Netherlands expect a shortage of software developers. This is likely to have an even bigger impact on offshoring trends than the potential cost reduction, as many IT companies will no longer have a choice, independent of costs.

So what does this have to do with Bim students? For the purpose of this blog post, all students in the field of business IT (e.g. Business Information management, Business IT & Management, Business ICT etc) are grouped together as ‘Bim students’. So called Bim-ers often get jobs as business analysts or consultants, where they often operate between both business and IT. This means that it is very likely that, in their future careers, they will play a vital role in the communication to and from IT departments. Obviously this means they will be impacted by offshoring one way or the other.

Schermafbeelding 2015-10-14 om 19.02.14 1

The effects of offshoring on future careers of Bim students is argued by De Coul (2015). He mentions several jobs that are impacted by offshoring, most which seem likely careers for Bim students. Most of all it seems that offshoring could increase the demand for Bim students. Mainly because the distance, both literally and figuratively, between user and/or management with their developers is increasing. This increases the complexity of communication, especially when a language-barrier is added to the mix, and could therefor increase the demand for communication-specialists (Bim students!).

 

References

Brunel Nederland, (2015). Te kort aan software ontwikkelaars. [online] Available at: http://www.brunel.nl/voor-opdrachtgevers/it/business-cases/applicaties-te-kort-aan-ontwikkelaars.216736.lynkx [Accessed 14 Jun. 2015].

De Coul, J. (2015). Outsourcing en offshoring. [online] ngi-library. Available at: http://www.ngi-library.nl/Player/eKnowledge/outsourcing_en_offshoring.pdf [Accessed 14 Oct. 2015].

Tjia, P. (2015). Sterke groei offshoring ict. [online] Computable.nl. Available at: http://www.computable.nl/artikel/achtergrond/bankverzekeringswezen/1412935/1277528/sterke-groei-offshoring-ict.html [Accessed 14 Oct. 2015].

WhatsApp vs. Messenger… But both belong to Facebook?!

blog 1

Who doesn’t know WhatsApp? It’s our daily form of communication in the Netherlands, even becoming a verb here and it has 800 million users worldwide. Now what about Messenger? It is certainly also well-known with 600 million active users worldwide, but it is an application that seems to be forcing itself on us. This seemed to be the reaction when Facebook decided to stop integrating the mobile application of Facebook and its Messenger services within the application back in August 2014. The funny thing? Facebook owns WhatsApp. What’s going on?!

Let’s dive into the details of the two different messaging services. While WhatsApp is linked to your phone number in able to contact others, Messenger requires you to have a Facebook account to contact others. You can contact other Facebook users or contact people through phone numbers. Both use the internet to transfer messages. Now both sound awfully similar but it’s the small differences that count.

The real question is, why does Facebook have two messaging applications under its wing. Facebook  bought  WhatsApp for $19 billion earlier this year and this made Facebook own 79% of the IM market. According to Zuckerberg, the Messenger application is meant to be much more than just a messaging service and will soon become Messenger Platform. While WhatsApp did not change much after it was bought, Messenger underwent changes with added functionalities such as video- and voice calls and peer-to-peer payments.

The reason for these changes? WhatsApp isn’t meant to be a platform service, it is trying to focus on its voice services and Web product. Facebook Messenger will handle all the platform ambitions, which it seems to be doing well. The next step is for Messenger to become a real platform that will also be accessible to non-developers. Users will be able to create and share content within the application and enrichen conversations. Facebook and WhatsApp both agree that it is possible for the two of them to coexist, with Facebook stating that WhatsApp is growing in developing countries and Messenger is focused on developed countries. The truth can only be revealed in time.

Messenger appears to be taking over a lot of functionality in our lives. According to Zuckerberg, this is only the beginning. They say they are only 1% finished, so let’s see what the other 99% holds for us in the future.

