Since the 1980s, Microsoft has dominated the productivity suite market. They increasingly extended their customer-base, and became a norm for offices and home users alike. With the trend towards cloud technology, new competitors like Google Apps emerged. Google Apps offers customers a freemium deal, where they receive the core product for free and can purchase additional cloud storage. Enterprise customers were offered a subscription-based payment plan, either monthly or annually, which gave them access to Googles services, but only until now. Google just announced that they will now offer Google Apps for Work for free for customers, until their contract with competing suites runs out. Google entered the market on the lower-end with their simple product offering, but increasingly extended their reach to enterprise customers. This new development can be considered an attack against Microsoft, an attempt to increasingly entice customers to switch from Microsoft to Google. Google now even offers firms to pay parts of their deployment costs, after their contract with competitors runs out. This strategy seems to be in line with the statement recently published by Amit Singh, head of Google for Work, where he says that Google wants users to use Microsoft and Google simultaneously, and that he believes in the long-run they will stop using Microsoft licenses. Eliminating the subscription model for enterprise users can be seen as an extension of this statement. Not only does Google want enterprise users to use the suites simultaneously, they also want them to do it for free, but only until their contracts with competitors run out. Then, Google will likely hope that customers switch completely to Google Apps. In any case, this new development will likely worry Microsoft, who are being attacked in their prime business area, the productivity suite market for enterprise customers. It will be interesting to see how Microsoft reacts to this. What do you think? What can Microsoft do to solidify their position within the market? What can they do to stop Google Apps from continuously stealing customers from them? They already introduced online functionalities to their traditional offline products to combat the trend towards the cloud, but can they change anything within their pricing structures?
Bort, J. (2015). Google shares its plan to nab 80% of Microsoft’s Office business. [online] Business Insider. Available at: http://uk.businessinsider.com/google-plan-to-beat-microsoft-office-2015-2?r=US&IR=T [Accessed 19 Oct. 2015].
Perez, S. (2015). Google Goes After Microsoft And IBM By Making Google Apps For Work Free While Customers Still Under Competitors Contract. [online] TechCrunch. Available at: http://techcrunch.com/2015/10/19/google-goes-after-microsoft-ibm-by-making-google-apps-for-work-free-while-customers-still-under-competitors-contract/ [Accessed 19 Oct. 2015].
Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet Inc., once stated : “Every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003”. With the development of e-commerce, consumers’ personal information is increasingly embedded in the web. While increased convenience is a main advantage of ordering online, the privacy issues arising from leaving a digital trace of your personal information are complex, and more important than ever at this moment. Newsweek stated that 2014 was the “year of cyberattacks”, and has made consumers more aware of online security risks than they have ever been. In 2014 alone, the security systems of a variety of companies, including, but not limited to Sony, JP Morgan, Home Depot and Target were infiltrated, causing millions of customer accounts (including credit card information) to be compromised.
The question now is: How do companies regain the trust of consumers, and what needs to be done to improve cyber security software?
The problem is rooted in both technology and business. On the one hand, developers need to find better ways of producing secure software, while companies need to be able to convince consumers that their data is safe with them, and implement the right security procedures.
An obvious result of the above incidents is that firms are continuously investing in cyber security solutions. In 2013, over 1 billion dollars was invested in security firms by VC’s. This number will naturally grow even further considering the incidents of 2014. A main trend is that firms increasingly use Automated Incidence Response Systems. These are systems that not only detect malicious intrusions, but can act on them quicker than humans could manually. This technology acknowledges the fact that no system is 100% secure, but rather limits the damage that is made after a breach is detected, until it is resolved. As security software entrepreneur Kevin Mandia states “ It is no longer about prevention, it is about detection”. While innovation in the cyber security space is developing rapidly, so are the hackers. Firms must therefore focus on understanding the threats and learning to detect and treat them properly.
Deepak Jeevenkumar, an enterprise IT investor, stated that “trust is a main competitive advantage for firms”. Due to the high level of breaches in recent years, rebuilding the trust of the community and consumers is key. He even goes further saying that every company nowadays should employ a Chief Trust Offer, whose sole responsibility is addressing the privacy and security needs of the stakeholders by implementing the correct tech tools. A combination of valuable tech innovations and effective security procedures will be required to accomplish this.
Considering the continuous development of innovations from both cyber security firms, and also hackers, it will be interesting to see which innovations will prevail in keeping customer data safe, and which measures will allow firms to regain the trust of their customers.
What do you think? Which measures must firms implement to convince consumers that their data is being handled properly? Will there ever be innovations that completely solve these cyber security threats?
