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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The virtual future

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The idea of virtual and augmented reality is been around for some time now, but has only since recent years taken off. Thanks to Samsung and its cheap virtual reality glasses, it has become accessible for almost anyone in the western world. It has yet to become a worldwide success, but the possibilities are still limited, with techniques advancing more and more everyday. Some examples below show how the future could look like in 5-10 years.

Virtual dressing room
With online clothing purchases becoming the norm all around the western world, an augmented reality app that shows you how these clothes fit will definately come in handy. It will not only give the customer a more realistic shopping experience, it will also lower the amount of articles that are send back and the costs that go with it.

Real live meetings
Bringing things to live is one of the perks virtual reality has to offer. What better way to use it than to reduce traveling times. I know skype offers this to some extend already, but this is simply not the same as seeing someone and being able to read the non-verbal signs they are transmitting. Enabling your employees to work from a distance is already happening in some companies. Think about Boeing and Schindler using the Microsoft HoloLens to help technisians  solve difficult problems.

The possiblities seem endless, but are just too far away for most people at the time. Virtual and augmented reality is coming however, and it is closer than we think. Seeing the rise of PokemonGO showed us how fast people adopt it and how big the market for virtual and augmented reality actually is. Benefitting from this up and coming technology will be a case on its own. Being at the right place and with perfect timing is crucial for the existing software companies in becoming the leader in a virtually unstoppable market.



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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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Is your whole life a game?

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Your bank is probably playing a game with you. Game designers are attracted to give the feeling to customers that saving money is attractive. Customers, or players, can earn points by saving dollars, achieve milestones and many more. Banks use this technique to make personal finance fun. It is debatable if this is ethically appropriate. Banks are cross-selling more products because that will seem to help the customer to get more out of the game. Is this just playing dirty games with vulnerable people, or are banks doing something good by helping customers saving more money?


According to research by global marketing company Upstream, it is very effective to use games, or gamification in marketing techniques. By making a game out of the product which a company wants to sell, they get more attention from potential buyers. The company gets a better connection to the customers this way. But strangely, not many companies are using this technique. This is probably caused by the fact that 64% of the respondents in the study (all marketers) did not know what gamification is. Do you know what it entails? Let’s just give a definition by Wikipedia: “Gamification is the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts.” So this is exactly what the bank, as described earlier, is doing.


Aside from using gamification as a marketing technique, it can also be used as a teaching/learning method. Some teachers use it to tackle real world problems like climate change or poverty. The students are challenged through games to come up with possible solutions for long term problems. Gamification is used in education to motivate students to think about problems. It engages the student more to come up with ideas and it generates more creative ideas that might work even better than solutions found by scientists.


By highlighting the commercial side as well as the noncommercial side of gamification, I personally think that it is a good technique that can be used in many situations. Even though the first paragraph may be perceived as negative, I still think that gamification can bring a lot of positive things for consumers. As for banks, motivating people to save more money is still a good thing, notwithstanding the fact that the bank gets benefits from it too.

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Bunq: how an IT-company disrupts the banking industry

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Exactly one year ago a Dutch IT start-up was founded. But this wasn’t just a start-up like many others. It was Bunq: a start-up with a banking license! This company was founded by Ali Niknam, a 34 year old entrepreneur who became a millionaire with his company TransIP. Bunq is trying to disrupt the banking industry with their own app, which makes it possible to transfer money to other users of Bunq. This can be easily done without an IBAN number, the app makes use of the telephone number or email address of the user. Bunq makes banking fun by enabling users to add pictures and emoji’s when transferring money.

Another interesting feature of the app is that it’s possible to ‘go Dutch’, which means that you can split bills (everyone pays his own part of the bill). Bunq has a different company structure compared to traditional banks. You will barely find bankers in their office, most of the employees are young IT-professionals (like us). The company culture is very informal, even the CEO is wearing a t-shirt. But is Bunq really able to disrupt the banking industry? Especially millennials are making use of this platform instead of traditional banks. At the moment it is more of a complementary service to your traditional bank, but this can change in the future. Some experts predict that banks won’t exist in about ten years, but I don’t think that it will go that fast.

