The biggest e-commerce event

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Before entering hibernation, animals need to store enough energy to last through the entire winter. As a member of mammals, human beings do not hibernate, but the nature of storing might coincidently reflected in the shopping days (Black Friday, Cyber Monday, 11.Nov Single’s day in china) that happens at the beginning of winter.

When Western merchants think of online mega-sales, they might think of Black Friday or Cyber Monday. According to Adobe Digital Insights, online sales on black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2016 together reached a new record with $6.79 billion in the US. However, on the Single’s day (November 11) in china, Alibaba, the founder of this informal shopping festival, has smashed its online sale record to $17.8 billion in 24 hours, which is 3 times more than the achievement of Cyber Monday and Black Friday together.

Alibaba launched this annual November 11 online sale in 2009 with only 27 participating merchants. Since then, they’ve turned it into a series of activities that attracts online retailors and offline interactive activities, dominates the entire logistics chain, and turns China’s retail ecosystem upside down. Alibaba’s China retail marketplaces boast some 440 million active users shopping the virtual stores of millions of businesses. Apart from local brands and local shoppers, Alibaba said that over 14,000 international brands are taking part in its platform, and with consumers in some 207 countries buying items in the Single’s Day sale. Alibaba has invited Kobe Bryant, David Beckham and Victoria Beckham who are well-known in china nationally to produce a four-hour nationally televised gala for the evening of November 10 leading to a midnight kick-off. The gala encourage consumers to involve shopping with entertainment. A Forbes article states that 11.11 is the best tool for accessing the China market. The fast growing shopping festival with mature promotion strategies and large scale of purchase power is an ideal chance to introducing a new product or refreshing brand to Chinese consumers.

“The demand for international products continues to be very strong, the value proposition for Chinese consumers for international products continues to be enormous,” Alibaba Group President Michael Evans said.

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Can Google AMP optimize mobile web?

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Technology has made things faster and easier, smartphones put internet in everyone’s pocket. Mobile has officially eclipsed desktop in terms of usage numbers, and is cementing itself as the go-to platform for connecting, engaging, shopping and general consumption. According to comScore Media’s research, the number of mobile-only internet users has excess desktop-only users in the US since last year.  Mobile users tend to be less patient on browsing and surfing, 47% of mobile users expect a web page to load within 2 seconds (Soasta). Advertising and server latency limitation could be burdens for web loading speed. If the user experience isn’t spectacular on these platforms, however, consumers are likely to drop off.


Google together with dozens of other publishers and technology companies launched the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project in February 24, 2016. AMP is an open-source framework that enables publisher to easily improve speed for their mobile readership without sacrificing any as revenue that they may rely upon. When AMP downloads resources, it optimizes downloads so that the currently most important resources are downloaded first. Moreover, AMP store static content like text and images by caching, so Google can serve them almost instantaneously since the pages are sitting on their servers — servers that are closer and much faster to users. Any changes in content updated within publishers’ CMS will be recognized by Google’s cache in few seconds. Apart from that, AMP compliant content always gets displayed in high priority among the Google search results. Google claims that the loading speed of AMP based web can be 4 to 10 times faster than conventional JavaScript based web.

Google is still optimizing the web-advertising frame in AMP. Majority web ads contains complex author-written JavaScript package, which are excludes from AMP standard web. At this moment, AMP only allow asynchronous scripts to keep JavaScript from delaying page rendering. Therefore, it still leaves publishers in a dilemma of sacrificing part of the advertising revenue or improving customer experience. In other words, if Google AMP is not able to create possibility for more type of ads, the level of acceptance of AMP among small scale publishers, who are mainly supported by advertisement revenue, would be very low.
















At StarEAST, desktop takes a back seat to mobile

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CIOs and their route to ‘executive mastery’

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What we all share among BIM students is a passion for technology, and the belief that digital transformation is THE leverage for companies to gain a strategic advantage and win over competitors. Most of us plan to bring new ideas and tools into big organization and lead the change that will make them more data-driven or tech-focused. Some of us hope to become CIOs in the future, and manage the IT projects of a company. Then, for those who may be interested to enlarge their career scope and wish to become CEOs: is there any correlation between CIOs and CEOs?

