Archive by Author | bweur

Tired of waiting at what is supposed to be a fast-food restaurant?

As part of the Digital Transformation Project, we are proposing the implementation of a pre-ordering smartphone application for McDonalds Netherlands. On the base of our study conducted with university students living in Rotterdam, a pre-ordering application would be very well perceived at a fast-food chain like McDonald’s. Respondents indicated that, even they associated McDonald’s with quick service, they still had to wait up to 10 minutes for their food. The implementation of an app, that would take care of the ordering, as well as the payment in advance, would highly increase time-efficiency at the restaurants for consumers, as well as employees.

This digital transformation would go in line with McDOnald’s business model in terms of a reciprocal relationship since the implementation of a pre-ordering service would increase time-efficiency, which is a big part of McDonald’s business model. Being an IS Innovator (as they typically are one of the first companies to apply new technologies, as it was the case with NFC bank card payment), the prer-ordering app would moreover enable McDonald’s to secure its market leadership through fostering a relatively new type of innovation. Few companies in the industry have already applied such applications, however, more and more are joining the trend. In order to reassure its market position, McDonald’s should join the trend rather sooner than later.

The application is proposed for the Dutch market, where consumers are very much focused on time efficiencies and are very familiar with the use of smartphones, which leads to the assumption that the application will be accepted and anticipated by consumers. According to McDonald’s, the Dutch market furthermore shows great potential for growth, making it the ideal starting point for the introduction of such an application. The conducted survey confirmed these assumptions since a great majority of respondents indicated that they would make use of such an application if this would mean they would not have to wait for their ordered food.

As for any innovation, financial factors are important to be considered. The cost of the application, including the creation costs, the costs oft he IT expert team, the neccessary machines, and the marketing costs in order to raise awareness about this new ordering channel, are estimated to be approximately US$ 4,650,000. However, McDonald’s can be assumed to have enough financial resources to finance the development and implementation of the suggested application. Furthermore, its in-house tech team can decrease the costs for most kinds of technical issues.

In the end, there are also risks associated with the implementation of a new app, primarily stemming from its development, launch, user surface, and technical quality.

Those risks could involve no interest of acceptance by customers, and therefore more losses than revenues financially. There is furthermore the risk that franchisees will go against the company and not want to buy a license and install the use of the application. Finally, problems could surface due to technical issues, feasibility, and ease of use for certain smartphone operating systems and due to the competitors being further along in the innovation process which applications already further developed, which would turn McDonald’s into a laggard for innovation.

However, overall the implementation of such information technology has great potential and should not be offset because of the possible risks. McDonald’s should implement this application in order to not fall behind in the Industry, where other companies are already successfully employing such technology, and to improve their time efficiency, which is a crucial part of their business.

Team 34

Passwords are so yesterday!

Hasn’t it happened to every single one of us? We decided to add a new password (or maybe just a new variation of an old password) to our list of two to four passwords that we use for all of our accounts – either because we feel like we have used it too many times now, or because the requirements ask for a different kind of special character combination than the two versions of the same password you already have. We thought we were so clever when we created this super-complicated and super-safe new password, and we decided not to write it down because… well, we all know we are not supposed to do that. But now we are sitting in front of our laptop staring at the screen hoping that this super-safe password will find its way back into our thoughts.

At some point not too long ago, fingerprints and other sorts of biometric data like iris scans were considered to be the ultimate safety precaution. However, in today’s interconnected world, biometric data is more and more vulnerable to getting into the wrong person’s hands. When the U.S. Office of Personnel Management was hacked in 2015, a number of 5.6 million fingerprints were stolen. Even though the ability of hackers to make use of those stolen fingerprints is still limited at the moment, this is considered to change quickly as technology evolves rapidly (TheGuardian, 2015).

So if we keep forgetting our passwords, we are not supposed to write them down, and even fingerprints and retina prints are soon not to be safe anymore – how can we protect our private property?

Do not fear, the answer is inside your head.
brain waves

Researchers from Birmingham University have developed a way for security systems to identify a person’s identity through that person’s brainwaves. A study showed that brains react to different words with different kinds of electrical potentials that represent neural communication, and that those different reactions can be used to verify a person’s identity with an accuracy of 94 percent. The study also shows that those potentials stay the same over time, making it possible to use this method over long periods of time – for example for security systems. The study also proves that only the minimum number of electrodes required for obtaining clean data has to be placed on the scalp of the person in order to measure his reactions – three (Armstrong et al., 2015).

Those reactions, the so-called ‘Brainprints’, are considered to be a very safe way to protect private property since they cannot be easily stolen by hackers as can be fingerprints or retina prints. Furthermore, finger or retina prints are not cancelable (they cannot be changed). You cannot simply get a new fingerprint or a new retina print. Once this kind of biometric data is compromised, it is not valuable for the use with security systems anymore. The biometric data from ‘Brainprints’, however, is indeed cancelable. In the case of a compromised ‘Brainprint’ through hacking activities, these ‘Brainprints’ can be reset, making this method of property protection very reliable (Birmingham University, 2015).

