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  • feedwordpress 02:44:19 on 2014/02/08 Permalink
    Tags: 5x5, , , bluetooth, Bluetooth LE, digital strategy, Digital wallets, GPS, iBeacon, , industry disruption, , , Interactive design, Macrumors, Major League Baseball, MLB, Paypal, qualcomm, retail 2.0, retail strategy, , WIFI, WIRED   

    5×5: Will Apple’s iBeacon Win the Beacon Wars? 


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    5×5: Will Apple’s iBeacon Win the Beacon Wars?

    It’s Friday – time for RE:INVENTION’s 5×5. Every Friday RE:INVENTION’s leadership team explores a news topic or research report in depth, sharing our unique perspectives.

    UP THIS WEEK: Beacon Technology, Apple’s iBeacon, and Innovation

    What is a beacon? A beacon is a small, low cost sensor that uses BlueTooth to track your location inside buildings and push information to your phone. It’s more precise than GPS or WiFI and consumes less power. The technology has the potential to bridge physical locations and digital experiences, transforming how retailers, event organizers, transit systems, enterprises, and educational institutions communicate with people indoors.

    To date, iBeacon (Apple’s brand for low energy BlueTooth) appears to be leading the pack in advancing this new technology. But the beacon wars have just begun. Paypal, Qualcomm, and a variety of smaller vendors are entering the market with their own beacon hardware.

    This Week’s Reference Articles

    THIS WEEK’S QUESTION

    Will Apple’s iBeacon emerge as the leader in beacon technology? Or will another company win the beacon wars?

    OUR TEAM’S RESPONSES

    Kirsten Osolind (“President and COO”)

    Beacon technology will improve the way consumers use smart phones and transform numerous industries by solving the indoor geo-location challenge. It has great potential to facilitate better mobile payments thereby disrupting the whole credit card ecosystem because of its range. But there will be hurdles with regard to beacon technology commercialization. Beacon technology already has privacy advocates and legal experts buzzing about the implications. The key to beacon technology success will be winning over consumers and heightening their user experience.

    At first blush, the company that seems best positioned to achieve competitive advantage is Apple. Apple is exceptionally good at function and interactive design. Apple excels at branding and educating consumers about new product categories. According to TechCrunch, Apple appears to have a secret leg up on the competition since “every compatible iPad currently deployed in a retail store is already capable of being configured as an iBeacon transmitter — and the iPad is already dominant in the retail space.”

    But here’s the rub. Android can discover beacons that aren’t your own, while Apple restricts this ability. Open ecosystems typically win when it comes to consumers embracing new technologies.

    And since Apple doesn’t have patents on the technology involved with iBeacon, competitors will increasingly come forward with low cost beacons of their own.

    Regardless of who wins the wars, Apple will relentlessly improve and expand the system going forward. And that’s a good thing. When it comes to beacon technology, this is just the first wave of innovation. There’s much more to come.

    Joe Barrus (“The Technologist”)

    iBeacon is Apple’s brand for low energy BlueTooth.  What makes BlueTooth LE special is that it requires very little power to run and won’t be a drain on your device’s battery.  This will finally allow independent communication between devices and other objects that have not previously been thought of as being communication enabled.

    Technologists have long been predicting the arrival of The Internet of Things which is a future state rapidly coming where everyday household items (or things) are hooked up to the Internet allowing for remote control or two way communication.  Examples might be your oven signaling you when the food is cooked or your refrigerator doing your monthly shopping without you.  BlueTooth LE will take this concept one step further by enabling local point-to-point communication between devices and “things.” but only within a short range proximity to each other.

    The use cases are boundless and, in my opinion, fairly exciting to think about.   Many are thinking about consumer oriented uses, however, use cases can span across many different environments from driving revenue for a company to providing social good.  What it will really drive is extreme personalizition of experience and increased inefficiencies.  Imagine going into Starbucks and having the coffee maker automatically start brewing your favorite drink without having to get into line.  The coffee-maker communicates with your phone to start the order and the cash register automatically debits your account.  This can leave the baristas free to focus on making coffee and customer service.  BlueTooth LE can also further enable augmented reality use cases for your smartphone or tablet.  Imagine walking through your favorite tourist city and as you come across various landmarks, etc. with embedded BlueTooth LE devices, your device could overlay imagery or text to provide additional information on that landmark, etc.

