Introducing Amazon Go and the world’s most advanced shopping technology

On Monday, the tech giant unveiled Amazon Go, its new initiative for in-store shopping. The first store opened in Seattle, Amazon’s headquarters and offers breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.

At Amazon’s stores, customers don’t need to wait in line or checkout formally. There are no cashiers. Customers simply use Amazon’s new Go app.

The store is powered by what Amazon has dubbed its “Just Walk Out” technology, which includes computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning.


Singularity is Near… 2016 Documentary

The technological singularity is a hypothetical event in which artificial general intelligence (constituting, for example, intelligent computers, computer networks, or robots) would be capable of recursive self-improvement (progressively redesigning itself), or of autonomously building ever smarter and more powerful machines than itself, up to the point of a runaway effect—an intelligence explosion—that yields an intelligence surpassing all current human control or understanding.

Because the capabilities of such a superintelligence may be impossible for a human to comprehend, the technological singularity is the point beyond which events may become unpredictable or even unfathomable to human intelligence.

Data science and our magical mind: Scott Mongeau at TEDxRSM


During TEDx at the Rotterdam School of Management Scott Mongeau, manager analytics for Deloitte, gave an interesting talk about how we can be tricked by the analysis done with big data. He explains that models used in big data analytics should be driven bye the data and not the other way around. Essentially all models are wrong, but some are useful and data analytics can help solve some of the problems that we have currently, but it is important to have better diagnostics and semantics.

Thill will ensure that the models used are sound and can better describe computers what we are trying to achieve. He says that we should not become so focused on the engineering part of big data analytics that we forget the social context, which is important to understand as well in order to create true insights.

Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2017 – Smarter With Gartner

Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and smart things promise an intelligent future.

Source: Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2017 – Smarter With Gartner

Today, a digital stethoscope has the ability to record and store heartbeat and respiratory sounds. Tomorrow, the stethoscope could function as an “intelligent thing” by collecting a massive amount of such data, relating the data to diagnostic and treatment information, and building an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered doctor assistance app to provide the physician with diagnostic support in real-time. AI and machine learning increasingly will be embedded into everyday things such as appliances, speakers and hospital equipment. This phenomenon is closely aligned with the emergence of conversational systems, the expansion of the IoT into a digital mesh and the trend toward digital twins.

Three themes — intelligent, digital, and mesh — form the basis for the Top 10 strategic technology trends for 2017, announced by David Cearley, vice president and Gartner Fellow, atGartner Symposium/ITxpo 2016 in Orlando, Florida. These technologies are just beginning to break out of an emerging state and stand to have substantial disruptive potential across industries.

Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends 2017


AI and machine learning have reached a critical tipping point and will increasingly augment and extend virtually every technology enabled service, thing or application.  Creating intelligent systems that learn, adapt and potentially act autonomously rather than simply execute predefined instructions is primary battleground for technology vendors through at least 2020.

Trend No. 1: AI & Advanced Machine Learning

AI and machine learning (ML), which include technologies such as deep learning, neural networks and natural-language processing, can also encompass more advanced systems that understand, learn, predict, adapt and potentially operate autonomously. Systems can learn and change future behavior, leading to the creation of more intelligent devices and programs.  The combination of extensive parallel processing power, advanced algorithms and massive data sets to feed the algorithms has unleashed this new era.

In banking, you could use AI and machine-learning techniques to model current real-time transactions, as well as predictive models of transactions based on their likelihood of being fraudulent. Organizations seeking to drive digital innovation with this trend should evaluate a number of business scenarios in which AI and machine learning could drive clear and specific business value and consider experimenting with one or two high-impact scenarios..

