If you still believe that governmental bodies will be the drivers of societal and infrastructural change, your perception might not be up to date. In the past, several organizations such as local governments or supra-national bodies such as the UN have been seen as responsible to intervene in global issues. However businesses are nowadays proving to be entities driving important societal and infrastructural changes, both at a local and international level. Businesses are increasingly “fixing” institutional voids in emerging economies where public bodies have not tackled these problems efficiently. An example of this would be Facebook’s initiative to make world-wide internet access available.
Through its initiative Internet.org, the idea is to enable collaboration within the tech industry through partnership focused on challenging the great barriers developing countries face in terms of internet access, which Zuckerberg himself has outlined as a human right. Their offering pursues to make this access a 100 times more affordable, through a twofold strategy: reducing both the cost and the amount of data, two pillars in which Facebook believes it is able to successfully perform. Moreover, the task will not be addressed by Facebook alone; by collaborating with important players in today’s tech industry, the Internet.org partnership aids to get the best knowledge for the task possible. Additional partners participating in the initiative include Sony-Ericsson, Samsung, MediaTek, Qualcomm, Samsung and Eutelsat.
Whether Facebook’s intentions are altruistic, or it merely aims to give 5 billion people access to its internet jewel, the end result is the same. While in the first world we constantly praise the wonders and progress brought about by the internet, the truth is that two thirds of the world are still not connected to it. As our economic focus switches from resource-based to knowledge-based, the internet provides the backbone allowing global sharing of ideas and information. And the simple truth is that no public body is as able as one of today’s tech giants to tackle this issue. Facebook has the tools, the means, and more importantly the knowledge necessary to undertake this task. Earlier this month, for instance, Zuckerberg stated that for the past year, Facbeook has been looking into aircrafts and satellite technology to develop solutions which would enable “beaming access down to communities from the sky”. In addition, 100 million users (mostly in developing countries) already benefit from its “Facebook Zero: Facebook for every phone” initiative. If this is its reach independently, what they will be able to achieve through a partnership surely looks promising.
It seems that the new heroes of today’s societies may not be in the public, but in the private sector. In an era where knowledge and information sharing are drivers of economic growth, Facebook and other partners in the Internet.org initiative have certainly undertaken a highly relevant yet challenging task. Will they succeed in switching the two offline thirds of the world online?
(Representation of Global Internet usage: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Internet_usage)
Finley, K 2015, Facebook looks to space to bring the internet everywhere, Wired, 05 October, viewed 6 October 2015, <http://www.wired.com/2015/10/facebook-looks-space-bring-internet-everywhere/>.
Internet.org by facebook n.d., Internet.org, viewed 6 October 2015, <https://internet.org/>.
Russel, J 2015, Facebook and telecom partners launch Internet.org to drive universal, global internet access, The Next Web News, 21 August, viewed 6 October 2015, <http://thenextweb.com/facebook/2013/08/21/facebook-and-telecom-partners-launch-internet-org-to-drive-universal-global-internet-access/>.
Not so long ago, iPhone users all over the world were exposed to a bug able to shut down their phone by one simple text message. I too received such a message as a prank, but did not consider the security implications that come with phones reaction on text commands. Later this year an android vulnerability “Stagefright” came to light, allowing hackers access full access to every Android phone with just a phone number. Luckily both bugs have been fixed by the companies right after, but the security risk remains. There is no guarantee every bug has been revealed instead of being exploited by hobbyists, hackers, or governments.
The latter is now expected to be the case. Edward Snowden explains in an interview by the BBC how UK intelligence agency GCHQ is able to control your phone by text messages, completely hidden from the knowledge of the owner. It does so by sending an encrypted text message to gain access.
Snowden talks about a “Smurf Suite”, a collection of phone control tools of GCHQ named after various smurfs. “Dreamy Smurf” is able to shut down and boot up the phone, “Nosey Smurf” can turn on your microphone and listen to your conversations, and “Tracker Smurf” is a tool able to track your geo-location with greater precision than normal triangulation of cellphone towers. And they can do even more, like taking pictures without your knowing, viewing your mails, texts and browsing history, and even
Snowden explains how NSA is understood to have a similar program, and are suspected of providing the technology. “GCHQ is to all intents and purposes a subsidiary of the NSA.” he tells the BBC, where GCHQ receives tasking and directions to go after. These projects are aimed to catch suspected involvement in terrorism, pedophilia or other serious crimes, but in order to do so, they have to collect mass data. Your data.
