#12 SUMMARY

November 29, 2016

I have recently started to watch a well-known show called Mr. Robot, which has absorbed me fully in its intricately ambitious plans and vague accusations for the society, exposing how broken it is. In summary, the show is a metaphor for Anonymous, the group that wants to change our flawed society controlled by corporate giants. It is centered around an IT security employee and his drug-induced introverted ego-driven life. The soundtrack in this show is good too, so consider me invested after watching the first 4 episodes of the first season.

Why am I bringing up this how? Well, right from the first episode, I have experienced an epiphany when the main characters discovered the rootkit inside their client’s network that they considered being a plain DDoS attack. What stroke me is that I finally understood what the characters were doing! Thanks to an e-business course, I started to understand the technicalities of IT infrastructures in the context of a popular show. This is exactly how I see myself benefitting from INSY 440 E-business course.

This is exactly how I see myself benefitting from INSY 440 E-business course. Regardless of the sometimes disperse content taught in class, we always had real life examples from company representatives and pop-culture references make this course very understandable, down to earth and easy. In reality, the content we studied throughout the semester was complex, which I did not realize until my friends finished the first episode of Mr. Robot. They revealed they were clueless during the IT crisis moment and felt relieved when the “tech talk” ended and the show went on with the plot.

I have learned a lot from the class, and the knowledge comes to me in a rather natural, ustructured way that I cannot pinpoint if asked. But give me more time to finish the first season of Mr. Robot and my friends will help me to make a bullet point list of things I learned in INSY440 in Fall 2016.

#11 LONG LIVE OSS

November 22, 2016

How do we feel about open innovation? My e-business class has talked about open source and its benefits, my IT in Business lectures are dedicated to exploring the advantages and drawbacks companies endure when opening up their innovation boundaries. What is it so appealing about Open Innovation (OI) that prompts the discussion?

TO be honest, as a post-soviet child, I was growing up among people who shared everything – from public baths to private lives. Shared knowledge was a thing even when IT was not around, and I know it first hand. Therefore, another reason why with the rise of PC, Russian teenagers became the best hackers out there. Our generation was not used to paying for products that, moreover, did not exist in reality. I had a legitimate though that keygen is a normal thing to do before I turned 12 years old. (I am now 22 and I even pay for my music subscription service, no need to panic.) Therefore, when it comes to open source software, it not only fosters the community feeling for collaborators working on the end result, it attracts people like me with its price accessibility. Also, it is the wisdom of the crowd

Also, I would say that open source software possesses superior quality. It is the wisdom of the crowd that prompts the development of (or omitting) certain features. I am genuinely happy about certain web products created openly and/or maintained open. Speaking from my personal experience with WordPress*, I pushed myself to learn more about this CMS platform so I can better navigate through the endless pool of plugins, themes all created by the community of enthusiasts. For the same reason, I am always willing to teach other people what WordPress is. There is a sense of community behind this crowd of people willing to dedicate time to something that does not really bring money in the first place. (It can, however, but not upfront and only after long years of design or development experience.)

Long live, Open Source Software! You are the best thing that happened to public schools, passionate developers, and the world, which is only now realising the shift from COTS to OSS.

* I have my own WordPress site developed using a child theme, and it is called feelfreetostalk.me/ , so feel free to have a look at my humble portfolio made on a free and open-source content management system.

 

#10 I HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPE VINE

November 16, 2016

Looks like it’s time to say goodbye.

Vine, you have shown us how short the human attention span can be. Honestly, who could think that 6 seconds is the exact time a smart joke can come across as not too much yet more than enough? I personally could spend hours scrolling through the feeds of comedians, sometimes inquiring what was so funny about these short (sometime ridiculous, beautiful, awkward, and relatable) snippets of videos that kept me awake till 2 AM.

So many memes were born on the platform, and so many stand up comedians and actors started with vine. However, none of the creators actually had the ways to earn money through vine. This is why companies like Viral Nation and Collab took the lead in connecting the creative talent with advertisers, corporations, businesses overall.

Why did twitter have to halt vine? One word – business model. Vine is yet another example of a good product with a sadly non existent business model. I am not familiar with how Twitter planned to monetize the app. It started to introduce functionalities like longer videos (big mistake) and channels (temporarily crafted streams of vines dedicated to a person or an event). None of them worked, apparently, and hence a large group of bright teenagers will now how to struggle through the results of some managerial day dreaming.

