Eurovision 2015: the Guardian’s data-driven prediction (Winner: Armenia – Belgium 8th)

Eurovision 2015: the Guardian’s data-driven prediction | News | The Guardian.

It is time once again for Eurovision, the annual kitschy Europop extravaganza, taking place this year in Vienna, Austria.

Here’s what’s probably going to happen :

  • Viewers will be treated to a few out of the ordinary performances
  • Everyone will be complaining about regional voting blocs
  • Like most competitions that involve competing against other European nations (and doesn’t include the use of bicycles), the UK entry will flop.

But we’re going to be a bit bolder than that.

We’re having a shot at predicting who is going to follow in the footsteps of Conchita Wurst as the winner of the contest.

Our model is not based on the quality of the songs (or the lack thereof), but on an average of votes each participating nation received over the past 12 years, which is then adjusted for factors that include present day geopolitics, form in more recent editions, past performance and tempo.

Sceptical about this approach? In 2011, the winners, Azerbaijan, were in our top-three, and then in 2013 we backed Azerbaijan, who came second. We have now spent the last two years tinkering with the model and hope the improvements we’re introducing mean that our projected winner will be the one to take it all.

So without further ado, the Guardian data prediction for Eurovision 2015 winner is…


 Face the Shadow, a song about mass murder. Doesn’t feature much glitter.

Genealogy’s controversial “Face the Shadow” references the mass murder of 1.5m Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in 1915. It was originally called “Don’t Deny” – Turkey still contests that it was not a genocide, and this title was deemed too political by Eurovision organisers.

Other countries our model expects will make the top 10 include Serbia, Sweden, and Azerbaijan.

The predicted top 10

Our predicted winners.

 Our predicted winners. Photograph: YouTube

What about the losers?

Our model suggests that France may be on course to receive nul (zero) points with Lisa Angell’s N’oubliez Pas.

 Nul points for N’oubliez pas?

Bear in mind that a country getting zero points has not happened in the final since UK pair Jemini’s off-key performance of Cry Baby in 2003.

Despite that historic low point, we think the UK may defy (low) expectations and not finish last, or thereabout. The reunion of boyband Blue and an appearance by Andrew Lloyd Webber have helped drag up Britain’s median score (contrary to what the popular press might say).

 Blue – sang I Can and indeed, did. Almost.

Nevertheless, our model does still expect the UK to join France in the lower end of the table along with Lithuania, Germany, Cyprus, Estonia and Slovenia.

The predicted bottom 10

Our predicted losers.

 Our predicted losers. Photograph: YouTube

One participant our model cannot account for is this year’s dark horse: Australia

 Australia in the Eurovision zone. Image: @TheMediaTweets

For the simple reason that Australia is not in Europe (despite some wanting to import its immigration points system).

 Australia not actually in Europe. Image: @TheMediaTweets

Our neighbours from the other side of the world are entering for the first time to celebrate the 60th year of the song contest, and as a result there is no historical data for how Australia performs in European song contests.

It is unclear whether their tune, by Guy Sebastian, will be embraced, rejected or if people will get confused and think he is the Austrian entrant.

 Aussie Guy Sebastian. He comes from the land down under. Not Europe.

WARNING: please do not hold us responsible for any bets you may place as a result of this statistical exercise. It’s all a bit of fun.

Are there voting blocs?

Yes. And they have pretty much always worked how you think they would:

Scandinavia groups together (a habit it also has in football tournaments) – for example since 1998, Sweden has got an average of 10 points from Denmark. Other close relationships include Slavic countries, Greece and Cyprus, Ireland and the UK, as well as a bloc comprising several – but not all – former Soviet nations (or what some may refer to as Russia’s customs union).

The last 14 Eurovision winners have all been from different nations and our prediction of Armenia would continue that trend.

Will connected cars crash mobile data networks in the future? – RCR Wireless News

EMEA: Will connected cars crash mobile data networks in the future? – RCR Wireless News.

The ability to avoid collisions is certainly a key component of the connected car. Autonomous driving aims to reduce vehicle crashes to zero, but what are the implications to the mobile networks supporting all of the data traffic created by these cars? A new report, released today by Teoco and Machina Research says this is an impending problem that can’t be ignored.

connected cars

On the surface it sounds like there isn’t a problem. According to Machina Research, by 2024 machine-to-machine devices will account for 19% of the connections and only 4% of the traffic on mobile data networks. This is in comparison to 2014 when M2M devices accounted for 2% of usage. Machina 1

But when you dig a little deeper the issues become clearer – it isn’t the volume of data consumed, but rather the way in which the data is consumed. One example of the challenges  mobile operators will face is the connected car. Consider a world where all of the vehicles are connected and chatting with each other about road and traffic conditions along the same stretch of roadway during commuting hours, presenting very high traffic spikes in a condensed location. Now there is a network resource management problem to ensure SLAs are met for the human users on the network in these cell sites. The mobile industry talks about signaling storms that can be caused by spikes in data traffic, and connected cars are certainly a driver of such concerns. Machina Research predicts that in this type of scenario, connected cars could monopolize 97% of data traffic. The full report can be downloaded via this link.

connected cars

Now add a few unknowns, such as infotainment services and autonomous driving. Since we’re still in the early stages of these services, it’s yet to be determined the true bandwidth required.

