Category Archives: Opinion

The Future of Co-Creation: An Augmented Reality


So imagine you are working on co-creating a physical product with people from all over the world. Now, you want to explain to your co-creators how you would like to adjust some attributes of the product. But since their not physically near you, explaining exactly what you mean would be considered hard by most.

What if there was some way to see a model of your product right in front of you, your co-creators had the same model in front of them and you would all be able to work on it real-time?

Continue reading The Future of Co-Creation: An Augmented Reality

Google Photos: enhancing Google’s product portfolio


The application

Google introduced Google Photos (referred to as Photos for the remainder of this blog) in May 2015 (Sabharwal, 2015). Photos is an application that manages your photos and can run in your browser, on your desktop and on your mobile devices (i.e. smartphone and tablet). Photos allows you to upload an unlimited amount of photos* and videos* for free. Besides, the application provides great search functionalities (i.e. search for persons, places and things), share possibilities and smart creations (such as stories and after movies). Therefore, Photos has become the central place for all my 14.000 photos and videos. For an impression of Google Photos, please see the screenshot from Google below.

Continue reading Google Photos: enhancing Google’s product portfolio

Friendsurance: Social risk sharing


“Don’t underestimate what people are willing to do to save money.” (Kunde, 2012)

These are the words by Tim Kunde, the co-founder of Friendsurance, the first insurance company to break the traditional mindset and pave the way into a social, peer-to-peer insurance sector. The past few sessions of the course have highlighted the growing importance of the customer for the creation of value and pointed towards the innovative business model called the “sharing economy”. From Zipcar to Find-A-Desk, various examples have been outlined to illustrate that this approach has spread into countless customer-centric business areas. Yet, most insurance companies have been hesitant in adopting this business model.

Continue reading Friendsurance: Social risk sharing

Fan Funding – Let’s retake charge!


Through crowdsourcing of many kinds, people can support causes they are passionate about and, in the case of equity crowdfunding, even buy shares with voting shares, such that they gain a say in the operations of the organization or project they support. However, can people really fund and take charge of the things they are most passionate about?
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“Amongst all unimportant subjects, football is by far the most important.”  – Pope John Paul II
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The amount to which a large share of habitants of European countries, and many more worldwide, care about their favorite football club can hardly be overestimated. Though how often do we read about mismanaged clubs in severe financial problems? Opportunistic behavior of the top management of clubs unfortunately is rather rule than exception in the industry of football, often resulting in a short term focus, immense amount of debts and, in turn, the decay or even the liquidation of a club. Whereas the often very rich board members and owners are simply replaced after such disasters and move on with their comfortable lives, the fans are left in grief over the loss of their great pride and passion.
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There is hope. In the last years, some highly interesting and promising initiatives have taken place to redistribute a part of the control of a club to its fans. Due to financial mismanagement, from the 2009/2010 season onwards, the former British Premier League side Portsmouth Football Club was relegated three times in a row and the club found itself on the brink of extinction. But, in 2013, the fans injected 2.5 million pounds in their club, through a community share issue with partial ownership rights for each shareholder. The fans, essentially a club’s customers as they buy tickets and merchandise, saved Portsmouth and made ‘Pompey’ the largest fan-owned football club in the UK. The investing fans are united in the Portsmouth Supporter Trust (PST), which has to approve any major decision of the club’s board, such as the issuing of loan capital or venturing in acquisitions. While this yet is a beautiful example of what consumer involvement can do, last year a crowdfunding campaign backed by Portsmouth fans went a step further even. On Tifosy.com, a newly established platform with the aim to stimulate active supporter backings and decision rights, raised 270,000 pounds for Portsmouth to construct its first-ever club-owned academy, right in the heart of the city of Portsmouth.
tifosy
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The video below tells the great story of the Portsmouth fans’ actions.
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Two fans of 3rd Bundesliga side FC Fortuna Köln had an even greater ambition. The plan they launched last year proposed that any Fortuna supporter could fund its beloved club and, in turn, gained a vote on a wide array of possible decisions, including whether or not to buy a particular player, realize an investment to the clubs premises or even to sack the first squad’s manager. Every pound invested represents one vote, and the fan opinions alltogether would decide which actions the club had to take. Unfortunately, this highly democratic, wisdom-of-the-crowd enabling, crowdfunding campaign did not reach its funding goal, but the idea might very well turn out an industry changing one in the long run.
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The organization Supporters Direct promotes and researches the cause of the so-called Supporters Share Ownership. In their extensive 2013 report on this topic, the authors identify a rapidly increasing interest of both fans and politicians, whereas club owners and board members, the incumbent agents in this industry, display a fierce reluctance to venture in this kind of acquiring funds. To overcome this deadlock, the authors recommend policy makers to establish a Community Football Fund which would be created as a social investment intermediary capable of securing various forms of social investment to assist supporter ownership. Supporters Direct is paving the way for widespread supported ownership of football clubs, giving hopes to all those fans opposing the modern reality of football, where clubs are subject to the dangers of the few elite owners spending billions, those of the short term oriented, opportunistic board members and the investors who view players and clubs as mere investment vehicles.
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Sooner than expected, we might witness crowdfunding radically transform yet another industry; the highly conservative, but yet so deeply cherished industry of football. Let’s make it happen!
– Niek A. van der Horst
Crawley Town v Portsmouth - npower Football League One

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Resources

Buy this team, April 2012, The Economist, accessible at: http://www.economist.com/node/21553493

Crowdfunding: Football’s 12th Man!, April 3rd 2014, FC Business, accessible at: http://fcbusiness.co.uk/news/article/newsitem=3057/title=crowdfunding%3A+football%26%23039%3Bs+12th+man!

