From drone delivery to robot delivery?

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Nowadays, drones are invading in certain industries changing the way of doing business. In industries like transporting goods and medical supplies, they are a breakthrough optimizing the business advantages and costs (read my article on drones for a better insight Nevertheless, there are companies, like Google, recognizing the future in robots. From small and soft to big and costly, wheeled or with legs, robots are changing our lives the last 20 years.

In 2014, Google, the tech giant, acquired several small companies working on robotic problems. One of its acquisitions was Boston Dynamics founded in 1992 by Marc Raibert, a pioneer in the field of legged robotic locomotion. Later this week, Mr Raibert made a demonstration of the progress his company is making in the robotic industry. An engineer of the company showed their last development, a four-legged robot, Spot Mini, which has the size of a large dog. It is partially automated and is capable to do simple tasks like climbing stairs or opening doors. And this is just the top of the iceberg. Boston Dynamics has also developed robots capable of walking and running even in rough ground.

Nevertheless, Boston Dynamics’s next big deal will be to use machine learning in the robots to manipulate them from a great distance.Quadruped robots are already capable to move in every surface, like mud, snow or ice, and carry heavy objects. Thus, why not use them to deliver goods? The company is aiming to transform robots in the descendant of drones according to Mr. Raibert. “Many people are talking about drone delivery, so why not just plain legged robots?”, he stated in a recent conference. He also revealed some of the future visions including goals to make robots lighter and more energy-efficient.

Hence, the rivalry for the future of delivering goods has already started. Companies specialized in robotics, like Boston Dynamics, are already visualizing the future of delivery in robots. However, they still need time to start competing drones which are already functional and at the same time cost and energy efficient.



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Will Facebook dominate LinkedIn?

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LinkedIn may feel threatened, as Facebook is expanding its range of services again. Mark Zuckerberg’s service is trying to deliver the new value to its user by becoming a recruitment platform.

As reported by TechCrunch, Facebook is testing a new option for fanpage administrators. Having that, companies will be able to recruit new employees through their Facebook sites. Facebook wants to incorporate the recruitment mechanism into the Facebook fanpages of companies and show it as a separate item next to the information, photos, etc.

So, how will it work?

The employer will be able to create a form, which will give information on the requirements, salary, and general nature of the employment, while the potential employee will be able to apply directly through the form by submitting the CV and other required documents. The company will receive an application in the form of Facebook message.

Interestingly, an application form will use data that has already been provided to Facebook. So, after the form has been completed once, or we have a well-filled history of education, employment, etc., Facebook will fill the form automatically. This feature will save the user’s time as there will be no need to repeatedly type the same information into many similar forms while applying to multiple companies.

Is this a threat to LinkedIn?

As LinkedIn – the most “professional” social networking – continues to stagnate, waiting for the finalization of the $26 billion worth deal with Microsoft, Facebook introduced the new feature just in time, possibly leaving Microsoft with the overpriced platform.

In recent years LinkedIn has lost on importance. It used to be a highly important service when it came to establishing business relations, however, there are fewer and fewer communities thinking about the service in this way. It is especially evident when it comes to young people, who are just entering the labor market. They often do not use LinkedIn as the service is extremely unfriendly, fossilized, and has nothing to offer to the young generation.

Meanwhile, most of these people have a Facebook account. So, where they will look for a job after Facebook introduces a new functionality to everyone?

Currently, it is not known when Facebook will make the feature available to everyone, but for sure it will happen soon.

I have no doubt that the new functionality will be extremely popular. Potential employees will be offered jobs automatically and the enormous customer base and analytical capabilities of Facebook ensures that the job offerings will be targeted accurately and to a vast number of people. Both employees and employers will benefit from that.

So, is the fall of LinkedIn inevitable? No, not yet. The company can undertake actions to attract and retain users. Linkedin has a brand and is known as a professional network, while Facebook is associated with private networking platform and often the information shared by the users are of private nature, so the risk that employers will know “too much” is immense. However, LinkedIn must be quick.

What do you think about the future of LinkedIn? Do you think that the service is on a hiding to nothing? What about the acquisition by Microsoft?


Microsoft to buy LinkedIn for $26.2B in cash, makes big move into enterprise social media

Facebook threatens LinkedIn with job opening features

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Aquila: Social Media Giant’s drone

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Just a month ago, Facebook, the social media giant, was under investigation by National Aviation Safety Board (NASB) after its experimental drone Aquila crashed on a test flight in June. Wait, what? Facebook is building a drone? Indeed, Mark Zuckerberg and his team, the Facebook Connectivity Lab, are committed to develop new technologies to bring affordable internet access to more people. After the satellite destruction in SpaceX’s rocket explosion and the deep disappointment followed by the accident, the company focused on its plan to build a solar-powered drone that will beam internet to remote parts of the world. Aquila.

