Category Archives: Cloud Computing

Business Models And The Internet of Things

Business Models And The Internet of Things

Business Models And The Internet of Things

Recently we looked at how wearable tech was changing the workplace, focussing on how the growth of the industry could improve productivity but also raised questions about employees’ privacy, rights, and ‘downtime’. Wearable tech isn’t the only area of cloud computing that’s changing the workplace, however, as the internet of things is starting to reshape years of received wisdom on business models themselves.

Traditionally, the heart of any business model for either a start-up or a well-established company is ‘value creation’. The term means that companies attempt to perform activities that increase the value of a company’s offering and thus encourage their customers’ willingness to pay for it. Historically, the process for doing this has been firstly to identify customers’ needs and then to design solutions that fit those needs – with the consequence that competition between businesses was largely done on a ‘feature versus feature’ then a ‘price versus price’ basis.

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The connectivity in the internet of things is changing this model. Products are no longer finished at the point of release – rather a stream of over-the-air updates, new features, and added functionality can be pushed to the customer on a regular basis, while the ability to track how and where products are used makes it possible to respond to customer behaviour without the need to conduct typical market research. Naturally, the internet of things also allows various products to be connected with each other, opening up the possibility of new analytics and new services to allow for more effective forecasting, better process optimisation, and improved customer service experiences.

Albert Shum, Partner Director of UX Design at Microsoft, commented on these new models, saying, “Business models are about creating experiences of value. With the internet of things, you can really look at how the customer looks at an experience – from when I’m walking through a store, buying a product, and using it – and ultimately figure out what more can I do with it and what service can renew the experience and give it new life”.

Elsewhere, the cloud and the internet of things is also helping to create new business models around the theory of ‘value capture’ – ie – the monetisation of customer value. Typically, this has meant ensuring the price of a product has been optimised to to maximise both sales and profits – often supplemented by discrete product sales. Today, however, the internet of things allows for recurring revenue rather than immediately looking to sell the next product – it shifts the onus from commodity advantages, intellectual property rights and brand name on to personalisation, context and network effects between products.

How do you see the internet of things changing business models around the world? Let us know in the comments below.

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

By Daniel Price

The Real Estate Industry – How Big Data Is Shaping The Future

The Real Estate Industry – How Big Data Is Shaping The Future

The Real Estate Industry – How Big Data Is Shaping The Future

Real estate accounts for roughly 17-18% of the US GDP through private residential investment and spending on housing services. That’s a lot of money. Where there’s a lot of money involved, people work very hard to gain a competitive, or rather any advantage at all. Real estate brokers, companies and regular people too use processed data sets to make better decisions when selling, buying or working on behalf of clients.

Realtors

Realtors leverage Big Data to better market their services. Predictive real estate marketing is made possible with, e.g., SmartZip, a tool that helps realtors find houses about to sell. The gist is that people move from starter homes at a certain point, and SmartZip uses data to determine when that point might be. Essentially, they predict human behavior with data. Realtors can use tools like these to push their advertisements at the right time, making for an extraordinarily powerful marketing message.

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Planning & investments

Banks are among the few that can already use Big Data to the max. Knowing the market price of a property in advance, they can wait for a genuinely interested buyer instead of letting the property be acquired by a smart investor. Banks seldom settle for a penny less than the market value, because they know the price of a property beforehand.

Community planning and development has the potential to become more based on data than guesswork diluted with common sense. Big Data can be leveraged to measure things such as air quality, energy efficiency, traffic, and more. With more data, community developers can have better insights as to what sorts of spaces are better-fitted for human beings, and plan their projects accordingly.

Buyers

With the recent Zillow/Trulia merger, online services will surely become even better when it comes to determining the market value of a given property. The median error of Zillow estimates for the cost of a property is 6.9%. Even that is thousands of dollars, though, so as of now buyers prefer the help of a professional. Changes in the archaic process of buying and selling a house are coming slowly, but coming at all they are only thanks to Big Data.

It also helps in ways more fun. There are 250 to 300 neighborhoods in the five boroughs of NYC, so choosing a place of residence is tricky. Relocality reads your Facebook profile “in a non-creepy way” to suggest which NYC neighborhood you would belong to. It sounds jocular, but Relocality’s algorithm is actually quite complex, using wildly different sets of data, comparing it with that of others, and making educated guesses about, well, what’s it like to be you and how a particular place would fit their computerized version of you.

