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Gamification at the University

I know I’m not always the most positive about my study, but there are many good things about it. For example, the growing use of serious games within the courses.

Using games within courses helps bridging the gap between the literature and the rest of the world, which is something which was sometimes forgotten in the past.

Luckily, this is rapidly changing, and so I had the pleasure to take part in two games during the past few weeks.

First of all, I followed the course on Open Innovation, which was a combination of lectures in which the literature was covered, together with a serious game in which the literature of the week was used to make decisions for a virtual robotics company.

The overall goal of the game was to run the most successful company, by taking decisions on exploration and exploitation, collaborating with other teams and all kinds of other variables linked to running a company using open innovation.

Although our team didn’t win the game, we did learn a lot (as I did win the quiz in which we were tested about how much we learned), showing that it is very useful to make use of these serious games.

Next to that, I also follow the course on Selling New Products. For this course also a serious game is part of the program.

This game was about selling a Baggage Handling System to a Vietnamese Airport, were the entire game was hosted by VanDerLande.

Also during this game the team learned a lot, and mainly that it’s not so much about the facts, but more about the soft values of the customer, and convincing them that you are the best partner for them.

These two examples show that also enough good stuff happens at the Innovation Management master at the TU/e, and that the university is slowly moving out of it’s ivory tower. Slowly, but at least there’s some form of movement, and I hope that it will continue conquering the university.

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Innovation Management is a very interesting field of study. However, not everybody can go to the university to follow (part of) the program.

Luckily for those people, the internet has a very good alternative. InnovationManagement.se offers an enormous library of innovation management articles, as well as online courses to teach you in several subjects that are part of the innovation management world.

On the site you can find an enormous amount of information, which can help anyone interested in using innovation in their organization. Want to see it yourself? Hop over to InnovationManagement.se.

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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.

Fotografie en Innovatie – Net even anders