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Where the Digital Economy Is Moving the Fastest

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The transition to a global digital economy in 2014 was sporadic – brisk in some countries, choppy in others. By year’s end, the seven biggest emerging markets were larger than the G7, in purchasing power parity terms. Plus, consumers in the Asia-Pacific region were expected to spend more online last year than consumers in North America. The opportunities to serve the e-consumer were growing – if you knew where to look.

These changing rhythms in digital commerce are more than a China, or even an Asia, story. Far from Silicon Valley, Shanghai, or Singapore, a German company, Rocket Internet, has been busy launching e-commerce start-ups across a wide range of emerging and frontier markets. Their stated mission: To become the world’s largest internet platform outside the U.S. and China. Many such “Rocket” companies are poised to become the Alibabas and Amazons for the rest of the world: Jumia, which operates in nine countries across Africa; Namshi in the Middle East; Lazada and Zalora in ASEAN; Jabong in India; and Kaymu in 33 markets across Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

Private equity and venture capital money have been concentrating in certain markets in ways that mimic the electronic gold rush in Silicon Valley. During the summer of 2014 alone $3 billion poured into India’s e-commerce sector, where, in addition to local innovators like Flipkart and Snapdeal, there are nearly 200 digital commerce startups flush with private investment and venture capital funds. This is happening in a country where online vendors largely operate on a cash-on-delivery (COD) basis. Credit cards or PayPal are rarely used; according to the Reserve Bank of India, 90% of all monetary transactions in India are in cash. Even Amazon localized its approach in India to offer COD as a service. India and other middle-income countries such as Indonesia and Colombia all have high cash dependence. But even where cash is still king, digital marketplaces are innovating at a remarkable pace. Nimble e-commerce players are simply working with and around the persistence of cash.

To understand more about these types of changes around the world, researchers developed an “index” to identify how a group of countries stack up against each other in terms of readiness for a digital economy. The Digital Evolution Index (DEI) is derived from four broad drivers:

  • supply-side factors : including access, fulfillment, and transactions infrastructure;
  • demand-side factors : including consumer behaviors and trends, financial and Internet and social media savviness;
  • innovations : including the entrepreneurial, technological and funding ecosystems, presence and extent of disruptive forces and the presence of a start-up culture and mindset;
  • institutions : including government effectiveness and its role in business, laws and regulations and promoting the digital ecosystem.

The resulting index includes a ranking of 50 countries, which were chosen because they are either home to most of the current 3 billion internet users or they are where the next billion users are likely to come from.

As part of the research was to understand who was changing quickly to prepare for the digital marketplace and who wasn’t. Perhaps not surprisingly, developing countries in Asia and Latin America are leading in momentum, reflecting their overall economic gains. But the analysis revealed other interesting patterns.
Take, for example, Singapore and The Netherlands. Both are among the top 10 countries in present levels of digital evolution. But when considered the momentum – i.e., the five-year rate of change from 2008 to 2013 – the two countries are far apart. Singapore has been steadily advancing in developing a world-class digital infrastructure, through public-private partnerships, to further entrench its status as a regional communications hub. Through ongoing investment, it remains an attractive destination for start-ups and for private equity and venture capital. The Netherlands, meanwhile, has been rapidly losing steam. The Dutch government’s austerity measures beginning in late 2010 reduced investment into elements of the digital ecosystem. Its stagnant, and at times slipping, consumer demand led investors to seek greener pastures.

Based on the performance of countries on the index during the years 2008 to 2013, researches assigned them to one of four trajectory zones: Stand Out, Stall Out, Break Out, and Watch Out.

  • Stand Out countries have shown high levels of digital development in the past and continue to remain on an upward trajectory.
  • Stall Out countries have achieved a high level of evolution in the past but are losing momentum and risk falling behind.
  • Break Out countries have the potential to develop strong digital economies. Though their overall score is still low, they are moving upward and are poised to become Stand Out countries in the future.
  • Watch Out countries face significant opportunities and challenges, with low scores on both current level and upward motion of their DEI. Some may be able to overcome limitations with clever innovations and stopgap measures, while others seem to be stuck.

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Break Out countries such as India, China, Brazil, Vietnam, and the Philippines are improving their digital readiness quite rapidly. But the next phase of growth is harder to achieve. Staying on this trajectory means confronting challenges like improving supply infrastructure and nurturing sophisticated domestic consumers.

Watch Out countries like Indonesia, Russia, Nigeria, Egypt, and Kenya have important things in common like institutional uncertainty and a low commitment to reform. They possess one or two outstanding qualities — predominantly demographics — that make them attractive to businesses and investors, but they expend a lot of energy innovating around institutional and infrastructural constraints. Unclogging these bottlenecks would let these countries direct their innovation resources to more productive uses.

Most Western and Northern European countries, Australia, and Japan have been Stalling Out. The only way they can jump-start their recovery is to follow what Stand Out countries do best: redouble on innovation and continue to seek markets beyond domestic borders. Stall Out countries are also aging. Attracting talented, young immigrants can help revive innovation quickly.

What does the future hold? The next billion consumers to come online will be making their digital decisions on a mobile device – very different from the practices of the first billion that helped build many of the foundations of the current e-commerce industry. There will continue to be strong cross-border influences as the competitive field evolves: even if Europe slows, a European company, such as Rocket Internet, can grow by targeting the fast-growing markets in the emerging world; giants out of the emerging world, such as Alibaba, with their newfound resources and brand, will look for markets elsewhere; old stalwarts, such as Amazon and Google will seek growth in new markets and new product areas. Emerging economies will continue to evolve differently, as will their newly online consumers. Businesses will have to innovate by customizing their approaches to this multi-speed planet, and in working around institutional and infrastructural constraints, particularly in markets that are home to the next billion online consumers.

We may be on a journey toward a digital planet — but we’re all traveling at different speeds.

Short video about this article : http://bcove.me/nbmmm7et

Shanise Abhelakh
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Making Talking Generate Next Billion Dollar

In February 2014, WhatsApp was sold to Facebook for an unbelievable figure – 19 billion dollars. Within the next few weeks, it was all over everybody’s blogs, Facebook statuses, lunch conversations, and even kids in school were talking about it. People could not understand that a company whose only product is a messaging app could be worth that much money.

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WhatsApp is not the only messenger out there. Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, LINE, WeChat, and many others are also stakeholders in the industry. They proved to be a cheap alternative to operator-based text messaging via SMS, and they provide many more features that SMS doesn’t have. According to statistics, in August 2015, WhatsApp has an active user number of 800 million, Facebook messenger has 700 million, and WeChat has 600 million. If we just do a simple math and not include all added features that each messenger provides, all chat messengers have a combined valuation of over 200 billion dollars. That’s half of Google or 4 times more than Yahoo!.

Interestingly on the contrary side, all these messaging apps struggled to figure out their revenue model. Evan Spiegel, the co-founder of Snapchat, acknowledged in an interview the extreme difficulty of making a feasible one. Many internet companies are backed by ads revenue. Google, for example, revealed in their multiple annual reports that more than 90% of their revenue comes from ads. One of their many services, Google Adsense, analyzes a web page and provides advertisements that best fit the content of that page. However, most people on messengers send private messages to their friends, and it is impossible to insert any ad into the conversation. Out of privacy concerns, it is also unlikely to run algorithms on user’s messages to provide personalized recommendations.

Realizing this limitation, apps began to expand their service into other communication areas, such as emojis, playing games with friends, sending money, interesting new content, etc. This is a very successful first step. In 2013, LINE reported in their Q2 quarter report, that out of their $100 million quarterly revenue, game purchase and in-game purchase accounted for 53%, and emojis accounted for 27%. Snapchat is piloting the new discovery feature that pushes sponsored content to the user. With the existing ads before playing video revenue model, the company stated that their revenue is estimated at $50 million dollars this year.

