Access to the Internet

Google wants to use satellite technology to improve connectivity

At the beginning of 2014, there were estimated to be between 2.5 and 3 billion internet users around the world – that’s around 35% of the world’s population (data for some countries remains patchy, hence the range in the estimate).  Mobile connections account for the vast majority of new sign-ups.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Google is planning to improve access to the internet by launching a series of satellites which can help broaden internet access. The plans would cost Google anything between $1-3 billion.

Both Google and Facebook have been exploring a range of technologies to improve connectivity – including drones, satellites and high altitude balloons.   The current Google project is exploring the use of small, lightweight satellites.

Meanwhile, residents of Löwenstedt , a village in Germany, didn’t wait for Google to launch its satellites.  The village has built its own super-fast internet service because their population was too small and scattered for national internet operators to bother with.  Businesses, individuals and villages collaborated to build the network.

Business schools and MBAs – what do employers want?

Are business schools losing their credibility?

Hult International Business School commissioned research to find out what senior level executives, managers and academics feel about the current state of business education – in particular of MBA programmes.  Interviews were conducted around the world, although the majority of those participating were based in organisations in North America.

Key findings

The ten skills and abilities the interviewees identified as critical are:

  • Ambiguity and uncertainty – graduates need to be comfortable when there are no clear answers – and to be able to cope with failure
  • Communication – excellent skills in all formats
  • Creativity – unique approaches to tackling challenges
  • Critical thinking skills – deep analysis and the formulation of solutions
  • Cross-cultural competence – graduates should be comfortable dealing with diversity
  • ‘Execution’ – getting things done and making an immediate impact
  • Integrity – ethical principles in public and private
  • Sales skills – including persuasion and influence
  • Self-awareness – including an understanding of personal strengths and weaknesses
  • Team skills – working in global and collaborative workplaces

The research also calls for business schools to concentrate on simulating ‘real world experiences’ and to move away from theoretical teaching.

The challenge of connecting the ‘real world’ to academic research is also discussed by Tse and Esposito on this London School of Economics blog.  In it they suggest that accreditation leads to too much standardisation across curricula and ensures that business subjects are ‘compartmentalised’.  They consider this compartmentalised approach to be one of the major factors in business schools losing credibility with the business community.

Obviously, it’s not just employers who may question the value of university courses.  With many economists failing to predict the global economic crash of 2008, the International Student Initiative for Pluralism in Economics is calling for radical changes in the way economics is taught. They too highlight the lack of interdisciplinary approaches.

Learning from the world’s top brands

Google takes top spot away from Apple

This year’s BrandZ report has been released.  The researchers analyse corporate earnings and combine this data with large-scale consumer research in 30 countries.  The findings demonstrate what is important to consumers around the world and what trends are driving – and disrupting – brand growth.   There is much to be learned from how top brands build and maintain relationships with their customers.

  • Google, Apple and IBM take the top three slots in this year’s global top 100.
  • This year’s top European brands include SAP, Deutsche Telekom, Louis Vuitton, and BMW.
  • Brands based in Europe have increased by 19% in value in the last year, up from only a 5% rise last year.

Consumer trends

  • Authenticity – “sometimes the most compelling aspect of a brand is the product itself”
  • Convenience – consumers want to seamlessly combine online with physical – e.g. the growth in click and collect
  • Customisation  and personalisation – self-expression and a focus on ‘the unique’
  • Localisation – ‘local’ implies quality, reliability and attention to detail
  • Seamlessness – brands need to make the transition between physical and virtual invisible
  • Technology – new technologies are both enhancing and disrupting brands. Wearables are converging technology with clothing
  • Trust – consumers expect brands to keep their promises whether implied or explicit.  Banks are continuing to experience the long-term effects of lost trust even as they try to change because of continued revelations of past mis-deeds

How to grow your brand value

The researchers draw lessons from the best performing brands:

  • Forget ‘the customer comes first’ but focus on ‘each customer comes first’.   Forget old archetypes and use data to help you be truly consumer-centric
  • Stand for more than profit – but make sure your brand purpose is relevant to what you do
  • Be ‘meaningfully different’ so that customers can understand your brand and what differentiates you
  •  Be ‘mindfully present’ – use discretion on social media!
  • Stay relevant – respect your heritage but stay up-to-date
  • Be agile – planning is important but so is flexibility

The full report is packed with essays, infographics and data and may be downloaded here.