Aquila is one of the creations of the Connectivity Lab team, designed to deliver Internet to everyone. The drone has a wingspan wider than a Boeing 737, but weights just the one third of an electric car, mainly because of the carbon fiber body (650 kg). The plane is made in purpose so light aiming to make it stay aloft for months at a time. Additionally, it consumes the energy of three hairdryers and it is mostly self-sufficient but it is still monitored by a team of technicians on the ground. The drone will be load with technology able to transfer data 10 times faster than existing systems and its communication diameter will be 60 miles. The first test flight that took place in June was successful and Aquila flew for about 100 minutes, 3 times more than the planned mission length. The technicians gathered tones of data about the performance of the drone to optimize the flight and succeed greater height in the next flights. Mark Zuckerberg, made known the successful test flight of Aquila, with a post in his personal account on Facebook right after the flight. That was the last news regarding the drone and its flights, till mid-November when the NASB started an investigation. Eventually, the test flight was not so successful as the drone crashed during the landing, making it unsuitable for flight.

Facebook tries to differentiate its self from the “social media giant” identity, experimenting and investing in other projects. The company recently unveiled its 10-year plan which includes artificial intelligence and virtual reality, as well as satellites and drones. They are working on a standalone VR headset and an AI picture-editing tool that will let users add “intelligent” filters to videos as they film. “Facebook’s mission is to make the world more open and connected,” said Mike Schroepfer, Facebook’s chief technology officer, outlining the plan at the annual Web Summit conference.



Facebook’s Giant Internet-Beaming Drone Finally Takes Flight

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Why robots did make it into factories but not (yet) in our lives

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robot traffic


Already in the late 70’s robots were to be seen in Star Wars movies, leaving the hint that sooner or later they would be part of our daily lives. Now almost 40 years later from the first movie (1977 to be precise) robots still find their role in society behind the scenes, in the factory where repetitive jobs are fulfilled by those machines. In our lives, we witness a lot of innovation on a yearly basis and we see video’s of Google and Uber trying out their self-driving cars. Yet robots helping us cook, clean, walk or any of those basic daily activities do not make it in our lives.  Why not? and how far is the most advanced technology with autonomous robots ?

Read more if you would like to know the answer to those questions.

First off, as humans we are aware of our environment. We realize if something is too hot, dangerous, hard, heavy. It is like we have thousand of different sensors all over our body and with experience we learn how to deal with those situations. It takes us 1 year to stand on our feet, some more years to avoid dangerous situations of any kind that would jeopardize our existence. We can also make decisions very quickly and are very flexible in our movements.

For robots to be in our lives, they should be like us mostly to interact with the same reality and with the same things. If the robot is very small for example, it will never reach the door handle or a high shelf, making it useless of very limited. It could have only wheels, but what happens when there are some stairs?

The most modern robots, tested only in the lab can accomplish the task of walking, riding a car, walk on not flat surfaces and some more tasks, like opening a door, use a drill with much difficulty. This is because the robot does not learn very fast and every time a new color, height or property of a surface appears it might freeze or be unable to stand and fall on the side. The costs of its delicate components make falling extremely dangerous and expensive. Last but not least they are not autonomous. Even though through pattern recognition, a lot of objects can be recognized and more tasks accomplished, the robots are really far from situational awareness, like little babies. They can damage themselves by exerting too much power in a step, fall down and not be able to stand up. In real life they could damage other people as well. Basically, they can do only tasks they are acquainted with in a safe environment, so that if something happens, an operator can take over and fix the issue.

Somewhat of a delusion for many, we will have to wait 10-20 more years before robots will be able to carry out some basic tasks in a safe way and for an affordable price. From a commercial point of view, I think that robots should be used first in homes, where they are somewhat supervised and can carry out simple tasks that still require a lot of time. Other duties such as helping children, elderly people or emergencies (such as putting down a fire) are still too far for the technology or just not commercially viable. But maybe you, as a reader could have more ideas or input on how robots could improve our lives in the short term? Leave a comment !


PS. A nice and short documentary about robots can be found here


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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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Sinterklaas shops online

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Sinterklaas is a traditional Dutch celebration for kids. Sinterklaas and his Pieten bring presents for Dutch children every year for Sinterklaas his birthday on the 5th of December, which happens to be today!

Sinterklaas used to bring all the presents with his boat and the presents were distributed via the chimneys. As Sinterklaas is becoming a very old man, several centuries old actually, riding his horse on the Dutch roofs is not that easy anymore. Furthermore, he also has to adjust to his time. Presents are not bought at the store exclusively anymore, the amount of presents bought via online channels is increasing rapidly.