In addition to these efforts, LINE and WeChat also aim to build up their own ecosystems. WeChat launched a feature to send money to multiple friends in January 2014. It targets the Chinese tradition of giving monetary gifts to friends and family for auspicious blessings on special occasions. On 2015 Chinese New Year’s Eve, more than 1.5 billion “red envelopes” were sent on a single day. WeChat also keeps a semi-bank account for a user. Besides sending money to friends from the account, the money could also be used to make purchase, refill phone cards, call a taxi, pay utility bills and many more. WeChat has built a successful image within China and it has penetrated into many aspects of people’s life.

In conclusion, the entire messenger ecosystem is very enormous. The user-to-user communication nature allowed exponential growth in the user base. With the vastly and constantly growing user base, companies are able to reach billion dollars valuation within a very short amount of time. The next step, to achieve their billion dollars revenue, companies are experimenting to expand their services into our daily life. LINE and WhatsApp have built up their ecosystem that allows users to call taxis, stream music, order foods, and we can predict soon other companies will have similar strategies to expand their verticals.

The Dell-EMC deal. Will it change the tech landscape?

One of the most important deals in the tech business this year is that Dell is purchasing the cloud- and data storage company EMC for about 67 billion dollars, which is around 24 dollars per share for the EMC shareholders. The merger of the two companies will allow Michael Dell to remain CEO and more importantly will allow for the diversification of Dell, which is essential for the company’s long term strategy, because the PC market is not as strong as it used to be, to put it mildly.

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According to Business Insider the same merger could have happened in 2002, but Michael Dell personally stopped the acquisition talks; he was afraid of an acquisition so large right after the burst of the internet bubble, despite EMC being valued at around 16 billion dollars back then. However, at the time Dell’s strategy was focused on manufacturing as many PCs as possible at an extremely high profit margin, utilizing its economies of scale that was practically unmatchable at the time.

EMC may not be as widely known as Dell, but it is actually a very large company with more 70 thousand employees worldwide, providing very popular cloud- and data storage services. The company also owns the RSA digital security software analysis company and the major part of Vmware, which is a software virtualization company. According to leaked information about the details of the merger, Dell has agreed to keep Vmware as an independently operating company.

According to Daniel Ives, who is the Managing Director in the technology, media and telecom research group of the enterprise software company FBR Capital Markets & Co., FBRC, this is just the tip of the iceberg and many acquisitions will follow from large, traditional tech companies. He also mentions some actual examples that could potentially happen in the foreseeable future: 1. Cisco and NetApp, 2. Cisco and FireEye, 3. IBM and Splunk, 4. IBM and Tableau, 5. HP and Fortinet, 6. Microsoft and Salesforce, 7.Oracle and Netsuite.

Do you think that the Dell-EMC deal will have a long lasting effect on the tech industry?  Will it motivate other large, traditional tech companies to engage in large scale M&A deals that will significantly change the tech landscape? And more importantly, is it beneficial for the tech industry? What is your opinion on the matter?

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References

https://www.twst.com/bio/daniel-ives-2

http://hvg.hu/tudomany/20151012_Rekord_megtortent_a_techvilag_eddigi_leg

http://uk.businessinsider.com/dell-emc-deal-2015-10?r=US&IR=T

http://uk.businessinsider.com/dell-acquires-emc-vmware-2015-10?r=US&IR=T

http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2015/10/dell-buys-emc-for-67-billion-making-it-the-largest-technology-takeover-in-history.html

http://uk.businessinsider.com/dell-emc-deal-could-spur-more-huge-tech-mergers-2015-10?r=US&IR=T

http://uk.businessinsider.com/michael-dell-blocks-emc-acquisition-plans-in-2002-2015-10?r=US&IR=T

 

Microsoft is entering forbidden terrain

Microsofts is entering forbidden terrain 

Microsoft is currently surprising friend and foe by producing their own hardware in the form an expensive laptop. The firm is more flexible than everyone expected.

Windows, Office and Outlook, those are the products that we know Microsoft of. These are all software products, but since Microsoft is now manufacturing its own, super fast laptop, the whole business model changes.

Microsoft is from now on a hardware manufacturer with its own game consoles (XBOX), phones, tablets and smart watches. Two weeks ago, a laptop got introduced into the wide array of products that Microsoft produces.

Nobody could’ve seen it coming since the innovational focus was no longer on Microsoft. Microsoft was considered a big and inert company with no ability to innovate in a disruptive way, and therefore, it could develop the Surface Book without the hassle of prying eyes of competitors. Microsoft was considers inert because the corporate software they are developing is considered dull and in the technological revolution that we currently live in, giant players like Apple and Google dominate the market.

However, the Microsoft Surface is not completely new. It got introduced back in 2012 as a substitute for tablets and laptops, since it amalgamated both products’ characteristic into one, ersome tablet with a keyboard that just didn’t work properly. However, it gained some popularity in the corporate sector because of the mobility of the machine.

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The Microsoft Surface can cumbbe called some sort of niche, but in 2012, it gained a revenue of roughly 2 billion dollars. This is a revenue that has not been completely unnoticed; Apple is now entering this niche with the iPad pro which has a significantly larger screen, a stylus and an optional keyboard, which is integrated in a cover. When Apple is imitating you, it is a good sign.

Microsoft is now extending its Surface-line with a ‘tabtop’ that is able to lie on your lap, just like a laptop does. However, it remains an amalgamation of a keyboard and a tablet, since both are disconnectable.

Competition
The Sufrace Book is entering the market with a very high price. This is an indicator that Microsoft is trying to distinguish itself by delivering high quality products like, for example, Apple. It therefore competes with the MacBook Pro, but also with some cheaper competitors like Lenovo, Acer, Surface-Book-Impressions-2HP and Dell. These companies will not be happy that their biggest softwarepartner is now a competitor in the computer hardware side of business.

The traditional divisions between hardware developers, software developers and online services are now diminishing and Microsoft is now increasing its stakes in premium gadgets. Windows is thereby an aid and not a goal in itself. The operating system is now deployed in order to lure users in towards Microsoft’s (online) services, like OneDrive, Office 365 etcetera.

Strategy
This is from now on the financial substantiation that CEO Satya Nadella is implementing rapidly. However, this did not come without any sacrifice; Microsoft had to layoff over 17000 of its employees in order to habilitate this strategic change.

The overall strategy is to escape the dull image that Microsoft has by showing the world that it is still able to innovate. Therefore, Microsoft’s structure will consist of three pillars from now on: 1) Windows and Hardware (XBOX, Surface, Phones etc.) will be now one entirety under the name: ‘Personal Computing’ 2) ‘Intelligent Cloud’ and 3) ‘Productivity and Business’ (Office and other corporate software).

An overall shift within Microsoft as you can see, but will this be the shift that will enable Microsoft to compete with its biggest rival Apple?

References:

http://www.smh.com.au/it-pro/business-it/microsoft-becomes-friend-and-foe-to-pc-partners-20121017-27q9q.html

Hijink, M. (2015), Microsoft’s Buigzame Karakter, NRC Next

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

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…

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

Detecting Anomalies in Large Data Sets

Data has become a common concern recently. Both companies and individuals have had to deal with information in multiple ways in order to improve or obtain insight from operations. IT has allowed unprecedented new levels in data management for both these parties. This blog, however, intends to focus on companies’ management of data–more specifically, in the auditing sector.

Fraud has frequently taken place in markets historically. I like to think of Imtech as an example, for those who aren’t familiar with the company there’s no need to worry–I’m sure you have an example of your own. Drawing back to the topic of Data and Fraud, it is becoming increasingly difficult to accurately determine potential fraud cases with the increase of information available. This has given rise to the use of computer algorithms to detect these cases (Pand, Chau, Wang & Faloutsos, 2007).