Sources:

http://neurogadget.com/2015/08/30/whatsapp-or-facebook-messenger-which-one-do-you-use/13852

http://www.knowyourmobile.com/mobile-phones/whatsapp/21430/whatsapp-vs-facebook-messenger-two-im-apps-one-company

http://recode.net/2014/11/06/zuckerberg-heres-why-facebook-forced-you-to-download-messenger/

http://readwrite.com/2015/03/26/facebook-whatsapp-messenger-texting-platform

Summary: The Digital Transformation of a Driving School – Group 22

For this Digital Transformation Project we looked at HERS, a driving school in Rotterdam. We looked at their current IT application and proposed a disruptive IT-enabled service, namely an E-learning platform for theory courses that HERS offers. In the available theory we found that, due the fact of many people struggling with time management these days, the demand of E-learning grows. Work, private life and education should be combined in the most efficient way. E-learning is becoming more popular due its flexibility. But many won’t give up their experiences in a face-to-face classroom environment, due the personalized approach. Blended learning, a combination of both E-learning aspects and classroom aspects, is therefore a clear response to the market demand.

Current IT application at HERS is just the use of their website in particular. At this moment, HERS is giving theory courses once per month, for (striving) 20 participants in class. Break-even point is at 8 participants.

The theory exams are taken by CBR. Recently, CBR has changed their way of taking exams. Now, people are making their theory exams at a computer, and are sitting behind the computer screen. Everyone gets different questions. HERS has to take this into consideration by offering their theory courses. The exercise questions and methods has to be as close as in the possible exam of CBR, for optimal experience and best results.

We suggested an introduction of the E-learning method to HERS for their theory course. Therefore the offline information (from a dull ‘theory-book’) has to be translated into online information (as in the style of the current exams). This will also offer the possibility for participants to train, and take the course at home.

We did our own research at HERS, by handing out surveys to the current participants at HERS. We founded out that participants don’t want to give up their classroom-experience due the personal approach and direct feedback and/or help.

What we recommended: the first two sessions are two times 3 hours of virtual lessons, given through the online portal. The last session, also 3 hours, will be a classical session where participants can ask face-to-face questions to the instructor.

The opportunities for HERS are an increase in the number of potential customers, being a step ahead of their competitors by introducing the online application (unfortunately not the first mover, since there are already successful competitors with this concept). Also, less labor is required, and revenues will come by itself (no more incremental costs).

– Group 22

Vera Crijns – 374956
Pervin Demirtekin – 370681
Özlem Karakuş – 357166
Harm-Jan Rijneveld – 370370
Oscar Chong – 384993

Recurrent neural networks and why you should care

 

“21 Of The Most Life–Changing Food Magazine Moments Of 2013”

“Why Are The Kids On The Golf Team Changing The World?”

“John McCain Warns Supreme Court To Stand Up For Birth Control Reform”

 

Take a look at the above headlines. At first glance, they might seem completely typical, not unlike the stories on the front pages of more clickbait-y sites like BuzzFeed or Gawker.

In fact, those aren’t real headlines: a computer algorithm has generated them. The model was trained using 2 million real headlines from websites like the ones mentioned above. After three days, it was able to output grammatically correct, vaguely real sounding headlines like these. The model achieved this through the use of so-called recurrent neural networks (RNN).

Artificial neural networks have been used in machine learning for a while. They are a simple representation of the functioning of a human brain: a network of nodes (neurons), with connections between them (synapses). Each of the neurons takes its input and transforms it to an output, while each synapse is assigned weights. This neural network is then ‘trained’ to transform the initial input to your desired output, by adjusting the weights of the synapses.

If that makes little sense, consider the above diagram: The first layer of neurons simply looks for lines, corners, or colors in the input image. The next layer interprets those to look for shapes or components, like ears or a nose. This continues through the layers, until the top neurons are able to identify the image as a cat with 90% certainty. For a more detailed explanation, feel free to visit Google’s research blog.

