Archive | October 17, 2015

The new way of making money for poor students.

So what if you are shopping, whether it is online or offline, and you see all these products you want to buy. Because you have had some influences from good reviews on the products or many friends have recommended it to you. Then you decide to buy it and check the price. Unfortunately a problem is arising. You are out of your money or you do not have enough money to buy the product. So what can you still do to satisfy your needs and possess the product that you want? An option would be to borrow money, this is feasible, however you do not always want to pay back the money. How about earning some money by doing a certain activity?

The solution is Rentsy, an online platform where you can rent or lease a product for a day or over a longer period. It is now available to rent or lease an expensive product for a low price just for a day. The products offered have a wide variety, such as, go pro camera, drill, bike and a tent. The website is just recently launched and it promises to be a success. They also considered the risks of leasing a product in their vision. Some major advantages of Rentsy are:

  • Reliable and safe renting/leasing
  • ID or passport checks (in order to avoid frauds)
  • Try before you buy
  • An easy way to earn some money
  • Revamp the life of the expensive product you do not use
  • Donating to the foodbank

This concept is a success, because consumers might need a product just for one time, and are often not willing to pay the full price for the product. A requirement is to create an account, this will build trust as you can verify the buyer/lessor. Information asymmetry will also be diminished as product descriptions are required. So are you a poor student and in need for a temporary product? Will you consider to use Rentsy?

– 436735

Wonder which country is going to become the world’s first cashless nation?

cashless

Cash may no longer be a part of this country. This country might soon stop printing notes. With no notes, no coins, people in this country would have one of the lightest pockets in the world. Soon, attempting a paper money transaction at a bank in this country might provoke a suspicious stare or a report to the police.

Wondering which country it is? If you want a clue: It is a part of Scandinavia and the country is so clean that it once even ran out of trash.  Read More…

Use your own fake number

burner-app-iconBurner, an app made be Ad Hoc Labs, is an app that lets you create disposable phone numbers and hide your real phone number. Burner is a fast growing startup. According to the company, which won´t disclose its user numbers or its current revenue yet, the app has seen revenue growth for the last ten quarters (with even 78% growth in the last two quarters). Burner is also in the top grossing lists of iTunes and the Play Store. (Perez, 2015) The users of Burner, which generates its revenue from subscription fees, are able to obtain as many burner numbers as they want. The numbers can be used to
manage voice, SMS and MMS communications.

Until now it was only possible to call, text (also via WhatsApp)  and check the voice-mail of the number, but now this has all changed. Last week Burner launched connections. Connections allows the integration of Burner with a couple of third-party services like Slack, Evernote and Dropbox. (Perez, 2015). This drastically improves the number of feature. For example, users can now connect the burner number with Dropbox. This makes it possible to automatically store pictures, music and voicemails sent to the burner number. And there is more coming. Right now Burner is working on the app integration with Soundcloud, which will make it possible for users to automatically share voicemails and voiceclips.

The main reason for using a ‘burner’ number is privacy. A person can be identified based on a personal phone number. This is impossible with a burner number. It is therefore a very safe way of communicating. It can also be used to separate activities. Using multiple numbers for multiple purposes can be very convenient for people. For example, a special work related number. Work related messages now won’t pop up between personal messages.

Safe Haven for criminal activities

We all know the movies in which the bad guy uses different prepaid phones to be untraceable. The movies now get real, only we can now achieve the same goal with only one phone. The Burner application is a perfect opportunity for criminals to hide their traces. Burner already stated that it will help law enforcement agencies, but valid search warrants are required before Burner does this. This to protect the privacy of its users. So for now Burner can continue its operations.

References

Perez, S. (2015), Burner gets business-ready with auto-renewing lines, connections to Slack, Dropbox, Evernote & more, http://techcrunch.com/2015/10/08/burner-gets-business-ready-with-auto-renewing-lines-connections-to-slack-dropbox-evernote-more/, 12-10-2015

BurnerApp, 2015, http://www.burnerapp.com/ 14-10-2015

The PC industry bands together

Think about it for a second: When was the last time you bought a new PC? It’ll likely be quite some years. If you’re a student then maybe you haven’t touched a PC in a long time, opting for a Macbook instead. Profits of companies in the PC industry are dropping, and quickly too. IDC estimates that PC shipments in the third quarter of 2015, sales represented a decline of 10.8 percent compared to the same quarter in 2014. Even the launch of Windows 10 has not yet helped the PC industry. For three and a half years now, PC sales have been declining, mainly due to the shift of consumers towards mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Semiconductor manufacturers are suffering from the decline too. A one percent drop in the market is expected for 2015.

It has come so far, that rival PC manufacturers Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Lenovo, companies that have always been competing with each other, are now banding together with Microsoft and Intel to launch a 70 million dollar ad campaign.

The campaign aims to showcase the progress PCs have made in the last 5 years. Long-lasting batteries, powerful hardware, touchscreens, they will all be shown to the consumer. One of the snippets of the campaign uploaded to YouTube, shows a rescue-working boarding a helicopter, flipping her Lenovo Yoga, and as a person on the ground sees the laptop, he screams: “PC does Whaaat?”.

People have gone as far as to call the campaign ‘desperate’ and ‘cringeworthy’, and Ted Florea, head of strategy at PNYC suggested that PC manufacturers are finally submitting to a ‘Mac vs PC’ worldview. Whether the “PC does whaaat?” campaign will be successful remains to be seen. All hopes are now vested on the holidays, when PC manufacturers will have brought their new machines, specifically optimised for Windows 10.

What examples do you know of industries banding together to battle against decline?

Sources

Walton, M. (2015). PC industry takes on Apple with cringe-worthy “PC Does What?” ad campaign. Ars Technica UK. Retrieved 17 October 2015, from http://arstechnica.co.uk/gadgets/2015/10/pc-industry-takes-on-apple-with-cringing-pc-does-what-ad-campaign/

Pathak, S. (2015). ‘Desperate’: What agencies think of PC makers’ new ad campaign – Digiday. Retrieved 17 October 2015, from http://digiday.com/brands/desperate-agencies-think-pc-makers-new-ad-campaign/

Merriman, C. (2015). PC sales dive 7.7 percent in the third quarter despite Windows 10 release. The Inquirer. Retrieved 17 October 2015, from http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/2429830/pc-sales-dive-77-percent-in-the-third-quarter-despite-windows-10-release

IDC (2015). PC Shipments Remain Depressed By Volatile Currencies, Inventory, and OS Transition in the Third Quarter, Although 2016 Should Fare Better, According to IDC.. Retrieved 17 October 2015, from http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS25955515

MLive.com,. (2015). ‘PC does what?’ Rivals combine for $70M ad campaign. Retrieved 17 October 2015, from http://www.mlive.com/news/us-world/index.ssf/2015/10/post_87.html

Are video games becoming more expensive? Or not?

First of all there is an assertion that wants videogames today to be more expensive compared with the past something which is not actually the case. If we take into account a number of factors such as cost development & production, inflation and the DLC Hyperbole, I believe that it is obvious that the opposite is true.

Cost development & production

One factor that has changed significantly over the last 20 years in gaming, has to do with the cost of development and production of a title. This includes of course the money spent on its creation, the percentages attributed to the first-party companies as long as it comes to market in a console and continually rising costs for marketing and promotion. The videogames have evolved to productions of millions, often tens and sometimes hundreds of millions.
Four to five years ago an AAA title should have made at least 2 million sales to break even. Now this number has increased significantly and although there are not official data available supporting this, estimates are around four to five million. Tomb Raider which was realized in 2013, according to analyst Billy Pidgeon of Go’s Play Research, should reach five million in sales in order for Square Enix to break even. When we take into account productions such as Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty these numbers increase dramatically.
The competition between companies is enormous: it takes only one unsuccessful title launch to lead a studio into bankruptcy and dissolution and a few more to put the future of an entire publishing and production industry into question, with a notable historical example of the 1983 video game crash (Oxford, 2015). Given this situation, it is perfectly natural for companies to push every means necessary to create and launch additional, content available with payment (known as DLC), to balance any future failures. For each AAA title out there, there is a giant mechanism in the background into operation long before its launch: the mass marketing of data, video, information and articles towards the consumers about the upcoming game is of major importance in the era of information overdose we receive daily. Note however that the cartridges used in the 80’s and the 90’s, are far more expensive than DVD’s and Blu-ray we use today, while the digital distribution of content, has almost zero marginal costs.