Unfortunately, a recent article from Financial Times (listed in the references) points out that “despite the need for technological know-how at the top of organisations, there is no great trend of chief information officers becoming chief executives”. Truth is that many Chief Information Officers do not even aspire to become CEOs. However, those who have the ambition, may not have the experience needed to succeed. A tip is for CIOs to get a job into young “disrupter” companies that heavily rely on technology to deliver their products. Another advice is to critically assess the importance of technology in the organization: is it considered as a strategic asset? Does the CIO get to seat at the table of the board and executive management team meetings? If the answer is no, then the CIO will never be in the running for the top spot in that company.

Still, several success cases are presented that give hope to digital-enthusiast CEO-wannabes: Anthony Watson, former CIO for the retail banking arm of Barclays and then Nike, is now leading a blockchain-focused startup; Lars Fruergaard Jorgensen, former CIO and now CEO of pharma company Novo Nordisk; or Janie Miller, CEO of GE Transportation. However, what they all have in common is a diversified background: some finance, accounting, supply chain, etc., before moving to CIO positions. Broad experience and a great record across a range of disciplines is what sets apart those CIOs who do make it to the top.


Financial Times:

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Internet connected toys suspected of spying on kids

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Privacy is becoming an issue for the internet of things topic. However, a more unexpected field are internet connected toys. Over 18 privacy groups have been or are filing complaints with the European Union as well as the US Federal Trade Commission concerning Genesis Toys and speech recognition company Nuance for deceptive practices and violating of privacy laws. It is argued that i-Que and My Friend Carla, both pictured, do not only capture voices without notice or approval, it is also not clear what Nuance does with the information that is sent. As an added problem, the organizations are also accusing the companies of not making sure that other Bluetooth connected devices cannot access the toys. Evermore, if not properly managed the speech information that is recorded and sent to nuance could be sold to third parties. There is even another problem that hackers could gain access to these products and the microphones in those devices. Future scenarios could even go as far as “predatory stalking and physical danger”. All in all concerns are plenty, and stakes are high. However, chances are that speech recognition is going to be used more and more in future toys, especially in dolls.

It is unsure yet whether and to what extend the European Union and the US Federal Trade Commission are going to do something about these practices in themselves. It is extra complicated as these products are marketed to kids, who are obviously less able or responsible to manage privacy concerns themselves.

I am curious about how you think about these toys developments. Do you think we should ban them or develop rules? Then again, if we develop rules, how can we enforce them? And in the case of hacking, how should we manage the security of such hardware and the software behind it? Please comment below.

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Microsoft predicts that the search bar will disappear by 2027

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As future business architects or consultants, a disappearance of the search bar would have a major influence on your job and the company you will work for. Questions you would have to ask yourself as soon as you get such jobs would be: How does the role of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) change? How to restructure a company for that future? What will be important instead?

You better already start thinking about this. Microsoft predicts that the search bar will disappear by as soon as 2027. It is fueled by 17 opinions of Microsoft employees, which you can find here:

In 2017 deep learning in information retrieval will already be matured, according to one of their scientists. Over the last years there have been breakthroughs in speech and image recognition and natural language recognition, which already fuels the capabilities of search. But in 2027 it will make for real change. Search will become more “ubiquitous, embedded, and contextually sensitive.” Next to that it will be even more relevant to “current location, content, entities, and activities”, replacing the limited output design of a search bar and website. It is argued that we are seeing the beginnings of that now happening in homes, with devices that answer to spoken queries such as Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa. The capabilities and smartness of those devices will increase along the way adding for example video capabilities and becoming better in their own context at home.


All in all the way we will consume and create information will completely change. What do you think will be the most important technology changes to fuel this transformation? How fast do you think this transformation will happen? How do you think it will impact Search Engine Optimization?

Please comment below with your ideas.



17 for ’17: Microsoft researchers on what to expect in 2017 and 2027


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Creating Compelling Customer Experience through Social Media

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Westerman et al. taught us that a company has to become a digital master to generate more revenue, gain more profit and increase their market value. As you all know by now, this can be reached by improving the digital and leadership capabilities of an organization.