A recurrent neural network improves on the basic concept by also feeding its state at a past timestep into the current timestep. Essentially, this makes the model very suited for operations on sequential data, like text sentences. This is exactly what happened in the experiment above. The theoretic foundations for RNNs were laid a long time ago, but recent advances in computing hardware have made it possible to actually put them to use.

Now while computers generating headlines for blogs is cool, it doesn’t add much value. Luckily, RNNs can be applied to more useful problems as well. For example, Google relies on RNNs for natural speech recognition to power their voice assistant, Google Now. The same goes for the feature in Google Photos that allows you to search for ‘sunset’ and returns only those pictures you took with a sunset in them, and nothing else. They can be used to automatically classify movie reviews by general sentiment (very negative, neutral, positive, etc.). They can be used to predict stock prices of the S&P500. And so on.

In short, recurrent neural networks are what happens behind the scenes of many IT applications that make you go ‘Wow’.

Security as a unique selling point

While Apple and Samsung are competing fiercely at the higher end of the smartphone market, a new niche market is emerging in the industry. Instead of ever improving the specifications of their flagship smartphones, these new devices do not even come close to their hardware level. Yet, they are offered in the same price range. If it are not the specs, then what else is it that adds so much value to these phones?

Truth is, it is the security they offer. A few days ago, Archos – a French manufacturer that has not produced anything of note in recent times – introduced the GranitePhone. This smartphone was developed in a partnership with SIKUR, a Brazilian vendor of encrypted company-focused communications apps (Androidpolice, 2015). The phone is the latest to enter the emerging global market of ultra-secure smartphones, in which manufacturers  are anticipating growing concerns regarding the protection of data. That the software is coming from a Brazilian company might not come as a surprise. In 2013, the president of the country, Dilma Rousseff, cancelled a state visit to the United States, after Edward Snowden released documents which indicated her email and phone calls were monitored by the U.S (Bloomberg, 2015). The Granitephone is not the first of this type. Precedents include the Blackphone, produced by Silent Circle, and the Boeing Black smartphone. Interestingly, none come from established smartphone manufacturers and offer these companies an entry position in the entire smartphone market.

In this market, which surpassed 1 billion yearly smartphone sales in 2014 (Gartner, 2015), the advantages are well known. The devices have become an extension of daily life and are often trusted with our most intimate data. In addition, they generate enormous amounts of new data about the users. This is also where concerns are being raised, as the data appears to be less private and secure than is often realized by the user. (Jeon, et al., 2011) identify eight threats apparent to smartphones, of which four are caused by external attackers and the other four by the unawareness of the user:

  1. Malware. Malware can alter or expose private information and abuse costly services and functions.
  2. Wireless network attacks. An attacker can corrupt, modify, or block information on the wireless network.
  3. Denial of service. The risk of availability due to attacks on base stations and networks, or using radio interference.
  4. Break-in. An attacker gaining partial or full control of the device.
  5. Malfunction. The user can mistakenly disable their device.
  6. Phishing. Exposing private information due to phishing activities.
  7. Loss. The user can lose his/her smartphone.
  8. Platform alteration. Intentional alteration of the smartphone (e.g. jailbreaking).

The GranitePhone offers a solution focusing on the first four threats. It encrypts all outgoing messages and calls by storing them on SIKUR’s cloud based platform, which is only accessible through various layers of authentication (Tech Times, 2015). The Boeing Black smartphone even tackles one of the user-related threats, as it self-destructs in case of loss or theft. As the example of the Brazilian president above indicates, it are not only consumers which should be concerned about their mobile privacy. For corporations, politicians and defense the benefits of a secure phone might be even greater, as they possess more sensitive information.

So, are there no limitations of the Granitephone? Sure there are. As mentioned before, the hardware specifications of the phone are nothing special. The functionality is also limited. Currently, there is no internet browser available. In addition, it seems unlikely that productive applications like Gmail will be available on the device. It is even unclear if third party software can be installed at all. Then there is the price. It currently costs $849, around the price one can buy the newest iPhone for. In addition, there is debate about the actual security of the platform and the transparency around it.