Is fan ownership the answer to struggling football clubs?, November 27th 2013, The Guardian, accessible at: http://www.theguardian.com/social-enterprise-network/2013/nov/27/fan-ownership-football-premier-league

Portsmouth FC Academy campaign successfully raised £270,000, August 16th, Tifosy, accessible at: https://www.tifosy.com/en/campaigns/pompey-academy

Start-up-Netzwerk für Fortuna Köln, April 8th 2014, Kölner Stadt Anseiger, accessible at: www.ksta.de/koeln/crowdfunding-start-up-netzwerk-fuer-fortuna-koeln,15187530,28071496.html

Supporter Share Ownership, 2013, Supporters Direct, accessible at: http://www.supporters-direct.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Supporter_Share_Ownership.pdf

China joins the big data game


Big data, a broad term describing the collection and use of data so large and so complicated that traditional models do not suffice. With the digitalization of modern society big data has become a buzzword that is mentioned whenever and wherever. The possibilities seem endless, companies can find patterns and links in places where no one would have expected them. Amazon, for example, knows you so well that it can ship your next package before you even order it. This massive data collection hasn’t come without its negativity. How much information should be available for a company to use? Privacy concerns lead to regular court cases, where often the companies are forced to stop or change the way they collect data. Clearly there is a limit to data collection, or is there?

Last year China announced its Social Credit System, a nationwide system giving an individual score to each of its 1,3 billion citizen. The system incorporates multiple criteria from general information as job and criminal behavior, but it also incorporates social values. Creemers, a china specialist, says: ‘This is a deliberate effort by the Chinese government to promote among its citizens “socialist core values” such as patriotism, respecting the elderly, working hard and avoiding extravagant consumption. A bad ‘credit score’ can result in being not eligible for certain jobs, housing or credit to start a company.’

The Chinese Academy says the Chinese society has changed over the past decades. China went from a from a society of acquaintances into a society of strangers. Huge cities have increased the anonymity of the Chinese citizen which led to trust being much harder to establish, thus hurting social and economic progress. ‘When people’s behavior isn’t bound by their morality, a system must be used to restrict their actions.’ The Social Credit System uses encouragement to keep trust and constraints against breaking trust as incentive mechanisms, and its objective is raising the honest mentality and credit levels of the entire society. China’s aim is clear, it wants to improve all citizens. Professor W. Shuqin, who works on the Social Credit System, further explains these intentions of china. Around half of all Chinese contracts are not fulfilled, this hurts the economy and is of low moral standard. Business in china is a dangerous and with this fast paced society it is important that people can verify each other’s creditworthiness. The social score can be used as a simple, accurate and fast check to see who you are doing business with.

In its first introduction the Social Credit System might not be more than a fast and efficient way to check if you are dealing with an honest business man or not, but nothing stops China from adding more and more behavioral measurements to the credit system to steer its citizens. Future versions possibly include ranking of hobbies, searches, books you read or restaurants you visited. The Social Credit system could then be used instead of a resume, and certain jobs might only be attainable for the ones with extreme high credit scores. China can even link your score to your friends, thus punishing you when your friends ‘misbehave’. China’s implementation of big data might be impressive on a technological level, but feels scary on a moral level.

Sources:

Cannon, M,. Supreme Court denies appeal in Google Street View case, TechTimes, June 30 http://www.techtimes.com/articles/9454/20140630/supreme-court-denies-appeal-in-google-street-view-case.htm

Bensinger, G,. Amazon Wants to Ship Your Package Before You Buy It, wsj, 17 January 2014 http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2014/01/17/amazon-wants-to-ship-your-package-before-you-buy-it/

Brandsma, H,. China rates its own citizens – including online behavior, De Volkskrant, 25 April 2015 http://www.volkskrant.nl/buitenland/china-rates-its-own-citizens-including-online-behaviour~a3979668/

Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System (2014-2020), China Copyright and Media, 25 April 2015 https://chinacopyrightandmedia.wordpress.com/2014/06/14/planning-outline-for-the-construction-of-a-social-credit-system-2014-2020

What should companies use Reddit for?


Most companies are now widely available on social media, specifically on the most popular ones such as Facebook and Twitter. Business management generally trusts the (hopefully strategic) step towards these websites because it is becoming quite the standard. Also, it is rather easy to control content as the administrator of a business page on these social media. However, this does not necessarily seem to be the case with Reddit. What is going on there and why may companies be reluctant to join?

Reddit can act as a high risk, high reward asset that can pay huge dividends for your business when used correctly.” Austin Paley for Blue Fountain Media

What is Reddit?

Reddit is a popular website where users can generate “news” posts in the community and others can up- and down vote these such that the trending topics are shown to all visitors. They proclaim themselves to be “The Front Page of the Internet” where users will miss no Internet trend as long as they are connected to the Reddit community.

Subreddit

Within Reddit, people are allowed to create any sort of subcommunity based on a common interest or to ask for help (the popular “AMA” subreddit, standing for “Ask Me Anything”, check it out). This also means that so-called Redditors can create a subreddit about a brand, which can either be positive or negative. This means that there can be several brand communities on Reddit and if the brand is not aware, it is missing out.

The Community Trademarks

Yesterday (May 2nd 2015), Reddit powered over 9000 communities consisting of over 3.4 million logged in Redditors. Besides being an active community, all members on Reddit can choose to be anonymous. Unlike with Facebook and Twitter, it is actually very likely that the user remains completely undercover. This has certain implications for the content of Reddit as Patrick Hong (Momentology) mentions there is a certain “rawness of user-generated comments”. Raw comments, however, can also be seen as uncensored and real depending on how you look at it. Either way, it is useful for a business to know whether their brand is loved or hated. And on Facebook, they might be less likely to find out because users may adjust their comments based on what they want their social circle to see. The community is open, raw, skeptical, and bold.