When we look at the example of Sinterklaas, 43% of the presents are bought online. There are three main reasons for buying presents online, it is easy, you can find good deals, ideal for the small budget of Sinterklaas, and you can find very nice, original presents online.

It saves the Sint and his crew a lot of time, he buys the presents on average a few weeks before December the 5th. The Sint still needs to adjust to using a smartphone, he uses the desktop more often when ordering presents online.

The type of presents that are bought online is different from the ones bought in physical stores. Online, Sint buys mainly fun things to do, like tickets for the museum, video games or board games. In stores, clothes, food, and toys are bought.

Online shopping is very easy for Sinterklaas and his Pieten.  It is a smooth process that only takes one click. However, de Sint bought so many presents this year that the postal delivery couldn’t process al these packages. A lot of children willl have to wait for their presents a few days longer. Maybe the chimney delivery was not that bad after all?

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What does a CIO actually do all day?

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In this blog post, I want to elaborate on the article ‘The future of the CIO in a Digital Economy’.  (Weill & Woerner, 2013)

The two research scientists from MIT conducted a study that is based on several years and several methods of research. They looked into how CIO’s spend their time, and not any less important, how their managers actually wanted them to spend their time. From this study, they found four main CIO types.

The first one is the IT services CIO, the focus of this CIO is to provide the firm with all the IT services that the firm needs to operate in a digital economy. The external customers CIO, the second type of CIO,  works with external customers or partners to sell and provide them with IT enabled products and services. The third type is the embedded CIO, this CIO is more focussed on the management of the company and is thinking about the strategy of the company together with other managers. The fourth type is the enterprise process CIO, this CIO manages and oversees key operational processes, including IT processes.

It depends on the company’s goals what is a more effective type of CIO. For example, when you focus on return on capital you should be an embedded CIO. However, focussing on innovation requires an external customer CIO, and profitability measures an enterprise process CIO. Firms with a mixed performance focus likely have IT services CIO’s.

The other managers want their CIO’s to be an IT service focussed CIO at first and then become an embedded CIO, working with non-IT colleagues as well. Once this is the case, they want the CIO to focus more on external customers.

The CIO’s themselves consider themselves mostly as an IT service CIO that wants to develop into one of the other types. In order to do so, CIO’s can do three things to save time that they can spend on other activities; mentoring, governance and partnering. The goal is to allocate time wisely, develop leadership strategies to save time and look at the future and anticipate on what type of CIO is needed.

I can conclude that CIO’s are much more than only managers of IT services. The want to do a lot more and other managers require them to add a broader business value to be able to keep up with the digital economy.

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Artificial Intelligence will affect our lives

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is progressing rapidly. AI can encompass anything from IBM’s Watson to Google search algorithms to autonomous weapons. Nowadays, AI is widely known as weak AI because it is designed to perform a narrow task (e.g. planning routs, playing a game of chess or internet searches). However, the long-term goal of many researchers is to create strong AI which will outperform humans at nearly every cognitive task. Much has been said about the numerous possibilities of AI, but what exactly are the benefits of this development? Furthermore, what are the downsides and ethical questions regarding this development?

The CEO of 30SecondToFly, Felicia Schneiderhan, outlines the situation in which machines take over the humdrum tasks of humans. She explains: “AI allows for more intricate process automation, which increases productivity of resources and takes repetitive, boring labour off the shoulders of humans. They can focus on creative tasks instead”. Also, AI allows faster actions and decisions in comparison with humans. Areas like automated fraud detection, planning and scheduling are examples of this benefit.  Humans have the characteristic of making errors in processes, computers do not. The only mistakes they make is when we do not program them properly. AI processing will insure error-free processing of data, no matter how large the dataset. This is associated with the fact that research outcomes will improve.

The most obvious disadvantage of AI is that it will take over the work and job of the lesser-skilled employees. Robots have already taken many jobs on assembly lined and as AI gets better at doing complex tasks, even more low-skill jobs will be taken.  AI does not have the ability to make a judgement call and may never get that ability. For example, in Paris there was a hostage drama. People began ringing up Uber to get out the affected area, and because the surge in demand, Uber’s algorithms fell back on the classic demand-and-supply economics. The result was skyrocket ride rates. Another downside of AI is the concentration of power as a result of this development. AI could mean a lot of power will be in the hands of a few who are controlling it.

This subject creates many ethical questions about for example inequality, humanity security and singularity. What is your opinion about AI and these ethical topis? The conclusion can be made that AI still is not all that smart, but the possibilities are enormous and can change our lives enormous.


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