DLC Hyperbole

The DLC content that many of the videogames today use is an example of how video game companies choose to monetize the consumer. Erik Kain in his Forbes article (Kain, 2015) uses a photo of a burger that supposedly describes the whole situation. He tells the truth, but beware: not the whole truth.

Burgers
The concept of additional content remains fortunately or unfortunately extremely popular. Although no one can blame video game companies that they provide us with unfinished products, asking us extra money for the missing pieces (via DLC content). The exceptions are really minimal and prove that such decisions, hurt the companies that decided to implement them, making such companies distrustful in the eyes of their consumers. An example that this tactic should be avoided is Electronic Arts, which made extensive use of DLC content and was voted worst company of the year for 2012 and 2013 (Tassi, 2015).

Inflation

An important factor that video games today seem so expensive is inflation. Inflation is an economic reality. While many video games today cost 60 or more euros, you cannot compare them with the prices of video games in the past. For example the value of a video game in the 1990 may have costed 40€ but that is the equivalent of 70€ in 2015 terms. Colin Moriarty explains this extensively in his 2013 article where he compares prices for games and consoles between 1977 and today (Moriarty, 2015).
nintendoconsoles
Videogames in the year 2015 are not expensive, at least not in relation to the past.
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Athanasios Zias

Student number: 401028

References

Kain, E. (2015). Forbes Welcome. [online] Forbes.com. Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2015/04/24/video-games-should-be-more-expensive/ [Accessed 17 Oct. 2015].

Moriarty, C. (2015). The Real Cost of Gaming: Inflation, Time, and Purchasing Power – IGN. [online] IGN. Available at: http://www.ign.com/articles/2013/10/15/the-real-cost-of-gaming-inflation-time-and-purchasing-power [Accessed 17 Oct. 2015].

Oxford, N. (2015). Ten Facts about the Great Video Game Crash of ’83 – IGN. [online] IGN. Available at: http://www.ign.com/articles/2011/09/21/ten-facts-about-the-great-video-game-crash-of-83 [Accessed 17 Oct. 2015].

Tassi, P. (2015). Forbes Welcome. [online] Forbes.com. Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2013/04/09/ea-voted-worst-company-in-america-again/ [Accessed 17 Oct. 2015].

The Economist, (2014). Why video games are so expensive to develop. [online] Available at: http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2014/09/economist-explains-15 [Accessed 17 Oct. 2015].

Warner, J. (2013). Revealed!! Why Video Games are So Expensive. [online] The Checkout presented by Ben\\\’s Bargains. Available at: http://bensbargains.com/thecheckout/bens-bytes/revealed-why-video-games-are-so-expensive/ [Accessed 17 Oct. 2015].

Digital Transformation Project – Kookpunt (Team 22)

The company selected for this study is Kookpunt, a brick and mortar kitchen supplies store founded by Ton van der Kolk sr. and Sjaan Neels in 1959, based at Noordplein, Rotterdam. Over the past 50 years the store has grown from a small 12m2 shop into the largest kitchen equipment supplier in the Benelux, with over 4000 m2 store space and has the most extensive kitchen items assortment. Our research is not focused on the physical store of Kookpunt, but rather on the online Kookpunt webshop launched in January 2012. The e-commerce channel of Kookpunt is actually an independent company working closely alongside the physical store. Although they are separate companies, both firms aim towards having the same business strategy and vision.

To obtain qualitative data we have conducted an interview with the co-owner of the webstore, Wouter van den Westen. In this interview we obtained information about the business model and strategy of Kookpunt. Based on this information we have made several recommendations.We have focused on the utilization of M-Commerce and CRM.

We recommend to adopt M-commerce. This technology is needed to anticipate on the growing trend of internet usages on mobile devices. The Webshop and the physical store aim towards the same vision and strategy. This same vision and strategy should also be used within the m-commerce. M-commerce fits with the current strategy. The biggest change for customers is that it expands the possibilities for accessing the webshop and therefore allowing customers to buy products at any time, wherever they are. Using m-commerce within Kookpunt refers mostly to a mobile storefront, adjusted for smartphones and tablets. Compared to PCs, the screen is smaller, the input methods and the way people use their mobile device are fundamentally different (Kourouthanassis & Giaglis, 2007). For the design of the mobile website these differences should be kept in mind.

Customers should be guided in their online purchases. Recommendations based on customer information can be provided. Currently there is nothing done with real-time information about customers. A way for Kookpunt to utilize customer data is through CRM. With this customer oriented feature Kookpunt can make personalized recommendations. This form of passive search tools is based on past product views or purchases and can increase sales. It allows customers to discover and purchase products that otherwise would not be considered, leading customers further down the long tail (Brynjolfsson et al., 2006). CRM can also contribute to a higher customer satisfaction, as it enables Kookpunt to customize their recommendations to better suit the customer’s individual tastes.

In the physical store of Kookpunt trading out behaviour is stimulated by informing customers and advising a product that best suits the ideal product the customer is looking for. The better the product fits with the ideal product the customers has in mind, the higher the willingness to pay (Clemons, 2008). Within the webshop this same effect might be achieved by personalized recommendations. The personalized recommendations can increase the fit with the ideal product, stimulating trading out behaviour because of the higher willingness to pay.

Currently sold products are not scanned. At the register the prices of the products are entered manually. There is no digital indication which product is being sold. Without tracking which exact products are being sold, it is impossible to make accurate predictions. Therefore is the inventory not accurate. Fortunately a scanning system is being introduced upcoming March. This system makes item management possible. This is a necessary first step in digitizing the company.

The implementation of CRM for the webshop is technically feasible. There is a lot of customer information available and as mentioned above, multiple ways to apply the technology within the current strategy. Suitable CRM software needs to be acquired.  Multiple vendors offer specially designed CRM packages for SME’s. Many cloud-based alternatives are being offered. Important for making CRM a success within the company is staff with the necessary database skills to make use of the full CRM functionality (Alshawi et al., 2010).

References

Alshawi, S., Missi, F., & Irani, Z. (2011). Organisational, technical and data quality factors in CRM adoption—SMEs perspective. Industrial Marketing Management, 40(3), 376-383.

Brynjolfsson, E., Hu, Y. J., & Smith, M. D. (2006). From niches to riches: Anatomy of the long tail. Sloan Management Review, 47(4), 67-71.

Clemons, E. K. (2008). How information changes consumer behavior and how consumer behavior determines corporate strategy. Journal of Management Information Systems, 25(2), 13-40.

Kourouthanassis, P. E., Giaglis, G. M., & Vrechopoulos, A. P. (2007). Enhancing user experience through pervasive information systems: The case of pervasive retailing. International Journal of Information Management, 27(5), 319-335.

Is Facebook the next e-commerce giant?

 As early as Spring of 2013, from a concerted effort between some of the world’s largest telecom companies, stemmed Internet.org, an initiative to give free access to basic online functions to users in a number of developing nations. At the core of Internet.org: the one and only Facebook (Facebook, 2015).facebook-lite-app

With this move towards the two thirds of the world, which is not connected to the internet, Facebook has made great strands towards becoming a truly globalized platform (Nath, 2015).  Albeit the fact that adoption is slow due to the lack of financial resources for hardware, one can only imagine that this early expansion could translate into first mover advantages and a strong presence in the connecting part of the world. In another attempt to harness the emerging digital world, Facebook is optimizing its app for 2G connections, which are prevalent for this target audience (Jonnalagadda, 2015).

Although there are many ways to look at this expansion, this blog’s aims at extrapolating what the ramifications could be in connection to Facebook’s recent push towards the e-commerce industry.

As these develoThumb2-1pments and initiatives were taking place to connect the emerging world, Facebook’s has been building the tools to become a major e-commerce platform. In the recent months, we have seen the expansion of the store options of Facebook pages (Constine, 2015), the establishment of a peer-to-peer payment option (Rao, 2015), and even the introduction of Facebook M. Part human, part artificial intelligence, the M assistant is to be embedded in the messenger and  would assist Messenger users in reaching businesses with text-based queries. Much alike an advanced Siri, Facebook M would be able to perform tasks for users, but with less constraining boundaries to its capacities due to the human component of the AI (Hempel, 2015).