Conclusion

Both buyers and sellers benefit from the increasing availability of data. Real estate agents can make their marketing more focused, mailing a few select homes instead of bombing an entire area with sales pitches. Those dealing with real estate as an asset, on the other hand, can make the most of their acquisitions. Regular customers already use Big Data as a starting-point when looking to sell or buy, but previously unseen tools like Relocality provide something new and personalized that is both interesting and enlightening.

By Lauris Veips

The Cloud, The Internet and International Business

The Cloud, The Internet and International Business

The Cloud, The Internet and International BusinessInternet-of-Things

It is true that the Internet will change everything. It is not true that everything will change.

Paul Deninger, CEO of Broadview Capital Partners

Cloud computing has been viewed as a game changer by many businesses.  It’s fast, inexpensive and highly scalable.  Well, none of this matters unless you have a secure and reliable Internet connection to access the data.

The Internet has been recognized as an important tool for modern international business. It can revolutionize international commerce. Not only can the Internet help small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) access easily to market and compete but it can also enable SMEs to respond flexibly to new international market opportunities. Nowadays, the majority of businesses are active internet users. Industry Canada (2009) indicated that 95% of businesses had internet access, 74% had a website, 69%were purchasing online and 13% were selling online. Moreover, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reported that most companies are purchasing and selling over the internet and online transactions are now common in most of the countries such as Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. It would seem that the Internet can be considered as a strategic resource that can help companies achieve operational efficiency and functionality and enable them to compete more easily in the global marketplace.

Reuber and Fischer (2011) conducted a systematic review and reported that online reputation, online technological capabilities and online brand communities are significant in a firm’s success in pursuing international opportunities when competing in internet-enabled markets. In order to stand out in a competitive market and be able to attract investors, customers, and suppliers, it is of great significance for firms to develop an online reputation. Companies need to be both visible online and seen as providing high-quality goods and services.

In addition, online technological capabilities not only increase the efficiency of market transactions and enhance the learning process but also enable a company to discover and exploit international opportunities better and faster than competitors. According to Reuber and Fischer ( 2011), important aspects of a firm’s online technological capabilities are a) the extent to which web applications are integrated with back-end databases and systems; b) the firm’s ability to customize the online experience for particular markets (Website customization); and c) the firm’s technological opportunism.

According to Muniz and O’Guinn (2001), an online brand community is an online “specialized, non-geographically bound community, based on a structured set of social relationships among admirers of a brand”. Online brand communities can provide information about buyers, support the buying process and build positive brand meanings. Hence, they can help companies discover, evaluate and exploit international opportunities.

Scholars have argued that successful deployment of the Internet depends on the functional and organizational capabilities of the firm. A firm’s top management play a crucial role in the successful adoption of internet-related technologies. Entrepreneurial leaders who are innovative, proactive, commitment to the Internet and firm internationalisation are able to exploit opportunities provided by the Internet capabilities. Leaders’ knowledge and skills in conducting business in international markets and their attitudes towards online initiatives affect Internet integration and application for international business.

As discussed above, the Internet offers many benefits to companies and their customers. The Internet can fundamentally change the nature of doing business and competition in many industries. It provides SMEs with new ways to conduct and develop international business, communicate ideas, and exchange information. Companies should select a new business model for their Internet venture. This new Internet business models can create value (efficiency, aggregation and customization) for market participants. “If the business model is unique or difficult to imitate, Internet firms can also capture some share of the created value and become profitable“. It is clear that firms’ managers should be competent, innovative and proactive in making decision about their existing business model components to increase value capture.

(Infographic Source: http://blogs.jabil.com)

By Mojgan Afshari

 

Can You Use Big Data To Track Your Own Brain?

Can You Use Big Data To Track Your Own Brain?

Can You Use Big Data To Track Your Own Brain?

Last week we spent a long time looking at how big data had fantastic uses outside of the stereotypical areas – learning that $1 billion start-up companies could be discovered and the best investors in them could be monitored all by sensible interpretation and analysis of widely available data.brain-big-data

Another atypical area in which it has almost limitless potential is that of brain study. For example, the University of Reading in the UK is about to embark on a multi-disciplinary research project which will collaborate and analyse very large datasets in the field of neuroscience. The data used will be gathered by Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans and will be used to identify abnormal brain states. The researchers hope that the project will show how data-driven predictive and descriptive models can then be used to help to identify the causes of brain dysfunction and to investigate the heterogeneity within a given class of neurological disorders.