Snowden makes a valid point by stating you don’t own your phone, but “whoever controls the software owns the phone”. We see this increasing risk in software and privacy issues, and users are becoming more aware of this. The Windows 10 release has been highly critiqued by its security statement and Europe’s highest court just rejected the ‘safe harbor’ agreement after Max Schrems started a case against Facebook. It is clear that the battle for privacy has just begun.
Nowadays there’s many more ways to make money on the internet than a simple webshop. As discussed in class, you can adopt a subscription model, an advertising model, a utility model (the cloud, like Dropbox), or one of many other options. Often the combination of several models is what leads to the biggest successes.
Since a decade, the ‘freemium’ model is the dominant business model among internet start-ups and app developers (Kumar, 2014). The term is mostly used to describe the combination of advertising and subscription models. Think of Spotify, which is free as long as you listen to the ads, or is without adds as long as you pay. LinkedIn is another company that offers additional benefits when the customer pays (a ‘premium’ membership). In the world of game applications, a successful app is not where one hás to pay, but where one cán pay. This refers to the in-app purchases, which is responsible for over 65% of iOs and Android appstores’ revenue (Valadares, 2011)!
So why are not all games that offer this model successful? When looking at my own mobile gaming behaviour, most apps are deleted within one month. I get tired of them or I have to pay for the next level and for these kind of reasons I just stop playing. Accept for one app that has been on my phone for over two years now: Candy Crush Saga. I would not usually describe myself as an addict, so that raised questions about my own behaviour: why is Candy Crush Saga so addictive – especially on the long term?
Many psychologists name several factors that contribute to Candy Crush’s success. First, people are responsive to the ‘sweetness’ of the game. Second, the fact that a user can only play for about half an hour, makes sure the user is still fond of the game on the long term (Dockterman, 2013).
But the success is not just about psychological factors. The integration with Facebook is probably the key factor of the game. First of all, this set up provides a cross-platform usage of the application, as this account can be opened on phone, tablet and computer. Another advantage is the communication to other Facebook friends, using Facebook’s network effects. The technology in the app shows users at what level their friends are. As competitive as people are, this makes them even want to play more. As it turns out, it might be a part psychological factor after all.
Another smart move of King, yet other developers do this too, is to increase switching costs for users. The in-app purchases can only be done with ‘golden bars’, Candy Crush’s currency. When users still have golden bars on their account, the human urge (yet another psychological flavour to this) is to continue playing, and so a virtual circle begins.
Many other factors can be described about this success within the mobile gaming industry, but I decided to stick to these few to stress my point. The IT departments are important, but not solely responsible for making a good social game. Users are people, and marketing and psychology need to be integrated into the information strategy to make sure the game is successful on the long term.
Dockterman, E. (2013) ‘Candy Crush Saga: The science behind our addiction’. Accessed at 27 September 2015 through http://business.time.com/2013/11/15/candy-crush-saga-the-science-behind-our-addiction/
Kumar, V. (2014) ‘Making Freemium Work’, Harvard Business Review, Mei 2014: 27-29
Valadares, J. (2011) ‘Mobile Freemium Games: Women Thrifty, Men Binge’. Accessed at 27 September 2015 through http://www.flurry.com/bid/72755/Mobile-Freemium-Games-Women-Thrifty-Men-Binge#.VPWucvmG-So
Never before have humans been able to interact in such a manner with businesses as is offered online. The sheer magnitude of sales performed on the Internet is demonstrative of the way in which B2C e-commerce has become a cornerstone of modern day commerce. With 1.2 trillion dollars of B2C e-commerce sales in 2013 one can observe the rapid growth and scale of B2C e-commerce, thus, we decided to focus on two of the largest companies for our analysis, namely; Amazon and Facebook.
The Dash Button is the latest attempt of Amazon to facilitate the ordering process and make online spending an everyday occurrence. They allow for the replenishment of convenience products under the form of “one-touch” shopping. Some have aptly described the experience of using Dash Buttons as the “end of dashing to the supermarket” (Smith, 2015). The Dash Button was initially unveiled for 18 brands and cost $4.99 per unit, which is refunded once a purchase has been made via the button. The underlying mechanism behind the Dash Buttons relies on Wi-Fi pairing of customers’ Amazon accounts and the Buttons.