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Source: The Columbian

Business Example

As one of the first luxury brands, Nordstrom made the risky move of creating its own Reddit community page in 2014. Reddit allows Nordstrom to have more of a conversation with customers that other social media. Twitter, for example, is often used for pre-planned discussions where customers can use a hashtag to post questions. However, Reddit is more of a real-time conversation facilitator. Nordstrom recognizes the value of this and has been actively replying to comments and is even holding AMA (Ask Me Anything) discussions.

My Concluding Remarks

The key, it seems, to be successful on Reddit is to not just promote your product and post material and information. The Reddit community will actually shun you, as they are skeptical towards promotional material. What they value more is room for discussing your brand and products. And that should also be a valuable source of information for companies. Once brand communities are established and consumers find that the company actually responds to their comments and requests, they can help you promote without you even trying. Now wouldn’t that be perfect?

Of course I recognize that Reddit is not the “Utopia” new method to a company’s social media strategy or the one ultimate solution to gaining benefits from your brand community. I am merely stating that companies should be aware of the potential value Reddit brings and how it may be unique from other social channels.

Sources: 

http://www.momentology.com/4359-10-exceptional-examples-of-brand-communities/

http://www.luxurydaily.com/nordstrom-creates-reddit-community-for-consumer-conversations/

http://socialmediarevolver.com/step-step-guide-how-to-use-reddit-business/

http://www.bluefountainmedia.com/blog/reddit-marketing-the-complete-guide-to-using-reddit/

Are you ready to beat the ‘Snake’ high score again?!


In the past, Nokia has been the dominating player within the mobile phone industry. If you never have seen the 3310 model or played ‘Snake’ on one of the previous Finnish devices, you were probably born after the launch of the 3310 model in September 2000 (Techradar, 2014). In the upcoming years, Nokia’s senior management didn’t believe that the smartphones would conquer the mobile industry. A clear lack of vision: 1.2 billion smartphones were sold last year (NRC Q, 2014). When Nokia finally started selling smartphones, other players were already dominating the market. Nokia’s sales were dropping and the mobile department was sold to Microsoft in 2014.

Last week, Re/code announced that Nokia is planning to return to the phone market in 2016 (Re/code, 2014). Initially, Nokia agreed with Microsoft not to manufacture any mobile phones until 2016. Although this agreement was signed, the Fins are allowed to sell Nokia products if manufactured by another company. Using this loophole, Nokia can start selling phones again (Emerce, 2014).

It will be difficult for Nokia to attract customers when entering the highly competitive smartphone marker. Often marketing spending is invested in sales promotions to influence customers’ buying behaviour and attract new customers (Kim et al., 2014). To determine what the best strategy is for attracting new customers, Kim et al. (2014) compared price discounts and sampling to a more innovative method called pay-what-you-want (PWYW). When using a PWYW strategy, customers are able to determine the selling price themselves.

Kim et al. (2014) found that PWYW is an entertaining way of promoting products to consumers. It can both lead to a higher word-of-mouth effect and more consumers that want to benefit from the promotion. Furthermore, the researchers found that the prices paid in a PWYW situation are significantly different than zero. So, PWYW is not just a fancy name for free sampling; people are more likely to pay for products even when they can get it for free (although the price paid is lower than the original price). PWYW can be an attractive way for Nokia to get in contact with potential customers and to create a positive hype (Kim et al., 2014).

Compared to price discounts, in a PWYW situation consumers tend to pay less for a certain product. But, since PWYW attracts more consumers, Kim et al. (2014) found that this effect was compensated. If Nokia wants to settle in a highly diversified market again, it’s very important to reach a high number of customers. Instead of competing the current smartphone providers using price discounts, Nokia should use a PWYW strategy to reach more people and while earning more money.

Smartphones are expansive products. Therefore, using a PWYW strategy to conquer the market can be risky. Although Kim et al. (2014) didn’t investigate the effect of it, they suggest using PWYW in a more restricted way in these cases. For instance, consumers can determine their discount based on a predefined list of discount percentages. By doing this, Nokia can influence the magnitude of the promotion but still take advantage of the PWYW benefits.

Using a PWYW strategy can provide Nokia with a lot of new, and recurring(!), customers. So, are you ready to beat the Snake high score again?

References

Kim J. , Natter M., & Spann M. (2014) Sampling, discounts or pay-what-you-want: Two field experiments. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 31 (3), 327 – 334.

http://www.techradar.com/news/phone-and-communications/mobile-phones/nokia-s-3310-the-greatest-phone-of-all-time-1287636 [Accessed on April 21, 2015]

http://www.nrcq.nl/2015/04/19/smartphones-round-the-world [Accessed on April 23, 2015]

http://recode.net/2015/04/20/nokia-plots-2016-return-to-phone-market/[Accessed on April 23, 2015]

http://www.emerce.nl/nieuws/nokia-gaat-weer-smartphones-maken[Accessed on April 21, 2015]

To The Stars and Beyond – A Bright Future For Co-creation


Howdy!

As I recently wrote about Local Motors, an online co-creation initiative to launch the first 3D printed car, I would like to point you to yet another fascinating example of co-creation: Project Dragonfly.

The Dragonfly project aims to explore interstellar flight (a space mission that goes beyond our solar system!) through leveraging not only technologies such as complex computing and the miniaturisation of space flight components, but phenomena such as co-creation, design competitions and crowdfunding as well.