An interesting way to tackle this challenge is to use mathematical laws for large numbers in order to determine anomalies within these data sets. One particularly interesting example is the application of Benford’s Law to detect these cases of fraud on company documentation (Kraus & Valverde, 2014). In short, Benford’s Law states that 30.1% of random, naturally occurring numbers starts with a 1; 17.6% with a 2; 12.5% with a 3, and so on. Logically this makes sense given our counting structure. This can be expressed as,

Where, is a number {1,2..9} and is the probability of the number starting with d.

Despite the fact that this method seems promising, Kraus and Valverde (2014), could not find any outstanding peculiarities from their data set that contained fraud perpetrators. However, this law does serve a starting point for a drill-down approach to discovering perpetrators. Which brings us to the more strategic topic of whether IT will ever develop a way to outsmart fraud perpetrators in this context? Is an eternal drill-down chase ever going to take the lead?

What do you think? Will this ever be the case? Is there any way you thought this might work out?

I think it’s pointless-of course, as everything, IT methods have their degree of accuracy. However, I firmly believe there will never be a way to completely ensure an honest and transparent market. Not long ago I heard a man say, “Does anybody here know what EBITDA stands for? Exactly. Earnings Before I Tricked the Dumb Auditor.” It’s human nature, and that might take millennia before it changes ever so slightly.

I’d like to say it was nice to write a couple blogs here, till the next time!

References

Kraus, C., & Valverde, R. (2014). A DATA WAREHOUSE DESIGN FOR THE DETECTION OF FRAUD IN THE SUPPLY CHAIN BY USING THE BENFORD’S LAW. American Journal of Applied Sciences, 11(9), 1507-1518.

Pandit, S., Chau, D. H., Wang, S., & Faloutsos, C. (2007, May). Netprobe: a fast and scalable system for fraud detection in online auction networks. InProceedings of the 16th international conference on World Wide Web (pp. 201-210). ACM.

Digital Transormation Project: Suzuki & the autonomous vehicle

When talking about the future of transportation, the last company you would think of is Suzuki. This Japanese company specializes in designing and manufacturing passenger cars, motorcycles and several other non-vehicle related machines. While we get many signs that the transportation industry is changing with companies like Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Google and Apple making headlines about electronic and self-driving cars. However Suzuki has not announced any change in its business model and is threatened to get left behind in this changing environment.

Most of Suzuki’s revenue comes from its automobile sector, the company’s strategy is clearly focused on the production of small and subcompact vehicles. The management however is more focussed on its current organizational structure and not on future innovations.

As the automobile market is changing and Suzuki is forced to make a descision on how to proceed onward. We proposed a solution that allows Suzuki to manufacture their own self-driving cars.

The technology behind the autonomous car is not an easy one and its success is dependant on many technical, political and social factors. For an autonomous vehicle to actually function, changes in road infrastructure and vehicle composition is vital. The so called V2I (Vehicle-to-Infrastructure) and V2V (Vehicle-to-Vehicle) communication technology is used by the self driving car to be able to calculate risks and take pre-emptive action to avoid and mitigate crashes as well as detect stop signs, signal status’, speed limits, surface conditions and pedestrian crosswalks. Besides this the car itself will need to have the Light Detection And Ranging (LIDAR) technology, which is the main source of how self driving cars will ‘see’ the world they operate in. By projecting dozens of laser beams around 360 degrees of the car. Through this it is able to create 3D images of objects, which helps the car see potential obstacles in its way. For the self-driving car to have any chance on commercial success, government legislation concerning liability limitation will have to be created, so that car manufacturers are not wholly responsible whenever an accident occurs with an autonomous vehicle.

The automobile industry is very likely to have its most dramatic shift in history. Many of Suzuki’s competitors are already very advanced with this technology so Suzuki will not have the first-mover advantage. However even with this fact we recommend that Suzuki does in fact start developing its own self-driving car. They should be an ambidextrous company, which means that to protect the traditional business and develop disruptive innovations simultaneously. If Suzuki fails to adapt to this shift in the industry, they will likely suffer tremendously. Lets hope Suzuki heeds our advice and does not end up like Kodak of the automobile industry.

 

References:

Siva, S.R.K. (2013),’The Evolution of Connected Vehicle Technology: From Smart Drivers to Smart Cars to… Self-Driving Cars.’ ITE Journal, Volume 83, no. 7, pp 22-26.

 

Future of IKEA: Augmented Reality

Schermafdruk 2015-10-16 21.07.19Schermafdruk 2015-10-16 21.07.37

Have you ever bought a product from IKEA and wondered why you bought it. Or worse, it doesn’t meet your expectation at all. The couch you really wanted is either too big, too ugly or it doesn’t totally match your newly bought curtains. Fear no more! While technology is changing every day, IKEA has found a way to be at your service and fix the above mentioned problem. This blog elaborates on a new technology which will become more mature in the near future: Augmented Reality.

ASchermafdruk 2015-10-16 21.08.12s new disruptive technology, we took Microsoft’s Hololens an augmented reality (AR) enabling device and analyzed how it fits within the business model of the world’s largest furniture and home appliances retailer: IKEA. The Hololens is a new Head Mounted Display which enables its users to augment new objects in the real world. For example, customers can virtually try out whether an IKEA product will fit in their room and which color or customization fits their interior and preferences the best. With augmented reality, you see how the objects would look like in the real world instead of a virtual world.

When Augmented Reality is implemented in IKEA’s current business model, it is expected that it will allow for increased sales through offline and online channels, improved customer experience, and customer support. In addition, IKEA can realise cost reductions due to reduced showroom space, lower prototyping costs, and speed up the design processes.

improved customer experience, and customer support…Ikea-launches-augmented-reality-catalogue-1288x724

The use of Augmented Reality technology and the Hololens fits very well within IKEA’s current business model as well in its current information system strategy. In general, IKEA is perceived as a modern and innovative company, but they have currently made insufficient effort in the move to e-commerce. Most of the technology as well as information systems which are crucial to successfully implement AR technology are already present within the company, giving them a competitive advantage for the future of online retailing. The information systems in place are their webshop, 3D models of its products, 3D building tools and a basic mobile Augmented Reality application for phones and tablets. 

Schermafdruk 2015-10-16 21.14.24Additionally, IKEA has always been focussed at lowering costs in all aspects of the business, as their price/quality attracts the major part of its customers. The Hololens will provide opportunities to further push costs down in varios aspects of the business, making the company more profitable.

.. opportunities to further push costs down…

Implementation of the Hololens is possible without too much alteration of the current structure and systems: it is financially, technically, legally and operationally feasible. However, it will still be a future challenge for IKEA to meet the demands generated by remote shopping over mobile applications and the Internet. But in the end, implementing and using the Hololens will provide IKEA as well as its customers with lots of benefits.

As a team, we can’t wait for this implementation. We hope you are thrilled too…

Team 23

H. Gouiza – 322226

K.H. Schaap – 358985

G.S.G.M. de Jong – 357570

T.R. Jordan – 400986

J.S. Langbroek – 336822

Digital transformation project – Boijmans van Beuningen Museum

The Boijmans van Beuningen museum aims to provide its visitors with an exciting experience by showing them inspiring, amazing world class art collections. In order to achieve this, a considerably high budget is needed, from which almost 50% is funded by the government. Given thefact that the government has announced that the amount of subsidy will decrease dramatically in the coming years, the museum is forced to find an extra stream of revenue that could cover up for this future income loss. This is essential both for customer satisfaction and future business growth.