Unlike traditional personal assistant, such as Siri, which are fully technology based, Facebook M is partly Artificial Intelligence (AI) and partly human (Hempel, 2015). The concept is that by assisting the AI with a team of so called “M trainers”, which help it with dealing with unknown cases, “M” would be able to perform tasks based on its previous experiences in the long term (Hempel, 2015). Building on case-based reasoning and AI, the application has the potential to perform a wide array of tasks for Facebook users and is truly disruptive to the way consumers could purchase online. The way “M” is integrated into the Messenger interface is through a small Button which would allow users to text Messenger with their requests. Once complete, the user receives notification of fulfillment (Metz, 2015). The simplification of the purchase process is so tremendous that it has the potential to entirely disrupt how B2C e-commerce is conducted.
Amazon Dash and Facebook M both offer a reduction in time the consumer must take when making an order through a device. Yet, they differ in their approach as to how they provide a time-saving feature to customers. Both technologies are incredibly convenient with orders and reservations available from the touch of a button. Although Facebook M runs the risk of not being adopted seen as it might require users to disclose more amounts of personal information than already. Despite their potential to face resistance, one this is certain: they both have the potential to disrupt the e-commerce industry.
Hempel, 2015. Facebook launches M, its bold answer to Siri and Cortana. [Online] Available at: http://www.wired.com/2015/08/facebook-launches-m-new-kindvirtual-assistant/
Metz, C., 2015. Get a peek at someone using Facebook’s new assistan, M. [Online] Available at: http://www.wired.com/2015/09/get-peek-someone-usingfacebooks-new-assistant-m/
Smith, M., 2015. Hack Amazon’s Dash buttons to do things other than buying stuff. [Online] Available at: https://fresh.amazon.com/dash/
Tom Hendry – 366163th
Dennis Huisman – 369919dh
Micaela Arizpe – 368389ma
Theo Fromentin – 371049tf
Dylan Greenfield – 365747dg
- Diversity Reports: although tech companies are completely data driven when it comes to their business up until super recently we didn’t even had the data about how diverse (or non-divrese) company workforces are. We all know that you will never achieve what you don’t measure so Tracy Chou, engineer at Pinterest started a movement to collect more data about diversity in a call for tech companies to be more transparent. Growing from this initiative last week Slack became the fourth unicorn publishing it’s diversity report after AirBnB, Pinterest and Dropbox. With these reports potentially published every year in the future we will be able to see how companies progress in this question.
- Hiring Heads of Diversity: some companies like Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, Square already have a responsible for diversity within the company, others like Asana, AirBnB, Autodesk and Dropbox are currently looking for one. This shows that transforming a companies workforce, mindset and attitude towards multiculturalism is not a side-job although C-level involvement is also an irreplaceably important factor in achieving success.
- Working with companies specialised in diversification like Paradigm or Culture Shift Lab: Pinterest recently announced it’s new initiative Inclusion Lab initiative created in cooperation with Paradigm. This start up helps innovative companies attract, select, develop and retain a more diverse workforce.
- Building awareness about unconscious bias in hiring and promoting women and people of colour and explore how could this be decreased
- Focusing on retention: “It’s not just about hiring diverse candidates; it’s about keeping them. If companies don’t foster a welcoming environment, diverse candidates will be out the door just as quickly as they walked in”. For example there should be surveys to ask employees things like how long they plan to be at the company, how they perceive diversity and inclusion in the company, and if they are aware of opportunities for advancement
- Support initiatives aiming at creating diverse pipeline: Often times companies complain that they would hire people from more diverse background if there would be sufficient “supply”, a solution for this problem could be supporting girls and minorities to learn to code and get more involved with technology. There are already many initiatives of this kind like Black Girls Code, Code2040, Hack the Hood or Skool and many others.
In May, Facebook already announced that they would come up with their own advertising network. Today, Facebook launched its new mobile advertising network called Facebook Audience Network. The application enables app developers to make money without having to sell their own advertisement, do their own targeting, handle measurement or route payments. Audience Network enables developers to integrate a tiny bit of code to run Audience Network in banned ads, or they can work directly with Facebook to create native ad units that feel like a natural part of their use experience.
With this service, Facebook started to compete directly with Apple, Google and Yahoo, who also have their own mobile advertising platform, as well as other smaller ad networks that sell the ad inventory in publisher’s apps on their behalf. Facebook hopes app publishers and advertisers will see Audience Network as superior to other networks as it already has a list of 1.5 million active advertisers on its books and has a wealth of data about a user’s likes, dislikes, location and so on from their social networking habits.
How does it work?