The report recommends the following:

  • Dynamic network management and RAN optimization to ensure that network capacity is planned in order to ensure QoS during peak times.
  • Diversity in access networks to not rely 100% on their 4G mobile networks and the possibility of adding small cell technology to aide in key locations. A mix of technologies licensed and unlicensed such as Wi-Fi and LPWAN.
  • Implementation of network planning tools that are developed to take M2M traffic into consideration.
  • Device management programs that address M2M devices with proper certification and testing to know they will work with their networks as expected.
  • Spectrum refarming that addresses the longer lifespan of M2M devices as opposed to smartphones.

 connected cars

Connected cars is just one key example: M2M will have impacts on health care, industrial sites and agriculture locations that may not all be prepared for the higher data requirements coming their way because of their more rural locations. This story will continue to evolve as more functionality goes into the car and more information is transferred over the wireless networks.

Like what you read? Follow me on twitter!

Claudia Bacco, Managing Director – EMEA for RCR Wireless News, has spent her entire career in telecom, IT and security. Having experience as an operator, software and hardware vendor and as a well-known industry analyst, she has many opinions on the market. She’ll be sharing those opinions along with ongoing trend analysis for RCR Wireless News.

Mobile banking users to double by 2020 » Banking Technology

Mobile banking users to double by 2020 » Banking Technology.

On the background of a recent study revealing that UK mobile banking users are set to double to 32.5 million by 2020, banks need to tailor their customer experience models heavily towards mobile devices, with the fundamental focus on creating a “mobile-first” strategy, if not the more radical “mobile-only” strategy, write Anil Gandharve and Avishek Mukhopadhyay

According to our opinion there are three critical areas that will set banks aside from their competition come 2020, these being increasing use of wearables, expanding the utility of the mobile wallet beyond payments and advanced features in mobile banking, going beyond pure transactions.

Wearable Banking

Wearable technology is one of the most recent disruptions in the banking industry, while some may view it as a mere fad, others view it as the future of technology. By investing and rolling out wearable-centric features, banks can reduce marketing costs, enhance customers’ experience, gain enormous publicity and most importantly grow closer to their customers. Some of the early services rolled out by banks include checking bank balances, payment confirmations and reminders; however future use-cases will make these basic transactions look primitive. In coming months we will see services such as the transfer of money being completed using smartwatches through voice based instructions. Going ahead, banking functions such as determining credit limits will be linked to health parameters captured by a smartwatch.

Despite the importance to stay relevant and innovative, banks need to remember that customers still turn to them for traditional services such as borrowing money when needed and growing savings with minimal risk. Therefore, there is a fine line in calculating the right balance between traditional and modern business models when striving for customer trust and loyalty.

Integrating Mobile Wallet With Utilities Other Than Payment

The next steps towards mobile banking include integrating wearable devices with mobile payments, so that they can work in tandem to enrich the Mobile Wallet experience through additional utility services including the likes of hotel keys, airline loyalty cards and identity cards like driving license or voters’ identity. This may also lead to the possibility of payment through other mechanisms such as gift cards. Integrating your social network within mobile wallets can make sharing, gifting, lending seamless.

Today’s fast-paced and technology driven society has labelled it ‘reasonable’ for customers to demand things now, while waiting is simply ‘unacceptable.’ Competition within the mobile wallet space is just getting started, so in order to stay ahead of the game, banks need to already be adopting this strategy into their customer experience model; faster and secure payments equal happier customers.

Advanced Mobile Banking

Mobile banking is growing and developing at rapid speeds, to maintain customer loyalty and satisfaction banks need to aim for higher levels of innovation to enhance the customer journey and keep ahead of the game. This means moving beyond simple transactions and hosting more advanced features such as personalisation, advanced visualisation features, integrating social media features and introducing more third party services by leveraging API based ecosystems. A majority of banks are integrating features such as remote check deposits, capturing of user details through mobiles, peer to peer transfers, and personal finance management within mobile banking applications. The use of communication platforms such as Skype and FaceTime allows customer service and advisory to be in touch with customers at any time throughout the day.

Furthermore, we will see banks turning to social media to tackle the dated challenges of traditional banking, and cultivate customer trust through online communities. Banks are rapidly coming to terms with the fact that their competition is not only fellow banks or financial institutions but the likes of modern day online giants like Amazon, Facebook and Uber.

Whether they want to accept it or not, digital is a game changer and banks need to start channelling a large part of their IT investment into digital initiatives. With competition emerging from unusual sources, mostly driven by evolving technology, the banking industry will no longer remain the same as we know of it today. Leading up to 2020, banking will undergo a huge digital disruption powered by the changing consumer behaviour of Digital Natives, and modern day banks will be short sighted to see other banks as their only competitors.