Hence, it is unlikely that the phone will appeal to the mass consumer market. However, for certain corporate and political positions it might be the solution to safeguarding their most valuable information. Maybe more importantly, it adds to the existing debate on the security and privacy of mobile data, which governments and other companies seem take into account less and less.

  • Bas van Baar (358545sb)

Androidpolice, 2015. Archos Enters The Niche ‘Secure Phone’ Market With The $850 GranitePhone. [Online]
Available at: http://www.androidpolice.com/2015/10/10/archos-enters-the-niche-secure-phone-market-with-the-850-granitephone/
[Accessed 10 October 2015].

Bloomberg, 2015. Brazilians Are Developing an Untappable Phone. [Online]
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-24/brazil-s-untappable-phone-seen-buoyed-after-rousseff-spy-scandal

Gartner, 2015. Gartner Says Smartphone Sales Surpassed One Billion Units in 2014. [Online]
Available at: http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2996817

Jeon, W., Kim, J., Lee, Y. & Won, D., 2011. A Practical Analysis of Smartphone Security. Human Interface and the Management of Information, pp. 311-320.

Tech Times, 2015. Techtimes. [Online]
Available at: http://www.techtimes.com/articles/94336/20151012/archos-announces-security-enterprise-focused-granitephone.htm
[Accessed 12 October 2015].

The Blackphone

In the past few years smartphones have been broadly adopted and are being used as a key entry point to the Internet by many consumers (Smith, 2015). Concerns about privacy have also increased, as more and more personal data is being put out on the Internet and available for multiple parties. One company that is devoted to address mobile privacy concerns is Silent Circle, which is the manufacturer of the Blackphone.

This Blackphone is promoted as one focused on privacy, which is achieved through a custom Android-based operating system called Silent OS, and applies various methods such as encrypted communication, peer-to-peer negotiation and VPN support to guarantee the privacy of its users. It is mostly targeted towards enterprises, and not necessarily to individual consumers. BlackBerry is another smartphone manufacturer that is often renowned for its security of the platform. Tech sites such as Gizmodo have already made bold claims about the Blackphone 2 being the most secure smartphone out (Lynch, 2015). The two companies have been exchanging blows about the security and credibility of each other’s platform (Smith, 2014).

While the Blackphone was intended to be the most secure device, at the DefCon hacking conference hackers were able to find two exploits that gave them access to critical system processes (Rahul, 2014). Blackberry phones used to be the standard for enterprise, the current standard has already shifted. Currently we see an increase of iOS and Android market share, even in the corporate environment. As the public has taken an interest in security, each manufacturer is working to make the platform as secure as possible.

What does the future of companies like Silent Circle look like if even phones made specifically to guarantee its users’ privacy can be cracked? An overview of criteria and their priority for managers should aid in determining the future of such phone manufacturers. It will be interesting to see whether companies will select phones that specifically focus on security.

References

Lynch, G. (2015). Blackphone 2 Is Probably the World’s Most Secure Smartphone. Gizmodo. Retrieved 14 October 2015, from http://gizmodo.com/blackphone-2-is-probably-the-worlds-most-secure-smartph-1688857610

Rahul, R. (2014). ‘Most Secure’ Android Phone Hacked at DefCon Hacking Conference. International Business Times UK. Retrieved 14 October 2015, from http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/most-secure-android-phone-hacked-defcon-hacking-conference-1460821

Sage, S. (2014). Blackphone fires back: ‘BlackBerry betrayed its customers and jettisoned its credibility’. CrackBerry.com. Retrieved 14 October 2015, from http://crackberry.com/blackphone-fires-back-blackberry-our-approach-more-flexible

Smith, A. (2015). U.S. Smartphone Use in 2015. Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech. Retrieved 14 October 2015, from http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/01/us-smartphone-use-in-2015/