Advertisers have to select an extra option if they want to show their advertisement also in other apps. Facebook is promising their advertisers the same targeting method as on Facebook, but it is still not clear if Facebook also uses the information gathered from Facebook-accounts for its new service. Thanks to the unique identifiers of Android and iOS phones, the company is capable of doing this, although it is easy to block this function on an iOs device. Advertisers will be able to serve app install ads, traditional mobile banners, and interstitial creative formats in Facebook’s new network. They will also be able to target Facebook users via Custom Audiences, Core Audiences, and Look-Alike Audiences.
I think this new service further bridges the gaps between channels, and moves Facebook beyond ‘social’ as a mobile advertising leader. It is a big move for Facebook because they are moving outside of its walls and they will be able to make more money and at the same time show fewer ads in the newsfeed on their own website. What do you think of Facebook Audience Network?
Constine, J. (2014). Facebook Audience Network Mobile Ad Network Launches At f8 | TechCrunch. [online] TechCrunch. Available at: http://techcrunch.com/2014/04/30/facebook-audience-network-mobile-ad-network-launches-at-f8/ [Accessed 7 Oct. 2014].
Morris, D. (2014). Understanding the Facebook Audience Network. [online] ClickZ. Available at: http://www.clickz.com/clickz/column/2343825/understanding-the-facebook-audience-network [Accessed 7 Oct. 2014].
O’Reilly, L. (2014). Facebook Is Now In Direct Competition With Google As It Opens Its Mobile Ad Network To Everyone. [online] Business Insider. Available at: http://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-audience-network-available-to-all-advertisers-2014-10#ixzz3FU34I68O [Accessed 7 Oct. 2014].
You probably remember the guest lecture on platform-mediated networks by Prof. Marshall van Alstyne, right? He also shared some slides, and this one on Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos caught my attention:
I googled this so-called “Bezos Platform Mandate” to learn more about it. I expected it to be part of an article Bezos published, or maybe a presentation he did.
As it turns out, the quote is part of an infamous rant by Google engineer Steve Yegge, that was accidentally made public. It was meant as an internal memo, highlighting some key differences between Amazon and Google. It provides an honest, uncensored and at times hilarious insight into the differences between these companies in terms of culture.
After reading the articles about electronic market places and auctions for the upcoming session and thinking about the business solution we have to come up with for Designing Business Applications, I started to think about how we make and create business around us. ‘Apps’ are entering the market place on a daily basis; people manage to come up with ‘solutions’ where some people did not even know a ‘problem’ existed. Thus, we are not always using information (i.e. disgruntled people) to come up with solutions. As technology is within reach for most of the developed world, many of the proposed solutions are technical in nature.
However one can also create a business by letting people tell them about their problems, instead of making them up ourselves. Fetchamsterdam.nl is an example of such a business. This Dutch company basically acts as a temporary employment agency. Or, put in terms of the upcoming lecture: Fetch has created an electronic marketplace for personal assistants. People can come up with the most bizarre requests; Fetch will scour its pool of PAs and find someone to do the job. Look at the request of the week below:
For non-Dutch speakers: someone lost his/her keys in a drain in front of their house while in a hurry. They requested Fetch to send someone to dig for the keys, lock the bike and leave the keys on a table as the person in question had to go to work.
This way, Fetch simply sits back and waits whilst people inform them about their hitch. Customers mention in detail what they wish Fetch to do and the company selects someone from their pool able to do the job (they also have people skilled in plumbing, (house) repair work or willing to book your concert or flight tickets). Using social media and word-of-mouth, Fetch manages to use technology to create a very low threshold for people to approach them with their (often bizarre – check out the other “request of the weeks” on their Facebook) problems. Besides, having an actual PA is simply too posh in the down-to-earth Dutch culture. Also, people know exactly what they want Fetch to do and thus provide the firm with detailed information, leaving less room for errors. So, would you pay someone to FETCH your problem?
Dear BIM bloggers,
We have all heard about the concept of F-Commerce by now, if not, you probably skipped last week’s lecture and should definitely start reading about it. The question is how can retailer profit from this new trend? Has it ever happened to you that you clicked on an advertisement on facebook and actually bought it? How well does this form of advertising work? These are all questions that are yet to be answered. In the lecture of Michael Zhang, he argued that Facebook’s business model is not good enough. They have all this information about millions of customers, but they don’t use it well enough. Facebook only generated a turnover of 860,901 euros in the Netherlands. How is this possible? Are there ways to improve their business model or ways to generate more turnover from advertisement in the form of F-commerce? Let me know how you think Facebook can start growing in the Netherlands!