Trend No. 2: Intelligent Apps

Intelligent apps, which include technologies like virtual personal assistants (VPAs), have the potential to transform the workplace by making everyday tasks easier (prioritizing emails) and its users more effective (highlighting important content and interactions). However, intelligent apps are not limited to new digital assistants – every existing software category from security tooling to enterprise applications such as marketing or ERP will be infused with AI enabled capabilities.  Using AI, technology providers will focus on three areas — advanced analytics, AI-powered and increasingly autonomous business processes and AI-powered immersive, conversational and continuous interfaces. By 2018, Gartner expects most of the world’s largest200 companies to exploit intelligent apps and utilize the full toolkit of big data and analytics tools to refine their offers and improve customer experience.

Trend No. 3: Intelligent Things

New intelligent things generally fall into three categories: robots, drones and autonomous vehicles. Each of these areas will evolve to impact a larger segment of the market and support a new phase of digital business but these represent only one facet of intelligent things.  Existing things including IoT devices will become intelligent things delivering the power of AI enabled systems everywhere including the home, office, factory floor, and medical facility.

As intelligent things evolve and become more popular, they will shift from a stand-alone to a collaborative model in which intelligent things communicate with one another and act in concert to accomplish tasks. However, nontechnical issues such as liability and privacy, along with the complexity of creating highly specialized assistants, will slow embedded intelligence in some scenarios.


The lines between the digital and physical world continue to blur creating new opportunities for digital businesses.  Look for the digital world to be an increasingly detailed reflection of the physical world and the digital world to appear as part of the physical world creating fertile ground for new business models and digitally enabled ecosystems.

Trend No. 4: Virtual & Augmented Reality

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) transform the way individuals interact with each other and with software systems creating an immersive environment.  For example, VR can be used for training scenarios and remote experiences. AR, which enables a blending of the real and virtual worlds, means businesses can overlay graphics onto real-world objects, such as hidden wires on the image of a wall.  Immersive experiences with AR and VR are reaching tipping points in terms of price and capability but will not replace other interface models.  Over time AR and VR expand beyond visual immersion to include all human senses.  Enterprises should look for targeted applications of VR and AR through 2020.

Trend No. 5: Digital Twin

Within three to five years, billions of things will be represented by digital twins, a dynamic software model of a physical thing or system. Using physics data on how the components of a thing operate and respond to the environment as well as data provided by sensors in the physical world, a digital twin can be used to analyze and simulate real world conditions, responds to changes, improve operations and add value. Digital twins function as proxies for the combination of skilled individuals (e.g., technicians) and traditional monitoring devices and controls (e.g., pressure gauges). Their proliferation will require a cultural change, as those who understand the maintenance of real-world things collaborate with data scientists and IT professionals.  Digital twins of physical assets combined with digital representations of facilities and environments as well as people, businesses and processes will enable an increasingly detailed digital representation of the real world for simulation, analysis and control.

Trend No. 6: Blockchain

Blockchain is a type of distributed ledger in which value exchange transactions (in bitcoin or other token) are sequentially grouped into blocks.  Blockchain and distributed-ledger concepts are gaining traction because they hold the promise of transforming industry operating models in industries such as music distribution, identify verification and title registry.  They promise a model to add trust to untrusted environments and reduce business friction by providing transparent access to the information in the chain.  While there is a great deal of interest the majority of blockchain initiatives are in alpha or beta phases and significant technology challenges exist.


The mesh refers to the dynamic connection of people, processes, things and services supporting intelligent digital ecosystems.  As the mesh evolves, the user experience fundamentally changes and the supporting technology and security architectures and platforms must change as well.

Trend No. 7: Conversational Systems

Conversational systems can range from simple informal, bidirectional text or voice conversations such as an answer to “What time is it?” to more complex interactions such as collecting oral testimony from crime witnesses to generate a sketch of a suspect.  Conversational systems shift from a model where people adapt to computers to one where the computer “hears” and adapts to a person’s desired outcome.  Conversational systems do not use text/voice as the exclusive interface but enable people and machines to use multiple modalities (e.g., sight, sound, tactile, etc.) to communicate across the digital device mesh (e.g., sensors, appliances, IoT systems).

