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When Gadgets Meet Beer

As the start of your weekends, I have something which attracts almost all men (and also some women, though probably less than men).

In Swansea, England, the first iPub has opened. In this pub you order your beers using an iPad. And if it’s just a regular pint, you can even tap it yourself.

All other food and drinks can also be ordered via the tablet and will be brought to your table within a few minutes.

This ordering at the table takes away one of the biggest troubles of being in a crowded bar, namely the ordering of your drinks at a bar while screaming at the bartender. Now, you can just do-it-yourself, reducing the costs of staff, and therefore also your beer.

So, anybody up for a field trip to see it ourselves?

Cover photo: Robert S. Donovan under CC

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Strategy and Technology are two of the main focal points of the master Innovation Management in Eindhoven. Also, they are the two building blocks of Ben Thompsons’ blog “Stratechery.com

On his blog, he writes about  technology and strategy, linking them together. He looks at the tech news through these glasses, and reflects on the strategy of for example Apple and what he expects that will come.

Anybody whose interested in these topics should take a look at it. Sometimes he has somewhat more extreme opinions, but overall he can give you some nice inspiration.

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Maintenance & Delays

This weekend was the weekend for doing maintenance on things, both ICT and infrastructure. And somehow, a lot suffered from big delays.

First of all, the TU Eindhovens student portal was updated this past saturday. It has been announced for over two weeks, and they did take the website down at around 9:00, as planned. However, instead of having it back up and running at 12:00 after an update, it took them till at least 16:30 to get it back to work, which just meant that you could’t do much (or anything at all) this saturday when you needed the portal.

This is especially a shame since we’re two weeks away from the exam period. This means that it’s deadline time these weeks, and that acces to the portal is really needed.

As I see it, this could have been made much more client (student) friendly, by changing a few things. First of all, the software should be working without any bugs on a test-server, and it should be able to migrate to the working server with a few clicks (and three hours or so).

I hope they did this right, but when they didn’t, or the system fails on you, it’s better to choose a less annoying time slot.

Instead of working just before the exam week, choose the weekend after these weeks. Much less people will need to access the portal, making it much less worse if it takes somewhat longer. And move the migration to the night. Start friday night at 22:00 and use the night to fix any issues.

In this way your clients won’t have the troubles if it goes wrong, making them more happy.

Lucky for them it can also get worse. A totally different project this weekend took place at the tracks between Amsterdam and Almere. They had to take out part of the tracks to prepare it for a new bridge.

Unfortunately, they managed to not have the right dimensions for some parts, meaning a delay of the works of over a day on one of the busiest train routes in the Netherlands. Right now they hope that tomorrow (tuesday) the trains will run as normal, but they only know for sure when they really do.

The only plus side for this project is that they timed it in the holiday period. There are slightly less travellers this week in this area because the schools have a autumn break.

However, as these two examples show, it is extremely important that you test and check that your project is working as it should, before implementing it. And when you come to the point of implementing, do it with the right timing. Otherwise you have a lot of disappointed customers, with all problems attached to that.

Header Image: PhilAndPam via Flickr under CC

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2.0 Consultancy

The end of the current way of working of large consultancy firms has already been predicted last year, in the HBR article: “Consulting on the Cusp of Disruption“.

On the other hand, this means that there are plenty of opportunities for new consultancy firms to do it different. Like Transparency Lab, a relatively young Dutch consultancy firm, doing consultancy 2.0.

This firm has brought the entire process online, and uses not just a few employees of a firm for its research, but the entire population ills in the questionnaires. And by doing this online, everything can be done much faster, at much lower costs compared to the traditional firms.

Another advantage of using the entire population is that it’s very simple to serve every single employee with a personal advice on what they can improve, and who they can use for that within the firm.

What this shows is that it is always possible to do things radically different, but as almost always, it has to come out of a small firm, instead of the big ones.

This offers opportunities for the big ones, but ceasing them will be hard, unless a firm really has a well defined policy on spinning in start-ups. This is not the most simple, but it can be done. As long as they keep their eyes open and cease the opportunity when it comes by.

And an (open) innovation manager might really help with this, so consider hiring one when you want something like this.

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There are many ways to tell your story. You can give a presentation, write an essay or make a video (my personal favorite).

In60Seconds.nl makes these short videos, or Explanimations as they like to call them, in which they explain whatever message you have. They are not alone in this sector, but they are one of the few to really offer these animations.

On their website you can find some nice examples, and maybe you can find inspiration for new ways to get your message across for your next project.