What should vine do? How can it analyze the data of media content like videos (+1 to difficulty) and very limited user interaction through double-tap likes and 140 symbol comments (+1 to difficulty)? Apparently, platforms like Coub and Instagram may have a better opportunity to leverage its existing capabilities and established revenue streams to sway sad departing (figuratively speaking departing) users from vine. #businessopportunities right there at your footsteps, developers and start-upers, take over!

#9 OPEN INNOVATION AND MORE ON G PIXEL

November 8, 2016

Open innovation and crowdsourcing have been the buzzwords for C-level managers for a while. The rise of new and advanced technologies like the Internet that have made it possible to easily and quickly reach many people to build or find the desired solution. Firms commercialising external (as well as internal) ideas by deploying outside (as well as in-house) knowledge are embracing what open innovation is. Using this novel approach, companies conduct research both within and outside its own boundaries and allow free flow of innovation through the boundaries of R&D, sales, and other business units.

Hence, the business models need to adapt as well. Think of Android, the beloved Google’s lovechild. In a nutshell, the company is an innovation architect that produced an open source operating system for smartphones. This OS that can be loaded on virtually any hardware device for no cost. On its part, Android constantly releases newer versions of Android OS to the public, updates the functionality of its product, and all for free. Smartphone manufacturers, in turn, have quickly adopted Android as its software platform since they lacked the resources to develop internal capabilities. Therefore, both software and hardware companies benefited from efficiencies of having a narrower, specialised focus of their operations.

However, Android’s popularity has become its own curse. Currently, this is the dominant smartphone OS. Its widespread popularity impedes firms like Sony and Samsung from getting profits as they have to compete with cheaper Android-using competitors like Xiaomi. To resolve the issue, smartphone manufacturers has started to use Android to create an own version of OS by adding and removing features. This phenomenon has given the rise to the second problem: Android cannot support the adjusted versions of its OS anymore because the newer updates cannot be installed. By making its product freely available, Android also loses control over the future of its product’s state. 

Yet. This is where Google Pixel comes in play. By releasing this product, Google seems to set the standard bar high for other hardware firms using its open OS. Regardless of the benefits that open innovation brings, Google invades the smartphone market and applies soft power over it by having a strong competent and high-quality flagship product.

#8 PIXELATED FUTURE

November 1, 2016

Google Pixel is a game changer.

I have personally been an iPhone person for my entire life, and once Google’s first flagship (?) smartphone came out, I gagged. It is the love at a dirt sight. A crush. An immeasurable desire to be together regardless whether we are a good match or not, but I wanted it.

What is the deal with Google Pixel at all? To find out why, let’s look at the platforms. The business world and, hence, management schools have recently started to recognise the shift current business models do from pipelines to platforms. Instead of building a dedicated resource-centric value chain, companies are embracing the multi-sided approach in looking and managing the customers. Developers (AppStore) and casual vehicle drivers (Uber) are now considered as another set of consumers a business needs to satisfy rather than plain component suppliers. The dynamics are especially true for technology companies and e-businesses, since IT facilitates the ease of setting up, maintenance as well as scalability of a platform.

Android has been an open platform for consumers, developers, and hardware providers alike, reaping major benefits from the lack of regulations and constraints of the eco-system created by Google. However, the same forces that regulate open boundary-free markets dictated the game for companies like Samsung and HTC. Particularly, they were driving the competition down on the prices scale while sacrificing certain OS features, which may not be as useful for a targeted consumer segment.

Bad news for Android, right? One of its main competitors, Apple’s iOS was overtaking the “quality” niche by having a more rigid hardware to software pipeline (disregard Its platform AppStore, different yet still rigid rules apply there). Google’s response has become the creation of a bits+bites masterpiece Google Pixel.  This smartphone accommodates all (and even more) great features that Android OS has to offer.

#7 DDOS ME LIKE ONE OF YOUR FRENCH GIRLS

October 25, 2016

As a Russian myself, I couldn’t help but follow the recent news about a huge DDoS attack on many prominent popular sites in the US (and more). I suspect that a lot of my colleagues would do a better job explaining the entire situation and suggest prognoses for the resolutions, and hence, my unique value proposition to this topic would be to talk from my Russian experience. Why are Russian hackers always the first to blame?