Trend No. 8: Mesh App and Service Architecture

The intelligent digital mesh will require changes to the architecture, technology and tools used to develop solutions. The mesh app and service architecture (MASA) is a multichannel solution architecture that leverages cloud and serverless computing, containers and microservices as well as APIs and events to deliver modular, flexible and dynamic solutions.  Solutions ultimately support multiple users in multiple roles using multiple devices and communicating over multiple networks. However, MASA is a long term architectural shift that requires significant changes to development tooling and best practices.

Trend No. 9: Digital Technology Platforms

Digital technology platforms are the building blocks for a digital business and are necessary to break into digital. Every organization will have some mix of five digital technology platforms: Information systems, customer experience, analytics and intelligence, the Internet of Things and business ecosystems. In particular new platforms and services for IoT, AI and conversational systems will be a key focus through 2020.   Companies should identify how industry platforms will evolve and plan ways to evolve their platforms to meet the challenges of digital business.

Trend No. 10: Adaptive Security Architecture

The evolution of the intelligent digital mesh and digital technology platforms and application architectures means that security has to become fluid and adaptive. Security in the IoT environment is particularly challenging. Security teams need to work with application, solution and enterprise architects to consider security early in the design of applications or IoT solutions.  Multilayered security and use of user and entity behavior analytics will become a requirement for virtually every enterprise.

David Cearley is vice president and Gartner Fellow in Gartner Research and is a leading authority on information technology. Mr. Cearley analyzes emerging and strategic business and technology trends and explores how these trends shape the way individuals and companies derive value from technology.

Sport & Marketing: One Year in Blue by Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team

C’est une tradition dans la présentation annuelle de l’équipe Etixx-Quick Step. La formation de Patrick Lefevere commence toujours avec un film de la saison écoulée. Ce sera encore le cas le 11 janvier, au Kinepolis de Courtrai. Avec cette fois un vrai film, One Year In Blue (une année en bleu), tourné par la société Woestijnvis, qui a suivi l’équipe de Tom Boonen depuis son stage de préparation, en janvier, à Calpé, jusqu’au Championnat du Monde, au Qatar, en octobre.

« Ce n’était pas habituel pour nous d’avoir une équipe en train de nous filmer constamment, mais je dois bien dire que le résultat est vraiment bien », commente Tom Boonen. « J’aime la façon dont toutes les petites histoires du vélo ont été mises ensemble. En tant que coureur, tu ne te rends pas toujours compte de ce qu’il se passe autour de toi, car tu es concentré sur ta course. C’était donc très chouette de voir la façon dont le staff ou les autres coureurs réagissaient dans des moments importants. Je pense que nos fans vont aimer ! »

Ils pourront acheter leur ticket à 12,5 euros (les tickets VIP sont à 120 euros) pour la première du film, en présence des coureurs ( En attendant, voici la bande annonce du film sur l’équipe la plus victorieuse de 2016, avec 57 succès.

75 percent of millennial travelers look to UGC like reviews 

Source: Loyalty360 – Travel Industry Moves Away from Traditional Advertising, Toward Customer Experience

The travel industry is among the most volatile when it comes to customer loyalty. From booking flights to finding a place to stay after a long trek, engaging travelers is a constant point of focus for airlines, hotels, and any brand with a stake in the travel industry. A recent report from CrowdTap explores engagement opportunities in the vertical and how they continue to shift according to customer preferences.   The report demonstrates, above all else, the need for user-generated content (UGC) in engaging increasingly tech-savvy travelers. According to the data, 75 percent of millennial travelers look to UGC like reviews and blog posts as opposed to travel advertisements when booking a trip. This number only serves to underscore the significance of sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor in further crowdsourcing the travel review space.