With a user base, which could jump from an already substantial numbers to even more impressive polls, and a shopping assistant which you could pull out of your pocket, it seems that Facebook could position itself as the next e-commerce giant. Bridging the gap between Facebook’s attempts to penetrate emerging digital markets and its advancements in the e-commerce business, can we extrapolate that Facebook could shift its business model from an advertising based model towards an e-commerce intermediary.

What are your thoughts?

Bibliography

Constine, J. (2015). Facebook Equips Business Pages With Mobile Storefronts For Shopping And Services. [online] TechCrunch. Available at: http://techcrunch.com/2015/09/08/facebook-storefronts/ [Accessed 17 Oct. 2015].

Facebook, (2015). Internet.org by Facebook. [online] Available at: https://internet.org/projects [Accessed 14 Oct. 2015].

Hempel, J. (2015). Facebook Launches M, Its Bold Answer to Siri and Cortana. [online] WIRED. Available at: http://www.wired.com/2015/08/facebook-launches-m-new-kind-virtual-assistant/ [Accessed 17 Oct. 2015].

Jonnalagadda, H. (2015). 2G-friendly Facebook Lite launches in India and the Philippines. [online] Android Central. Available at: http://www.androidcentral.com/2g-friendly-facebook-lite-launches-india-and-philippines [Accessed 16 Oct. 2015].

Nath, T. (2015). Internet.org: What It Is and How It Works (FB,GOOG,QCOM). [online] Investopedia. Available at: http://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/021315/internetorg-what-it-and-how-it-works.asp [Accessed 17 Oct. 2015].

Group 47 – Digital Transformation Project: KONINKLIJKE NEDERLANDSE VOETBALBOND

KNVB is the only recognized national football federation of the Netherlands and is responsible for up to 33,000 football matches per weekend. KNVB creates the competition schedule and clubs are responsible for adhering to this schedule. Because of this great amount of information and different stakeholders, KNVB faces a challenging role in keeping everyone well informed and up-to-date (KNVB, 2014).

A lot of clubs find it difficult to find referees every week, because referees are scarce. One common reason is that communication between clubs and referees is difficult. The referee coordinator has to call every referee and ask for availability to lead a match. This takes a lot of time and brings a lot of stress to referee coordinators (Walgaard & Ter Avest, 2015).

To improve the communication between referees and football clubs, it could be very helpful to introduce a platform in which the needs of both parties can be fulfilled. This system should help referee coordinators in creating the schedules, creating a higher level of appreciation towards referees and most of all a more efficient flow of information, that will help both KNVB and referees.

The idea of the improvement will be illustrated with a real-life example: KNVB posts thematch schedule for both outdoor- and indoor football for the upcoming weekend (seven days in advance) on the application. Thereby, the application should show a calendar in which referees can specify their availability. Once the schedule is posted and the availabilities are specified, referee coordinators can start looking for referees and referees can start looking for the games which they prefer. Based on the preferences, training level and experience, a referee can be coupled to a game on a certain level. In this way, referee coordinators know exactly who is able to lead a game, at which time and based on this information send an invitation to a referee. Thereby, referees can also specify a particular game they would like to lead and send a request to the referee coordinator. The appointment is fixed when both parties get an agreement.

The system could include the following features:

  1. Number of cards given – to enlarge the personal learning experience for referees and give a clear overview towards KNVB;
  1. Review System – to enlarge the personal learning experience for referees and enlarge the feeling of appreciation;
  1. Bonus System – to enlarge the feeling of appreciation for referees;
  1. Running data – to make it more fun for referees to lead a match;
  1. Changing room for a referee – to reduce the workload for referee coordinators.

To reduce implementation problems for this system, there should be an excellent communication plan for all stakeholders. Also, KNVB should clean up their current database, so that the new system can generate clean data. Because of the great impact of the system, KNVB should have a maintenance and improvement plan.

Jack Cornelisse 342660jc
Arvin Moensi 349430am
Belinda Roos 357398br
Marieke Struijk 354283es
Eline de Wit 360608ew

References
KNVB (2014) “Jaarverslag 2013/’14” [online] available at
http://bin617.website-
voetbal.nl/sites/knvb.nl/files/Jaarverslag/2013/pdf/KNVB_jaarverslag_2014-jaarverslag_totaal.pdf

Interview
Walgaard, E. & Avest ter, W. (08-10-2015) –  Zeist, UT

Digital Transformation Project – team 39

Pricing is an important element in the business strategy as it will affect a company’s ability to compete and win margins. There are different forms of pricing strategy, however we have focused on dynamic pricing, meaning that a company has the ability to set flexible prices depending on external factors in the market. There are different forms of dynamic pricing, for example time-based pricing. Time-based pricing will charge different prices during the day or other periods of time, for example seasons of the year. The idea behind this strategy is that consumers’ willingness to pay will differ depending on when they buy the product, and the company can increase their margins by taking advantage of this.

We took a closer look at the company De Kapper Pijnacker, a modern hairdresser located in Pijnacker. De Kapper Pijnacker is currently charging fixed prices for their services, with little flexibility. The hairdressing industry is a competitive environment with relatively small margins, therefore we argue the importance that the company should strive to stay innovative and look for possibilities to constantly improve in order to maintain a sustainable business model. The company is planning to introduce a new online booking system in January 2016, but currently they’re doing bookings the old-fashion way. We propose the implementation of an automatic dynamic pricing system, incorporated with De Kapper Pijnacker’s current business processes. At first, the demand of De Kapper Pijnacker will be forecasted with this new technology. Based on this forecast, the different time slots will be priced according to demand. This pricing will happen based on previous data from last weeks, months and even years.

So how does this new technology work? For example, if a lot of people start booking their appointments on the evening of a given date, the price for that time slot will increase if more customers wish to book an appointment in the same time slot. That is, the customer that books the same time slot weeks before another customer might pay less than the customer who is doing the booking at a later time. By using dynamic pricing, De Kapper Pijnacker can offer lower prices to customers with a lower willingness to pay, and they can make up for the lower prices on these customers by increasing the price they charge customers who have a higher willingness to pay. Currently, the hair salon might be losing several potential customers who have a lower willingness to pay than their fixed prices, but with the implementation of this technology, there are certain time slots that will become within their price range, and De Kapper Pijnacker can potentially increase their market share by offering services to a greater market segment. In addition to the broader range of customers, De Kapper Pijnacker will to a greater degree be able to maximise the return per customer. The salon will to less extent lose potential customers because of the price. In fact, because the customers will be able to choose their own preferred time slots and associated prices, this will lead to greater profit.

The future of Netflix

The future of Netflix is increasingly about original content creation. By itself this is not really big news considering the huge success of its series like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black or the brand new series called Narcos. However, Netflix does not create content in the same traditional way as for example HBO has been creating various TV series for more than four decades.

Some of HBO’s TV series were huge hits as The Wire or The Sopranos, which have basically created the benchmark for what a modern TV drama series must look like. Others were very costly flops just like the series called How to make it in America, which was cancelled after two years by the channel, because it just failed to make a large enough audience.

How come Netflix has not created yet a television series that was a huge flop? Their secret is that they have a massive amount of user data that is hard to imagine not just for us, but probably the even the people at HBO would be surprised as well. According to The Atlantic, last year Netflix had a shocking 76,897 individual categories of movies and it is safe to assume that this amount has not become smaller ever since.

Utilizing the user data advantage , they can serve the market better than anybody has ever done before. And that is just what subscribers want. According to an analysis that was carried out on the US market by Raymond James; almost one third of the subscribers in the US say that the main reason for having Netflix is the original content. Furthermore, more than 23% of the respondents stated that they actually use Netflix not in addition to watching TV, but as an actual substitute for network TV service.

However, according to Morgan Stanley’s analysts the huge success of Netflix’s original content does not come from its ability to gather and analyze previously unimaginable amount of user data. But rather form the fact the internet helped its original content to reach the global audience at a scale that has not been done before.

What’s your opinion on the matter? Do you think that user data analysis helps Netflix with their original content creation to an extent that they will never create unsuccessful TV series?