“Pay What You Want” Pricing Strategy not just for bands like Radiohead

In the fifth session on October 5th about information goods , Dr. Ting Li briefly discussed the release of Radiohead’s seventh studio album In Rainbows in October 2007 as an example of a “pay what you want” pricing strategy. The record was released as a digital download only available via the band’s website, without any music labels or distribution partners to cut into the band’s profit (Tyrangiel, 2007). In a short class discussion we concluded that one of the reasons that this release was a commercial success for the band was because of the fact that Radiohead has an enormous audience that are more than willing to pay for a new album of their favourite band. Further, we came to the conclusion that this pricing strategy probably will not work when adopted by newer, smaller bands, because they don’t have an audience like Radiohead does.

However, in 2007, an online music store and music platform called Bandcamp was launched. On this website, artists are provided with a customizable webpage where they can upload and share their new music. The site allows artists to offer free music downloads with the option to donate to the artist, which basically is the main principle of a pay what you want pricing strategy. Since December 2014, even music labels can launch their own Bandcamp pages.

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 14.21.37

Over the past few years that Bandcamp has been active, it grew more and more to a platform to discover new, interesting artists. Using a fan account, you can also share your taste of music available on Bandcamp Discover. Users can subscribe and download the Bandcamp app, which gives instant, unlimited streaming access to all your purchases on the website.

This platform is used by thousands of different artists from all over the world and fans have paid artists a total of $125 million using Bandcamp, including $3.6 million is the last 30 days.

Sources:

Bandcamp.com (2015)

Tyrangiel, J. (2007) “Radiohead says: Pay whay you want”, Time Magazine

http://thesilverfaces.bandcamp.com/

Matthew van Cooten – 359947

First Phonebloks, now BLOCKS!

It has been a while since we saw the first glimpses of a modular smartphone idea called Phonebloks. The video below made by Dave Hakkens got quite a bit of attention and was shared a lot. As he pointed out that a lot of electronics get thrown away although most of its parts are still fine. With a modular smartphone you would be able to easily replace a broken part or upgrade an old part. As of this moment this video has been watched 21.462.844 times already.

After all the media attention they partnered with Motorola because they were already working on a modular smartphone for over a year at that time. In October 2014 Motorola got acquired by Lenovo, but the modular phone project stayed at Google and goes under the name of Project Ara. When the official release for the final product will be is unclear.

The reason for mentioning Phonebloks and Project Ara is that with the same idea behind a modular product Blocks wearables just started a Kickstarter campaign which reached their target of $250.000 within the hour and are currently above $500.000,-. What do they sell? A modular smartwatch, which can be customized for everyone’s needs.

Their main selling point is that not everyone is the same and we all use different things in our phones and soon watches. Not everyone who buys a smartwatch will use it in the same way. With the different blocks in the band or strap you can choose what options you would like to have in your watch. As an open platform everyone will be able to participate and build modules for the watch. Some of the options are: GPS, NFC, Extra Battery, Heart rate module, fingerprint reader, temperature sensor or a Simcard slot. By letting people select the modules they want there will be no unneccessary waste.

Check it out! What do you think? Are modular devices the future?

Sources:

https://phonebloks.com/

http://www.chooseblocks.com/

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2106691934/blocks-the-worlds-first-modular-smartwatch

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDAw7vW7H0c

 

In-store analytics: tracking real-world customers just like online shoppers

A big advantage for online retailers compared to brick-and-mortar retailers is that they see exactly what their costumers do on their site. For example, the online retailers can see which products costumers have considered before they bought something. Brick-and-mortar retailers are now looking for more sophisticated ways to understand customer buying behaviour and want to take advantage of tempting insights from technology and data analytics (Techrader, 2015).