In this report, a potential solution that could generate additional sources of revenue is proposed. Currently, the museum has around 300,000 visitors on a yearly basis, with entrance fees accounting for 20.3% of the generated revenue. The number of visitors could be increased by embracing the latest technologies that could enhance the current museum experience significantly. Augmented reality, one of the latest but most developed technologies to date, would serve this purpose perfectly. Using augmented reality technology inside the museum enables visitors to easily access additional multimedia information about artefacts, explore 3D models of augmented artworks and access archived artworks that used to be not displayed due to space constraints. In order to make the museum experience even more revolutionizing, the museum could integrate beacon based technology, it is a Bluetooth enabled tracking technology that allows visitors to instantly receive relevant information as soon as they get close to a specific artefact. Apart from the improved customer experience, the museum also gains insight in visitor behavior, since it can track the paths that visitors follow through the museum and which areas are visited most. These insights can then be used to improve future museum experience, of course these insights will only be used with permission from the visitors.

In terms of technical feasibility, the augmented reality technology in combination with the beacon based technology have already been developed and tested in the museum industry, so it has also been proven that it is technically feasible. Having looked at the IT facilities present at the museum, an Augmented Reality app would fit into their future plans. Additionally, the Boijmans van Beuningen museum has already had experience with augmented reality, since they used it for a one-day exhibition that was perceived well. Therefore, it can be stated that the willingness to cooperate from the organization in this project is very likely. In addition to the numerous benefits this technology entails, the financial part also plays a significant role in the deployment of this augmented reality technology. However, the implementation of this technology is expected to pay off within a short time span of a few years, since not only the visitor numbers are increasing, but it is also expected to lead to an important boost in terms of press and media attention, which improves the museum’s brand image.

To conclude, the benefits of adopting augmented reality greatly outweigh the costs that also come along. Therefore Boijmans van Beuningen museum is advised to embrace this technological transformation.

By Group 5

Sjaak Meeuwsen – 437156

Claude Zwicker – 437277

Yinuo Jin – 373227

Hidde van Heijst – 436800

Ruud Schippers – 441698

Is the recruitment industry threatened by tech disruption ?

Recruitment can be a headache for companies of all formats. In the last few decades, numerous markets have encountered disruption due to the emergence of new technologies. It is not merely the emergence of these technologies that can disrupt such markets but also the willingness of powerful players within the market to adapt the change.

Let’s take a look at the history of digization in the recruitment industry. In 1992, Bill Warren launced the first job board under the name of the Online Career Center. Three years later, Warren’s flagship was sold to TMP, which resulted in a merger with what we nowadays know as Monster.

The first advancement in this online recruitment market erupted in the late 90s and in the beginning stage of the new millennium. In this period, two new types of job boards appeared; niche and network boards.  The niche boards fixated on offering jobs for specific market segments, job functions and geographic areas. On the other side, the networks encompassed a multi-niche approach where employers were provided with the ability to search by location, industry or other variables.

With the inauguration of the recession era and as a result the shrinking budget for recruitment many job boards failed to survive.

However, the recruitment industry did not yet fully grasp the full potential of the available technological advancements. For example lets take a look at Linkedin, which in its essence is not doing more than “transferring” offline paper resumes to an online social environment. Its first-mover advantage that allowed them to gain a huge share of the online recruitment market allowed them to ask employers premium prices for posting job vacancies online. This first-mover advantage resulted in a stable business model, which resulted in a major drawback for Linkedin. The king of the bear pack is not going out anymore to find new honey.
After the recession era, several startups saw an opportunity to offer the features that Linkedin not dared to offer. Companies as TheMuse, Glassdoor, Hired erupted to offer employers and employees an improved service. Why are we still writing motivation letters if a video can tell us more about our motivation? It is at least much more difficult to fake motivational drivers when a recruiter can read your body language. The only reason I can come up with is that the recruiter can examine a candidates writing skills by using motivation letters. However, an assessment test can examine for the identical purpose.

In conclusion, there are huge opportunities for innovation in the recruitment industry and thereby opportunities for recruitment companies to differentiate themselves from the crowd. A new trend of hyperdifferentation can be signaled, platforms that focus solely on a particular job market or concentrate on a singular process within the recruitment process seem able to gain profits.

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Sources:

https://www.rudebaguette.com/2015/09/17/with-increasing-recruitment-startups-what-will-be-the-fate-of-headhunters/

https://www.techinasia.com/breed-startups-redefining-recruitment-india/

http://www.hrexaminer.com/job-board-evolutio/

MOOCs? Which one fits your needs?


Since the beginning of the MOOC disruption phase back in 2012, many startups have emerged. The “big three” MOOCs Coursera, EDx & Udacity accounted for a total market share of 24 million students worldwide. Massive online open courses (MOOC) are threatening the educational industry since 2012. Coursera, the biggest fish in the MOOC industry revealed it hit 15 million student mark in August 2015. The same month EDx, a non-profit joint venture of the prestigious universities Harvard & MIT declared that they reached a total user base of 5 million students worldwide. Sebastian Thrun the CEO of Udacity stated that their platform reached a user base of 4 million active students.

Universities outside the US have adopted a reluctant stance on the adaptation of this new business model. However, universities across Europe may face fierce competition in the near future. As for example the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) will start a pilot next academic year to determine if face-to-face contact can be delivered through their MOOC platform. The 10-month program will be split up in two parts. The first five months (also referred to as the “try before you buy period”) the students can complete their courses on the platform which decreases the cost of tuition dramatically.

Which MOOCs fits your needs?

MOOCs have become a leading resource for students interested in IT and computer science students across the globe. However, the real deal is which MOOC will land you a tech job?

For computer & information science specific courses Udacity will probably be your best bet.  The programs offered at Udacity are designed together with industry giants in the tech landscape as Google, AT&T, Facebook, Salesforce & Cloudera.  With topnotch educators as Sebastian Thrun (inventor autonomous car, project leader Google Glass & co-founder Udacity ),  Steve Blank (Father of the lean start-up methodology, author & entrepreneur) Udacity is unparalleled in the educational computer science industry.

The nanodegree program offered by Udacity has been seen as the main disruptive characteristics of MOOC and is even considered as the biggest treat for traditional education in the online educational landscape. The crux of this nanodegree can be found in the unbundling of traditional curricula into so called ‘’nanodegrees’’. The nanodegrees range from intro to programming to full stack developer certifications.

EDx offers a wider variety of courses when compared to Udacity which has a computer science centric focus. EDx is a better fit for students that are interested in a specific course rather than a specific field of knowledge. In short, EDx offers several categories of courses from outstanding universities as Harvard and MIT. Despite the offering of a wide variety of courses as mandarin for beginners and the introduction to deep science course, EDx loses points on the ability to increase the quality of the user environment.

Coursera succeeded to be a distinctive player in the field. It manages to combine the benefits of both worlds by offering a wide variety of course while maintaining quality.

In short, Udacity may the best solution for oriented students that want to dive deeper and become experts in a certain field. Coursera & EDx are good options if you are interested in a wider range of courses without a specific need to dive deeper in a certain field of knowledge.

Sources:

Udacity.com

http://www.skilledup.com/articles/the-best-mooc-provider-a-review-of-coursera-udacity-and-edx

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/10/08/massachusetts-institute-technology-launch-half-mooc-half-person-masters-degree

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MOOCs ? Which one do you choose ?

Since the beginning of the MOOC disruption phase back in 2012, many startups have emerged. The “big three” MOOCs Coursera, EDx & Udacity accounted for a total market share of 24 million students worldwide. Massive online open courses (MOOC) are threatening the educational industry since 2012. Coursera, the biggest fish in the MOOC industry revealed it hit 15 million student mark in August 2015. The same month EDx, a non-profit joint venture of the prestigious universities Harvard & MIT declared that they reached a total user base of 5 million students worldwide. Sebastian Thrun the CEO of Udacity stated that their platform reached a user base of 4 million active students.

 

Universities outside the US have adopted a reluctant stance on the adaptation of this new business model. However, universities across Europe may face fierce competition in the near future. As for example the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) will start a pilot next academic year to determine if face-to-face contact can be delivered through their MOOC platform. The 10-month program will be split up in two parts. The first five months (also referred to as the “try before you buy period”) the students can complete their courses on the platform which decreases the cost of tuition dramatically.