    Apple is very good at branding and driving adoption of new technologies by connecting well with the consumer.  However, the technology is not exclusive to Apple.  So, while Apple may perhaps be first to market with some innovative usage of this technology, other vendors will quickly fall in behind to fully take advantage.  I am looking forward to it.

    Dennis Jarvis (“The Marketeer”)

    While perhaps not befitting the label of disruptive, Beacon Technology represents yet another evolution in our daily digital lives. iBeacon leads the way and my money is on Apple capturing the lion’s share while competitors seek their own point-of-difference.

    Let’s consider the dynamics of this evolution, those that are good, maybe great, as well as the possible pitfall? On the one hand, Beacon brings with it the potential for significantly adding value to our experiences, be they entertainment events, retail, transit, education, etc. And, consumers will be drawn to the siren, with all of its conveniences and efficiencies. The availability of a seamless stream of real-time information at any leisure venue – ballgames, museums, concerts, etc. – will enable unencumbered access to tickets, seating locations, insights about the event, and concession bargains. Add to that the ease of navigation afforded to us at retail, along with specials and deals seemingly more within reach, and the ability for more efficient exchange of currency, means Beacon technology is a sure bet. Yet, I wonder just how many more push notifications we can or want to handle. Still, the real pitfall comes with the realization that the ultimate success of Beacon technology, as with most things digital, resides with our dependence on just how responsible organizations are in managing it, versus exploitation to the point where we say “enough.” Already, we are somewhat skeptical as evidenced by the following: 93% of consumers are concerned with their privacy from digital technologies; 73% don’t want their clicks tracked; 41% distrust businesses who collect data about them online; 40% are uncomfortable about personalized ads pushed to them; 36% have unfriended a brand over privacy concerns (Brandology. May, 2013). So, yes the public most certainly will gravitate to “the” Beacon, but it will be monitoring and voting on organizations and companies who violate their trust.

    Jorge Barba (“The Culture Guy”)

    There’s potential. Beacon technologies will keep driving the big trend of “automation”, where there is less human interaction. This might not work for every person and situation though, as some people will prefer to talk to a human at some point.

    The main topic of conversation will be how this changes the retail experience, but the bigger picture here is that we may end up getting fatigued by all the varied applications that can use these technologies.

    The iPhone might end up pushing this forward, but there are a varied amount of apps that could potentially play here: Square, Google+, Foursquare, Twitter and Facebook, among others. These are all situation aware apps that one way or another have the signals necessary to know where you are.

    We are already inundated with notifications from Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and other apps, in the big picture, how will this sit with people? What happens next?

    This is the short-term issue I’d think about. This is a wave that is just getting started, and people will be forced to adopt this technology because of their phones. Many questions still remain unanswered.

    Kane (“K-9 Intern”)

    I don’t need much guidance to find good products. I rely on my nose. Dogs like me instinctively know how to sniff out opportunities. Hmmm….wonder if I can patent my nose as a tracking device?

    THE FINAL WORD
    Apple’s iBeacon is a strong contender in an exciting emerging category. Beacons can be utilized for a bevy of new purposes from geolocation to shopping analytics to targeted messaging. Many of the new entrants will provide solutions that complement each other. At RE:INVENTION, we’re excited to see where the industry is headed next.

     
  • feedwordpress 21:22:14 on 2013/12/06 Permalink
    Tags: 5x5, , big fishes make the best sushi, drone delivery, Drones, , holiday sales, , , jeff bezos, omaha steaks, Pasi pietikainen, PR   

    Amazon’s Drone Delivery and Signaling Intent 


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    Amazon’s Drone Delivery and Signaling Intent

    It’s Friday, and that means RE:INVENTION’s Leadership team is discussing another hot topic in our weekly blog feature, 5×5. New to our blog? Every Friday our team reviews and debates a controversial news article or research report.