Elsewhere, Barack Obama’s ‘Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies’ (BRAIN) project is hoping to use big data to help scientists learn more about brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, strokes and even human thought. Launched in 2013, the project is gathering yottabytes of data and has already received more than $100 million of funding.

But what about closer to home? Is there anyway non-scientists can learn about their own cognitive state by combining home experimentation with big data? Mattan Griffel set out to do exactly that via a blog post on medium.com. Mattan wanted to learn about his own brain and get answers to questions such as when his brain worked best, what foods and drinks made him appear smarter, what effect his sleep patterns had on his mental performance, and how quickly he could process thoughts at different times of the day.

His experiment was simple to do and could be repeated by anyone with an interest in their own internal workings. He used ‘brain training’ app Lumosity to record daily scores for one year across five categories – speed, memory, attention, flexibility, and problem solving – along with some useful metadata, then aggregated mental performance metrics. The metadata included was wide-ranging and included factors such as how much sleep he got, whether he ate breakfast, whether he drank coffee, and whether he was wearing glasses. More factors are still being added.

Of course, his results are open to influence from uncontrollable factors such as how the app calculates scores, whether he is naturally improving at Lumosity’s games, and whether his scores in certain areas are affected by the games available – but Mattan goes to great lengths to explain how he negated this problems.

Ultimately, the experiment’s most valuable lesson is that big data is not just for computers that are capable of handling yottabytes of data or government-level initiatives, but is also something that can be applied in the real world to help ordinary people embark upon a journey of self-discovery. Whether you want to learn about your brain, monitor your fitness, or manage your finances, big data can be used to show you patterns and give you ideas that you would have never thought of otherwise.

Do you have an idea for an ‘at-home’ big data project? Let us know in the comments below.

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

By Daniel Price

Cloud Infographic: Data Protection For The Edge

Cloud Infographic: Data Protection For The Edge

Cloud Infographic: Data Protection For The Edge

With the ever increasing role of big data in our lives, protecting data must be a top priority for IT leaders, marketers and executives across enterprises, but the research shows that an increasing number of employees are actually failing to do so, exposing their mission-critical data to significant risks.

Provided is an infographic provided courtesy of Code42 which illustrates some of these risks.

Data Protection Infographic_001

The Lighter Side Of The Cloud – Old Wearables

The Lighter Side Of The Cloud – Old Wearables



cloud-wearable-comic

By Al Johnson

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Future Tech – Wearables And The Smartphone

Future Tech – Wearables And The Smartphone

future-tech

Wearable technology seemed like something of a far away future just a few short years ago but is now doing a complete take-over. The market for wearable technology has completely exploded over the past two years or so, and is signaling what could be the end for smartphones. There are still those who are split in terms of  adopting the concept of wearable technology and stick to their smartphones like glue, however.

So many different wearable gadgets are available on the market today that it feels like we are all living in the Jetson’s world. There are those who get excited about chatting through a wrist phone, but there are also those who find the whole concept of it too ‘techy’ and somewhat scary. Technology has come a very, very long way from where it once was and does not look like it will slow down in production anytime soon.

The benefits that team up with wearable technology have yet to be crystal clear, except for entertainment and ease. Wearable technology, such as Google Glass or the Sproutling, are designed to give us a break out of our extremely busy lives. Wearables are supposed to give us an advantage in life, such as knowing when your baby is awake before he or she can start wailing. All of these different gadgets with different purposes have moved the world of technology to a new, exciting world, where you can check the scores of last night’s football game without pulling out a smartphone or a computer, but by simply looking up and using a voice command.

The newest piece that is coming to light is the iWatch. Apple is known for keeping the markets that are involved in their projects in the dark completely until the very last minute, but what they are planning now is huge. The iWatch is not only going to be one of the latest ‘must haves’ on the market, but one that is really going to stir the pot up quite a bit. Right now, however, there has been no definitive answer made about the iWatch’s appearance, or what it’s going to be capable of that will separate itself from what the iPhone is capable of. That in itself has got a lot of people fired up, solely based on the mystery and anticipation of what the iWatch is going to be like overall.