 

Which MOOCs fits your needs?

MOOCs have become a leading resource for students interested in IT and computer science students across the globe. However, the real deal is which MOOC will land you a tech job?

For computer & information science specific courses Udacity will probably be your best bet.  The programs offered at Udacity are designed together with industry giants in the tech landscape as Google, AT&T, Facebook, Salesforce & Cloudera.  With topnotch educators as Sebastian Thrun (inventor autonomous car, project leader Google Glass & co-founder Udacity ),  Steve Blank (Father of the lean start-up methodology, author & entrepreneur) Udacity is unparalleled in the educational computer science industry.

 

The nanodegree program offered by Udacity has been seen as the main disruptive characteristics of MOOC and is even considered as the biggest treat for traditional education in the online educational landscape. The crux of this nanodegree can be found in the unbundling of traditional curricula into so called ‘’nanodegrees’’. The nanodegrees range from intro to programming to full stack developer certifications.

 

EDx offers a wider variety of courses when compared to Udacity which has a computer science centric focus. EDx is a better fit for students that are interested in a specific course rather than a specific field of knowledge. In short, EDx offers several categories of courses from outstanding universities as Harvard and MIT. Despite the offering of a wide variety of courses as mandarin for beginners and the introduction to deep science course, EDx loses points on the ability to increase the quality of the user environment.

 

Coursera succeeded to be a distinctive player in the field. It manages to combine the benefits of both worlds by offering a wide variety of course while maintaining quality.

 

In short, Udacity may the best solution for oriented students that want to dive deeper and become experts in a certain field. Coursera & EDx are good options if you are interested in a wider range of courses without a specific need to dive deeper in a certain field of knowledge.

 

Sources:

Udacity.com

http://www.skilledup.com/articles/the-best-mooc-provider-a-review-of-coursera-udacity-and-edx

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/10/08/massachusetts-institute-technology-launch-half-mooc-half-person-masters-degree

 

 

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Next level of gesture based interface: Ultrahaptics, the new tactical interface

Have you ever imagined how things would be in the future based on Sci-fi movies? Take a look at this short clip from the movie Minority Report of Tom Cruise (2002).


In this movie clip, gesture-based computing was shown. Back in the days, we would have never thought that swiping gestures could make an interaction with a system. Recently, researchers have even developed a new technology called Ultrahaptics. This takes the gesture based interface to another level.

What is Ultrahaptics?
Ultrahaptics is a device that makes invisible objects in mid-air that you can touch and manipulate. The device is using ultrasound that reflects air pressure waves off a user’s hand. This way, it will create the illusion that you are actually feeling objects or let you move around an object on the screen (Ultrahaptics, 2015). A fascinating thing about the technology is that it does not require the user to wear any gear or equipment to be able to use the interface (like in the movie Minority Report). The technology just uses the combination of hardware and the accompany software (Ackerman, 2015).

A useful technological development?   
The possibilities for such interface are endless. It could provide real-time tactile feedback while watching a movie or playing a game. It also could change the way we shop online and eliminate the struggles we are facing. For instance, making it possible to feel fabrics and avoid the need to visit the real store. Perhaps one day couples could even send each other sensations from afar and long distance relationship is not something to be considered anymore.
Recently, Ultrahaptics is already working with Jaguar Land Rover for a mid-air touch system to be implemented into the infotainment screen. It is supposed to increase the speed and efficiency of the interaction between the driver and the screen. As this will reduce the driver distraction by minimizing the amount of time the driver’s eyes are on the screen, it will help with increasing driver safety (Techspark, 2015).

Due to the rapid technological development, techs in futuristic movies that we always imagine could be applied in everyday scenarios. In my opinion, it will be very interesting technology to keep an eye on it. It has great potential like many developmental technologies, but whether we will actually see it often in future systems is still to be determined.

| 354737cy |


References

Ackerman, E. (2015) ‘CES 2015: Ultrahaptics’ Ultrasonic Tactile Display for Virtual Controls’ http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/consumer-electronics/gadgets/ces-2015-hands-on-with-ultrahaptics-ultrasonic-tactile-display , 8 January 2015

Techspark (2015) ‘Ultrahapics to provide mid-air haptic touch system for Jaguar Land rovers’, http://techspark.co/ultrahaptics-to-provide-mid-air-haptic-touch-system-for-jaguar-land-rovers/ , 30 September 2015

Ultrahaptics (2015) http://ultrahaptics.com/, 2015

Digital Transformation Project: Elsevier and the cloud

Elsevier is a world-leading scientific publishing company and offers over 2,500 unique journals and more than unique 33,000 book titles (Elsevier, 2015). These offerings are unique and therefore differentiate them from the competition. Additionally, Elsevier offers web-based, digital solutions, such as ScienceDirect, Scopus, and Reaxys. These unique services enable researchers, students and other individuals to better consult the content made available by Elsevier (and other publishers). These solutions are just an example of all the Internet features Elsevier tries to implement into their business fundamentals. Currently, Elsevier’s business is shifting from scientific publisher towards a professional information solutions provider. Elsevier’s CEO Ron Mobed is encouraging the business to ‘Lead the way’ (Mobed, 2014). From this corporate vision, we can infer that Elsevier is striving to implement new technologies in order to disrupt the publishing industry.

To generate revenue, Elsevier mainly sells access to scientific journals to its customers. The value proposition Elsevier offers is that they consult the institution how to generate revenue with their services. The demonstration of this value proposition is done on a yearly basis by Sales directly to the institution. However, these business-to-business negotiations are transforming due to emerging technologies, which for example result in the increase of consumer informedness (Li et al., 2014).

To control this transformation (e.g. consumer informedness) and provide other complications regarding technology development, we propose an online application driven by cloud computing. It is an online platform where the institution can login, create and adjust similar metrics as currently shown by Sales. This innovation will further expand the current concept of Elsevier’s value to the institutions, but will introduce risk since institutions are not required to contact Elsevier anymore for these metrics. The same focus will remain, where not only the value of their investment in Elsevier is presented, but also how Elsevier’s services contribute the institution‘s revenue through an increased institutional competitiveness and collaboration among researchers. Competitiveness will help the institution to gain a better market position and earn more out of four sources: block funding, project funding, commercial monetization, and tuition and endowment. Collaboration among researcher will improve the quality of their research, which will lead to better publications and will result in more value for the institution. In conclusion, the online application will lead to more captured value for Elsevier and lead to more value and revenue for the institution.

References

Elsevier, 2015. At a Glance. [Online] Available at: https://www.elsevier.com/about/at-a-glance [Accessed 7 October 2015].

Li, T. et al., 2014. Consumer Informedness and Firm Information Strategy. Information Systems Research, 25(2), pp.345–63.

Mobed, R., 2014. Elsevier’s vision. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier. Internal employee presentation.

The Internet of Things: The Smart Bicycle Lock!

