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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Digital City Marketing: The Tale Of Rotterdam

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“City marketing (related to city branding) is the promotion of a city, or a district within it, with the aim of encouraging certain activities to take place there.” (Wikipedia, 2016)

Wikipedia perfectly described the way I see city marketing: “City Marketing is used to alter the external perceptions of a city in order to encourage tourism, attract inward migration of residents, or enable business relocation. A significant feature of city marketing is the development of new landmark, or ‘flagship’, buildings and structures. The development of cities as a marketable product has led to competition between them for inward investment and government funding. It is often manifested in the attempts by cities to attract international sporting events, such as the Olympic Games Competition between cities exists at the regional, national and international level; and is an effect of globalisation

This means that also cities can derive great value of marketing.

You might think, why does she post a blog about marketing in this information management themed website? Well, I think city marketing has everything to do with information management, in terms of how do we inform our potential visitors about our city? So, what information should a city management or marketing team provide and through which channels in order to maximize the amount of tourists and maybe even (im)migrants that come to the city? And also, city marketing is not only offline promotion. Since digital marketing is more in our field, I will focus on digital city marketing in this blog.

In this post, I will take Rotterdam as an example for digital city marketing. Rotterdam Partners is the marketing heart of Rotterdam. As they say about themselves: Rotterdam Partners is operating within the city as a spider in the web: they connect directors and business and know the influencers and decision makers in the city. Promoting Rotterdam together, because the city is also connecting so many people. The objective of Rotterdam Partners is to enhance the economy of Rotterdam.
As you might have noticed, Rotterdam flew by on Facebook, Lonely Planet and other travelling websites quite often the past few years. This might have something to do with the ‘new approach’ to city marketing of Rotterdam.

Rotterdam does now participate actively on social media, not only through their own channels. Certainly, the city support tourists, businesses and citizens to promote the city themselves. One slogan “Make it happen”, plays a key role through all the digital messages. Gemeente Rotterdam shares her own inspiring videos through their facebook page, for example. However, the key role is marketing through other channels, like Gersmagazine. Last year travelling website Lonely Planet announced Rotterdam as one of the top 5 must visit cities.

Digital marketing through social media and blogs are also becoming very important for cities, the Rotterdam case proved this. So, no Olympic Games or World Cups needed anymore to promote the city, right?

Along with this, the rebuilt of Rotterdam that was celebrated last year, was also an influencing factor on the popularity of the city. Especially the Markthal played a great part in this.

What do you think about city marketing? Do you think cities should sell themselves through social media themselves, or let word of mouth do the work? And then, how would you make sure visitors talk about your city through online channels?

I would love to hear your findings about this. Thanks for reading!

  • Other sources and inspiration:



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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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The opportunities of social analytics

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Consumers expect more from companies than that they just sell a product or service. They want companies to respond on their unfulfilled needs. Moreover, companies must maximize the customer experience before, during and after they bought a product. Quite a hard job isn’t it? The reality shows indeed that it is a significant job for companies to comply with this always changing customer needs. A lot of companies are trying to fulfil these needs by changing their business model from outside in. Social analytics can help if you use in properly. It can ensure that the customer experience will improve and the customer needs can be better met. But what can you exactly do with social analytics and does it always work?

Social analytics is the practice of gathering data from blogs and social media websites and analysing that data to make business decisions. The most common use of social media analytics is to mine customer sentiment in order to support marketing and customer service activities. There are for example numerous types of software tools for analysing unstructured data found in tweets and Facebook post. All these data can be used in order to increase to customer experience, reducing customer service costs and improve the quality of feedback.

Due to social analytics, companies can tune into conversations about their brand. When businesses gather customer experience data, they are no longer limited to customer surveys or call centre transcripts. Social media allows brands to drop in and listen to the public’s unedited conversation about their products, services, employees, and reputation. This glimpse at how people view your business can deliver priceless insights. Without social data, it might take a company months to learn that an alarming number of customer complaints stem from a particular employee at one store location.

Real-time processing on the other hand can throw off results. One of the most alluring qualities of social data is that so much of it is quickly and frequently generated. Many analytics vendors boast that they can analyse this stream of data in real time. Unfortunately, speedy analytics can yield low-quality results. It can be argued that social analytics can be very valuable for companies. However, companies must use the right tools to make the data obtained useful. Moreover, companies should look at the bigger picture. Businesses that want to receive good results from an analytics project must hire a vendor that incorporated data sources into its projects.


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Gucci Surpasses Burberry as Most Digitally Savvy Luxury Brand

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“As the innovation halo awarded to early movers in digital fades, the harsh economics of maintaining a robust digital marketing apparatus favors the fashion establishment, including a new Index leader.”

(L2inc, 2016)

One brand that always exemplifies outstanding digital marketing performance is the British powerhouse and luxury retailer Burberry (Bruining, 2016). The company’s exceptional digital strategy has positioned the brand not only at the top of the fashion luxury category, but also among top digitally savvy brands across industries such as Apple, Nike, and Google.


However, the 8th annual Digital IQ Index in Fashion just announced a new leader: Italian luxury brand of fashion and leather goods, Gucci. For the first time since the creation of the index, Burberry has fallen second. The company received a digital IQ score of 144 versus Gucci’s 145, while both Ralph Lauren and Coach tied in third place. The digital index benchmarks the digital performance of 85 luxury brands in the US market, examining investment in e-commerce, search visibility, social media engagement, and mobile aptitude (L2inc, 2016).


The top 10 list for the 2016 Digital IQ Index in Fashion can be seen below:



To put into perspective, Gucci was ranked 7th last year. Responsible behind this sudden and incredible escalation was the digital influence of Creative Director Alessandro Michele and CEO Marco Bizzari. Gucci was praised for the brand’s elegant e-commerce site for its customer service, content integration and shoppable features, as well as the brand’s visibility on third-party e-commerce sites (Mau, 2016). Furthermore, over the last year their social-media interaction doubled and it’s digital marketing reach has been boosted successfully thanks to its effective online advertising and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) capabilities.




Both Michele and Bizzari have managed to completely renovate Gucci’s online presence. The brand had relaunched their website in October and have experienced significant growth in e-com sales ever since. Like most luxurious brands of fashion, over the past year Gucci introduced a number of social-media initiatives to target Millennials. From artist collaborations and cool celebrity takeovers on Instagram to campaign reveals and behind-the-scenes content on Snapchat (Mau, 2016). The brand’s efforts have clearly paid off.




So what strategies will Burberry implement in order to face uprising digital savvy luxury competitors such as Gucci? After eight years, Burberry’s board members have voted to replace current CEO Christopher Baily with Céline Chief Executive Marco Gobbetti. Baily was a key component behind the company’s digital success, and will remain their design chief with the added title of president (Chaudhuri, 2016). However, Gobbetti will only assume position next summer, which leaves Baily a few months to try and restore the company himself.


Will Burberry manage to retain the digital throne or will they continue to tumble down?





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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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