The second digital revolution

New information seeking behaviours mean libraries and publishers have to change.

People are increasingly creating and consuming information on the move.  This, combined with the growth of cloud-based products and services, is challenging the traditional workplace environment and opening up new opportunities for agile working, personal development and how we spend our leisure time.  The first digital revolution took place in fixed space – in the office, the home and the library.  But the second digital revolution is taking place on the move – and this has enormous implications for the continued existence of libraries and for publishers of information.

These are the conclusions of David Nicholas of the pan-Europe research organisation CIBER.  He explained how he had come to these conclusions at the latest NetIKX meeting held in London.  He described how he and his colleagues use technology to record millions of digital footprints and how this provides high-value insights into how people really interact with information.

He describes a world in which ‘horizontal’ information seeking (shallow and skimming) has become much more important than ‘vertical/deep’ activity. Users are bouncing around, clicking on hyperlinks that discourage deep engagement.  They are hyperactive (looking at one page before moving on); unsophisticated searchers and generally ‘promiscuous’ – 40% will never return to the webpage.

CIBER has conducted research on the Europeana website. As far back as 2010, their research outputs described the critical importance of the visual and the moving image to users.  The latest Europeana figures show that mobile access to the site is growing five times as fast as from fixed devices.  Mobile users are ‘information-lite’ users – they use abbreviated search and spend less time on the site.  They are seeking immediate answers.  Peak mobile access is happening at the weekends and evenings.

For the younger generation in particular, mobile devices are trusted ‘complete’ sources of information – in contrast to libraries which they view as ‘incomplete’. Conditioned by texting they have a ‘fast food’ attitude to information.  Mobiles provide access to everyone anywhere and OA models are simply increasing the information haul.

Libraries need to articulate the value and rationale for their collections in the borderless information landscape.  They need to emphasise their capacity for quality control and assurance in a ‘fast food’ world.

David Nicholas was speaking at NetIKX. The second speaker was Max Whitby of the innovative app publisher Touch Press.  His presentation, showcasing the innovative content of best-selling apps, highlighted that clever publishers can create content that meets the needs of both vertical and horizontal searchers.  Rob Rosset has written about his presentation on the NetIKX blog here.

NetiKX has also written about David Nicholas’ presentation here.  You can find out more about NetIKX here.

 

Chatham House rules! A historical digital archive for the 21st Century

Leading international affairs think-tank has released its digital archive.

Chatham House in London is the home of the Royal Institute of International Affairs which, by bringing together academics, researchers and decision makers, has helped shape and inform policy for almost 100 years. The famous ‘Chatham House Rule’ helps facilitate open and honest communication.

Chatham House Online Archive (1920-2008), published by Gale (part of Cengage Learning) is making over half a million pages available to researchers and students interested in politics, international law, economics and international relations.  The archive features fully searchable documents, transcripts of speeches and audio recordings of world figures including Mahatma Gandhi and Henry Kissinger. The Archive offers “unique insights” into political developments in the 20th century.

The publishers and Chatham House celebrated the launch with a high profile debate on how a deep understanding of the past can inform our understanding of the present and influence decision making.  The speakers (including David Stevenson, Professor of International History at LSE; Anne Deighton, Professor of European International Politics at the University of Oxford); debated whether lessons can be learned from the Cold War (particularly the end of the Cold War) to inform our understanding of the current political upheaval in Ukraine.