Innovation takes more than just technology, it takes people: 8 Digital Transformation Tips

8 Digital Transformation Tips – Direct Marketing News.

digital darwinism

Consumer behavior is constantly evolving. According to a 2014 Altimeter Group report, mobile, social, and real-time technology trends (or what venture capitalist Fred Wilson refers to as the “Golden Triangle of Disruption”) are changing the way consumers engage and discover information. And as consumers change, companies must evolve to survive.

The result is digital transformation.

Digital transformation, according to the research and advisory firm, is “the realignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital customers at every touchpoint in the customer experience lifecycle.” Companies that invest in digital transformation, according to the report, experience numerous benefits, such as improved customer journeys, greater competitive advantages, and increased conversion and loyalty rates.

“We have to look at what the customer experience is and what it could be,” Brian Solis, author and principal analyst for Altimeter Group, said during a keynote presentation at the ONE Teradata Marketing Festival in Las Vegas.

However, not all businesses are able to recognize or keep up with these societal and technological shifts. The result is what Altimeter Group refers to as “Digital Darwinism.” Put simply, those who adapt live and those who don’t die.

Consider the following two examples Solis cited during his keynote presentation: Movie rental company Blockbuster had the opportunity to purchase streaming service Netflix back in 2000 but passed on the opportunity due to its own popularity. Fast forwarded to 2010: Blockbuster files for bankruptcy while Netflix experiences a 43,101% sales boost since 1999, according to Solis. Likewise, he said that Amazon bankrupted what was formerly the number two bookseller Borders in less than a decade.

“You can see that moment when consumers have changed so much that [they’ve] split off in an entirely different direction,” he said.

Of course, using disruptive technologies to enhance the digital customer experience isn’t easy. According to a 2013 survey conducted by MIT Sloan Management Review and Capgemini Consulting, 63% of nearly 1,600 executives and managers said that the pace of technology change within their organization was slow. What’s more, an Altimeter Group survey found that 88% of executives and digital strategists said that their company was undergoing a formal digital transformation effort in 2014; however, only a quarter of them had mapped out their customers’ digital journeys.

Still, bettering customers’ experiences through digital transformation is important. So here are eight tips from Solis’ presentation that marketers should consider when creating their own digital transformation efforts.

1. Always ask why: Just because a company does something one way doesn’t mean that it’s the right way. Marketers should always question their actions and assumptions and look for opportunities to make experiences, products, and processes better and more efficient.

“We should be asking ‘why’ because that prompts ‘what if’ and ‘what if’ always prompts ‘what’s next?’” Solis said.

2. Build a culture that rewards people for trying new things: So often in life, failure is considered a negative; however, Solis argued that it’s really just the opportunity to learn from experimentation.

“That’s why it’s called innovation, not iteration,” he said.

3. Identify your purpose: Technology plays a major role in digital transformation and innovation, but only if it provides a purpose, Solis said.

“Ideas can start with anything,” he noted, “but they can all be driven by a higher purpose.”

4. See something for what it could be: Digital transformation isn’t about reinventing the wheel; it’s about improving an experience. For instance, Steve Jobs didn’t invent the mouse or the MP3 player; he just made the user experience better.

“That takes seeing the world in a different perspective because we’re making decisions today [based on] life as we know it,” Solis said.

5. Think like a customer: To help gain a different perspective, marketers should ask themselves what they can do differently and what would their customers do, Solis said.

“Connected customers always see the world differently,” he added.

6. Remember, innovation isn’t just born out of technology: It also comes from people who are passionate about doing something better than the way they are today, Solis said. And marketers don’t need to have a C-suite title to initiate change within their organizations.

“Change doesn’t always have to come from the top,” he said. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned, leadership rarely comes from the top; leadership comes from the middle.”

7. Imagine what your brand would be like if you had to start over: Digital transformation can be difficult for companies built on a legacy. So Solis advised marketers to re-imagine their companies if they launched digitally today. What would be different, he asked, and what would your customers value?

8. Understand that you can learn how to be innovative: Innovation doesn’t always come naturally to people, and that’s OK.

“Innovating isn’t something that you have to be born with,” Solis said. “You can learn it. It’s like developing a skill, and we have to master it.”

Real Time Digital Processing (but above all human kindness): Wedding Photographer Delivers Album on the Day Of as a Crazy Surprise

After a memorable wedding day…

Wedding photographer James Day tells us that he recently pulled off the “craziest stunt” of his career thus far: delivering the final wedding album to the newlywed couple at the end of their wedding day.

The bride, Jane, is the identical twin sister of Day’s wife, and the groom, Michael, is himself a successful wedding photographer in Australia.

“I knew I had to do something absolutely insane for [them],” Day writes on his blog. “I just had to go all out […] This is without doubt the biggest stunt I’ve ever pulled off. I did what everyone else told me would be impossible. I knew with the right team we could make it work.”

Day partnered with a number of companies to turn this idea into a reality. A digital processing lab “just down the road” from the wedding helped edit the photos throughout the whole day and well into the night. Fujifilm provided a photo printer and all the paper and ink needed. SanDisk provided SD cards and drives for storing edited files.

The album itself was put together using Pixellu SmartAlbums and featured a custom-made cover by Photo Mounts & Albums Australia.

With everything in place, it all came down to execution.