Now, although the technologies involved to get a satellite to travel to other stars is fascinating stuff (the mission enhances a laser-propelled spacecraft that ‘sails’ through space, more information here) I would like to point you to the way the project leverages co-creation, quite the way as local Motors does: through design-based competitions. The difference between Local Motors and Project Dragonfly however is that Local Motors pays royalties on each car sale to successful designers, whereas Project Dragonfly awards fixed sums of money to successful contestants in the form of a prize.

Design competitions are more and more used by new initiatives, but how do they work? First, the initiators define their goals and set up proper design requirements in order to identify so-called ‘performance drivers’ and ‘showstoppers’. Within the limits of these requirements, students, scientist, innovators and entrepreneurs are then invited to come up with innovations. Deliverables of teams participating in such a competition consists of a final design report, which covers all areas that are relevant to makt a mission a success and to return scientific data. With DragonFly for example, a team could report new findings on instruments, communication technology or new usage of power supply. Also, teams have to research economic and technological feasibility. Instead of granting one prize, competitions (as is the case with Dragonfly) offer cash prizes for multiple areas of technological development, allowing multiple teams of people to innovate and succeed in a particular area. Hence, design competitions speed up technological advancement in multiple areas at a given point in time. Finally, design entries are evaluated by industry experts and winners are chosen. The results then could form as a basis for future technology development of a mission. Participants are invited to continue working on their project or could be offered a contract to join the initiative. The design competition itself is financed through a crowdfunding campaign. Funds raised allow the organisation to market, raise awareness about and support the design competition.

It is great to see more and more initiatives leveraging co-creation to make steps in technological advancements. One wonders what potential co-creation beholds for the future. Will it one day enable us to travel beyond the stars?

For more information read the original article from the blog Centauri Dreams.

Exploring Paris the Dutch way


Lately, I made a four-day trip to Paris with the intention to explore this beautiful city and the many highlights it offers. As you may know, it is a terrible job to explore the city by car. The traffic is busy, the stereotype Parisian drives like a retard, and moreover parking spaces are scarce and pretty expensive (1).

The public transport on the other hand, is a wise alternative for tourists. With its 14 metro lines, 8 RER lines, and more than 50 bus lines (2), Paris has a renown public transport system (3). A day ticket for zone one and two (covering the whole city centre) will cost you 7 euros and allows you to make use of all three transportation facilities.

Knowing these facts, I decided to stall my car at the hotel’s parking lot and make use of the public transport.

On the first day of my stay, I swiftly noticed an abundance of grey bikes throughout the city. As a bicycle loving Dutchman, I was curious about the ins and outs of these funnily looking bikes called Vélib’ (Velo Libre, ‘free bike’) and subsequently obtained information at the tourist office.

The Vélib’ is a self-service bike rental initiative by the municipality of Paris, launched in 2007 (4). More than 20.000 bikes are scattered throughout the city, distributed over approximately 1500 different bike stations (5). To access this service, customers can buy a 1-day (€1.70) or 7-day (€8) subscription at any of the stations through a terminal or via the web (4). With this subscription you are allowed to pick up and return bikes at all Vélib’ stations throughout Paris (see figure 1).

velib_station_map

Figure 1 – Vélib’ stations (purple dots)

Is it that simple and cheap? Yes and no. Firstly, €150 has to be paid as bail (all transactions are by credit card and the bail is immediately returned afterwards) before the service can be accessed so that people actually return the bicycles (institutional arrangement). Furthermore, the first 30 minutes of each trip are free. After that, the usage is subjected to exponentially rising costs (see figure 2) to prevent people from occupying the same bike for a long period of time (6).

Schermafbeelding 2015-04-17 om 15.41.58

Figure 2 – tariffs 

Besides their predilection for bikes, Dutch people are known for their parsimony and so was I. Knowing that the first 30 minutes of a bike ride are free, I always made sure I returned or swapped my bike in time. For me, this was not a problem at all since Vélib’ stations are nearly at every corner of a street and I like to alternate the bikerides with walking and/or sightseeing.

In my opinion, the Vélib’ initiative is an easy and cheap way to explore the city of Paris and moreover cities in general. I had a great day making use of a dozen of bicycles and it took me only €1.70. Travelling by bike prevents you from getting exhausted of walking distances that are a little too long. Besides, you see a lot more of the city as opposed to traveling by (underground) public transport.

  1. http://www.youropi.com/nl/parijs/article/reisinformatie-43-106
  2. http://www.ratp.fr/en/ratp/c_21879/visiting-paris/
  3. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g187147-s303/Paris:France:Public.Transportation.html
  4. http://en.velib.paris.fr/How-it-works/Bikes
  5. http://www.lonelyplanet.com/france/paris/activities/cycling/velib
  6. http://en.velib.paris.fr/How-it-works/Use-Velib
  7. Header image: http://citiesnext.com/project/velib-bikes/
  8. Figure 1: http://parismap360.com/en/paris-bike-map#.VTEM4bpV504
  9. Figure 2: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vélib’

What Drives Consumers To Spread Electronic Word Of Mouth In Online Consumer-Opinion Platforms?


Introduction

The advancement of the Internet allows everyone to share opinions and experiences related to products with complete strangers. Electronic Word of Mouth (eWOM) is a relative new concept but already highlights an increasing importance in shaping consumer purchase behaviour.  There has been a lot of research on the effectiveness of eWOM, but little attention has been given to why consumers spread positive eWOM.

Difference WOM and eWOM

eWOM differs from traditional word-of-mouth (WOM) in many ways. For example, eWOM involves multi-way exchanges of information in asynchronous mode and various technologies. Other examples are that eWOM is more accessible and measurable than traditional WOM. The measurement of eWOM is made possible due to advanced technologies and increased quantities of eWOM. A good example of a company that still relies on traditional WOM is BzzAgent (https://www.bzzagent.com/). A good industry where eWOM becomes increasingly important is healthcare.