416837ln

 

References:

http://www.pastemagazine.com/blogs/lists/2015/05/the-best-hbo-series-of-all-time.html

http://uk.businessinsider.com/morgan-stanley-says-netflix-data-is-no-better-at-spotting-hits-than-other-networks-2015-10?r=US&IR=T

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/01/how-netflix-reverse-engineered-hollywood/282679/

http://uk.businessinsider.com/netflix-subscribers-want-original-content-and-movies-2015-10?r=US&IR=T

The road to driverless vehicles

Tesla recently announced a software update for all existing Tesla Model S vehicles that installs several functions that pave the way for driverless cars. What is interesting is that the added autopilot features do not require any hardware modification of the vehicle (Tesla, 2015). To rephrase that, Tesla is adding new features to an existing product without charging their customers.

The features added in this update include:

  • Autosteer, which makes sure the car stays in its lane and maintains a proper distance between other cars
  • Auto Lane Change, which switches lanes after the driver has toggled the traffic indicator light
  • Automatic Emergency Steering and Side Collision Warning, which are features that are trigged in a worst case scenario when the system senses an upcoming crash coming
  • Autopark, which enables the car to park itself

Despite all these features being included in the package, American users will only be able to use the Autosteer feature. Not all features are legal to use in the US, therefore all other features mentioned will not be available for the drivers. Tesla has opted to not make the features available in suburban neighborhoods out of safety concerns. Interesting is that a paper by Benenson et al. (2008) has also identified urban environments as a difficulty for autonomously navigation vehicles.

While autonomous vehicles are no new phenomenon this is the first time that such a feature has been enable via a software update. Other companies that are investigating driverless vehicles, e.g. Uber for their taxi vehicles, Google for autonomous vehicles, and Apple in collaboration with other companies (Gilbert, 2015), plan to make dedicated vehicles for this function. With Tesla being a high profile company it will be interesting to see what the future looks like. This can be seen as a step in right direction, however legislation still remains a problem in many countries. With analysts predicting to see fleets of autonomous vehicles operate in developed nations by 2025 (Hars, 2014), it will not be long before we ourselves will make use of these vehicles. Can you see yourself operating in a driverless vehicle in the near future? To me the idea used to sound very futuristic, but with this move by Tesla I am seeing that moment approach quickly. Also, it remains unclear see how the European Union will respond to this innovation. As of right now we are in a period of transition and further developments will be interesting to watch.

References

Benenson, R., Petti, S., Fraichard, T., & Parent, M. (2008). Towards urban driverless vehicles. International Journal of Vehicle Autonomous Systems6(1-2), 4-23.

Gilbert, B. (2015). Uber’s CEO gave us a lot of clues about what the future looks like. Tech Insider. Retrieved 17 October 2015, from http://www.techinsider.io/ubers-future-is-driverless-cars-2015-9

Hars, A. (2014). Autonomous vehicle roadmap: 2015-2030 | Driverless car market watch. Driverless-future.com. Retrieved 17 October 2015, from http://www.driverless-future.com/?p=678

Teslamotors.com,. (2015). Updates | Tesla Motors. Retrieved 17 October 2015, from http://www.teslamotors.com/blog

Uber is taking over

By now, it is rare to find someone not familiar with Uber. For years now, the ride sharing service has been challenging and beating traditional taxi services, the company’s value being estimated at 50 billion dollars. In fact, one of the few things preventing Uber from fully dominating the market is not a substitute within their industry, but rather legislation. Uber faces legal difficulties in many different places all over the world. It seems almost the only thing that is ‘holding it back’. It seems however, that Uber is fully taking over.

Yesterday, Uber won a big battle in its legal war. In the United Kingdom, London’s High Court ruled on October 16th that Uber’s app is not a taximeter, and that therefore the company has not been breaking any laws by operating in the city. This means that Uber is officially legal in London. Could this mean that the traditional black ‘cabby’, that London is so famous for, will disappear? The cabbies had been protesting against Uber for years. Is this the final blow?

In the United States of America, Uber is now challenging rental cars. According to business expense management firm Certify, business travelers already prefer ride sharing services to taxis across the country. Services like Uber even challenge the rental car market. Certify reports that in San Francisco, a staggering 82 percent of hired car rides by its customers were ride shares, with 12 percent going for rental cars and only 6 percent choosing taxis. In other cities the difference is smaller. In Boston, for example, 45 percent of Certify’s customers chooses ride sharing services, 23 percent chooses rental cars and taxis maintained a ‘high’ market share of 32 percent.

All these figures are indicative of the success that ride sharing services like Uber have been enjoying. Can Uber be stopped? Can traditional taxi and car rental companies reinvent themselves to compete with Uber?

Sources:

Bender, A. (2015). Uber, Lyft have suprassed taxis, now spell trouble for the rental car business. Forbes.com, Retrieved 17 October 2015, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewbender/2015/10/17/uber-lyft-have-surpassed-taxis-now-spell-trouble-for-the-rental-car-business/

Norman, M. (2015). Uber is overwhelming – London black cabs’ only future is tourism. The Independent. Retrieved 17 October 2015, from http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/uber-is-overwhelming-london-black-cabs-only-future-is-tourism-and-tetchy-tories-10332790.html

Segall, L. & Thompson, M. (2015). Uber: London court rules app is legal. CNNMoney. Retrieved 17 October 2015, from http://money.cnn.com/2015/10/16/technology/uber-london-court/

Digital Transformation – Group 31- Ground Surveillance Radars

The company analyzed for our digital transformation project is G4S. G4S is one of the largest security companies worldwide with more than 600,000 employees and provides a wide range of security services. After interviewing an IT manager and a R&D manager, we could formulate their main challenges.

The biggest challenge for G4S was the high labor cost. The security business is very labor intensive and as much as 80% of their costs were labor costs. To reduce the labor costs we provided them with a technological innovation that could transform their business. The proposed innovation is the introduction of ground surveillance radars as an extension of current G4S activities.  The concept of perimeter surveillance currently includes either CCTV (security guards watching television screens with camera surveillance video’s) or mobile surveillance. Mobile surveillance consists of a series of drive-bys: a security employee in a car drives by a property to check if there are any irregularities. Using ground surveillance radars, the need for constant CCTV monitoring or mobile surveillance is removed.

radar

Radars create a 3D image by sending and receiving signals, bouncing off any interfering object. Ground surveillance radar might not sound like a very new technology, as rudimentary radar systems were already deployed in the Second World War. The ground surveillance radars that are proposed are much more complex than the systems used then. Furthermore, it is new to use radars for perimeter surveillance of commercial properties and therefore new to the market of property security.

Ground surveillance radars come in many forms and sizes. The angle at which the radar works ranges from a beam to a 360-degree view. Furthermore, radars can cover many different sizes of areas, depending on the range. Radars can form a perfect team combined with cameras. The radar can detect moving objects and their locations, and the camera can identify the object (Tonkins, 2015).

We then used four hypothetical scenarios to demonstrate the feasibility of the radars. The scenarios all differed in their size, the amount of buildings in the perimeter and the amount of human activity. We compared the costs and benefits of both the old situation with CCTV and drive-bys and the new situation with ground surveillance radars. It became clear that in each of the scenarios, implementing the ground surveillance technology led to a significant decrease in costs, while increasing the security of the property. It could therefore be concluded that the implementation of ground surveillance radars provides G4S with economic and strategic value for different types of customers. With all this in mind, we recommended the management of G4S to further explore the possibilities of implementing ground surveillance radar.

Paying for being negative

Have you ever had someone tell you something bad about yourself? You most likely have, so what did you do with it? If you actually improved yourself due to this comment, good for you! However, you most likely ignored this person and went on your merry way trying to forget something bad was ever said.

In today’s world of technology, worth-of-mouth is an important way for companies to get free advertising. Especially reviews directly on their own websites are a popular method. However, negative reviews are something that companies do not like at all. Just like you, companies rather ignore and forget it when people say something bad about them. Although ignoring it is a lot more difficult when it is published online, right? After all, what goes on the Internet stays on the Internet forever.