One of the ways to do this is by tracking customers with Wi-Fi hotspots and surveillance video cameras. The combining data gathered by those two technics creates detailed information of customer behaviour going into, and moving around the store. This data will be brought together with sales systems and transactions data to “build a picture of how well a store front serves to bring customers in, where shoppers go within the store, whether the layout makes browsing easy, if checkout queues are losing customers and other insights into customer shopping habits and needs” (Techradar, 2015). People do not need to connect to the Wi-Fi hotspot of a location to obtain the location data. When you leave your Wi-Fi connection active, your phone will effectively leave a digital footprint, his MAC-address. By adding the content from the cameras, the information becomes more granular and detailed (like making gender and age profiles). But also reactions and emotions of shoppers can be tracked. This is off course very useful information for a store to decide were to place specific products or how customers experience the sales force.

What do you think, will this be a big thing in about 3 years? And is this even possible with the current privacy laws? Is there a possibility that shops will lose customers by implementing this technology in their stores? Maybe people will accept this because they are used to being tracked on the internet and they do not care anymore.

Reference:

http://www.techradar.com/news/world-of-tech/future-tech/in-store-analytics-tracking-real-world-customers-just-like-online-shoppers-1286293

Elementary Watson!

Cognitive computing. This is the key word to define IBM Watson, an innovative computing system created with the intent to provide a revolutionary way to interact with computers and analyze information.

Synthetically, what Watson does is to build knowledge and learn out of the information provided by the user. He was programmed to understand, reason and interact more naturally with human beings than traditional systems. He also has the ability to put content in the right context, he can identify patterns and insights inside a text and has the ability to solve more complex problems than traditional systems. This happens also thanks to its ability to unlock the complexity of big data and exploit the power of natural language processing.

The most skeptical ones could argue that this looks more like science fiction than actual reality. But let’s have a more detailed look to what Watson can do.

Currently, this innovative platform for cognitive computing is structured in six divisions. Each one is specialized on a specific field and offers slightly different services.

Watson Engagement Advisor

This division focuses on understanding context and dialog. Its main field of application consist in the automation of customer interaction through the use of easily understandable natural language. Substantially, Watson Engagement Advisor provides a thoughtful and reasoned answer for the questions addressed by a customer and he learns from each interaction.

Watson Explorer

If you want to optimize your work and take better decisions, Watson Explorer is the right tool for you. What this system does is combining data from different sources throughout the company and present in a single view all material relevant for the user. It delivers data, analitics and cognitive insights relevant to the user’s role, context and current activities.

Watson Discovery Advisor

Watson Discovery Advisor accelerate the process of discovering information, enhancing the innovation level of the employees’ activities. It looks to different data sources, merging public and internal knowledge to strengthen the information available to the company. This integration process allows Watson to further learn from the knowledge acquired and processed.

Watson for Oncology

Due to the large amount of data and its complexity, clinicians struggle to keep up with all those different research, medical records, and clinical trials. In this case Watson helps oncologists in scaling and processing existing knowledge by providing them treatment options based on previous experience of other physicians. Specifically, he analyzes the patient’s medical record and identifies potential treatments based on previous evidence available from different sources.

Watson for Clinical Treatments

This system allows clinicians to find more easily a list of potential clinical trials for which a patient could be eligible. What Watson does in this case is to find potential clinical trial options, it helps increase the clinical trial fulfilment and allows the medics to see what kind of data was used to create the recommendations.

Watson Knowledge Studio

This final tool is most useful for Watson itself: developers and experts can teach the system and make it learn new knowledge. This instrument improve Watson ability to understand meanings, linguistic nuances and relationships in specific knowledge domains, professions and industries.

After this more detailed description, we can define Watson as a truly destructive technology, able to create a revolution in many industries. We can expect in the near future to see this system operating in multiple fields and replacing many jobs that require a low level of creativity and inventive.

CX, does it only need CEM?

Customer experience, or CX, is becoming more important than before. In fact, research shows that when given low-effort service experience, 94% of the customers are unwilling to buy from the same company again (1). But why has CX become this important?