The internet of things is becoming a reality more and more. Beside smart thermostats, light switches and power outlets controllable by smartphone apps creating smart homes, outside of the house technology has solutions for daily encountered problems as well!

smartlock5

As many Dutchmen know, having a lock on your bike is not a guarantee that it won’t get stolen. The Noke U-lock might be the answer. The creators at Füz Designs have created a smart lock that is not only innovative but also very sturdy. The lock can be locked and unlocked using your phone, as the app in the phone has a unique code with which the lock corresponds through bluetooth when you press a button on the lock.

smartlock1

If someone is messing with the lock or the bike for more than 3 seconds, the lock can sense this and will give a loud 30 second alarm that can be heard up to 50 meters from the lock, generating enough attention to make the thieves go running. The owner will also be alerted through his phone that the alarm went off, so if someone is trying to steal your bike in the middle of the night the owner will be woken up and not come outside the next morning when it’s already too late. It also features a GPS built into the device so in case the bike gets taken together with the lock one can easily track it down. The lifelong battery of the lock will last for a whole year before it needs recharging.

smartlock6

For the people who always forget where they’ve parked their bike, the smartlock app will tell the user where the lock was last used. If a friend wants to use the bike the app has a special lend-out feature. In the case your phone’s battery is empty or you want to leave your phone at home, the lock has a smart feature that allows the user to unlock the lock using a unique rhythm of long and short taps, kind of like a Morse code.

smartlock 2

As innovative IT technology is being implemented in increasingly more objects, we have to get used to the fact that everything in the world around us will record, send signals and is connected. After our cars started to get a lot smarter, and homes are turning into smart homes, now its turn for our bikes to get connected.

Sources:
http://www.coolhunting.com/tech/noke-smart-u-lock-bike
http://www.citylab.com/tech/2015/03/this-bluetooth-enabled-u-lock-shrieks-at-bike-thieves/387544/ http://www.iculture.nl/noke-u-lock-slim-slot-apple-watch/
http://backerjack.com/noke-smart-lock-protects-your-two-wheeler-from-a-stealer/
http://www.solidsmack.com/design/noke-u-lock-smashes-it-as-the-worlds-smartest-u-lock-for-bikes/

Trident, the underwater drone you can control through your phone

The first thing you think about when you hear the word drone is probably ‘unmanned flying machine’. In the recent years, a lot of different types of drones have been invented, some even controllable by phone. But now there is a new kind of drone to be controlled through your phone: the underwater drone! A mix between an unmanned mini-submarine and a phone controllable drone, this new cool vehicle has allowed other dimensions than the sky to be explored through your phone’s touchscreen!

The Trident underwater drone allows you to control the drone and live-stream the images it makes with your smartphone, tablet or laptop. It is one of the first drones that works well under water and that allows for live streaming of the footage. The images captured by the Trident are sent to your phone or tablet through a long cable that is attached to the machine.

trident in water

Smart Design
The smart and sleek design allows the trident to be agile and fast in the water, easy to control and move around obstacles and in small spaces. With a top speed of 7 km per hour, the drone can reach a depth of more than 100 meters, and the battery will allow for three hours of underwater exploration. The trident has been designed such that it has maximum performance and controllability. This is done through the design of the exterior shape as well as the design of the thruster. This allows the Trident to be navigated through the water swiftly and agile. With this device, anyone can become a shipwreck explorer!

“Suddenly, you don’t need to be a James Cameron or a Jacques Cousteau to explore beneath the waves.” – Zachary Slobig, takepart

trident3

Kickstarter Project
The people behind the Trident are not new to underwater exploration, previously they have funded an underwater robot successfully through Kickstarter. Now they are back on the crowdfunding platform, exceeding the $ 50.000 amply, having already raised $ 657,138 funded by 1036 backers at this moment. Four years of designing and testing have gone into the project, and now with the funding goals amply reached it is almost assured the project will lead to some success. Being very easy to use, and most of all fun to control through the oceans and waters, the developers at OpenROV hope this to be their dream product.

Garage Start-up
As their dream is to build an underwater vehicle that was inexpensive and fun to use, OpenROV have made a huge jump from the simple but successful underwater robot they launched three years ago. Starting in one of the founders’ garage with the hopes of finding something special at an underwater location rumoured to contain a lost treasure in Californian waters, they started building a prototype that could be their ticket to finding gold. Although they did not find the treasure, their project is turning into gold as the enthusiastic backers lined up to fund their project and turn it into reality.

trident 5Trident+Bubble+Gif

Open Source Software
In order to make the drone very easy to use, the team has “embraced the latest emerging internet standards from HTML5 and webRTC to WebVR and WebGL to deliver a rich piloting experience through just a browser that runs on laptops, tablets, and modern mobile devices”. Using the same open-source software for the project they used for the previous underwater vehivle, the team has done a lot of updates to make it a lot better.

The cheapest version, costing $799, will include the actual underwater vehicle and its batteries, the wire that sends the footage up, and a buoy that can float on the surface and send a wifi-signal back to the phone or tablet in order to stream the live footage and control the underwater drone!

Sources
http://www.gizmag.com/openrov-trident-rov/39431/
http://www.engadget.com/2015/09/16/openrov-trident-kickstarter/
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/openrov/openrov-trident-an-underwater-drone-for-everyon
http://petapixel.com/2015/09/19/trident-is-an-underwater-hd-camera-drone-that-lets-you-explore-the-seas/
http://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/openrov-trident-drone/

When will computers become smarter than humans?

If Moore’s law keeps continuing, there will be a point in time where computer processing power exceeds the processing power of the human brain. Faster computers could have a huge impact on everyday life and the tasks that we perform. To give a deeper understanding of how fast the brain we will use the estimation of the processing power of the human brain that has been made by Dharmendra Modha, IBM Fellow and IBM Chief Scientist for Brain-inspired Computing. He estimated that the brain has 38 pentaflops of processing power, which is a thousand trillion or 38,000,000,000,000,000 in numbers. Flops stand for floating point operations per second and is an indicator for the processing power of the CPU (Central Processor Unit).  Some estimated examples to put the human brain into perspective:


Iphone 6 has about                                           6,250,000,000 flops.
Samsung S6 has about                                  33,000,000,000, flops.
Nintendo Wii U has about                            333,000,000,000, flops.
Playstation 4 has about                             1,833,000,000,000, flops.
Tianhe-2 upercomputer has about    33,860,000,000,000,000 flops.


As you can see the world’s fastest super computer’s computing power is getting close to equal the human brain’s processing power. But when will the commercially available processors surpass the processing power of the human brain? The fastest commercially available are the Core i7 5960X and 5930K, which have about 354 gigaflops (354,000,000,000). According to Moore’s Law (with the help of multithreading and service-orientated architecture) it would take another 32 years before processors faster than the human brain would be commercially available.

artificial intelligence

Processing power is one thing, modeling software to behave and think that surpasses human knowledge and rationale is another. Artificial intelligence is already being developed, but is nowhere near human intelligence. The combination of super fast processors and software that can improve other software could lead to exponential technology development. This could bring many benefits such as human augmentation, robots that will do a lot of human tasks and increased efficiency in everything that is computerized. We also have be cautious when the technology develops at an exponential rate, as artificial intelligence could “outsmart” human beings. By looking at the current trends in the development of processing speed we could definitely say that there are some exciting technological developments/revolutions to come.

References

Forbes.com, (2015). Forbes Welcome. [online] Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2014/06/23/chinas-tianhe-2-remains-the-worlds-fastest-supercomputer/
Pages.experts-exchange.com, (2015). Processing Power Compared. [online] Available at: http://pages.experts-exchange.com/processing-power-compared
Puget Systems, (2015). Linpack performance Haswell E (Core i7 5960X and 5930K). [online] Available at: https://www.pugetsystems.com/labs/articles/Linpack-performance-Haswell-E-Core-i7-5960X-and-5930K-594/
Researcher.watson.ibm.com, (2015). Dharmendra S. Modha – IBM. [online] Available at: http://researcher.watson.ibm.com/researcher/view.php?person=us-dmodha
started, I. (2015). Intel processors: what you need to know to get started. [online] TechRadar. Available at: http://www.techradar.com/news/computing-components/processors/intel-processors-everything-you-need-to-know-1282987/3

An app for finding the cheapest groceries?

