Garden centers and banks, not yet a success

retailplants1One of the great advantages of exponential growth of IT and memory, is the ability to capture transactions, analyse them and make them of value. As one of my colleagues at Capgemini always says: it’s the large portion of small data that makes up the interesting big data.

This gives opportunity to drive a lot of new opportunities and the ability for companies to reconsider their business models. If you are sitting on a lot of data, how can you make that of value. Do you only use it to create extra value and services around your products (think of the ability to track your ordered goods, wherever they are in the world), create value by up- and cross sell your products (think of product recommendation used by Amazon) or really make money by leveraging your data for others to drive value from.

The last one is the most controversial, but in essence a very interesting one. Jaron Lanier however points out some concerns. He raises the questions whether the economic systems are properly equipped to deal with situations where people make money of data from others, whilst the originators from the data are not being compensated for it. This creates a disbalance in the accounts. Question is how people are going to deal with it. Are we going to accept this fact by short term gains (and then perhaps suffer on the long term) or are we going to protest.

We had a great example in the Netherlands with the Dutch ING bank. They wanted to run a pilot (with explicit approval from customers, but this fact was not really highlighted by the dear members of the press) to sell the meta data of their customers to companies in order for these companies to specifically target the pilot customers with campaigns. They gave the following example: if they see you always spent a lot of money in spring at garden centers, they can the garden center can give you a specific discount.

Interesting part was that the bank presented this as an extra service to help customers in tough economic times by allowing specific target campaigns (and thereby) discounts to be offered to their customers. While for everybody it was clear that it was a way of making money by selling the data to third parties. If this could lead to lower interest rates, then it becomes of value, but the bank did not address this point of the equation.

There was so much turmoil in the Netherlands (where trust in banks is still at a low point) that the ING bank decided to stop this initiative.

Question for me is whether this will remain turmoil if we have had hundreds of these examples. Will people get use to it and is it because it was a bank that the protest was so big.

Very interesting times to see what will happen and how we will deal with the feeling of privacy and our human behaviour towards it.



Singularity or Doomsday

singularityPast weeks I have been reading some books which should have been read already for a long time ;(. The first one is “The Singularity is Near” from Ray Kurzweil, the other one is “Who owns the Future” by Jaron Lanier. Both addressing the same topic, the accelerating penetration from technology into our society, bot both with a complete different perspective. Ray addresses it from a very optimistic perspective, with a drive to reach divinity within 30 years. Jaron takes a more pessimistic approach, although giving guidelines on how to get more predictability of the outcome of the future.

Since it will be the future, it is hard to predict who will be right. The evidence delivered by Ray is strong, but I have to agree with Jaron who states that if we don’t get the valuation of our data right, there will be mass unemployment which will result in chaos and disorder. And has he stated, the outcome of chaos and disorder is always unlikely.

However, my own approach is always to take the optimistic side, but with the precautions mentioned by Jaron (and as well by Ray at the end of his book). Beside the great work Ray is doing on his own websites to provide material to support his theory, I decided to also start some dedication on providing examples on the progression of both theories. Will add an extra page where you can find different examples, which you most of the time also will find in my tweets.

Hope you will enjoy this journey and please engage if you have idea’s or other feedback you want to share.


Will patience become gold !!

goldJust reading an article in the Business Week on the hype, or better said de-hype of Facebook. A lot of criticism on the IPO process, but in particular on the drop of the value. Today, the employees can use the right to execute their part of the shares, which in its anticipation already led to another drop of the shareprice.

But there was a remarkable statement where the article refers to the bubble burst beginning of 2001 on the internet hype took place. And that is exactly why my believe on Facebook is. The hype was not a hype. The internet became the medium by which all of what we are doing today has become possible. There would not be mobile when we wouldn’t have internet services. There would not be Cloud, there would not be social media, there would not be BPM, etc.

The internet hype caused a lot of investments which created a spur in getting the infrastructure right. The infrastructure which connected the world, which made the Spring revolution in the middle east possible.

That’s what Facebook will deliver. The money generated out of the IPO will be used to work further on the platform. The platform which will enable more parties to join and create applications, services etc on the Facebook platform. Keep in mind that Facebook is no longer “just” the social platform, but an internet hub on it’s own, to which most of large cooperations have trusted their branding and customer interaction to.

I trust in the platform and as with the internet bubble, know that this will not be a bubble. Give it a few years and let’s see how Facebook will act as foundation for our interaction in live.