Nowadays it has become easier for the customer to gain information about the market; this phenomenon is known as the age of the customer. This phenomenon is only going to grow, meaning that in a couple of years, the customer will be in charge of the demanded experience. The reason they expect an experience, is because it will no longer be about advertising. Due to the growth of information, customers stop trusting advertisement, because they now know better. Focus can no longer be on a brand’s message, but should be about interactions with the customer. In today’s market, and even more so in the future, customers can relatively easy find a substitute for whatever product they wish to attain. Switching costs have thereby been lowered dramatically. The focus should therefore not be on an ad or the basic product, but the experience of the customer.

Research has shown that customers that experience positive social customer care are almost 3 times more likely to recommend a brand (2), whereas 95% of customers that are not satisfied create negative Word-of-Mouth (3). And Word-of-Mouth advertisement as we all know has quite the impact.

It is clear that the new practice of Customer-Experience Management (CEM) is needed. But there are experts that say looking beyond CRM (4) is necessary subsequently suggesting CRM is of lesser importance.

However, with the shifting expectations of customers, and the current age, leveraging big data has become more important. Only through big data can an enterprise assure that customer intelligence is fully accessible within their walls. This is where Customer Relationship Management comes in. For decades there have been ways to keep track of customer data, from the Rolodex to the current CRM tools. Unlike CEM, which does not focus on technology, CRM focusses on technologies necessary to get up-to-date insights needed for customer care. The adoption of CRM is the only way personalized customer support will become possible to a greater extent, improving CX and making customer retention easier.

Although the new practice of CEM is growing, CRM will still be a necessity to retain a positive CE.

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References:

  1. http://www.thewisemarketer.com/briefs/archive.asp?action=read&bid=4489
  2. https://hbr.org/2012/12/turn-customer-care-into-social/
  3. https://d16cvnquvjw7pr.cloudfront.net/resources/whitepapers/Zendesk_WP_Customer_Service_and_Business_Results.pdf
  4. http://www.crmsearch.com/customer-experience-management.php
  5. http://www.dmnews.com/direct-line-blog/the-age-of-the-customer-intensifies/article/342291/
  6. http://www.brainsonfire.com/app/uploads/2014/11/BOF-WOM-infographic-04_770.jpg

Is the age of the customer truly bad for business?

The age of the customer is here, customers are more empowered than ever because they know more and expect more. They can get information from anywhere at any time. Primarily the internet has given an abundant amount of information about any and all products and services to the world. On top of that, in the last decade there has been an increase in the amount of devices with which the internet can be accessed and it is still growing rapidly.

While in the past when you’d for instance want to buy a car, you had to go to several showrooms in order to ascertain a fair price to pay. And even then, the question remained whether or not you were paying too much. Nowadays, to decide upon a fair price, there are comparison websites and smartphone applications that can be used. But not only that, but even the amount of money the salesperson would earn on it could be discovered.

Because of this change in the information stream towards the customer it looks like the balance of power has shifted in favor of the customer. But is this actually true?

Not only customers have gained more access to information, but the same has happened for companies, although this is an aspect that rarely gets attention, or at the very least is not pressed enough. With this information, power has come to both sides. For the customers this is apparent in the way described above. But companies can also make use of this new age. Nowadays customer data is more accessible than ever, and with this data comes opportunities. Companies can use this data to target the market of these new market researchers through their information stream. There are plenty of ways to send out information to enhance sales. For companies it has also become easier to see the current prices used by competitors, and can therefore take more advantage of dynamic pricing.

One may therefore wonder whether the age of the customer is really only good for the customer. Although it is undeniable that it is most beneficial for the customer, when companies play their cards right, they can use this to conquer their industry.

What is your view on the Age of the Customer? Is balance certain to shift entirely in the customers favor?