Buying groceries at a supermarket is probably one of the things that is done at least once a week by an average Dutch consumer. Supermarkets spend quite a lot of money on marketing and advertising, and basically every supermarket claims to offer fair prices and the best products. Being a supermarket, how can you find out which supermarket is really the cheapest option? In order to find the answer to this question, RTL Nieuws (2014) executed a research experiment in which they bought the exact same grocery list at the 13 biggest supermarket chains in the Netherlands. Surprisingly, they found out that the bills varied quite a lot for a rather small grocery list, ranging from €11,17 for the cheapest supermarket to €23,35 for the most expensive one.

As shown in the experiment above, Dutch households can potentially save a lot of money on their grocery expenses by going to the cheapest supermarket. Gaspard Jaspers saw an opportunity for this problem, so he started with the development of Sjoprz, an app that enables users to compare 80.000 different products (Libbenga, 2015). After scanning a product at home or in the supermarket, this app directly displays which ingredients the particular product contains, what it costs in several supermarkets and where the product is currently on sale (Eindhovens Dagblad, 2015). Additionally, the app also shows the nutritional value of a product, allowing customers to shop for a healthy lifestyle.

Why has this app more potential than ‘Boodschapp’? 
In 2012, Boodschapp was launched with a similar idea as Sjoprz. However, the app went bankrupt 4 weeks ago, since they were not able to create a sustainable business model that generated enough revenue to cover the costs (Adformatie, 2015). According to the founder of Sjoprz, Gaspard Jaspers, Boodschapp failed because of limited information, where they particularly focused on health, while the customer values the price as a very important aspect as well.
Sjoprz, on the contrary, gives their users a push notification when their favorite products are on sale. Moreover, you just scan the barcode of products to find out where it is offered for the lowest price. This information about prices in particular, can be very valuable for a customer (Libbenga, 2015).

How did Sjoprz manage to obtain all this data? 
Without any doubt, it can be stated that uploading all information about all products available in the Dutch supermarkets requires a lot of work. In addition to that, the founder explained that no single supermarket in the Netherlands was willing to share their data about products with Sjoprz or to help with the development of the app. Looking at it from the perspective of the supermarket, this makes sense, because the app actually makes the supermarket industry fully transparent. When this app is completely developed, customers can see in a glance which supermarket is the best option. Supermarkets will probably see this as a threat, since they might become less popular once this app is used by a big percentage of supermarket customers. Consequently, their shopping behaviour is likely to change due to this app, resulting in the fact that customers will buy different products and brands, since they are better informed (Eindhovens Dagblad, 2015).

To conclude, it can be stated that this app improves customer informedness a lot, resulting in the fact that the supermarket industry becomes more transparent than it ever was. This shifts the power to the consumer, and according to the founder of the app, that is where the power should be.

References:

Adformatie. (2015, September 15). Boodschapp en Goodso failliet verklaard. Retrieved from http://www.adformatie.nl/nieuws/boodschapp-en-goodso-failliet-verklaard

Eindhovens Dagblad. (2015, April 25). Nieuwe app voor goedkopere en gezondere boodschappen. Retrieved from http://www.ed.nl/economie/nieuwe-app-voor-goedkopere-en-gezondere-boodschappen-1.4879856

Libbenga, J. (2015, October 15). ‘Een boodschappenapp die wel werkt’. Retrieved from http://www.emerce.nl/nieuws/een-boodschappenapp-die-wel-werkt

RTL Nieuws. (2014, November 05). Aldi, Lidl en Spar duurste supermarkten. Retrieved from http://www.rtlnieuws.nl/editienl/aldi-lidl-en-spar-duurste-supermarkten

Author: Ruud Schippers
Student number: 441698

Bitcoin The Disruptor

Bitcoin the disruptor.

You must have heard of the digital phenomenon bitcoin. Most of you are probably not familiar with the underlying technology and how this very technology can disrupt almost everything that has to do with how we use money.

What is bitcoin?

Bitcoin is digital money, more accurate it is a crypto currency. It is the first and most known crypto currency, but there are a lot of other crypto currencies called “altcoins”. Bitcoin is a protocol (like HTTP for web browsing or SMPT for emailing) with the function of sending and receiving payment information. The bitcoin protocol works as follows: a computer connects with and sends binary codes to another computer, providing you with the control of X bitcoins on the first address and the command to increase them with X bitcoins on the other address.coin

Must sound familiar right, like internet banking you say? Well, you are almost right, except that you are completely wrong.

Bitcoin is a completely decentralized payment protocol, which means no bank is in control of your money. It is a gigantic public ledger containing all of the transactions made from the start, while being saved on millions of computers. Anyone can obtain an identical copy of the ledger and view the transactions in it. Bitcoin transactions are (almost) instant, almost free of transaction fees (about a penny) and most important no one has the control over your money.

How are bitcoins made?

To understand the disruptive nature of bitcoin you will have to understand the underlying technology. It is actually not bitcoin that is disruptive, but the technology driving bitcoin, the so called “blockchain”. Bitcoins are being created by running software on a computer, which in crypto currency terms is called “mining”. The software is adding and verifying records of recent transactions on the public ledger and compiling them to a “block”. Each of these blocks are added in a chain after each other and form the “blockchain”. These blocks will never bminee altered. Besides containing al this transaction data each block also contains a mathematical puzzle. The computer that solves this puzzle receives bitcoins in return. The processing of all these transactions and verifications while solving this mathematical puzzle are incentivized by bitcoins. Therefore, this makes maintaining the network profitable. Bitcoin has a controlled supply, as the total of bitcoins that will ever be made is finite. A total of 21 million bitcoins will ever be mined, which is hard-wired in the bitcoin protocol.

What is the potential of bitcoin?

Little to none transfer costs. Remember that extra euro on top of your bill while ordering food via thuisbezorgd.nl and paying with iDeal? These are typical transaction costs that bitcoin can get rid of. If you look at transaction costs at a larger scale you could see the huge impact bitcoin could have. Credit card fees are typically between 0.75% and 5% and for a transaction oversees these costs could quadruple. By cutting all of these transaction costs consumers and merchants will have more money to spend.

Transactions are being processed within 10 minutes. If you transfer money between (different) banks the delay is 1 – 14 days, depending on the banks.

Bitcoins are accessible to everyone with an internet connection. This could have a great impact on the people living in third world countries. Even in the poorest of countries most people have access to mobile phones. It gives everyone an alternative to their own inflation-subjected currency. As there is only a certain amount of bitcoin that will ever exists, bitcoin is not subjected to the economical phenomenon of inflation.

bitcoinbankIn medieval times when you deposited money in the bank and got a value paper in return, the banker actually had the same amount of all the value papers in his safe. When the first banker decided to lend money to other people and ask interest in return, money was created out of nowhere for the first time. This is how banks created money, which has not existed before. This is how inflation started. With bitcoin banks would no longer be necessary (or at least not in their current form), as people can borrow or lend their money straight from other people. As there is a limit to the amount of bitcoin there will be no inflation due to extra bitcoins being mined.

What is the potential of the blockchain?

The blockchain offers decentralized storage. Decentralized storage means no censorship, fraud or third party interference. Imagine decentralized email servers (peek-a-boo NSA), uncensored internet (google for China), smart contracts (fully automated contracts) and databases that are near to impossible to hack (Ashley Madison).

 As with most disruptive technologies there is resistance, as disruptive technologies will take away the power of the ones dominating the current technology. Bitcoin and the blockchain will face many challenges and will be put under a lot of pressure, especially by the huge financial institutions. But as more and more people and corporations see the potential we could definitely say that bitcoin and the blockchain are here to stay.

References

Bitcointalk.org, (2015). Bitcoin Forum – Index. [online] Available at: http://www.bitcointalk.org

Frisby, D. (2014). Bitcoin.

Nakamoto, S. (2008). Bitcoin: A Peer-To-Peer Electronic Cash System. [online] Available at: http://www.cryptovest.co.uk/resources/Bitcoin%20paper%20Original.pdf

A Thin Revolution

Without any doubt, everyone within this blog has already heard about the concept of outsourcing. In this post, I am going to write about a particular product, that has incredible potentiality: the thin client.