Jeevankumar, D. (2015). Crossing the Cybersecurity Trust Chasm. [online] TechCrunch. Available at: http://techcrunch.com/2015/03/29/crossing-the-cybersecurity-trust-chasm/#.ehexz9:iRNX [Accessed 4 Oct. 2015].
Leitersdorf, Y. and Schreiber, O. (2015). Cybersecurity Hindsight And A Look Ahead At 2015. [online] TechCrunch. Available at: http://techcrunch.com/2014/12/28/cyber-security-hindsight-2020-and-a-look-ahead-at-2015/ [Accessed 4 Oct. 2015].
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Siegler, M. (2015). Eric Schmidt: Every 2 Days We Create As Much Information As We Did Up ToÂ 2003. [online] TechCrunch. Available at: http://techcrunch.com/2010/08/04/schmidt-data/ [Accessed 4 Oct. 2015].
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Sensor technology is becoming more and more popular. As Ron Miller puts it, “we are about to enter the age of smart everything”. Sensors can be considered a valuable trigger in this process, and are already used in a variety of industries. One of their main selling points is the fact that they transmit real-time data to servers or even smart phones, with no human effort, allowing organizations to continuously monitor their operations, and act much quicker than would be possible without sensors. A network of sensors collecting real-time data must be seamlessly connected to a variety of devices in order to make use of the “Internet of Things”, and thus they are an integral part of these smart networks. Whether it is a large grocery chain tracking the movements of their customers within their store, in order to test the effectiveness of a new marketing campaign, or a football club monitoring the exact motions of their players to predict injuries, sensors have seemingly unlimited applications.
Miller states that the main reason they are not ubiquitous yet is their size and price. However, as the technology develops and the price decreases, he predicts that sensors will be everywhere. The service industry is prime example of how sensors can disrupt business models. For example, consider the plumbing business. Currently, when your sink is damaged, you call a plumber and you pay him. What if a company were to position a selection of moisture sensors around your sink to track problematic areas? They could offer you a subscription-based service, and ensure that your pipes are continuously monitored and fixed before problems even occur. This is just one example of how sensors could transform the service industry. Especially for small businesses, sensors can prove to be exceedingly helpful in establishing a competitive advantage. Assuming the price will drop increasingly, small businesses can use cheap sensors to receive insights into their customers shopping behavior at a low cost, and tailor their product offerings accordingly.
Sensors are one of the main reasons the Internet of Things is gaining in popularity rapidly. The real-time information transmitted, and the seamless integration with smart phones and other systems is increasingly leading to “smart everything”. This refers to the trend that systems that previously had been unchanged for a long time are now becoming “smart”. For example, Oral B has developed a smart toothbrush, which tracks the time and exact motions when you are brushing your teeth, and gives you advice based on this. The app that goes along with it even offers you the ability to send the information to your dentist. These smart systems are increasingly also being used by parts of the population you might not expect this from. For example, recently an article was posted in a German newspaper that illustrated how a German farmer used a smart network in combination with sensors to optimize his business. As he is the only employee on his farm, the farmer had troubles watching over all 540 cows at once. He decided to make use of a smart network and attached motion and sound sensors to all of his cows, and can now monitor their behavior closely via an app linked to the cloud, on his smartphone. He can track trends immediately without constant personal contact, and it even saves him money, due to his ability to determine when a cow is sick earlier, for example. This goes to show that businesses of all kinds are increasingly becoming aware of the advantages such systems have to offer. Consumer convenience is becoming key, and sensors are a highly efficient way in which this can be achieved.
It is highly likely that sensors soon will be everywhere. The challenge will be in using the data effectively. Especially small businesses will need to develop capabilities they probably do not have yet, and find meaningful ways to use the data they collect. What do you think? Which industries are likely to be disrupted by sensor technology? What are the limits and challenges of using this technology?
Gaddis, B. (2015). How Sensors Will Revolutionize Service Businesses. [online] WIRED. Available at: http://www.wired.com/insights/2013/05/how-sensors-will-revolutionize-service-businesses/ [Accessed 4 Oct. 2015].
Gisby, T. (2015). Soft Sensors Are Breaking Into Four Major Industries. [online] TechCrunch. Available at: http://techcrunch.com/2015/08/01/soft-sensors-are-breaking-into-four-major-industries/ [Accessed 4 Oct. 2015].
Miller, R. (2015). Cheaper Sensors Will Fuel The Age Of Smart Everything. [online] TechCrunch. Available at: http://techcrunch.com/2015/03/10/cheaper-sensors-will-fuel-the-age-of-smart-everything/#.ehexz9:otGd [Accessed 4 Oct. 2015].