The final speaker, Times journalist David Aaronovitch, celebrated the arrival of the digital archive – and digitisation in general.  For him the resources and expertise of Chatham House help journalists get to the heart of the dilemma and are an essential part of the journalist’s toolkit to facilitate understanding of current affairs.

For more information on the Chatham House archive, visit the Gale/Cengage Learning website.

Baby-boomers and Millennials online

Growth in the numbers of people online is being driven by the over-65s.  But the way they use the web is different.

In the UK the number of over 65s (‘baby-boomers’) accessing the internet increased by over 25% in 2013.  The percentage of those over 65 who are going online reached 42% in 2013.  According to Ofcom’s ‘Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes Report 2014’ the use of tablets by this age group is a key reason for the growth.

The figures show that over 65 year-olds:

  • Spend much less time on average online  (just over nine hours) than16-25 year olds (just over 24 hours)
  • Are less likely to use a range of online services with the majority of them carrying out just two activities (browsing and emailing)
  • Spend less time accessing social media  with only 30% regularly doing so (compared to 68% of other adults)

Meanwhile 16-24 year-olds:

  • Are much more informed about protecting personal information
  • Are more likely to have blocked people
  • Are (according to research by Merchant Warehouse) ‘pulling ahead’ and having higher expectations as consumers

Similar patterns are being reported in the Netherlands.  The over-65s in particular have made great advances in their understanding of the online environment and 86% of the Dutch population can now send emails.

However, this understanding of the tools does not necessarily mean that people are equipped to evaluate what they are finding online.  Younger users are less likely than the over 65s to question online sources.

Digital support for the elderly

A report from Nesta describes how social entrepreneurs and digital technologies are being used to provide help and support for the elderly.  Examples include a service linking keen cooks with elderly people who need a hot meal, to an app that helps members of an individual’s ‘care community’ to organise their time and allocate tasks.

Sources: econsultancy; DutchNews; Nesta.org; ITProPortal.

 

The tablet market in Europe

Tablet users will increase by double digits in all EU5 countries in 2014.

Tablets are continuing to take market share away from traditional PCs.  Worldwide shipments of PCs dropped by 9.8% in 2013.

Figures released by eMarketer predict that the number of tablet users in the EU5 countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK) will exceed 100 million by the end of 2014.  Figures are expected to increase to almost 150 million by 2018.

The rate of tablet penetration is increasing across the whole of the EU.  The figures predict an overall penetration rate of 31% by the end of 2014, increasing to 44% by 2018.

Of the EU5 countries, the UK leads the way with a predicted 41% by the end of this year, rising to almost 58% in 2018.  France and Germany will see the highest growth, while growth in Italy and Spain will be slower.

Over in the US, the tablet market is maturing.  According to new figures (again from eMarketer), almost half of the US population will use a tablet device at least once a month in 2014.  Overall growth in tablet devices in the US in 2014 is estimated at 11%.

This growth means that tablet devices are challenging PCs as the major digital video channel. 77% of tablet users will watch video via their devices at least once a month in 2014 and the amount of time spent watching tablets is growing faster than on any other device.  According to eMarketer, based on current trends “it’s an inevitability that in the near future tablets will overtake time spent with video online [via] desktops and laptops.”

Sources: eMarketer; ITProPortal.

Privacy, social media – and lavatories

In the United States advisors to the White House have published their review of internet privacy and are calling for an Internet Privacy Bill of Rights.  Is ‘privacy’ possible in the era of big data and social media?

Twitter is reportedly looking to develop a ‘whisper mode’ that will ensure users can keep their conversations private without having to move to one-to-one direct messaging. This seems to be in addition to Twitter’s much-discussed, but not yet delivered private messaging app (see this article in Endgadget).

Talk of a whisper mode has come too late for one Swedish student.  Her abusive tweet about a lecturer (details of which have not been published) have led to her being suspended for two weeks by her university, which found that her lecture hall tweet was “meant to violate and ridicule” the teacher.