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References:

http://www.thedigitalembassy.co/Blog/The-Age-of-the-Customer-What-does-that-mean-for-today’s-businesses

http://forrester.typepad.com/groundswell/2011/06/welcome-to-the-age-of-the-customer-invest-accordingly.html

Third Industrial Revolution in Rotterdam-The Hague

In South-West of The Netherlands we can find the main political and economical centre of the country. In The Hague we find the heart of the political landscape of the Netherlands. The Hague is the seat of the Dutch government and parliament, the Supreme Court, and the Council of State. Just 30 minutes away we arrive in the second biggest city of the Netherlands, Rotterdam. Famous for hotspots as the Erasmusbrug but moreover worldwide-known for the biggest harbour of Europe, the Port of Rotterdam. In addition it facilitates Rotterdam-The Hague airport. In between these cities we find the progressive Technical University of Delft. This metropole Rotterdam-The Hague(MRDH) with great diversity is now hiring an American economic and social theorist; Jeremy Rifkin.

Roadmap Next Economy
Jeremy Rifkin has written 20 books about the impact of scientific and technological changes on the economy, the workforce, society and the environment. He is a worldwide know economist and an important advisor to the European Union and Chinese government. Now he will advice the metropole Rotterdam-The Hague with an economic program that will develop the whole region. The ‘Roadmap Next Economy’ will be finished in the summer of 2016. It will be a massive program containing investments and programs for scarcity of raw materials, climate change, digitalizing, robotizing, the rise of 3D printing and unarmed vehicles (van Heel, 2015).
Jeremy Rifkin expects that in 2030 the Port of Rotterdam will be a ‘selfthinking, authorized, transfer-machine driven by mostly superinternet and robots. Manual employees will be needed just in case of disturbances.’ In addition he said that the most important transferred product will be powder for 3D printing (Dirks, 2015).

Rifkin ideas: The Third Industrial Revolution
Rifkins ideas for metropole Rotterdam-The Hague are based on his beliefs written down in his book ‘The Third Industrial Revolution’. Here Rifkin describes how the five pillars of the Third Industrial Revolution will create thousands of businesses and millions of jobs. Furthermore it claims to impact the ay we conduct business, govern society, education, and engage in civic life. (Rifkin, 2015)

The five pillars of the Third Industrial Revolution are;

  1. Transition from fossil to renewable energies
  2. Transformation of all buildings into mini generating plants
  3. Development and build-up of energy storage technologies and capacities (e.g. hydrogen)
  4. Capitalizing the internet technology for the development of a smart and bi-directional (peer-to-peer) energy-sharing-grid
  5. Transformation of the transportation system to electric plug-in and fuel cell vehicles
    (Silke, 2015)

Skepticism in the region

Although the ideas may sound progressive, innovating and inspiring, negative voices are heard. Metropole Rotterdam-The Hague (MRDH) pays €775.000 for the advice of Jeremy Rifkins advising group ‘Third Industrial Revolution Consulting Group (TIR CG)’. According to local political parties this is way too much money. Some even call Rifkin a ‘weird activist’ or an ‘overrated capitalist.’ However major of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb, sees Rifkin as an inspirable, influent figurehead. His ideas will create new job opportunities and raise the metropole as a whole. Still national and local governances should be very critical to the report of Rifkin. Great presentation of plans should be evaluated to realistic standards. The plans should be feasible and implementable. Time will show us the actual application of the forwardthinking ideas of Rifkin in the metropole. It might become a success.

360681vn

 

References:

Dirks B. (2015), De Volkskrant, http://www.volkskrant.nl/binnenland/-toekomstgoeroe-rotterdam-niet-goed-snik~a4157685/ [Accessed 12th October]

Heel van L. (2015), Het Algemeen Dagblad, http://www.ad.nl/ad/nl/1040/Den-Haag/article/detail/4155209/2015/10/03/Rotterdam-en-Den-Haag-huren-goeroe-in-voor-775-000-euro.dhtml [Accessed 13th October]

Rifkin J. (2015), http://www.thethirdindustrialrevolution.com [Accessed 12th October]

Silke (2015), http://www.mindnaturesociety.com/dont-read-jeremy-rifkin-the-third-industrial-revolution [Accessed 12th October]