There are however companies that try their best to get rid of negative reviews. An interesting article from 2011 uses Yelp.com as an example. Apparently Yelp was so kind to offer companies help in removing negative customer reviews. For just $299 a month Yelp would simply move the negative reviews away, so the companies have nothing to worry about anymore. Of course if the companies refused, Yelp made sure negative customer reviews appeared. This was only to encourage companies to make use of their service. (Richards, 2011)

Now you might think that is four years ago, something like that does not happen anymore. Well you think wrong. In 2014 a hotel fined a couple for £100 after they posted a negative review on Trip Advisor about this hotel (BBC, 2014). And in June 2015 an article in the Express wrote all about how negative reviews on Trip Advisor were disappearing. Due to removing these negative reviews the star rating went up from 3.5 to 4.5 stars out of five. (Virtue, 2015)

So why do companies rather delete negative reviews? Is it because companies still do not have the right strategies and tools to deal with negative reviews? Should academics be called to the rescue to provide companies with methods of how to deal with bad reviews?

I believe it is better if companies use negative reviews as learning goals. Instead of hiding, the negative reviews should be used for improvement. And after the company has changed or improved, they can post a comment to the customer, which shows they do actually care about their customers.

So what do you think companies should do with a negative customer review? And have you ever posted a negative review that got you into trouble?

~373666

BBC 2014 http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-30100973

Richards 2011 http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/yelp-and-the-business-of-extortion-20/Content?oid=1176635

Virtue 2015 http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/586016/TripAdvisor-attacked-by-users-after-they-notice-negative-reviews-disappearing-from-site

Why the Netherlands should align its educational ecosystem with programming

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Why the Netherlands should align its educational ecosystem with programming.

The Netherlands has been known for its technological innovation in the last decades through for companies like Philips and ASML. However due to both internal and external circumstances, it now faces the threat to be overtaken by other nations in terms of technological innovation. This requires change in the Dutch roots; namely its educational ecosystem where programming should be mandatory next to reading and writing (Neelie Kroes, 2014).

The problem

The Netherlands should step-up its ‘game’ for the following reasons. Firstly, complaints are surfacing about education (by far) not linking to the business needs in the Netherlands.  Technical knowledge is claimed to be one of the imperatives for Dutch global business success (TNO, 2014), however the Dutch education system is not aligned. This is exemplified by ‘Informatica’ (IT), a present course, in the Dutch secondary schools, which has not changed since 1995 (Frankwatching, 2013). Furthermore, emerging BRIC countries, where access to technology increases, are evolving from IT outsource destinations to high level knowledge-based economies, thus becoming rivals to the Netherlands.

The proposed solution

I would propose the following change in the Dutch educational system so that the Dutch knowledge-based economy can be sustained. This requires changes in the primary schools, secondary education and at university level.

Primary schools should be obliged to initially spend at least spend 2 hours per week on familiarising the children with the basics of programming. This amount of time should gradually increase, depending on feedback from teachers.

An array of tools is already available today and should be provided to the schools so that they are able to chose. This tools enable children to learn by doing in a fun setting. Personally, I was pretty surpises how advanced these tools already are. Popular tools used by primary schools are:

  • Scratch: learning programming step-by-step with enabling figures to make, make sounds and to react.
  • Pivot: learning programming through coming up with an adventure that your puppet will experience
  • Pop: let’s children make app prototypes by means of drawing and taking pictures
  • Daisy the Dinosaur: let’s you command your own pet-dinosaur

At secondary schools, children are faced with various courses like languages, mathematics and more. All adjusted to the level of education that one is obtaining. I propose to require programmings lessons at secondary education as well, tailored to the specific educational levels.

An interesting perspective that is heard more often, is that programming should replace certain languages taught at school like German and Classical languages (Frankwatching, 2013). German for example, becomes less relevant due to increasing fluency of English in Germany. Languages that are not used frequently anymore, are the classical languages like Latin and Greek that are thought to Gymnasium students. Replacing such courses, would free up space in order to make room for teaching the fundamentals of programming.

Multiple tools are available to integrate programming into curriculums like Codecadamy (free) and Treehouse (paid) that also offer learning by doing in an advanced setting.

University should also step up its game and seek more touch-points with the ‘new’ world of information systems, strategies and technology. Not only quantitative programming courses should be offered. For example, in Law and Philosophy also emerge new topics related to this new economy that require research and offer possibilities of integration.

This raises the following questions:

  • Would you think learning the essentials of programming add should be taught more?
    • If yes, do you then think it adds more value than the traditionally taught courses?
  • How would you implement it from a public government perspective?

Let’s make this an interactive thread!

Sources:

http://www.aob.nl/default.aspx?id=272&article=10030&q=&m

http://www.computable.nl/artikel/nieuws/onderwijs/5406767/1277214/leren-programmeren-op-basisschool-noodzaak.html

http://www.frankwatching.com/archive/2013/10/21/programmeren-dat-leer-je-op-de-basisschool/

Neelie Kroes – http://tweakers.net/nieuws/99114/neelie-kroes-programmeren-moet-verplicht-vak-op-basisschool-worden.html

http://www.cbs.nl/NR/rdonlyres/4DEFB273-9BC7-459B-8788-44C94175DA4B/0/2014i78pub.pdf

Revenge Porn, the dark side a of social media

A couple of months ago in the Netherlands, the famous private investigator Peter R, de Vries found himself once more in the spotlight of Dutch Media. In June 2015, he released a new episode if his new series ‘Internetpester ontmaskerd’ (Internetbullies exposed). Is this episode he helped the young Chantal to find out who published a amateur porn clip of her on Facebook on a fake account. At first, Facebook claimed that the data of the fake account was erased from their servers. The case even went to court were the judge forced Facebook to hire an external investigator to find out if the data really was erased or still existed within the servers of the social media giant. The case raised several questions about the new phenomenon ‘revenge porn’ which is increasingly common with the rise of social media.

Revenge porn is the release of a nude picture or video of a (ex) lover out of spite and to humiliate this person. With the introduction of Whatsapp, Facebook and other social media in recent years it has become easier to place revenge porn on the Internet. Surprisingly, there are no specific laws in many countries about the prosecution of individuals who spread revenge porn. In America, only 26 states have laws that specifically prohibit the spreading and publication of revenge porn. The states in which revenge porn is not illegal, women have very little legal options. It is more difficult, if not impossible, to have revenge porn photos taken down from websites. The guilty, meanwhile, escape criminal prosecution under existing anti-harassment laws. Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act grants immunity to message-board owners and social media like Facebook from being punished for what their users do with the platform and even porn site that provide revenge porn are can’t be prosecuted because the merely provide a platform. Fortunately, some positive changes are being made in the legislation in America and other countries. Congresswoman Jackie Speier is in the process of introducing a bill that would make revenge porn a federal crime. In April 2015, England and Wales declared the publication and spreading of revenge porn illegal.

In the end, the women and men that were victimizes by revenge porn can’t be helped as most of the content will always stay on the Internet. Lets hope that countries will learn to proactively accompany the growth of social media and prevent similar incidents from happening in the future..

357519rs

http://www.bndestem.nl/regio/oosterhout/facebook-verliest-rechtszaak-en-moet-gegevens-nep-account-vrijgeven-na-werkendamse-wraakporno-1.5030008

http://nl.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=revenge+porn

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/119295/revenge-porn-laws-state-map-shows-theyre-rare-us

http://gizmodo.com/this-is-the-national-revenge-porn-law-we-need-1686856437

Team11.Digital Transformation Project: The Role of IT in B2B eCommerce- Sana Commerce Company

This is the executive summary of the report analyzing the current business model of Sana Commerce and the role of IT and information used inside of the organization with further goal to improve current information use within the company.

The first part of the report focuses on describing the business model of the organization.

Sana Commerce is an international B2B e-commerce company providing software solutions to manufacturers and distributors operating in the industry. The company offers two main types of products: a software solution for creation of web shop, and an ordering app for sales agents. Value to its customers is given by offering a fast and convenient link between ERP system of a customer and its potentially new Web Shop. The firm sells licenses of the software to businesses either by selling an unlimited one-time license tied to a particular version of Sana Commerce software, or by yearly subscription which includes upgrades to new versions. Another revenue source for the company is the customization of the software. Market strategy of Sana Commerce involves a well-designed SEO, implemented in the company’s website and software tool, Marketo, for its marketing automation and retaining its customers. The marketing opportunity of the company is unlimited due to the tremendous growth of the industry and the raising need in the B2B e-commerce solution market. The competition is presented by companies like Magento, K-eCommerce, and Dynamicweb, and all three companies are substantially bigger than Sana Commerce. However the main advantage of Sana lies in the deep integration of its platform into the already existing ERP-system of their customers.