I firstly got in touch with the concept of thin client when I was reading the book: The Big Switch written by Nicholas Carr. In its book, the author does an interesting parallelism between the diffusion of the electricity and the computers, forecasting the computing to become soon an utility. According to him, the next big change will be the outsourcing of the computers, as a matter of fact he predicts a bright future for the so called as-a-service-models (in particular in his book he speaks of SaaS and HaaS). In its chapter 4, called: Goodbye, Mr. Gates, he explains how this is going to be possible: through the use of thin clients. Thin clients are stateless, fanless desktop terminal that has no hard drive. They works thanks to a connection with a data centre (which could be proprietary or also outsourced), which allow the users to have all features typically found on the desktop PC, including applications, sensitive data, memory, etc. In other words, the thin client allow users to perform, in most of the occasion, as they would do with a personal computer. The only case in which normal computers are better, is when it comes to very intensive and demanding applications, such as AutoCAD, this is due to the absence of hardware.

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Figure 1: In this image we can see how different workstations (speakers, mouse, keyboard, monitor), thanks to the thin clients, can be setted to perform the same functions of normal PCs.

Thin clients are linked to a single powerful host machine, which can run multiple operating systems and multiple applications on the same server at the same time. This is possible only thanks to the use of virtualization, i.e. a software that separates physical infrastructures to create various dedicated resources.

Creating such an infrastructure has several benefits for a company:

1) Lower Operational Costs: An office environment where several workstations are involved can access a single server unit, thereby reducing the operational costs covering these related actions:

  • Setting up the device takes less than ten minutes to accomplish.
  • The lifespan of a “client” unit is very long, since there are no moving parts inside. The only parts that need constant replacements are the peripherals that are external to the PC. This means that when something breaks at the “client’s” end, it can be as easy as taking a replacement unit to replace the broken one. Even wear and tear is considerably unnoticeable.
  • Energy efficiency – A slim unit is said to consume 20W to 40W as opposed to the regular thick PC, where power consumption during operation mode consumes 60W to 110W. In addition, the thin PCs need little or no air conditioning at all, which literally means less operating costs. Whatever air conditioning needed is demanded and supplied at the server area.
  • Work efficiency – Its work environment can be far-reaching and extensive; as it can provide quick access to remotely located workers simultaneously operating on server-based computing.

2) Superior Security: Since users will only have access to the server by network connections, security measures like different access levels for different users can be implemented. That way, users with lower access levels will not be able to see, know, or in worst case scenarios, hack into the confidential files and applications of the entire organization. They are all secured at the server’s end, which is also a way of securing data files in the event of natural disasters. The servers will be the only machines that need to survive the disaster as the main location of all the saved data. Immediately after the disaster, new “clients” can easily be connected to the server, for as long as the latter remains intact.

3) Lower Malware Infection Risks: There is a very slim chance of getting malware on the server from a thin client because inputs to the server only come from the keyboard, mouse actions, and screen images. The PCs get their software or programs from the server itself; hence, patches, software updates and virus scanning applications are being implemented only on the server’s end. It follows that the servers will be the one to process information and store the information afterwards.

4) Highly Reliable: Business organizations can expect continuous service for longer durations since thin clients can have a lifespan of more than five years. In as much as these units are built as solid state devices, there is less impact from wear and tear through constant use.

5) Space Savings: the small dimension of a thin client allow to have a better workplace with more space for the normal working activities.

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Figure 2: An HP t420 Thin Client

Of course the thin clients have some downsides such the fact they have to be always connected and that a powerful central host machine is needed, but for companies which have to bear expenses for setting up an IT infrastructure the thin clients could be a real revolution.

Sources:

Carr, N. G. (2008). The big switch: Rewiring the world, from Edison to Google. WW Norton & Company.

http://www.devonit.com/thin-client-education

http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/5791-virtualization-vs-cloud-computing.html#sthash.BkbfScvb.dpuf

http://www8.hp.com/us/en/thin-clients/t420.html#!&pd1=1

http://www.thinclientbrasil.com/thin-client/como-funciona-thin-client.php

http://www.brighthub.com/environment/green-computing/articles/66417.aspx

New tech rivalry at hand?

Grab your popcorn and take a seat. We might have another Silicon Valley tech feud on our hands. This time it’s Tesla vs. Apple. There have been rumors circulating for a long time that Apple is working on a self-driving car. After reports that Apple was poaching key automotive talents from Tesla, Musk told the German business newspaper Handelsblatt: “If you don’t make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple.” The Tesla CEO went on to say “They have hired people we’ve fired. ”We always jokingly call Apple the ‘Tesla graveyard.”’ When asked whether or not he took Apple seriously as a competitor in the automotive market, Musk replied, laughing: “Did you ever take a look at the Apple Watch?” He then chuckled.

musk2

This is a classic Goliath vs. David scenario. Some believe Musk is simply jealous, since the Apple Watch made more profit in three months than Tesla will in 2015. Musk has already taken a step back, as he tweeted that he doesn’t hate Apple and that he thinks it’s a great company with a lot of talented people. He’s still not convinced about the Apple Watch, as he said ”the functionality isn’t compelling yet, by version 3, it will be.” The Apple watch will bring in $4.4 billion in revenue this year. This is not a grand number, since Apple will be good for $233 billion in revenue in total this year. However comparing it to Tesla, who’s expected to achieve around $5.4 billion in revenue, it is pretty big. Especially when looking at the profit margins on the Apple watch.

muskBoth companies have a stellar reputations in the tech space. Yet, I do get the feeling that Musk is taking Apple lightly. He said: ”Cars are very complex compared to phones or smartwatches.” ”You can’t just go to a supplier like Foxconn and say: Build me a car.” Although he has a point, one should never count Apple out. Over the past decade or so, Apple has been very successful at fundamentally reshaping the personal-computing industry.

You’d think that the car industry is very different from the personal computing market (notebooks and phones), however Tesla’s processor supplier NVIDIA stated earlier that cars are basically supercomputers that require ”parallel processing, extensive software based architectures, and deep learning technology.” Then all of a sudden it makes a lot of sense that Apple wants a piece of the automotive market. Looking at Apple’s track record of building game changing computing devices, one should not underestimate them.

Apple has not yet responded to Musk’s comments. If Steve Jobs were still CEO at Apple this could have been very different, as he was never one to mince words. He used to be feared and famous for his tech-feuds. Jobs vs. Adobe Flash, Jobs vs. RIM, Jobs vs. John Sculley, Steve Jobs vs. IBM and of course Jobs vs. Microsoft/Bill Gates, to name a few. Apple does not shy away from taking off its gloves, as can be seen during the more recent feud between Apple and Samsung, filled with all kinds of legal assault.Gates

But let’s not get too carried away. After all, Musk has already apologised in his own way and Apple is still far away from becoming a direct competitor of Tesla. Even if they do clash, the car market is not a clear winner takes all market, so there should be room for Apple and Tesla to coexist. Right now, Tesla has other things to worry about, as its stock has dropped 11.3% in the last three months.

If you liked this blogpost and want to read more about tech feuds, check out this link: The 10 Best Tech Rivalries of All Time.


References:

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/oct/09/elon-musk-apple-graveyard-fired-tesla-staff?CMP=twt_a-technology_b-gdntech

http://www.cnet.com/news/elon-musk-no-no-i-dont-hate-apple/

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/elon-musk-yo-i-dont-hate-apple-2015-10-09

http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/10/10/should-tesla-motors-inc-ceo-elon-musk-really-be-di.aspx

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2391784,00.asp

http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_25661955/apple-v-samsung-jury-begins-deliberations-epic-patent

F*cked by the Cloud

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

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

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

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

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

Bas van Baar (358545sb)


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

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

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

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