Theoretical Insights and Practical Relevance

The authors find four perspectives that explain why consumers spread eWOM in online consumer-opinion platforms, based on the social psychology literature: egoism, collectivism, altruism and principlism. In  short, egoism refers to serving the public good to benefit oneself. Collectivism means serving the public good to benefit a group. Altruism refers to serving the public good to benefit one or more others. Lastly, principlism refers to serving the public good to uphold a principle (typically a moral principle). An additional variable that is taken in their conceptual model is knowledge self-efficacy, which is a personal judgement of one’s capability to execute actions required for designated types of performances. The last hypotheses is then stated as ‘the higher the knowledge self-efficacy, the higher the tendency to spread eWOM’.

I believe that the latter hypotheses is most interesting because it can be, more than the other perspectives, influenced by companies. The challenge for companies is to provide a broad variety of product related information and interact with consumers. This should increase consumers’ level of expertise and mastery of experiences, thus increasing self-efficacy and the motivation to provide eWOM, which in the end can increase purchase intentions. I’d like to hear your opinion on this!

The statistical results show that sense of belonging (construct of collectivism), reputation (construct of egoism) and enjoyment of helping (construct of altruism) have significant effects. Sense of belonging had the most impact on consumers’ eWOM intention. Thus, for companies it is important to take into account social factors to affect consumers’ eWOM intention. When companies foster this, consumers can benefit from the community, which help them with their purchase decisions.

Results Blog post 2

Source: Cheung & Lee (2012)

Conclusion and Further Reading

Though there are some significant findings that open up possibilities for companies to actively affect consumers’ eWOM intention, it should be noted that there are still other constructs that need to be taken into account (for example, rewards, costs and social influence) as well as the exploration of motives that drive users to spread negative eWOM. An interesting paper (for further reading) from Willemsen (2013) highlights the challenges of eWOM, as a consumer decision aid, from two perspectives, namely the consumer perspective and the company perspective.

References:

Cheung, C.M.K., Lee, M.K.O. (2012) ‘What Drives Consumers To Spread Electronic Word Of Mouth In Online Consumer-Opinion Platforms, Decision Support Systems, vol. 53 (1): pp. 218-225.

Willemsen (2013) ‘Electronic Word of Mouth: Challenges for Consumers and Companies’, retrieved from: http://www.uva.nl/binaries/content/assets/uva/en/research/phd/summaries/2013/06/summary-willemsen.pdf

Cities: Skylines’ early success in community involvement


A decade ago, the city simulation genre was fully blooming with the PC game-series ‘Sim City’ taking a large majority of the market. The most recent edition of Sim City, released in 2013, was received with a large disappointment with even the most critic person stating that the game is not as sustainable and fun as its previous editions.

Fortunately for city simulation lovers, they were in luck with this years’ Cities: Skylines release. The game was developed by a significantly smaller team and distributed digitally only resulting in a lower price point in the market. On top of that, the biggest change Cities: Skylines made in contrast with its competitor was its refreshing take on communities.

The previous versions of the well-known Sim City series are still played today thanks to their unofficial modding communities. In short, modding extents the lifetime of a game by an unspecified period of time with developers adding functionality to an official release. In most cases, the Sim City series were not easily moddable out of the box, hence the unofficial nature of the communities. With the most recent release of Sim City, there was a big loss of functionality (including the infamous reduction of playable mapsize) and an outcry of the relatively new community to add official modding support in order to enable them to ‘fix’ the game to a playable state. The communities’ for change was never answered, and despite the outstanding graphical display of city simulation the studio of the Sim City developer ended being shut down in 2015.

Colossal Order addressed the desire for a playable game handsomely, with their game being launched with ‘built-in community support’. The market gap was answered by providing modding tools in the first version of the game, and steam workshop support out of the box (providing a platform to effortlessly share and download in-game content and see community user-provided ratings [Hong & Chen, 2013]. The contrast with the relative community failure of Sim City with the currently flourishing Cities: Skylines is stark.

The largest part of the community provides their content for free, and a very interesting development can be found in the case of Brian Shannon. He provides content to all of the community for free, and at the same time accepts ‘donations’ via a service very similar to broadly known crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter, and accepts a committed donation per user per built add-on. With the current commitments in place, he effectively made an income out of nothing by providing add-ons for free. The kicker? He used to be part of the developer-team behind the failed Sim City 2013, and got laid off in 2014 during a restructuring.

Although the game is relatively new, it’s bet on community-provided content via already existing distributing platforms (steam, workshop) seems to have provided an early success [Hong & Chen, 2013]. The interesting part to see where future innovations lie: will new forms of communities flourish, now others start to notice that someone in the existing community is making an honest income by providing new content for free? Perhaps we can coin a new term: crowddonating? Only the future will tell us.

You and Me will Shake Up the News Industry


Using your Twitter account to create your own TV channel, something that became reality last February with the introduction of the Meerkat app. It’s very easy: open the Meerkat app, log in with your Twitter account and press ‘stream’ to start broadcasting. The broadcast will be shared via your Twitter account and can be followed by any other Twitter users.[1]

Meerkat is a promising application: the start-up got over 4.2 million dollar in funding and has over 120,000 users already.[2] Furthermore, after the successful introduction of Meerkat, Twitter launched its own streaming application called Periscope. Both Meerkat and Periscope allow Twitter users to broadcast anything they like. I’m conviced that these streaming apps will shake up the news industry.