    UP THIS WEEK: A look into Amazon’s Drone Delivery

    Last Sunday on 60 Minutes, Amazon declared that it will offer 30-minute or less air drone delivery for packages under 5 pounds by 2019. There are a variety of opinions on this announcement, from those believing that Amazon has reinvented shopping by bringing together the best aspects of both online and in-store experiences, to those that believe that drone delivery is infeasible and simply a PR stunt.

    This Week’s Reference Articles:

    THIS WEEK’S QUESTION

    When is signaling your intent strategic?

    OUR TEAM’S RESPONSES

    Kirsten Osolind (“President and COO”)

    You use defensive driving strategies to signal your intent when you are out on the open road. Signaling can also be useful in business to create strategic advantage.  In fact, nearly every aspect of marketing signals value to potential customers: SEO, social media, your website, blogging, press releases, analyst presentations, investor calls, annual reports, news articles, even discussions with employees and customers.

    Any company can release preemptive announcements to ruffle a competitor’s feathers and upset industry balance. In the case of Amazon, their recent drone delivery announcement was less of a signaling event than it was a deflection. A PR stunt designed to drive attention away from lackluster earnings performance and recent negative PR about working conditions in company warehouses.

    Using a video to unveil Amazon Prime Air? Brilliant. Sci fi in real life.

    And it worked. The social media world exploded after the sensationalistic headlines.

    Is Amazon innovative? Absolutely. Amazon offers an extremely diverse product line and they already make it super easy to get their products to your front door. The company has appeared in the top five on Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies list year after year. They continue to play the long game.

    Is drone delivery innovation possible in the near future? Not yet — but that really doesn’t matter. While cynics, optimists and realists alike debate the feasibility of drone deliveries, the regulatory challenges, and implications for privacy and liability, Amazon has successfully captured “share of mind” just in time for holiday sales. In his response to this week’s 5×5, RE:INVENTION market analyst John Clark shares a nifty chart revealing the impact the drone announcement had on Amazon’s site traffic and sales. Worth a look.

    For the record, drones terrify me. If you were my Facebook friend, you could explore my Photo Album featuring drones caught on camera across San Diego. What scares me more? I once dated the “actor” who plays the customer in the Amazon Prime Air video.

    For a great weekend read on the power of preemptive announcements, check out “Big Fishes Make the Best Sushi,” by Pasi Pietikainen.

    Joe Barrus (“The Technologist”)

    I think the Amazon Drone Delivery announcement was more about reinforcing innovation as part of Amazon’s brand and a marketing ploy rather than a serious investment.  Drone delivery certainly has potential to achieve same day delivery at low cost. Ironically Amazon’s attempt at innovating logistics itself is fraught with logistical hurdles not to mention regulatory hurdles.  If government was not in the way, I’m sure Amazon could launch an effective service tomorrow.  However, regulatory and liability roadblocks are aplenty in the way of making drone package delivery to your doorstep a reality.

    Nevertheless, I do think it is possible to achieve partial success in this area.  Drones could become a very effective way to move packages between distribution points.  Drones could move packages point-to-point between regional and local distribution centers.  This could be an effective way to achieve same day delivery within a manageable airspace.   Amazon could partner with existing delivery services such as UPS and FedEx to achieve this reality.

    Amazon’s announcement’s primary purpose was to reinforce in everyone’s mind that Amazon is continuously investing in innovative ways to meet customer demand at low cost.  As a marketing ploy, it could potentially influence more loyalty amongst customers given everything else being equal.  A customer could be influenced to buy from Amazon simply because they know that some of that money is going to be re-invested into improving customer service rather than shareholder pockets.

    But I do think their investment does have serious undertones.  As long as they continue to stretch their imaginations and push existing boundaries and regulations, they may emerge successful at some point.  Regulations are natural innovation killers.  It’s nice to see companies with deep pockets challenge the status quo to continue to push innovation in an effort to remain competitive and retain customer loyalty.

    Jorge Barba (“The Culture Guy”)

    You fake it until you make it. Amazon has a reputation for pushing boundaries, and making it. This is what they are aiming for with this announcement. A call to action, if you will, to potential partners who would want to make this happen with them. It might also have been to put themselves in the conversation at the start of the Holiday Season.