This simply just goes to show that more wearable pieces of technology are storming the market than smartphones. However, the newest smartphone and what it is capable of is enough to get an entire crowd going, but wearable technology does have that ‘newer’ feeling to it. Wearable tech takes the element of being the odd man out by wearing something particularly odd, such as Glass, and gives you the intimate feeling with it.

With that said, not every person who has a cell phone these days has converted over to smartphones and upgraded technology. However, wearable technology strikes our curiosity, while smartphones are pieces that we already know front and back, for the most part.

By Linda Green

Using Big Data To Analyze Venture Capitalists’ Ability To Recognize Potential

Using Big Data To Analyze Venture Capitalists’ Ability To Recognize Potential

Big Data To Analyze

Using Big Data to Analyze Venture Capitalists’ Ability To Recognize Potential

For those who are regularly involved with SMEs, venture capital, and company valuations, it is common knowledge that start-ups that exit for more than $1 billion dollars are extremely rare – often termed ‘unicorn’ companies.

Despite their rarity, it should come as no surprise that venture capitalists are very keen to identify them at the earliest possible stage. The problem is that it is much easier said than done. Traditionally, locating, predicting and investing in unicorn companies has required a lot of time and effort; a good investment could reap huge rewards, whereas a poor investment could cause bankruptcy, yet a good VC that could maximise returns consistently was hard to find.

venture-capitalists-state

The onset of big data and cloud computing is changing all that – a fact that was highlighted in a recent CB Insights report titled “Analysing Venture Capital Performance”. The report argues that venture capital data could help to identify these companies and in the process highlights yet another valuable, real-world application of the growing big data industry.

Naturally, some VCs are stronger at the process than others – but how could this be quantified when several VCs would invest late in the growth of a start-up in order to benefit from the halo effect that participation could offer?

The important trends were analysed by identifying the investors in forty five venture capital backed American tech companies that exited with a valuation of at least $1 billion (either via an initial purchase offering or an acquisition) between 2004 and 2013. It was found that 104 venture capitalists invested in the companies prior to their exit, with sixty five percent of them investing in only a single company, but remarkably three VCs had invested in eight start-up unicorns.

How had they been so efficient at identifying them? Andy Dunn from clothing firm Bonobos was brutal in his assessment, saying “Dear dumb VCs, how many companies are in your portfolio that have reached $1 billion in enterprise value? If the answer isn’t two, you are not good yet”. It implies that the best VCs already have an innate ability to spot the start-ups with the highest potential, and the rest need some help. At least that’s how it appeared.

A closer analysis of all the big data available revealed that the trick is investing early in the Series A or B rounds of funding – and not focussing too heavily on the company itself. Investing early means investments can be made at a lower price and thus enjoy maximised returns when the time comes to sell. The distinction is important; of the sixty five percent of VCs that had a $1 billion exit, a mere thirty eight percent made their investments in the Series A or B round of funding, yet of the three VCs that had eight or more unicorns on the books, investments were made in Series A or B rounds a staggering fifty percent of the time.

If the scope is narrowed to Series A only, the difference between lucky and great VCs becomes even more obvious. Of the single $1 billion exits it only happened eighteen percent of the time, whereas of the eight $1 billion exits it happened thirty eight percent of the time. None of this analysis and insight would be possible without big data.

What all this proves is that the elusive ‘unicorn’ VCs are increasing their early stage investment focus, not decreasing it. Leading the way is Charles River Ventures who invested as seeds or in Series A ninety percent of the time, while Sequoia Capital – one of the VCs with eight unicorns – had seen a seventeen percent increase in early stage investments between 2010 and 2013.

So – what does this all mean for the big data industry? It serves to highlight how big data is not just useful for businesses and enterprises to monitor consumers and investigate new products, but also can be used in to predict, identify and choose the best options in the cutthroat world of start-up investments. If big data can be successfully applied to these types of metrics, it can undoubtedly be extrapolated to include stock markets, investment funds and company shares. Going forward, this is yet another example of how big data is starting to permeate every aspect of how we perceive and analyse the world. It’s growth appears unstoppable.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

By Daniel Price

CloudTweaks Comics
Containerization: The Bold Face Of The Cloud In 2016

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