Already, news organisations started experimenting with both Meerkat and Periscope. The Economist correspondent Henry Curr answered questions send in via Twitter, using a Meerkat stream. According to the Economist, ‘Meerkatting’ is perceived more informal and a great way to engage with their Twitter audience.[3]

Twitter already got a great impact on the news industry. 78% of all journalists use social media on a daily basis (of which Twitter is used the most) and 74% of all journalists believe that social media have more rapid impact than traditional media. But it’s not the news organisations that will shake up the industry; it’s going to be you and me.

Already, consumers are adding value to the news industry by sharing information about any kind of occurrences on social media (both text and pictures). This is already being used by journalists to pick-up the latest news flashes: 45% of all journalists put out 60%-100% of all they publish as soon as possible – without checking facts – and correct later if possible. Just 20% of the journalists always check the facts before publishing.[4] Via the streaming apps, consumers can start adding value to the news industry by sharing directly what they see: it’s an additional point of view next to traditional news organisations and, moreover, viewers can interact with the broadcasters. Concluding, you and me can help sharing news quicker and more reliable.

So from now on, news organisation are becoming of less importance in providing news to societies? No, that’s a misunderstanding. Meerkat and Periscope were widely used after an explosion in York City. Some were stating that these broadcasts were introducing a new era of journalism, while others were less convinced by the usage of the streaming apps. Jacob Brogan, Future Tense research associate, stated that “People weren’t getting information from either that they couldn’t have found more easily and more clearly on Twitter” because “it was too far from the scene to reveal more than the fact that the fire was still burning”.[5] I do not think that Brogan isn’t right there, but the ‘Meerkatters’ aren’t replacing journalists. While news organisations will remain the most reliable source for news, ‘Meerkatters’ can show news from a different angle and, moreover, followers can interact with the Meerkatters.

You and me are not going to take over news organisations – we shouldn’t even want to do that – but we are going to add value to the news industry!

[1] http://www.emerce.nl/nieuws/nieuwste-sensatie-sociale-media-meerkat

[2] http://mashable.com/2015/03/15/twitter-meerkat-graph-users/

[3] http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/mar/30/meerkat-periscope-live-streaming-apps-news-twitter

[4] http://www.ing.com/Newsroom/All-news/NW/2014-Study-impact-of-Social-Media-on-News-more-crowdchecking-less-factchecking.htm

[5]http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2015/03/meerkat_and_periscope_the_live_streaming_apps_aren_t_changing_the_news.single.html

A rational perspective on the privacy issues when considering using location-based services


Big data and data collection are often seen in a negative daylight, as public attention to big data gathering usually results in unwanted attention for organizations. The other side of the story is that such data collection is usually the result of organizations wanting to deliver personalized services more effectively. In cases where the user becomes skeptical when asked to share their personal and private data, organizations provide an (additional) incentive to mitigate their perceived risk. In the case of recent developments in mobile shopping services, there is a balance between the perceived value and the perceived risk of sharing private information of the customer Xu et al. noted [1]. An easy example of this the case of a customer of having an empty stomach, an empty fridge at 10pm and a connected smartphone. Will he decide to give out his location-based information to a mobile service in order to look for food ordering opportunities or will he not? Will he value the potential to find food less than his location-based information at that hour? You decide.

Furthermore, Xu et al. found that the usage of location-based services is correlated to monetary incentives. Individuals are more willing to disclose their locality to location-based services when offered a financial incentive, Xu et al. have found in their research [1]. The financial incentive is often given in the form of some future saving, implying that there is money to be gained in future expenses. These incentives often take the form in discounts on related services or rebates. Some skeptics have been in agreement with having their personalized data shared in trade for an additional incentive. When asked about their rationalization, some skeptics claim that ‘the risk is worth the gain’ while others state that they have ‘serious concerns’ about sharing their information. If you think that the former is non-existent, please consider the example of the guy with the empty stomach again.

The location-based are services that require more personal and private information in order to function better. The so-called personalization privacy paradox is the epitome of the previous statement; the better services an individual wants or requires, the more willing he has to be to share his personal information. Xu et al. have found that using personalized services could help individuals in superseding their privacy concerns. When addressing the paradox, the authors imply that if customers are more knowledgeable of the service that they require, they make a more rational decision. If the customers have high privacy concerns towards the use of personalized services, they are less inclined to consider using the service and will automatically consider alternate opportunities (in case of the hungry customer, he could use the ‘service’ of asking his physical neighbor for information) and therefore are not part the targeted demographic Pappas et al. imply [2]. In addition, if the location-based services give the option to the consumer to control the use of their personalized information, the mitigated effect might tempt critics to use the service after all [3], although future research would have to investigate this in more detail.

In the end, the rule of thumb is: “when (information) services are offered for free, you are paying with your personal data”. Some people are okay with this, and that is… okay.


Disclaimer: Although largely based on the article of Xu et al. [1], the opinion presented in this article does not portray the sentiment in the paper itself. The opinion presented in this article rests solely by the author and by none of the authors cited in this article. Critics are free to comment below, and are encouraged to do so.

References
[1] Xu, H., Luo, X. R., Carroll, J. M., & Rosson, M. B. (2011). The personalization privacy paradox: An exploratory study of decision making process for location-aware marketing. Decision Support Systems, 51(1), 42-52.
[2] Pappas, I. O., Giannakos, M. N., & Chrissikopoulos, V. (2012, June). Personalized services in online shopping: Enjoyment and privacy. In Information Society (i-Society), 2012 International Conference on (pp. 168-173). IEEE.
[3] Schwaig, K. S., Segars, A. H., Grover, V., & Fiedler, K. D. (2013). A model of consumers’ perceptions of the invasion of information privacy. Information & Management, 50(1), 1-12.

