AI and Us

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In our day to day live we experience that our smartphones have some artificial intelligence (AI) embedded in the form of a personal assistant. This assistant, be it Siri or Google Now, can perform tasks that include looking up and then presenting information verbally. Other features include being able to dictate a text message or creating a calendar entry.

Sci-Fi movies gave us the idea of being able to talk to an AI like we would talk to a real person. The AI’s in the movies, however, have the processing power and memory of a server farm (or even quantum computers) at their disposal.

To create an AI that we regard as intelligent, we have to consider what we consider intelligent behavior. Since we want to create an AI that matches our intellect, we should look at the most intelligent species we know, humans. Humans are particularly good at recognizing patterns. We can train to recognize certain shapes faster, e.g. in mathematics or even art. Computers, however, must be taught to categorize patterns according to what we teach them.
Teaching the computer these patterns to imitate the capabilities of the human brain, is called deep learning and thus creating an AI.

Now that we know what the goal is, what does that mean for businesses? Is AI important to be a part of the digital mastery?

Certainly, companies like Facebook or Google are working on this technology with remarkable results in image and speech recognition.

Other markets are also following the trend of having an intelligent bot at your side, for tasks that seem too complicated or intensive for us.

One sector that follows mathematical rules and where the lifeblood is what a computer knows to work with are financial systems and the tremendous amount of data they process daily. So far they are mainly used to serve customers, much like a sophisticated chatbot (e.g. SEB in Sweden, Royal Bank of Scotland) that answers the questions of customers. Paypal uses the technology to categorize types of fraud, while in Korea an AI delivered a 2 percent return on invested funds. In the automotive industry, we are starting to have very sophisticated autopilots. Assembly lines are more and more staffed with robots that are faster and more reliable than human staff. The possibilities to implement a powerful AI seem endless.

But what about the other side of the coin? How far do we go when we are not limited by processing power or other resources anymore? Why do leaders in their field such as Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and even Stephen Hawking warn about AI? What does that mean for the concept of “business”?

Recommended readings:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/could-regulation-put-brakes-digital-economy-marcel-nickler

Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates Warn About Artificial Intelligence

The fear index by Robert Harris

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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.

 

Source:

van Ammelrooy, P. (2016). Hoe worden chatbots steeds slimmer en wat kunnen ze eigenlijk?. [online] Volkskrant.nl. Available at: http://www.volkskrant.nl/tech/hoe-worden-chatbots-steeds-slimmer-en-wat-kunnen-ze-eigenlijk~a4426001/ [Accessed 4 Dec. 2016].

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Social media is decreasing productivity

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The fact that everything is becoming digital and that we might call this a digital revolution is hardly deniable. Logically, you would expect that through all these current technological developments, the productivity per employee should increase. However, the opposite seems to be true. Productivity is barely increasing or is even decreasing. But why?

Economists are still in doubt and researching this phenomenon, but maybe the reason is simple; digitization is just not leading to higher efficiency. According to Tony Crabbe the continuous checking of emails is leading to a major disturbance in the production process and it also leads to an increase of the stress level. He states that employees should only check their mailbox once a day.

Social media as a company
In the end, Twitter and Facebook also want to make money next to offering a service. Thus they are focused on making as much money as possible through our contributions. Calvin Newport, professor of cultural sciences, argues that social media do not only have a devastating effect on society and politics, but also on the economy. Social media makes employees addicted to excitement, therefore they get easily distracted and they will find it increasingly difficult to concentrate on their work. Instead of achieving goals, employees are continuously convincing the world how important they are, where they are and what cool things they do.

Social media as connector
The counter argument that social media works as a connector, it brings people together and makes communication easier and quicker is getting weaker and weaker. Communication is getting less personal and also the influence of the social media platforms being companies is noticeable in them forcing you to get more friends on Facebook, post more Tweets or keep writing blogs. Additionally, it is said that being active on social media is important for finding a job. You will become a brand and the more positive your brand is, the more employers will be interested in hiring you. Nonsense, according to Newport. People need to be original and distinguish themselves by NOT being active on social media. He states that in a capitalistic economy the market will reward those who are rare and therefore valuable.

All in all, people shouldn’t let themselves be leaded by the social media companies. They should just be their original self and not put so much time in updating their timelines causing more and more distraction. Other causes for the decrease in productivity are for instance the fact that the population (in the Netherlands) is aging and low investments. Social media can now be added to that list as it went from accelerator to brake for the digital economy.

 

Source:
de Waard, P. (2016). Zijn sociale media rem op productiviteit?. [online] Volkskrant.nl. Available at: http://www.volkskrant.nl/economie/zijn-sociale-media-rem-op-productiviteit~a4424669/ [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!

 

 

References

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/232478

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/271049

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/232490

 

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What went wrong (In the 2016 election)?

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Some of you already gathered themselves together after the shocking news which was spread on the 8th of November, but some of us (including myself) are still are trying to wake from this bad dream full of racist pronunciations. As all of you know on the morning of the 8th of November in the Netherlands the news was announced that Trump will be the 45th president of the United States. The traditional prediction models were far off this year which were applied throughout the last decade. The forecasting of FiveThirdyEight which used three different models predicted Hilary Clinton with a 71.4% change of winning against 28.6% for Donald trump, getting most swinging states wrong. A similar result was shown by a lot of traditional projection polls.