The second part of the report focuses on internal part of the business, mainly the IT structure and use of information inside the company and solution of existing problems.

We can categorize IT applications in the organization into Process Supporting IT functions and Communication Enhancing IT Functions. The focus of this report will further be addressed towards communication enhancing IT functions. After profound analysis of the current communication channels within the organization we identified the communication, coordination and referral problem that the employees are encountered with on a daily basis. Our team has come up with five options to tackle the issue: Slack, Glip, HipChat, Exo Platform and Bitrix 24. We outlined several criteria (channel creation and management, integration with other online platforms, ease of use and modifiability of the solution etc.) to evaluate the available options. After careful analysis and discussion, our team has chosen #Slack platform to address the issues encountered by Sana Commerce. Slack is an internal communication platform that will be beneficial to the company due to allowance of channel creation and management, one-on-one communications, integrations with numerous other platforms in use and it is web and app compatible. However, there are certain downsides present, such as possible privacy threat and unstable payment requirements placed by the platform. Also, there are certain risks, which in this case include risk of adoption, unsolved referral and potential decline of the usage of the platform. The possible solutions to the raised issues are the top management involvement in the promotion of the platform, internal customized design and organizational effort to create sharing information, knowledge and help culture within the company.  The report also analyses the technological, strategic and financial fit of #Slack with regard to Sana Commerce, as well as feasibility of implementation of the project.

Digital Transformation Project: RET & Autonomous Vehicles

Introduction to the RET

RET-logoRET (“Rotterdamse Elektrische Tram”) is the main public transportation operator of the Rotterdam city region. It is a public limited company and the municipality of Rotterdam is the sole shareholder. The history dates back to 1878 when it started with horse-drawn trams. Nowadays, RET transports about 186 million people in Rotterdam and the surrounding municipalities on an annual basis. Furthermore, the company has approximately 2,600 employees and 10 business locations in the Rotterdam – The Hague conurbation (RET, 2014).

The digital transformation

RET has achieved a strong position as the transportation provider of the Rotterdam conglomeration. Incentivized by its value proposition and a robust reputation among its three different customer segments, it tends to have a pioneering role in the Dutch public transportation market and therefore, despite a likely shift in workforce, should endeavor to embrace innovation through articulating an IT strategy together with its business strategy.

Public transportation is expected to become key for urban travel and commuting in cities of tomorrow and RET should thus attempt to offer its customers increased capacity, flexibility (i.e. on demand services, Owczarzak & Żak, 2015) and safety via automated trams and metros, as well as autonomous cars and buses. In this context, the technology of automated trams and metros is partially in place but would need a few more years, including some regulatory changes, before being able to be fully utilized. In addition, autonomous buses should be introduced to complete the entire market coverage. Last but not least, autonomous cars offering door-to-door services could constitute RET’s strategic response to trends like car-sharing and expand its market opportunities through the use of big data. Further, they could retaliate to the introduction of substitute providers like Uber.

It remains clear that this technology’s success primarily depends on customer’s acceptance and trust. Although one might not be sure whether people will welcome this new technology, there is no question that the latter will come, only a debate about when it will be ready. Issues like software security threats, vehicle expensiveness or legal and liability cul-de-sacs could negatively impact customer’s view and thus hinder a straightforward application of the autonomous driving technology. Further, the final technical feasibility of some autonomous vehicles, especially of cars, still has to be proven and hence a final market launch decision cannot be made yet. If, however, the technology would reveal to be watertight, this could have a significant impact on most of today’s routines and automotive stakeholders, but most importantly would constitute a welcomed solution to some of this century’s major problems like population growth, demographic change or accelerated urbanization.

References:

Owczarzak, L., & Żak, J. (2015). Design of Passenger Public Transportation Solutions Based on Autonomous Vehicles and Their Multiple Criteria Comparison with Traditional Forms of Passenger Transportation. Transportation Research Procedia (10) 2015, Pages 472-482 Available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S235214651500188X [Accessed 12 October 2015]

RET.nl (2015a). About RET. Available at: http://corporate.ret.nl/en/about-ret.html [Accessed 5 October 2015]

Group 30

Google and the quest for making daily life more convenient

Google’s Advanced Technology and Progress (ATAP) team is working on a couple of revolutionary inventions which have the potential to change our daily life in the future. The one that caught my eye, was the so-called project Soli, announced on the yearly I/O ATAP event in 2015. The Soli project team is working on a chip with an interaction sensor, which uses radar technology. Radar is already used for decades in order to locate large objects such as airplanes and ships, but now Google wants to take the adaptability of radar technology to a micro perspective.

The people behind Project Soli wanted to create a new way in how we can control the wearables we use. Take a smartwatch for instance. It can be arduous to perfectly operate the device by tapping the tiny screen using your fingers. Users that expected to type messages on their smartwatch are even more bereft of their illusions. In its own words, the Project Soli team wants ‘to break the tension between the ever-shrinking screen sizes used in wearables, as well as other digital devices, and our ability to interact with them’ (Google, 2015).

The project team invented a tiny sensor that fits into a chip which makes use of real-time subtle hand movements without physical contact as input. The chip is about the size of a SD-card. This information provided by human hand movements, is subsequently transferred in a way that it is possible to control a small device, such as a smartwatch. Hence, Soli can change the way we communicate with these devices. The need to touch a device to operate it can become superfluous with this technology. Here is an impression:

Cameras can already capture human movements for a great amount of time. Probably most of you remember the EyeToy for PlayStation 2. This was one of the first examples for capturing and translating human movements onto a screen. Nevertheless, the radar technology used in project Soli has several advantages. At first, incorporating this technique into devices takes less space, since it doesn’t need any hardware to function (in contrast to a camera). The other benefit of this technique is that it is much more accurate than the current movement sensors used in camera’s. It is even possible to track sub-millimetre motions at high speed. Besides, the technology can even identify movements in the dark environments, which is not the case for cameras.

Although it’s still in the development phase, I can already imagine this technology could also be used for a dozen of other devices. The frustrating situation of searching for the TV remote control will become history and adjusting the temperature in your room will be possible with just a small turn on an imaginary rotary knob. What other ways of using this technology can you think of?

Sources:

http://computertotaal.nl/overige-elektronica/wat-is-google-project-soli-66267

http://numrush.nl/2015/06/08/project-soli-google-brengt-bewegingsdetectie-naar-je-wearables/

http://www.dezeen.com/2015/06/02/google-project-soli-interaction-sensor-radar-hand-gestures-digital-control-electronic-devices/

https://www.google.com/atap/project-soli/

Vending Machines in Japan: The Next Marketing Tool?

You are rushing to get your train but want to grab a drink before getting on. Next thing you will probably do is heading to the “kiosk” or the vending machines. In the Netherlands, for a small amount we can easily get a drink or a candy bar from the vending machines at the stations. However, in Japan, the vending machine is much more than that.

Vending Machines in Japan
At first glance, the vending machines are not that different than the ones we are used to. You put coins in the machines and you will get the product that you have selected. However, what makes them remarkable is that there are a bunch of them in Japan. It is estimated that there is about 5.52 million vending machines in Japan, which is even more than the total population of New Zealand (Jnto, 2015).
The vending machines in Japan also include bizarre contents which makes it unique: hot meals, fresh lettuce, cup noodles, flowers, umbrellas and even used underwear. You name it, they have it!

Next-generation vending machines
Vending machines has been already for over 50 years in Japan. However, technology is the key behind that keeps it evolving. For instance, there are vending machines with solar panels and touch panels that can sense the demographic of the customer. This allows the machine to suggest a drink on the display (Ryall, 2010). This is just a small example as there are tons of new features that could be added by companies to make a better user experience.
Recently, the company Kirin even implemented a selfie feature in their vending machine. The vending machine is fitted with a large LCD display and camera. The idea is that you can take a free selfie and share it with your friends through Line, a popular smartphone-messaging app in Japan. The service will be only offered free for those who buy a drink (Ashcraft, 2015). This is definitely a fun and exciting experience for customers. However, in my opinion there are lots of implications and potential in this Selfie Vending Machine. There could be branded backgrounds and localized digital content right there in images with you. Or when the Vending machine is not in use, the display can also show advertisements for products.