However, traditional banks are not really innovating and fintech companies are gaining market share. As Peter Drucker said: ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast.’ Traditional banks are not flexible enough to innovate, even if they know that it is necessary to change. At the moment, Bunq is not making profits yet, but they are focussing on companies as they can offer them cheaper transactions than traditional banks. Nevertheless, Bunq is a promising start-up and it will be interesting to see if they can beat the banks.


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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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Technology is transforming health

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In the computer world in which we live today, patients are using technology to address their healthcare needs in ways that we have never seen before: they are researching potential treatment options online, proactively following up about test results and directly participating in care decisions using patient portals, and researching over-the-counter and nontraditional remedies on their own through internet surfing. Over the next year, this increased patient engagement facilitated by technology will continue to change the ways patients and providers interact. And there’s no doubt that this change will enhance patient care for the better.

Here are few tech startups that are changing healthcare. Their products range from apps and social networks to robots and complex simulators. But they all share a common goal: to leverage new technology to fix an old industry.

Smart pill bottles
Taking medicine at the right time and on the right day could mean the difference between life and death. AdhereTech has created a smart pill bottle that send real-time alerts to secure online servers and users. When someone is supposed to take his or her medicine the bottle glows blue and if it isn’t opened, it turns red and begins to beep. AdhereTech’s system also sends reminders via text messages or phone calls.

Wearable fall protection
ActiveProtective has created smart underwear that contains 3D motion sensors that detect falls. If someone’s activity deviates from the norm, indicating a fall, a micro-airbag deploys from the underwear to protect the wearer from injury. The garment can also call for help.

Understandable communication
Many patient don’t properly understand their medication instructions, even when they are as simple as “take one pill every four hours.” That’s the startling fact that led a team of doctors and techies to found Telesofia, a startup that enables doctors to provide personalized instructions to patients in easy-to-understand videos. The videos, which can be pushed to any device, use illustrations and everyday language to make sure that doctors’ orders turn into action at home.

iCouch uses videoconferencing to connect mental health professionals to patients. The entire interaction, from booking to payment, occurs online which means that mental health professionals can reach patients anywhere in the world. The ease of use, and the fact that you don’t even have to get off your couch, eliminates obstacles that prevent some people from getting needed treatment.

A Platform
Patients Know Best is a platform that keeps medical records in the cloud and in the control of patients. It enables patients to show doctors their complete medical history and, as a result, promotes personally tailored care.


I like the fact that technology is being used to help people and try to makea difference in the healthcare industry. I think some products and services of these start-ups can become a part of our daily lives. What do you think about these startups? Do you think patient will get better and faster help with the use of technology? Or is this just a technological trend that patient won’t use?



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Digitise It.

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Google recently announced the launch of a new product: App Maker. According to their website, it helps people go from “idea to app in days, not months”. It is designed to simplify the app development process, especially for basic apps intended to serve a particular purpose within companies or teams.

One of the greatest barriers to app development is that people lack the technical skills to actually develop their concepts. And it can be a complex endeavour, especially when you consider the massive range of operating systems and devices that are available, each of which could require a different coding language and expertise.

That, however, is exactly what makes Google’s App Maker so attractive. It allows you to skip the complicated part of app development (which is essentially the development itself) by leveraging drag & drop, point & click capabilities for data stored in other G Suite applications, Google Maps, Contacts, and Groups, along with pretty much any other service that offers an API. Making use of the methods people find intuitive and easy to use is what will drive the growth of the platform for Google.

It isn’t the first time a service like this has been made available, with numerous startups and companies like Microsoft having made similar offerings in the past. In my opinion, this is one process that has been an obvious target for digitisation. The so-called “appification” of, well, everything has been going on for years, and it only makes sense to find new ways of simplifying the process – at least to give those of us who lack the necessary skills the chance to play around as well.

Building on that, have you considered the irony of what this represents? It’s literally app-ception: an app that gives birth to other (admittedly simple) apps. Now, I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but it certainly begs the question: is the sky the limit for digitisation? 😱


Google launches App Maker

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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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