I am a Russian, and yes, there are plenty of hackers in both my homeland and the entire post-soviet union space. The socioeconomic environment dictated the vast of my teenage years to be spent wandering around on the internet – life was not yet pretty outdoors, but indoors most Russian families could already afford a simple PC with a dial-up connection. Personally, developing websites from scratch used to be my favourite pastime and a good reality avoidance mechanism. A lot of my good friends absolutely loved hacking for the same reason. 

Hacking small web servers, social media profiles – anything that sounded fun to them. Moreover, this community of “hooligans” grew thanks to the support of equally curious pals. Very popular websites like Хабрахабр (habrahabr) are among many of the proofs that IT is a very common Russian hobby. So what prompts these young people to hack everything around them?

Fun. Or the perceived power over the government in a space where the politics matter the least. A contemporary philosopher, Slavoy Žižek, has a perfect metaphor about a Mongolian warrior, poor man and his wife (better be Googled) describing the situation. In short, Russian younger generation prefers to feel they have control at least over one very sensitive part of their life, which are in full controlled by and dependent on the government. Slavoy, nevertheless, suggests to “cut the dusty balls of capitalism”, but again, I will leave you alone with this reference better explained by Žižek himself.

A side note: E-businesses are not so popular on the RU.net. This could be partially attributed to the fact that the internet is a way less trustworthy space there, given the vulnerabilities that can be easily exploited by my 15-year old neighbour. Security is a fortress to build still unknown to many, whether I mean security on the internet or security and stability in the lives of my friends and family back in the motherland.

#6 WHAT ARE YOU SELLING? LESS-IS-MORE

October 18, 2016

Once an entrepreneur thinks of a product and its value proposition, business model comes into play to determine the “how” of the future business endeavour. E-businesses and online commerce platforms are no different. As soon as an innovative product or service is introduced to the online market, the competition influx prompts managers to not only think about how good the product is but also how to set up the entire business around it to generate revenue and stay alive.

Less-is-more or less-is-best is one of such business models. This business model emphasises stripping off distracting features of a product, keeping it minimalistic and useful to the customer. The article on Harvard Business Review gives an example of Instagram, which first saw the world as a part of a complex “feature-laden” application Burbn. Yet, as a separate app, Instagram took off and conquered the world of social media.

The problem with less-is-more business model is satisfying the shareholders, who constantly monitor the growth of the business and, hence, want more and more innovation from a firm for that sake. Consecutively, a simple product stripped off complex features starts to grow additional features. It is especially in the tech-driven e-business environment where the rapid pace of new developments usually far outruns consumer demands.

Are there any solutions to this problem? Product segregation is one of them. This is the term I coined recently, realising how detrimental for me but valuable overall social media is. I personally do not like Facebook and the way people share their lives on the newsfeed for the sake of sharing. However, a separate but related product “Messenger” helps me to stay in touch with a lot of friends and colleagues while skipping the unpleasant part. Facebook’s app “Groups” allows me to keep on doing group projects. Since Facebook groups are one of the most popular platforms to collaborate with university mates in North America, apparently, Facebook deconstructing its product offers from facebook.com website into separate products heavily benefits me.

Just launched, Workspace by Facebook will be yet another way Facebook deconstructs the value it has on the main website into smaller pieces. This way FB integrates a few business models and uses the same product to multiply the value for and/or capture different types of markets.

#5 THEY SEE ME ROLLIN’ THEY HATIN’ (THE UBER FIGHT)

October 12, 2016

Since there was no E-business class today, there were not many ideas for me to elaborate on for this week’s blog entry. However, reflecting upon my Thanksgiving weekend (and not about the debates, please, do not drag me into this) I thought about my trip to Toronto.

Visiting friends in a nearby city has become a common way to spend a weekend or so in the past three years of my undergrad. It has been an interesting experience for me to live between two very different cities only 5 hours apart (train travel time). Language is just one of the differences between the two – people’s values, views, architecture, work ethics, public transit, and even legal issues are very different between Toronto and Montreal. Uber, for instance, is one of the companies who encountered different fate in neighbouring cities. Let’s look at the example of this company, whose destiny has been unveiling in front of my innocent immigrant eyes in the past few years.