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Japan is famous for its vending machines. However, it is not just the sheer number that exists in the country what makes it fascinating, but how they make these machines their own in a unique way. In combination of Technology, they keep improving their vending machines and create a better user experience for customers. There is huge potential in these vending machines and seems to unlock new ways of branding. So what do you think? Would we be able to improve our vending machines like the ones in Japan?

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References
Ashcraft, B. (2015) ‘Japanese Vending Machines Now Taking Selfies’, http://www.kotaku.com.au/2015/10/japanese-vending-machines-now-taking-selfies/, October 8, 2015.

JNTO(2015) ‘Vending Machines’ , http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/indepth/cultural/hj/vendingmachines.html, 2015.

Ryall, J. (2010) ‘Japanese vending machine tells you what you should drink’,  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/8136743/Japanese-vending-machine-tells-you-what-you-should-drink.html, November 16, 2010.

Electric vehicles: the future is there

I am a big fan of Elon Musk and reading his biography written by Ashlee Vance provided me with a great introduction regarding the history and future of Tesla Motors. Yes, I am one of those guys believing electric vehicles will take over the world, mostly because if there is one industry, which needs a shake-up, it’s the car industry. Over the last decades, we all have seen cool developments, nicer designs and some advances regarding efficiency and climate-friendly techniques in cars. However, nothing changed the industry. And there was Tesla, the first American automaker to go public since Ford in 1956 and I believe we already passed the discussion whether electric vehicles do have a future or not.

What I find inspiring is that Musk and his team built a new, disrupting car company in Silicon Valley, not a typical area to start working on a new car. However, Tesla managed to extract the best out of the Valley by working according to the structure, pace and principles of a start-up environment to rapidly deliver the Tesla Roadster, the first sign to the public that Tesla meant serious business. Tesla attracts the best people, from software developers to designers and engine specialists, all bound by the feeling that their company is actually ‘changing’ an industry. Traditional automakers such as Audi, BMW, Toyota and Ford did not have any clue (and actually still don’t do compared to Tesla) how to deal with the rising popularity and success of Tesla and their hierarchical structures did not help in pushing similar innovations in existing processes and products.

Musk and his team are constantly envisioning the future and taking huge steps to overcome obstacles such as driving range, fluctuations in demand and supply, competition and safety. But lets go a few years back; launching an electric vehicle of more than 100,000$ equivalent to a 25,000$ gas car wouldn’t work back in 2005. Therefore, the guys at Tesla motors came up with a business plan allowing quick revenues and exponential innovation. This strategy proved to be a winner solving EV shortcomings at an amazingly rapid pace and creating an aura of ‘sexiness’ around the Tesla cars.

Step 1: High-priced, low-volume car for the super rich. Come out with an expensive first product, but make the car so fancy that it’s worth that price. Tesla’s result: The Roadster.

Step 2: Mid-priced, mid-volume car for the pretty rich. Use the profits from Step 1 to develop the Step 2 car. This is still an expensive car, focused on the luxury segment and similar to a $75,000 Mercedes or BMW competitor instead of Ferrari. Hence, the Model S was the result.

pyramidStep 3: Low-priced, high-volume car for the masses. Use the profits from Step 2 to develop an affordable car for  the middle class. To drive your road by 2017, the Model 3:

(from waitbutwhy.com)

And this is just the beginning… To support demand, Tesla is building a Gigafactory to produce enough lithium to supply the enormous demand of more than 500.000 cars per year, an incredible development for a very young car company boosting the American economy and changing the car industry at the same time. Smart innovations such as the Powerwall, a small solution for storing energy at homes allowing home owners to save money by charging during periods of low electricity demand, and expending during times of high demand (Investopedia), are small complement products further expanding the Tesla empire. You also must have read regarding the fast developments at Tesla for a (semi) self-driving car, rolled out at a much faster pace compared to other (tech) firms. Electric vehicles are no longer a novelty. It is too soon to say that in 5 years electric vehicles (and Tesla) have taken over the world, there still exists a huge infrastructure for gas vehicles and profits are still made. However, mark my words, by 2030 you and me are driving an electric car (and hopefully a high-end Tesla) for sure.

Do you believe traditional car companies will prove to be serious competition for Tesla?
What do you envision to be the next step for Tesla after launching the Model 3 in 2017?
Which technologies can boost or slow down the development of electric vehicles?

Sources:
http://www.investopedia.com/stock-analysis/060815/future-tesla-tsla.aspx
http://waitbutwhy.com/2015/06/how-tesla-will-change-your-life.html
http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-07-20/tesla-just-did-something-big-in-the-car-world

Quantity versus Quality

Afbeelding blog post

Last week, our professor Ms. Li gently forced me to chose quantity instead of quality during her lecture. As much as I prefer quantity over quality (in the case of McDonalds, money and UB free spots), quality in many cases is my pick to go for. To be honest, my opinion about this choice has changed. I was influenced by a friend of mine, who told me his theory about his preference for quality, a theory that I adopted from him. I won’t mention his name, but I can tell you this “friend of mine” is good in when it comes to generating “organic” page visits for a blog post. He explained his theory to me by analyzing our night out when we were both still single, and somewhat enjoyed life.

It’s a long, long, time ago. We both had hair longer than our shoulders, which we thought looked nice. We had one goal in mind: getting in touch with as much as female creatures, while drinking beer. As simple as this activity may sounds, it requires proper tactics and a location selection. As a tactic, we made up the story that were both descendants from Karel de Grote, a story which nobody believed but was fun to tell. The location we selected was “de Kneus” in Utrecht, a small bar, that due to its size always looks crowded.

We went in, and the first thing we both thought is that we hit the jackpot. Every were we looked: women. We were overwhelmed by the amount of feminine presence, and although it all together looked very much positive (lots and lots of quality), as the hours went by we experienced that this apparent quality wasn’t actually quality. It was just an enormous amount of quantity. The womanly like persons namely hadn’t showered for months, making their hair seem like bird-nests, drinking individually more beers than we did together and having voices lower than ours. We had a good night, but we did not got were we came for: Quality.

How do you think, can this guy writing about his failed score attempts, relate this to an information good? I want to do this by comparing a story about a well know information good, WhatsApp. Whatsapp is an platform were you can freely sent messages to everybody that also owns this application. The more people own this app, the more effectively the app can be used by it users, and thus have positive network effects (Carr, 2008). I won’t act like mister obvious any more, over the last years we all have experienced this positive effects from the extremely high coverage rate of WhatsApp application (app). What you maybe also have experienced, were some negative networks (size) effects. These negative effects were not due not the actual increase of users for the app itself, but due to an internal update of the application. In the beginning, WhatsApp allowed a maximum amount of 10 people in each WhatsApp group. Over the years, this number has grown from 15 to 50 and currently a WhatsApp group can accommodate as much as a 100 users (Droidmen, 2015). Because of this high amount (quantity) of users per group, the actual quality of these group conversations drastically have decreased. Although contacting and sharing information with 100 people is made very easy, the “content overload” can make cause for participants to cannot (properly) read all of the messages shared within this group. This then, has made processing the information shared a lot harder. Yes, a higher quantity of information can be shared much easier. Though, less of this information can be processed effectively, what decreases the quality of these conversations.

No, I will not end my little story with saying that WhatsApp should decrease its maximum group size. What I do want to state is that, we all have to keep in mind that more is not always better. If your message contains really valuable information, you may better also sent it to smaller groups or people individually. This namely increases the change that this information can actually be processed, and thus increases the conversation quality.

How to improve the weak link in our security chain.

In the last couple of weeks, multiple blog posts have been reviewing the dangers that come from hackers. For example Jurgen Langbroek wrote about ‘Hackers steal your data during your morning commute’ and 374642bd uploaded the article about bank robbing hackers called ‘Hacking a bank: Low risks, high returns’.

Hackers attack different groups in society and they obtain both generally high value, the bank robbing with high returns, and low value information, the ‘sniffing software’ used to check our online traffic while we are at a local router. But IT companies should address the security both the high value and low value objectives. One may argue that it is also the responsibility of the end-user to be critical over their own security measures (such as the firewall settings, strength of passwords and the frequent change of their passwords) but passwords are described as the weak link in our computer security chain (Stockley, 2015).

This problem is becoming more important as we start to use different mobile devices for our online activities. Leavitt wrote about it in 2005, targeting the mobile phones as the next frontier (Leavitt, 2005), and as we read the blog about our daily commute hackers we can conclude that he was right. In my opinion IT companies need to focus on creating solid and secure solutions, to keep track with the hackers abilities.