The number of Facebook friends on crowdfunding success


(*This entry is based on the research article ‘The Dynamics of Crowdfunding – An Exploratory Study’ by Ethan Mollick)

In order to make something work, one aims to find a recipe for success. This principle holds for crowdfunding, too, in which founders of all sorts of projects request funding from many individuals, often in return for future products or equity (Mollick, 2014). Many crowdfunding projects, however, fail. Therefore, it is of importance to find out the underlying dynamics of success and failure among crowdfunding ventures. This is exactly what Ethan Mollick, Professor of Management at Wharton University of Pennsylvania and author of The Dynamics of Crowdfunding – An Exploratory Study, has done. By analysing a dataset containing 48,500 crowdfunding projects with a combined funding over $237 M, Mollick researches the effects of a fund seeker’s personal network, underlying project quality and geography on successful fundraising. In this post, I will focus attention on the effect of a fund seeker’s personal network through the notion of one’s number of Facebook friends. Then, I’ll show how this looks like in practise on Kickstarter.com. Finally, I suggest a way in which the power of an entrepreneur’s personal network could be even better put to use.

Ethan Mollick

(Professor Ethan Mollick)

Social capital

Social networks have long played an important role in the funding of new ventures (Hsu, 2007; Shane and Cable, 2002). An entrepreneur’s social network influences the succes of raising capital, as it provides (1) connections to funders and resources as well as (2) endorsements of project, its product or service, and the initiator (Shane and Cable, 2002; Sorensen and Fassiotto, 2011; Stam and Elfring, 2008). Actually, an entrepreneur’s social network is the initial source of funding, called friends and family money (Agrawal et al, 2010). As Mollick found, about one in three Kickstarter.com accounts are linked to social network Facebook. Hence, the author looked at Facebook friends of founders (FBF) for the project initiator, as this number is less likely to increase as the project progresses. Here, FBF is a measure of the size of a founder’s social network. Models 2 and 5 in Mollick’s results (see table below) show that social network size predict success. According to the author, the link between social network size and crowdfunding succes could be compared to the following. Having just 10 Facebook friends leads to 9% chance of succes, whereas a 100 Facebook friends lead to 20% of success. With 1000 Facebook friends denoted on Kickstarter.com, a fund seeker has 40% change of success. However, Model 6 in Mollick’s results (see table below) shows that having no Facebook account coupled to Kickstarter.com is yet better than just having few online connections. This suggests that, although larger networks generally lead to more success in fundraising, entrepreneurs yet need to strategize on whether or not linking their social network to their fundraising, based on the number of friends they have on Facebook.

Results Mollick

If you are interested in how the number of Facebook friends is depicted on Kickstarter.com, visit:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/snappower/the-snaprays-guidelight-illuminate-your-life?ref=nav_search.

Here you see the SnapRays project on Kickstarter.com by entrepreneur Jeremy Smith. Click on Jeremy’s photo on the right to view his profile. The number of Facebook friends is depicted on the right.

A suggestion

Could an entrepreneur’s social network be leveraged more as to earn more trust among investors and hence raise more capital? In addition to stating the number of the fund seeker’s Facebook friends, the crowdfunding platform could enable the fund seeker to show the number of steps and the actual relations between him or her and a particular potential funder the way LinkedIn depicts the relations between you and someone else. To get an idea, see the mock-up I made below. To my belief, this would give a potential funder a feeling of being ‘more connected’ to the fund seeker, hence it would raise trust and it might lead to more funding.*

*Note: I e-mailed Professor Ethan Mollick about this suggestion. I’ll update this post if he replies.

howyouareconnected

Your turn

Now, could you think of other reasons why the number of Facebook friends is a quality signal to potential investors? And could you imagine different ways in which a fund seeker’s personal network could be leveraged more on crowdfunding platforms? Let me know you thoughts in the comments below.

References

  • Agrawal, A., Catalini, C., Goldfarb, A., 2010. The geography of crowdfunding. SSRN Electronic Journal.
  • Hsu, D., 2007. Experienced entrepreneurial founders, organizational capital, and venture capital funding. Research Policy 36.
  • Mollick, E., 2014. The Dynamics of Crowdfunding – An Exploratory Study. Journal of Business Venturing 29, 1-16.
  • Shane, S., Cable, D., 2002. Network ties, reputation, and the financing of new ventures. Management Science 48, 364.
  • Sørensen, J., Fassiotto, M., 2011. Organizations as fonts of entrepreneurship. Organization Science 22, 1322–1331.
  • Stam, W., Elfring, T., 2008. Entrepreneurial orientation and new venture performance: the moderating role of intra-and extra industry social capital. Academy of Management Journal 51, 97–111.

A source of innovation


Customer interaction as a source of innovation for start-ups

Most start-ups manage outplay more established players when it gets down to innovate. They think differently, challenge the traditional vision of business and are inclined to take risk. But how come that firms like Windows, that benefits from a huge market power, considerable financial means and count some of the brightest minds among their employees, fail to duplicate their method to innovate?

Part of the answer is to be found in the goals and the strategy of these firms. Their research of growth and profits is not always compatible with innovation (Volberda, 2011). But another part of the answer is to be found in the way they deal with customers. In this post, we will discuss whether start-ups are better equipped to turn benefits from customer interactions into innovation.

Start-ups have an impressive capacity to adapt and absorb the signals and information coming from their environment. And that capacity seems to disappear with the company grows. The backlash experience by Instagram two years ago (Warren, 2012) seems to illustrate it. At that time, Instagram, a firm known for its ability to predict and match customers’ needs as well as for its reactivity during its start-up stage, substantially deteriorated its image and lost a large part of its customers in 48 hours over a stubborn change of the product and privacy policy. Continue reading A source of innovation

The future of IT


We live in a time when discoveries in science and technology are happening rapidly, making it difficult to always stay informed. The full potential of these changes are continuously evolving, with digital technologies and connectivity transforming the world around us.