In this blog I will take a closer look to what social media trends an organization must adapt to create a compelling customer experience.

The first one is focusing on social media on mobile. The previous years have shown us that social media on mobile has become more and more important. But for 2017 it is going to be mobile only! The users of Facebook and Twitter come for more than 85% of mobile users, but there are even networks which are mobile only (think of Snapchat and Instagram). So it is important for organizations that they develop webpages which are mobile friendly, to keep the customers satisfied.

The second one is social selling: this trend is spotted at least two years ago, but the consumer wasn’t ready for it yet. More and more social media platforms introduce the direct order options with “Buy now” buttons. See an example of Pinterest in the photo below. For organizations, this trends means that they have to work together with these kinds of platforms. This trend will boost the sales and attract new customers.


And the last trends I want to address are the live videos. In 2017, live streaming will be more important. This means that companies have to be more creative with their updates. Short impressions of the work floor (think of the Coolblue video’s), live instructions, live Q&A and much more direct interactions with the customers.

Adopting these trends will lead in more costs of social media marketing, but this is needed to compete in the very competitive market. At least, that is what I think. What about you?



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Best of bot world

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The great breakthrough in talking to machines

Nowadays we are still clicking on menus and forms on various websites, but in the future we might talk to computers. The chatbot exists already for a while and is making great progress over the last years. How are they becoming smarter and what is currently available in the field of chatbots?

There are 30 thousand chatbots active on Facebook Messenger at the moment where you can talk to by typing a message. However, in the near future it will be also possible to talk to them by speaking out loud. About ten years ago, scientists were trying to learn computers a language by using dictionaries and grammar rules, but this approach is not used anymore. Now, scientists use bulks of text and from all over the world and combine this with smart software that can process information like a human brain does. The software learns from its mistakes and recognises patterns. Through this it learns words, expressions and even slang.


Rise of the chatbot

Thanks to Mark Zuckerberg, the chatbot is currently rising in popularity. Last Arpil he announced the introduction of ‘smart digital assistants’. His motivation for this introduction was that he wanted to make it easier for people to contact companies and pass the step that you have to call a company (because no one likes that). You should be able to contact a company like you can do with your friends. Respond needs to be quick and it shouldn’t ask too much of your attention. To a lot of companies this sounded interesting and they immediately started developing one for their business.


Why virtual talking and not just websites with information?

According to research people are not using websites and apps that often anymore. First of all, we spend more time on our Smartphone than we do on computers. Secondly, there are too many apps available for our Smartphone. People get tired of it. Next to that, the average amount of apps used stayed the same for the last four years. Thus, getting people to download and use a new app will be very hard. The solution of a chatbot that is integrated with Facebook is therefore ideal, because that app is already installed on 950 million phones.

Despite of all these attractive arguments for developing a chatbot for your company, it is not that easy. The chatbot technology still finds itself in its initial stage and chatbots work best when they have access to a large amount of data and context of the user. Opening up all this information by companies goes very slowly, that’s why chatbots nowadays work best when you only let them do small tasks.

To conclude, the rise of chatbots is an interesting trend that still needs to make a lot of steps to be able to replace call centres or other supporting services.



van Ammelrooy, P. (2016). Hoe worden chatbots steeds slimmer en wat kunnen ze eigenlijk?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Dec. 2016].

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Blogging: An opportunity to make your small business a success

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In todays interconnected world people aren’t just buying products based on flashy advertisements or written down selling pitches in web shops. With the almighty internet available they are looking for true and valuable information about different products before making a purchase. That’s why it is very important for entrepreneurs to offer relevant information that people want to consume and pave the way to finding that information without annoying advertisements blocking the way.

However, to make the blog of your business successful you have to think about a couple of things. First you must understand that you have to give something to get something. Customers want information so make sure that you give them information on a regularly basis. The entrepreneur should blog when he can and about different things such as how the company is doing business and why the entrepreneur is doing it. The small business value proposition is often based on a personal story and drive that a bigger business usually does not have. Personalise stories about your business success.  In this way people get to know the person behind the web shop and people following the blog will be aware of your products and services. Your brand will be strong in their minds and they can share it with other people.