You Are More Than Your Resumé

Sometimes people think it’s all about what you produce when they want to get hired.

The truth, however, is a little different, as “the worlds most socially influential photographer“, Jeremy Cowart will tell you.

Now in the video Jeremy only talks about photography, but you can of course take this much wider.

You are not just hired since you’ve got such a good resumé, but also because the people want to work with you. And by showing more of yourself, you can set yourself apart from the rest, and show that they really should have you.

Think about it, and use it next time, it might just be the thing you need.

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Domotics From Your Phone

Domotics, or home-automation in plain English, is an upcoming trend all over the world which means that almost everything in your house will be automated. From switching on the lights, to controlling the heat and even checking the contents of your fridge.

The main problem now for this, lies in setting up a general platform on which all of these things can communicate.

Your Samsung washing machine, your Philips Lights and your Nest thermostate all have different protocols which they use to communicate with your device.

In the worst case this means that for each appliance in your house you’ll need a separate app, which means that you’ll have a ton of apps on your phone, just to control your house.

On the other hand, we can see that the two biggest players in the smartphone market are working on platforms to bring these all together into one app.

First, Google’s Android. In 2011 they showcased Android@home at their developers conference. And since then it’s been silent. Some hoped that it would revive when Google bought Nest, but still we haven’t heard anything from them…

The other big one, Apple, on the other hand, has shown to be much further in this. Together with iOS8, Apple announced Homekit, their platform for domotics. Although it’s still in its early phases, Apple does have the first-mover advantage.

Still, the problem remains that as a ‘hardware’ designer, you’ll have to implement something into your hardware to make it talk to the platform. And with two platforms, this isn’t such a big problem, but when more arise it does (if you want your smart hardware to talk to the most common used platforms). So I do hope that Apple with start annoying Google, by bringing HomeKit as an Android-app.

In this way they can get more advantage of the network effects, and so get this sector flowing by helping hardware designers with one standardized platform.

For the market, on the other hand, it would be better if Android would come out with their system, so developers get a choice for platforms to develop for. And most of all, it will make sure that the prices for licenses will get down (or at least not up).

So to conclude, much lies ahead, and the future will tell what comes next. All we can hope, is that we will have a choice in platforms and that they come quickly, so the domotics revolution can take off.

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The key to any social network is being connected to ach other (physically). Most networks use a central server to which you connect via an internet connection. But what happens when you don’t have any internet, for example on a busy festival, after an earthquake or when your government shuts down the internet to hinder protests.

Meet Firechat. A new, peer-to-peer based messaging service, which does not use any central computer for the traffic, but which relies on ad-hoc networks created by phones connected in a network.

Since all the traffic doesn’t have to be sent to a central computer, it becomes possible to use other connection types like WiFi and Bluetooth to link phones and create a local network. The only requisite is that you have enough users around you, since Bluetooth typically has a reach of only a few meters.

I personally see a growth opportunity here when the messages can be encrypted, so they can only be read by the sender and the receiver. This added functionality can make it the #1 app to use in any kind of disaster situation, where no internet is available, but private connections are wanted.

To check it out for yourself, hop over to OpenGarden.com/Firechat

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Black & White Challenge

Last week I was challenged on Facebook to post a Black & White photo on Facebook. Normally, I don’t do anything with these challenges, but this on I liked, and so I revisited three of my older shots to create some nice BW shots.

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And so you see, it is a good idea to sometimes revisit some old shots or ideas that didn’t work out in the past, to rethink them and to see if you can make something new and good out of it.

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BMI Series – The Case of Clubs

As promised last monday, I’ll continue about the future of sports clubs.

As I already stated I the number of volunteers is declining the past few years, leading to all kinds of problems including a lack of trainers.

To further analyse this problem, I used the Business Model Canvas, after which I came up with a fairly simple solution.

In my vision the clubs should professionalize to a certain extent by innovating their value proposition. In this way they can create “professional volunteers”, volunteers with a certain level of knowledge which are trained by the club.

Since I believe that it is nice to show some of my thinking, and since I want to show that the Business Model Innovation isn’t the most complicated, I came up with the new BMI Series. In this new Business Model Innovation series I dive deeper into a subject using the possibilities of the Business Model Canvas.

I either take a problem like this week about clubs, after which I’ll suggest some improvements, or I’ll explain the succes factors of a business.

I try to make one per month, and I’ll post the entire series on this page, for you to download, learn from, and share.

And the first one, about the clubs, you can download here in pdf.

Fotografie en Innovatie – Net even anders