A private pregnancy

Meanwhile in the United States a Professor at Princeton University set about trying to keep her pregnancy a secret from Facebook and social media advertisement algorithms. Apparently, pregnant women are considered a ‘marketing goldmine’ and their data can be worth 15 times as much as other people’s.   Over on ThinkProgress.org she describes how she tried to hide from ‘big data’.  Her activities ranged from asking friends and colleagues not to mention her pregnancy anywhere online to buying baby products with cash to setting up a new Amazon account with an anonymous delivery address.  Not only was attempting to keep her pregnancy a secret difficult, it was expensive (losing loyalty card discounts etc) and extremely time-consuming.  You can read her full interview here – a fascinating story about the reach of big data and the compromises we are all making, every day.

The hoax quantified toilet

This fake story about the installation of ‘intelligent lavatories’ in a Canadian conference centre, raises some interesting issues.  The idea that public facilities could be collating useful public health data is not that far-fetched after all.  In fact, in a real piece of research 70% of respondents would be willing to share their ‘toilet data’ – for lower health care costs!

Bring your own identity

Organisations are seeking a balance between security, privacy and compliance on the one hand and convenience on the other.

Effective Identity and Access Management (IAM) is becoming increasingly important for organisations.  Not only are they seeking to manage the access rights of increasingly mobile employees but they are opening up applications to external users, including partners and consumers.  All this is being done in the context of the growth of social media and cloud services.

In a report for CA, Quocirca explores the current state of Identity and Access Management and why it is business priority for so many.

The age of bring-your-own-identity (BYOID)

For consumers social media is already emerging as a key source of identity – e.g. logging in with Facebook to access Spotify accounts. The report suggests that this will grow in more ‘conservative’ business areas including government and online banking.  Along with these changes, the emergence of the concept of Bring your own identity (BYOID) means that employees will be taking their identities with them from one job to another.

Meanwhile, for organisations opening up access to external users, the key driver is to enable direct transactions with customers and partners, with a view to increasing customer satisfaction and enabling innovation.

Geographic trends

  • Organisations in the Nordic and Benelux regions more likely to be opening up their applications  to consumers
  • Nordics lead the way with use of social media for identifying and communicating with potential customers
  • Benelux, Israeli, Nordic and UK based organisations  were the most likely to recognise the power of IAM to open up new revenue streams
  • French and Italians were focused on new business processes

The full report can be downloaded from CA Technologies.

The true cost of bad data

99% of organisations claim to have a data quality strategy; but 91% struggle with basic contact detail quality.

Experian Data Quality has published its 2014 survey of how organisations are managing the quality of their data assets.

Representatives of over 1200 organisations in France, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain, the UK and the US were interviewed.  The average number of internally managed databases per organisation was eight and representatives from a range of functions, including HR, Finance, CRM and Customer Services were interviewed.

Customer contact data is considered the most valuable, followed by sales data and demographic data. Organisations are keen to maintain high quality records for a variety of reasons, including to drive efficiency, to enable informed decision making and to enhance customer experiences. However, on average organisations reported 12% wastage of marketing spend due to bad contact information.  This does not include hidden reputational damage and reductions in customer service quality.

Multi-channel strategies are increasing the room for data error

Most interestingly, the organisations that had the largest number of contact databases were also the ones which cited ‘lack of information’ as a barrier to success.  A key issue in these organisations is a siloed approach to data quality.

Data errors – key findings

  • Organisations estimate 22% of their contact data is inaccurate in some way
  • 24% blame their organisational data strategy
  • 52% say call centres are biggest source of problematic data

A role for information professionals

And when it comes to using data to drive business decisions, over 80% of organisations aid they had problems generating meaningful analytics.

  • 29% said their organisations had insufficient data
  • 16% said their organisations had too much data!

The report can be downloaded free of charge by following the link on this page.