Another reason for starting a blog is the pagerank of your site in search engines. This ranking is becoming more and more important as people are increasingly turning to the internet to get information and making purchases based on that. Search engines put written content through their algorithms to decide the ranking of your site. If your blog contains proper grammar, spelling or if visitors like, share or comment on your articles the ranking of your whole site will go up. To get extra attention for your web shop it is clever to think about what potential customers want to know and which words and phrases they would search with to find that information. This words and phrases should be also used in your blogs, creating a higher relevancy match and more traffic on your site. This means more people will find your website with your products and services!

The most important thing to remember is that potential customers are searching for information. The more information you add to your website, the more customers you will attract. Best of all, the blog articles of today will still attract customers years from now. Blogging is the gift that keeps giving!





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Mobile trends of 2017

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In 2017, the mobile revolution will continue in the same high-speed pace. In the past year, mobile internet has already surpassed desktop internet usage. Smartphones have become our primary source for news, weather updates and entertainment. Moreover, we keep in touch with friends and contacts through social media and email on our smartphones. Also, we use smartphones to navigates, measure our health and track our sports performances. For 2017, these are a few trends:


Mobile experience milestone in search engine optimization

Google recently announced it will change its search engine’s index to ‘mobile first’. Main reason: most people use Google on a mobile device. The issue is, however, that Google’s ranking system still typically look at the desktop version of a page to indicate the relevance of the results. In the end, Google explains, the used algorithms will primarly use the mobile version of a website to rank the results pages. To firms that do not have an integrated mobile/desktop website, it is salient to adapt to a responsive design, as the consequence might be that your website is more difficult to find.


AMP and App streaming

In 2016, Google introduced Accelerated Mobile Pages, a system that enhances and optimizes the speed for smartphones. Apart from that, Google started the use of app streaming within its search results. In short, this means Google tries to show information from within apps in a native manner in its search results. As such, users will have a real experience of the application in only the Google search results (without having the app installed!)


Mobile advertising will surpass desktop advertising

Nearly half of all online advertising income is generated through mobile devices (47%). In 2015, this was ‘only’ 30%. This tremendous growth is likely to continue in 2017. As a firm, you should take the leap and not fall behind, as the future is in mobile!


Dit worden de mobiele trends voor 2017

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The impact of Virtual Reality on customer experience

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To become a digital master, a company must acquire both leadership- as digital capabilities. As we’ve seen in the case of Burberry, creating a compelling customer experience is an important aspect of the digital capabilities. They’ve meshed their physical and digital experience in such a way that a customer has the same experience in their physical store, as on their digital platform. And this is something important, because a customer no longer thinks in terms of a separate online platform, service, product and physical store; it’s all about the whole package.

What I found interesting is that the Burberry case describes using technology to incorporate the digital in in their physical stores. But with the maturity of Virtual Reality, which currently is in the Slope of Enlightment on the Hype Cycle, in will not take long before the ‘physical’ can also be incorporated in the digital.

Virtual Reality may not be ready yet. But when it reaches the Plateau of Productivity and the prices for the hardware drops, it will not take long before every household owns a VR glasses. And when that happens, companies must be aware of the potential it can have on their customer experience, because Virtual Reality may become a game changer, a tool that can be used to take the customer experience to a whole new level. It enables customers to go through your shop, without being in your shop. Off- and online could be meshed more seamlessly then ever, creating a cohesive customer experience across digital and physical channels.

But maybe the most interesting part of Virtual Reality in retail is not just the customer experience; it’s the data. Eye-tracking will become something of the past, and virtual reality will give companies insights they’ve never had before. Which products are being picked up most, where is the customer looking at, which path does a customer take through the digital store. It will also create new ways of doing experiments. Shelfs can be instantly adjusted, advertisement can be digitally updated, which could measure the effectiveness of different advertisement content or placing. Putting the data at the hearth of the experience is of course important. But the data that can be gathered with VR is unlike any data we’ve had before; data that can be used to improve the customer experience even more.

Now I’m sure a lot of you have not experienced Virtual Reality yet – me neither. But just looking at the examples below, you can just see the potential and impact it can have on the overall customer experience and data collection.

Ikea VR kitchen:
inVRvision shopping concept:

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