The media, entertainment and information industry have long played a role in informing, educating and entertaining consumers. Recently, new technologies and changes in consumption habits have influenced how the industry creates and transforms content into profit. However, the business community is concerned that the demand for innovators is greater than supply. According to one research in the US, the number of students entering college is significantly lower than the number of exits, leading to a loss of skilled workers.
The pace at which the trends are evolving requires including additional skills in the college programs in order to prepare students for the ambience they will enter upon graduation.

Industry leaders have identified 15 trends that will shape the future of Information Technology, with mobility, personalization, ‘Internet of things’ and security being the biggest trends in 2013. Some of the trends that will emerge in the coming years are visualization management, robotics and artificial intelligence (intelligence of machines and robots).

Continue reading The future of IT

Work-zilla


Too busy to do everything by yourself? Work-zilla will do it for you!

In the final year of my Bachelor, I had a class in Monetary Economics. The teacher for that class was a graduate from our faculty who just returned after his master program in South Korea. After one of the classes, he told us about his and his friend’s startup. It is an Internet platform in Russian that is called Work-zilla, where people can perform quite easy tasks for others for a little amount of money. At that time, I did not see big potential in that business but within two years, Work-zilla had 60,000 dollars turnover and about 100,000 users.

There two types of users of the platform: 1) clients who publish tasks and 2) performers who complete tasks. When clients create tasks, they should mention the type of task, and give a short description, including a deadline and a price. In two minutes, a client receives some candidates to do the task. Continue reading Work-zilla

How co-creation can literally create value


Introduction
Cryptocurrency might be the one example where co-creating meets value creation in the most efficient sense possible, without additional transactions co-creation is turned directly into money. More specifically co-creation means creating money when it comes to cryptocurrencies such as the Bitcoin…

bitcoin-1

What is cryptocurency and how does it work?
Cryptocurrency is a form of digital currency. Nowadays many different types exist of which the Bitcoin is probably the most well known variety. Other popular cryptocurrencies are the Ripple, Litecoin, Peercoin, and Dogecoin. All these currencies have their origin in the 2008 paper by Satoshi Nakamoto. Satoshi Nakamoto is a bit of a myth himself and all sorts of rumors revolve around this person or group. A Bitcoin can be seen as a chain of signatures that are recorded from transaction to transaction. Transactions are recorded digitally in a public ledger. The currency is also decentralized, meaning that the transactions are not checked by one entity but many entities at the same time, and really the network holds ownership of the Bitcoin technology. The payments take place in a peer-to-peer system thereby getting rid of intermediaries such as banks or credit card companies. Requiring a lower fee for the transactions. Furthermore the currency can be anonymous in the sense that, if someone wants to go through a bit of hassle, nobody can see who is behind a certain “digital wallet”. The main advantage is that Bitcoins are easy to trade and a fee for the transaction is only optional (if you want to jump ahead of the cue). The main downside however is the high volatility with the price of the Bitcoin rising steeply around December 2013, to drop almost as steeply as well soon afterwards.

market-price-bitcoin

How does co-creation play a role in cryptocurrency?
Continue reading How co-creation can literally create value

Foursquare Split: Recommendations vs Check-ins


Would you like to know what your friends do? How they spend their time? Where? With who? What are their favorite places? Where are they are now? Alternatively, did you have this following experience: You meet with your friend and tell what you did some time ago and it appears that you were at the same time at the same place and unfortunately, you did not know that?

Foursquare is an answer to all these questions. Almost everyone heard something about the company as itis one of the biggest startups of Silicon Valley. Now, it exists for more than five years and during this time the company raised around $600 million of investments and increased its users base from 50,000 people to 50,000,000! Moreover, since 2010, April 16 is 4sqDay; this date has a clear link to the company’s name.

Foursquare is a social net where you can “check-in” in any place where you currently are. You can also add comments, photos and people with who you are. For that, you earn badges and points to compete with your friends and other users. When you check-in, your friends will see that. If it close by, then they can join you to have fun together or they can just like, comment on your check-in and look at profile of the place. When you click on a place, you can see general information (e.g. address, open hours), photos and comments made by other users about this place. In addition, Foursquare helps you to find places where to go based on different parameters: distance, previous visits of you and your friends, and rating. Foursquare thus helps you to share your location with your friends and search for new places.

Continue reading Foursquare Split: Recommendations vs Check-ins

TicketZen – a new way of paying your parking ticket(s)


Imagine you come back to your car one afternoon only to discover a parking ticket in the windshield. After analysing the situation, you begrudgingly admit that the ticket was waranted and that you won’t bother fighting it. However, that still puts you in the hated situation of having to go to the city hall, or some police station, or even have to mail a check or any other archaic way that costs precious time and annoys you to no end. If only there was some way to pay the thing without going through all this hassle. Well, thanks to an American software development company called Terrible Labs, now there is just such a way. Introducing… TicketZen!

Although it started out as a response to a tweet by Kayak co-founder Paul English(“I want an iPhone app to take a photo of any parking ticket and pay for it from a credit card on file.”), TicketZen is now an app developed for both iOS and Android that allows you to scan the code of the parking ticket and then pay for it online via credit card. It’s just as easy as scanning any QR code right now, and it saves you precious time and energy. No more waiting in line alongside other disgruntled drivers, now you can just scan the code, select the city in which you got fined, select your payment method, and then with a single click of a button the payment is done.

Currently, TicketZen only works in eight cities across the United States, however, this year it is scheduled to be rolled out in over a hundred cities in North America, Europe and Australia. Continue reading TicketZen – a new way of paying your parking ticket(s)