    Whether it was a PR move or not, doesn’t matter. When you are company who always pushes it, and makes it, you are in the unique position to do preemptive announcements.

    John Clark (“Market Analyst”)

    Signaling intent can be a very strategic move when it is done properly. If an innovation isn’t yet developed, the company releasing its information to the public must know either that competitors will be unable to mimic it or that they will inevitably copy it. If other companies are conducting similar research, it may be more strategic to release that you are the first company to have developed that idea.

    UPS and other companies have been doing research similar to Amazon’s on drone delivery, but Amazon’s decision to release this information five years ahead of when the drones will be in use gives the company the public image that it was the first to develop it.

    Amazon’s Jeff Bezos undoubtedly made his decision to release the drone delivery news in a strategic, timely manner. Announcing the company’s research and development in a 60 Minutes feature on the Sunday preceding Cyber Monday was an effective way to generate hype around the company and therefore more online traffic to the Amazon website. And it worked. Take a look at the following graph, which outlines the number of unique IP addresses that visited the sites on Black Friday and Cyber Monday:

    cybermonday2013

    Though Amazon is at the top of this chart every year, the amount of unique IP visits on Cyber Monday is significantly higher than the other companies listed.

    This is not an allegation that Amazon is completely faking it, as I fully believe that they are working towards releasing drone delivery technology. Amazon is widely recognized for being a very innovative company. However, I do think that it will take longer than five years for the drones to be fully developed and approved by the FAA. The concept of same-day drone delivery, especially if it can be done within 30 of ordering, will reinvent shopping, bridging the gap between e-commerce and instant gratification and allowing for the best of both online and in-store shopping. For now, as the reference article from Forbes puts it, figuring out how to accurately forecast delivery locations and quantities is a more pressing issue for delivery logistics.

    Kane (“K-9 Intern”)

    Sorry. I’m simply too busy to blog right now. I’m trying to coordinate a drone delivery of Omaha Steaks as part of Amazon’s test market strategy. Let’s catch up later, after I’ve had my tasty snack.

    THE FINAL WORD

    We can only speculate Amazon’s intentions from releasing news on its air drone delivery services. Whether they strategically made this announcement to cover up negative PR, to drive shoppers to their website on Cyber Monday, or simply because they wanted to inform the public of their innovative company culture, the bottom line is that the announcement has generated a lot of excitement and anticipation for a revolutionary online shopping experience.

     

     
  • feedwordpress 21:10:08 on 2013/11/22 Permalink
    Tags: 5x5, actionable business insights, , Big Data ROI, , , Data Visualization, FlowingData, G.I.S., genome research, geodemographic information science, , , , Visualize This, Whistle, wikileaks   

    5×5: The Big Deluge of Big Data 


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    5×5: The Big Deluge of Big Data

    It’s Friday. And that means, it’s time for Friday 5×5. Friday 5×5 is our weekly blog post featuring diverse perspectives from RE:INVENTION’s Leadership team about a controversial news article or research report.

    UP THIS WEEK: THE DELUGE OF BIG DATA

    Should companies be thankful for Big Data? Big Data can provide unprecedented amounts of information on consumer behavior, likely eliminating the needs of companies to use focus groups. However, many companies are struggling to use Big Data effectively. And from consumers’ perspectives, Big Data comes with the threat of infringing on privacy. In this week’s discussion, the RE:INVENTION team assesses the pros and cons that come with the implementation of Big Data.

    This Week’s Reference Articles:

    THIS WEEK’S QUESTION

    What are the pros and cons of big data for today’s business leaders?

    OUR TEAM’S RESPONSES

    Kirsten Osolind (“President and COO”)

    Data is “the next frontier for innovation.” Everybody says so, including McKinsey & Company. “Effective use of big data can increase a company’s return on investment by 10-20%,” McKinsey has declared. Big data leaders have 5% higher productivity and 6% higher profits than their competitors. For the rest of us, achieving Big Data payoffs can be vexing.

    In fact, if your company doesn’t have deep pockets like Google or Facebook and tons of dedicated data analysts and engineers on staff, mining business answers from Big Data can be a backbreaker. Many — dare I say most — companies have yet to put big data to the test in an actual business use case.