Forecasting in 16th
while some people are still discussing what went wrong the some possible solution can be found on the internet. The traditional ways of predicting the presidency no longer applies in 2016 with the social media having such a big impact on our daily lives. When looking at the prediction based on non-traditional variables such as:  the money spent on Social media adds and   media attention.  Compared to Donald Trump, Hilary spent 5 fold what Trump spent in June. This more traditional way of measuring predicted that the amount raised and spend for their customer engagement would present a similar positive effect on the customer engagement. This was at the end definitely not the case.

What was actual the best way of predicting the 2016 election was using the social media attention with a 1:1 correlation. The way to winning for Donald J. Trump was to look outside the traditional news publications towards mostly posting on social media website and applications. Compared to the year before that Donald Trump has a chocking 78% of his retweets which were from the public compared to Clinton (0%), Bernie Sanders (2%) and Obama (3%).

Anger as projection of his Victory
Another explanation behind the misprojection  was that the media did not fully cover or understand the anger which was presented by some of the American people. After the elections and already during the elections it became clear that a lot of people were upset by the selective recovery and the betrayal in the trade deals. They saw it as a threat towards their jobs and also as disrespect towards themselves . The wrong polls of the presidential election can also be explained as fuel to the fire which was already burning. That the polls motivated people which would not otherwise have voted to take action against the predictions which was that Hilary would win presidency.

Will this year’s elections influence all the presidential elections to come and should the shift be made to different ways of predicting the presidential outcome because of the digital shift of most nations?  Or will this be a one-time fluke compared to previous elections and  all elections to come?

But the end we are all hoping that Donald J. Trump will positively surprise us in the year 2017 during his reign as 45th president of the United Sates.

http://www.journalism.org/2016/07/18/digital-news-developments-in-u-s-presidential-campaigns-2000-2016/
http://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2016-election-forecast/
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/09/business/media/media-trump-clinton.html?_r=0

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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!

References:

Dit worden de mobiele trends voor 2017

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Innovation in social media? Forget Facebook!

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Power of social media

In the current digital arena, social networks have touched the lives of almost every human being on earth, allowing us to share life’s novelties with friends and loved ones. However, social networks are not restricted to sharing and commenting on pictures, but giving rise to innovation among individuals to help make our world a better place.

Social media can be an excellent way to reach out to both existing and potential customers and take advantage of their creativity. There are two ways to involve your network in developing new products and services:

  • Crowdsourcing – asking your network to brainstorm solutions to a particular problem your company is experiencing, either on their own or in groups. The community collects, develops and ranks the contributions to reveal the strongest performers.
  • Open innovation – allowing people to submit their own competitive ideas and inventions for your company to harness.

Rise of new entrants

With so many minds able to network together, open innovation allow people to work together on a massive scale. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter have already become immensely popular for setting up robust platforms for online communities and many enterprises are using them as an effective medium to innovate. However, today there are very good examples of social networks where niche communities not only find work, but also hire a development team, innovate their business, and collaborate from different corners of the world.

The world of social media might be crowded, but that’s certainly not stopping new players entering the market. The success of Pinterest and Instagram  has shown that it’s possible for relative newcomers to make a big impact. And while Facebook may boast close to a billion users, many alternatives are aimed at a more exclusive audience. The drop in organic reach has been apocalyptic for many businesses. Why? There’s too much content on Facebook and the company is forced to ratchet down the reach. We’ll have to either spend a lot more money on Hollywood-quality content, a lot more money on advertising or both. This will force some businesses to reconsider Facebook as a viable channel and enable a migration to less noisy venues.

Source: Cosenza 2016

Future of open innovation

Innovation and idea generation are no longer confined to the boundaries of office buildings now that niche social networks create room for like-minded people to come together and give their input to deal with particular challenges. Idea sharing on a global scale leads to innovative solutions in a shorter period of time. Businesses now also rely on niche social networks for innovative ideas to increase their sales, establish brand value and convert prospective customers into loyal ones.

Without a doubt, social networks posses incredible potential for innovation among individuals from all walks of life. Businesses, non-profit organizations and governments also realize the efficacy of social networks in making this world a better place, which is why they are all using niche social networks to connect with people of similar interests and innovate solutions to deal with specific challenges.

Sources:

Arno Ch. (2012), The rise of niche social networks. http://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/rise-niche-social-networks

Cosenza V. (2016), Social Media Statistics, https://vincos.it/social-media-statistics

Kind. C (2015), 28 Social Media Marketing Predictions for 2015 From the Pros. http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/social-media-marketing-predictions-for-2015

NIBusinessInfo (2015), Online business networking and social networking. https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/using-social-media-support-innovation

Singh M. (2016), How innovation develops among individuals in niche social networks. http://www.innovationmanagement.se/2016/02/11/how-innovation-develops-among-individuals-in-niche-social-networks

 

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