Do you think this innovation will turn into a technology that will be widely accessible to everyone in everyday life? Or do you think it will only gain relevance (if so at all) in a high security-seeking business or governmental context?
How do you personally feel about this new discovery? Would you rather stick to your analog passwords that you have gotten so used to? Or are you looking forward to a future where you do not need to remember all those annoying password variations anymore?

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References:

Armstrong, B. C., Ruiz-Blondet, M. V., Khalifian, N., Kurtz, K. J., Jin, Z., & Laszlo, S. (2015). Brainprint: Assessing the uniqueness, collectability, and permanence of a novel method for ERP biometrics. Neurocomputing.

Binghamton University, State University of New York. (2015, June 2). Brain’s reaction to certain words could replace passwords. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 8, 2015 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150602160631.htm.

TheGuardian (2015). US government hack stole fingerprints of 5.6 million federal employees. TheGuardian.com. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/sep/23/us-government-hack-stole-fingerprints.

The New Era of Humanitarian Aid?

Syria-refugees-elearning
ICT helping Syrian Refugees

Is the era of humanitarians distributing physical goods to refugees with clipboards in their hands over?
More and more Syrian aid efforts are being digitalized in order to efficiently handle the high amount of Syrian refugees. By the end of 2015, the number of Syrian refugees is predicted to be around 4.3 million according the the United Nations. Most of these refugees, as well as the countries that are acting as hosts (e.g. Lebanon or Jordan) are quite tech-savvy. This allows the integration of Information and Communication Technology, that helps to allocate aid to where it is most needed.

These technologies help with the registration process, the delivery and allocation of goods, the prevention and treatment of illnesses and diseases, as well as the access to education.

The registration process no longer consists of paper-back registration forms but is now conducted in a more time-effective manner by collecting the data digitally. This allows the exchange of data with the appropriate aid insitutions in a timely manner. It also secures the validity of the data. Often refugees used to register multiple times with different names in order to receive more help. Nowadays, the UN’s refugee agency even uses iris scans for registration. A total of 1.6 million Syrian refugees have already been registered using this method.
These iris scans are also used as tools for the delivery and allocation of goods. Humanitarian aid no longer focuses on giving refugees physical goods but they provide them with financial help in order to buy those goods themselves from designated stores, giving them higher variety and preserving their dignity. This not only reduces the allocation of unneeded goods, but also fosters the local economy of the host country. Financial aid may be distributed through different channels: while SmartCards may be used as payment method in other areas, in Jordan the iris scanner can be used to withdraw a refugee’s cash entitlement from ATMs. Soon, refugees might be able to purchase food according to their entitlement in supermarkets cash-free, simply by using iris recognition.
The application of ICT furthermore facilitates the prevention and treatment of illnesses and diseases. Through online real-time consultation of e.g. US specialists, doctors in host countries such as Jordan and Lebanon receive support while treating the vast amount of refugees. WHO Lebanon and WHO Jordan together with national governments are furthermore currently working on a program to monitor refugees’ health and to prevent diseases from breaking out.
ICT can also greatly help with the education of Syrian children. 700,000 Syrian children in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey do currently not receive any education, since the host country facilities cannot cope with the high amounts of new students. In order to find a way to educate those children, UNICEF is currently developing a distant education program that can be used virtually (Favell, 2015).

So, do these ICT-based processes really introduce a new era of humanitarian aid or is it just a one-time-thing?
I believe that, as mentioned above, there are a lot of advantages that come from the use of ICT in this context. It is fascinating, how ICT can be used in this context to facilitate the helping of all those people in need. However, it should not be ignored that Syria is quite a special case. People had widely had access to technology before they had to leave their country and they are therefore rather familiar with its usage. Those processes that need actual interaction might, however, not be transferable to refugees from other countries. If we consider humanitarian aid in African countries, people might not necessarily be familiar with technologically savvy programs. This could lead to refugees not being able to take advantage of the help they are granted. It is therefore necessary to assess the tech-affinity of future refugees before introducing these ICT processes in other contexts. More hands-on learning would be required to educate refugees on how to use these technologies and to explain their significance. For Syria, however, this application seems to be very fitting and highly valuable. Other cases of humanitarian help will need to be considered when determining whether this process can be used widely in the future and therefore whether it is the beginning of a new era.

Favell, A., 2015. How technology is helping deliver aid to Syrian refugees in the Middle East [online]. ComputerWeekly. Available at: http://www.computerweekly.com/feature/How-technology-is-helping-deliver-aid-to-Syrian-refugees-in-the-Middle-East [Accessed 7. October 2014).