    And there’s the rub. Huge data sets are useless unless they provide actionable insights. For companies to generate value from Big Data, they need to connect data sets to insights to action in a fast, repeatable way.

    The secret to better Big Data ROI? Data visualization.

    Yes, some folks find numbers “sexy“, but most people think visually. Data visualization creates the narrative that companies need to harness Big Data for high impact. Data visualization can help your company see patterns, discover inconsistencies, and find answers to questions you never thought to ask. What you “don’t know that you don’t know.”

    According to a recent IDG Research study:

    • 98% of companies that are most effective at Big Data analysis have data visualization solutions in place.
    • Among companies that are “not very” or “not at all” effective at Big Data analysis, only 16% have implemented a data visualization solution and one-third have no plans to do so.

    Good data visualization requires more than eye-catching graphics. Here are six helpful tips:

    1. Tell a story — help viewers understand and make sense of the information.
    2. Know your audience — ask yourself what they already know, what their preconceived biases will be, and how they will interpret the new information.
    3. KISS if you can — simple is usually best, but realize that sometimes complex datasets require complex visualizations.
    4. Pick the right tool(s) for your data — let your questions guide your choice of data visualization tools.
    5. Consider hiring a vendor/service partner. No hard sell here on RE:INVENTION’s services. My point is simply that hiring experienced Big Data consultants — preferably those who are skilled in design thinking — can shorten your learning curve as your company nurtures your own Big Data prowess.
    6. Interactive maps are cool — in fairness, this is just my humble (and perhaps biased) opinion.

    When it comes to privacy, research suggests that most people will willingly share their personal information in exchange for benefits (discounts and perks). Safeguarding that data is the onus of ethical companies.

    Want some good reading materials on data visualization? I’m a HUGE FAN of Visualize This: The Flowing Data Guide to Design, Visualization, and Statistics (Wiley) written by author Nathan Yau, (aka FlowingData blogger).

    Joe Barrus (“The Technologist”)

    Big Data is the latest buzzword/trend businesses are being told they must adopt.  We are in the middle of the hype cycle where Big Data is heavily marketed and sold but whose benefits; implementation and application are not clearly understood or agreed upon by both suppliers and consumers.

    But like all new technologies and movements, there is basic value that will come to rest for the duration.  Big Data is here to stay.  In fact it will become a necessary tool for business survival and well integrated into business strategy and operational processes going into the future.

    The prima facie value is big data’s ability to gain insight into behaviors, needs and desires of different demographics through the technology’s ability to recognize patterns that exist in volumes of data.  By leveraging these patterns, businesses can get closer to providing consumers with more personalized products and services at economic scale.  This will give companies better capability to differentiate and compete within niche markets.  Economically, it is a knowledge creation machine that will help optimize products and services that will benefit consumers.

    But probably the greater value for Big Data is its ability to crunch volumes of data to reach accurate decisions quicker.  As we move into the future, we are seeing accelerating technological change.  This only serves to reduce the windows of opportunity to capitalize on new products and services.  Big Data gives companies the ability to predict future demand and make key strategic and tactical business decisions quicker than has been with traditional business analysis activities.  This speed to action will become a core capability all companies will need to develop in order to survive in today’s fast changing markets.  There are plenty of examples of where slow and inaccurate decision making has imposed significant harm on businesses profitability and survival.

    Outside of markets, Big Data has the ability to enable and bring forth significant social change. Big Data will become a core technology that will help with social planning, improving healthcare outcomes, reducing environmental risk, providing security, etc.

    But all this does not come without risk.  The negative implications are reduced privacy and potential for abuse.  But all improvements come with tradeoffs; we just need to decide as a society what we are willing to trade for those improvements.  I happen to like it when Amazon recommends products to me based on what others who were shopping in similar contexts bought.  But I also know that would not be possible if our shopping behavior was not stored and used as a source to produce those recommendations.  But because I’m confident that no one (at any level of significance) is examining my personal data with a critical eye but rather machines are objectively looking at patterns to improve my experiences, I’m ok with that.  We’ve always made these tradeoffs in the past on a smaller scale when we answer surveys and fill out personal profiles, etc.  It’s just that nowadays; this is done at a much greater scale.