Uber is thriving (relatively thriving, duh) in Toronto offering a very wide range of offerings from UberX, UberPool (car sharing), UberHop (buses), and even UberEats (food delivery service so rapidly adopted by locals). Even though in Montreal Uber was popular, its fame has attracted the attention of the municipality governance, whose goal was to regulate the Uber and carpooling in general in favour of taxis. Needless to say, the taxi industry is a very debatable topic. With license plates sold at incredibly high prices, Uber executives defend their platform as an opportunity for drivers to earn money without being slaves to the license or the license owner. On the other hand, the lack of insurance for drivers and regulation for carpooling prompted the Montreal to pass the law making Uber illegal.

As a consumer and a high supporter for Uber, it is sad for me to see such resistance and protectionism in Montreal while its neighbour, Toronto, takes a different approach and finds better ways to regulate Uber (or any other industry disruptor). Does Toronto make it convenient for us, platform users, to live our lives? Yes. Does the progressive approach to regulating disruptive technologies and businesses help the government to make the decision? Probably. Does making disruptors illegal at all help? I doubt so.

#4 DON’T YOU DARE TO ADBLOCK ME

October 4, 2016

E-business implies running the business on the World Wide Web, whether the business itself is functioning as a pipeline or a platform. As an online marketing devotee, I see incredible opportunities for e-businesses to embrace in forms of intangible advertising and promotion. However, e-businesses (or any kind of businesses) need to understand that the online-raised generation of consumers is very tech savvy. They are sceptical against any form of ads displayed to them, thanks to the previous generations’ tacky commercials currently lingering as meme-worthy content on YouTube.

Let’s take look at AdBlock, for instance! A plugin developed by betafish inc., a child of crowdfunding and widespread user support, AdBlock removes the advertisement from the pages of users, who instal this app as a browser extension. Users are glad that they get to remove the “clutter”, the annoying ads targeted at you to buy a certain product. YouTube and Facebook, platforms that rely on ads to monetize their business, come up with a newer code to pull through the AdBlock. A constant fight between the two, and no horizon for resolution… yet.

Recently, AdBlock made its statement about advertisements online – it does not want to just remove them, it wants to replace bad ads and possibly put the good ones in their place. Hence is the new AdBlock Plus aiming at expanding the growth of “Acceptable Ads”. Ouch! What a proclamation, it sounds like all online ads are pure thrash and need to be replaced with a better alternative to finally capture user attention without annoying the hell out of potential consumers.

So, does online community actually hate ads or is it, according to AdBlock, truly a matching/suggesting algorithm and quality problem?

I am not saying companies should not use page advertisements and Google Ads because most people use AdBlock. It is quite the opposite – companies need to look at this example as a clear exchange of opinions, a battlefield with defined boundaries and rigid IT fighting weapons. As soon as firms learn to work around AdBlock, they will see how native advertisement, sponsored posts and articles, as well as social media influences’ contests and collaborations are starting to undertake the same fate from the internet users, with less clear fighting boundaries.

#3 FRENEMIES

September 27, 2016

Is there any way we can create true relationships with consumers by running a purely online business?

In marketing, the term “resonance” means keeping a conversation with a consumer via having consistency among marketing channels, including people encounters. Interestingly enough, the in-person touch points with the brand are usually the toughest to make consistent for companies in all industries alike. Those having the most resources (read: money) available to hire, train, and retain quality employees are the successful companies whose reputation and consumer loyalty skyrockets. However, for an e-business, efficiency is usually the top priority and the main reason of settling down in the online space, and hence they cannot allow such a customer service luxury.

Microsoft and Facebook are currently “overhyping” the release of bots (low key AI?), who (which?) are the possible solution for e-businesses befriending their consumers better. Such bots are created to support an individually-tailored dialogue with the user, fostering the “you and me” relationship between the customer and the brand.

One one hand, we can see how easy it is to standardise such bots and make the consumer/brand interaction consistent. The real concern, nonetheless, is whether consumers will feel creeped out by how good such bots are in their quest of replicating human interaction. E-businesses indeed have this tricky challenge to overcome. Does a multi-tiered approach to communication with a consumer present itself as a solution? Omni-channel as a solution for a strong consumer loyalty? A human component of an e-business as mandatory for befriending your clients?

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