For example Yahoo is trying a new feature with the launch of their new email application. They try to avoid weak passwords of the users and use their platform of different applications to enable a new way of logging on. They introduces Yahoo Account Key, signing in is changed from typing in an email and password to receiving a notification to the users phone for access on the computer (Becerra, 2015). But to be honest, as wel as the critique given by Becerra in the article, I’m not sure if this makes the system any more reliable and secure than it was before. For instance if someone also has your phone or the battery died, you would probably wish you still had your password. IT needs to come up with better solutions than this one to make me feel comfortable and safe logging on.

Implementing e-invoicing at Walgreens

Implementing e-invoicing at Walgreens

Introduction

New information technologies are upcoming and revolutionizing companies in all kinds of industries. One of these new technological developments is e-invoicing. E-invoicing brings can bring a lot of advantages with the technology.

For our Digital Transformation Plan we described the feasibilities of implementing e-invoicing at Walgreens. Walgreens has publicly stated they have aspirations to revolutionize their entire IT strategy, with the goal of building a community around its suppliers. E-invoicing technology can do this by making Walgreens’ supplier network more transparent, accessible and makes its invoicing analyzable. For example, e-invoicing transforms supplier billing, compliance, procurement and supply chain management and finance operations.

About Walgreens

Walgreens is America’s largest pharmaceutical retail chain. It owns 8,309 stores in 2014 of which 8,207 are drugstores. Walgreens current supplier network is intentionally highly diverse. They do so to be more responsive to customer demand. In this network Walgreens interacts with its suppliers using data synchronization technology, sourced from WorldSync1, that incorporates standardized trade item numbers and location information. Using a global data synchronization network (GDSN) Walgreens attempts to build information transparency among its suppliers, making restocking and data communication an ongoing process. What we proposed in our report is implementing automated invoicing using a web intermediary/operator that handles all of the incoming and outgoing invoices. As found in the prior analyses, Walgreens is active in a competitive market with high pressure on margins. The technological transformation strategy is intended to help Walgreens position itself better by creating transparency in its spending, while significantly cutting down on costs. Doing so will strengthen Walgreen’s positioning against the five forces. A major theoretical perspective used in this e-invoicing proposition is transaction costs economics as proposed by Williamson (1979).

Key-elements of the new technology

In this overview we state the key-elements of this new technology.

  • Reduction in necessary FTEs for processing invoices.
  • Reduction in required invoice exceptions, meaning less intervention and more automation
  • Faster invoice approval cycle, which creates a larger window for supply chain financing
  • 24/7 Real-time insight of every invoice leading to control of liabilities, cash flow forecasting and spend 
analytics. Spending can be analyzed in real time online-item-level invoices
  • Accountancy accuracy enhancement
  • Faster, easier and more accurate auditing and fraud prevention
  • Buying partners can extend payment terms as Walgreens can offer off balance sheet, non recourse financing
  • Procurement automation and compliance
  • Secure and guaranteed invoice delivery
  • Ability to scale F&A departments

Risks

However there are some negative aspects that has to be taken into account when implementing e-invoices. There are mainly two risks sectors that are affected by e-invoicing.

Using a third party operator by implementing the e-invoice technology, negative aspects can be found within the dependency theory and organizational learning theory. Firstly, dependency theory describes how companies attempt to increase their power relative to other organizations in its environment (Barringer & Harrison, 2000). Although Walgreens will get more insight in invoice, procure-to-pay status and process and the other benefits priory noted, it must be mentioned that the operator between Walgreens and Walgreens’s suppliers holds the critical resource; the e-invoicing technology and capabilities. The same problem can be argued from organizational learning theory (Barringer & Harrison, 2000). Arguably, there is a longer-term risk for Walgreens as interacting with the e-invoicing operator can turn into asymmetrical learning. As the operator grows in clients it becomes better and can understand Walgreens better through its analyses. Walgreens on the other hand will lose this capability to do these analytics themselves and in turn thus become dependent on the operator.

The effects on the supplier network is that Walgreens’ entire supply chain needs to adapt to the new technology. Being more efficient means handling more volume, downsizing and assigning some new tasks throughout the supply chain. Therefore the implementation should not be underestimated. A sufficient active participation is necessary for the project to become a success. Dependency on other partners in the supply chain can be a risk. If not converted appropriately the implementation will bring extra costs. Also suppliers will only adapt to the new system when they can see the benefits for their business. In some cases this can be unclear for the suppliers. (Bowsher, 2012).


References:

Barringer, B. R., & Harrison, J. S. (2000)’ Walking a tightrope: Creating value through interorganizational relationships’, Journal of management, 26, 3, pp. 367-403.

Bowsher, A. (2012) ‘Mandatory vs. non-mandatory e-invoicing: what works best for you and your suppliers?’ Sharedserviceslink.com [Online] Available: http://www.sharedserviceslink.com/blog/mandatory-vs-non-mandatory-e- invoicing-what-works-best-for-you-and-your-suppliers [12 Oct 2015].

Williamson, O. E. (1979) ‘Transaction-cost economics: the governance of contractual relations’, Journal of law and economics, pp. 233-261.

Summaries; we miss them! (Digital Transformation Project Gr. 36)

Most of the Erasmus students buy summaries, or at least they have seen a lot of them around the University Library. Various summary providers are currently active within this business. They all try to help students to study more efficient and effective in some way.

These summaries are typical information goods; they can be seen as a container of information. The initial production is costly, but the reproduction costs are substantially lower (Shapiro & Varian, 1998). After writing and controlling the summary, the provider owns the content of a digital product, ready to be distributed. Currently these summaries are (mainly) distributed in a printed format only. However, besides purchasing them at brick-and-mortar stores, students can order most summaries via webshops as well. But is this model sustainable in a rapidly changing digital world? And why not selling these summaries in a digital format, so production costs can be minimized?

In the past decade, publishers have increasingly moved towards offering their books in a digital form: e-books. By 2013, the market share of e-books increased from almost nothing to 22% within five years. E-books have increased in popularity due to the possibility to store books on portable devices. Research has shown that we have 4.3 devices per capita in the Netherlands (Oosterveer, 2015)! According to the University Horizon Report 2012 of Johnson et al., students want to access their content anywhere and anytime. They want their digital content to be interactive, integrated and inexpensive. Furthermore research showed that students that used digital media performed as good as students that used printed materials (Connel et al., 2012).

Besides the e-book trend, a questionnaire has been conducted for this research. It was found that 96% of all students use a laptop or desktop for studying purposes while ‘just’ 82% of them is using printed materials. Smartphones and tablets are both being used by 25% of the students. Furthermore, 96% of the students is using summaries (writing summaries themselves, using summaries of friends, etc.). 46% is also paying for summaries. Overall, it can be concluded that laptop/desktop usage already outperforms the usage of printed materials among students for studying purposes.

Based on these findings and the rise of e-books, why not providing summaries in a digital format? To figure out if students would like such an online environment for studying purposes, respondents of the questionnaire were asked if they would like to have a similar environment for articles. We used articles since they are provided mainly in a digital form. The results are promising: 77% of the respondents would be interested in an online platform for articles. As this percentage is higher than the percentage of respondents that are currently buying summaries (46%). This implies that there is a group of students interested in an online summary solution, while they are not purchasing printed summaries now.

To conclude, there is no time to waste for summary providers. Digitize your summaries, minimize production costs and provide students an even more efficient and effective way of studying. Start offering summaries via an online platform!

Group 36 (B. Louwman / F. Wesselink / T.Langenberg / K.French / J.Mets)

References
Connell, C., Baliss, L., & Farmer, W. (2012). Effects of e-book readers and tablet computers on reading comprehension. International Journal of Instructional Media, 39(2), 131-140.

Johnson, L., Adams, S., & Cummins, M. (2012). The NMC horizon report: 2012 higher education edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Oosterveer, D. (2015, June 29). Het mobiel gebruik in Nederland: de cijfers. Accessed on 10 October 2015, from Marketingfacts:http://www.marketingfacts.nl/berichten/het-mobiel-gebruik-in-nederland- de-cijfers

Shapiro, C., & Varian, H. (1998). Pricing Information. In Information Rules; A Strategic Guide to the Network Economy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press.