    However, this greater scale is exactly what increases the risk of abuse if this data falls into nefarious hands.  If this data falls into the hands of criminals or unscrupulous government officials, it does present a real risk.  This is why it is important as a society to not become complacent as Big Data becomes more ubiquitous.  We need to understand the potential for abuse and set appropriate limitations and exert strong governance processes to manage and enforce it.  Any technology can be abused.  One can use a telephone to make bomb threats, but that doesn’t mean we need to ban telephones.  But we do need to make sure that abuse of these technologies are addressed and enforced.

    Big Data is here to stay and I believe its positives outweigh its negatives overall as it will have significant positive impact on future society as long as we pay attention to what we are doing.

    Dennis Jarvis (“The Marketeer”)

    What is Big Data? If it is quite simply (although there is nothing simple about Big Data design and management) the harnessing of vast amounts of information to provide the public with better products, services and conveniences to meet individual needs and improve lives, it sounds quite desirable. If we put Big Data in the context of “it is not just what you know, it’s what you know about whom,” it seems to take-on a darker side, almost something out of the analogs of Wikileaks, with concerning ethical, perhaps legal concerns.

    To me, Big Data parallels genome research. Genome research has opened-up the mother lode of life saving and changing medical options. We are now gaining access into the very causes of disease and potential solutions for prevention. Genome research has also caused rift in sectors of society over ethics and morals, almost akin to what surfaced with the publishing of Aldous Huxley’s novel, Brave New World. However, the advances to-date and portending for the future have far outweighed any downside, in my opinion.

    Big Data has been progressing for many decades. Even in the early analog days of data collection, there was concern about confidentiality. The digital age has mushroomed this. I remember my feeling of confidence employing G.I.S. (Geodemographic Information Science) systems to identify micro-marketing opportunities, and even with these technologies there were confidentiality concerns, albeit nowhere near what has been raised about Big Data. How far we have come. I think Big Data holds more promise than concern. Nonetheless, as with anything in society, we will encounter individual acts that will raise alarm. But, I believe these will be in the minority and we cannot allow the 2% to drive the 98%.

    In business, science and government, the role and governance of Big Data needs to be set at the very top with a strong vision. Big Data requires organizational leaders to set the culture, agenda and rules, and to be held accountable by their constituencies and customers.

    Jorge Barba (“The Culture Guy”)

    With great power comes great responsibility. So companies should first feel more responsible, not thankful. I don’t think most company executives are in that state of mind though.

    Anyhow, I believe invasion of privacy will become the norm, and most won’t even notice when that happens. The problem, from a consumer’s point of view, is that most everything we use is now connected to a larger network of things. At some point, everything will be connected.  This is the data that has unprecedented value for companies who are competing a consumer’s attention because, well, it’s never been there before.

    But for companies, this creates a headache because they have more dots to connect that could potentially provide more meaning. Still, the challenge is to make sense of it all. It is very easy to take the data as a leading indicator of future behavior. Data won’t replace intuition, but enhance it. But to see its full potential, both for the consumer and the business, companies must be human oriented to make sense of it all.

    The point: don’t put an economist or IT person in front of the data. Put an anthropologist, a psychologist, a designer, anybody who looks beyond the numbers by going outside the building and having contact with the market.

    Kane (“K-9 Intern”)

    Humans have plenty of data. It’s time to analyze us dogs. Three big woofs for Big Data startup company, Whistle.  Whistle helps pet owners spot early signs that their dog is sick using Big Data. Their wearable Whistle Tracker measures your dog’s activity levels during walks, play, and rest. Works great for me when I hit the gym for yoga.

    THE FINAL WORD

    Big Data is here to stay. It is in any company’s best interest to embrace it and use it to better understand and predict their customers’ behaviors. At RE:INVENTION, our team of change agents weed through big data, provide actionable business insights, design customized business intelligence tools, and ultimately commercialize products and build markets for Clients. Our goal is to help our Clients make better informed decisions, reinventing the way that they do business. LEARN MORE about our Services.

     

     
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