Specifically, when it comes to getting around the destination, travelers have made it clear that they prefer to find their own way: 39 percent rent a car as opposed to using taxis or ridesharing apps, while another 22 percent simply prefer to hoof it, either walking or riding a bike. This paints a clear window of opportunity for the rental car industry to engage these walkers, potentially tapping into an entirely new market segment   “With holiday travel on the horizon, travel brands and marketers need to keep their ears to the streets, or in this case, the web, to best engage today’s travelers,” says Peter Storck, SVP of research and analytics at Crowdtap. “Our research shows now, more than ever, consumers are relying on UGC and word of mouth to ensure their travel experiences are successful, reliable, and authentic. Brands and marketers should take the time to truly understand the conversations happening across social and blogs to implement the most influential campaigns.”

The tendency for customers to blaze their own trails extends beyond transportation: 65 percent also noted preferring adventurous outdoor activities. While airlines and hospitality chains are the obvious benefactors of increased millennial travel, local businesses that may have previously been overlooked also stand to profit from these adventure-seeking travelers.   Brand loyalty, at least in the travel industry, continues to move further away from traditionally accepted methods like advertising and promotional discounts. Travelers, as seen by the CrowdTap research, continue to show a preference for user reviews, placing the onus on these brands to advertise through exceptional customer experience and positive content from previous guests. –

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Why Micro-Influencers Increase Sales and How To Find Them

The right micro-influencers will boost your SEO, increase sales, and create buzz for your brand. But who are they and how do you find them?

Source: Why Micro-Influencers Increase Sales and How To Find Them

‘Micro-influencer’ seems to be the buzzword of the day, with influencer marketinggrowing ever more popular with industry professionals.

As campaigns with bloggers, YouTubers, and Instagram personalities become more prevalent, more research and insight into this type of marketing is popping up on the web, and the idea of an online influencer is becoming more defined and deconstructed.

The skinny on influencer marketing

If you’re new to influencer marketing, here’s a quick definition: it is a form of marketing that relies on leveraging influencers (such as bloggers, vloggers, social media personalities, and so on) for marketing campaigns to promote a brand or product.

Most often you will see this in the form of bloggers who were compensated for giving an honest review of a product on their site.

Does it work? Indeed it does. There’s a reason why 81% of marketers who have forayed into influencer marketing found it effective. Some key facts:

  • Adblock software is used by nearly 200 million people and experienced a growth of 41% last year.
  • Over 70% of consumers consult social media before making buying decisions.
  • The average return on investment for every $1 spent on influencer marketing is $6.85 and rises as high as $11.33 for some sectors.
  • 84% of consumers trust peer recommendations over brand advertising.

What does all this information tell us? With the rise of Adblock technology and social media, traditional advertising is falling behind. Consumers are more likely to search out reviews for products they are interested in on blogs and vlogs to see what ‘real’ people are saying, rather than trusting ads by brands (which they might have blocked in the first place). ROI doesn’t lie: Leveraging influencers works.

Good! But where do you start? First, consider what type of influencer will be the best fit for you.

Types of influencers

So what’s the difference between a micro-influencer and a macro-influencer? There is no major agreement in the industry yet so let’s note that we can only speak in rough estimates.

That said, influencers can generally be split up into four categories:

  1. Celebrities (over 1 million followers or subscribers): think your average Kardashian.
  2. Macro-influencers (around 1 million followers or subscribers): a famous gaming vlogger like PewDiePie fits the bill.
  3. Middle-influencers (around 100,000 followers or subscribers)*: many beauty bloggers on YouTube are in this category.
  4. Micro-influencers (around 10,000 followers or subscribers or less): definitely the biggest influencer category that covers millions of blogs.

*Middle-influencers are often grouped with micro-influencers but you may sometimes hear the distinction made in marketing circles.

Types of Influencers for micro-influencers

Micro-influencers with mega influence

The influence of the micro crowd feels almost counterintuitive, but according to Markerly, the like and comment ratio for influencers’ Instagram posts actually decreases as their following grows; those with under 1000 followers boast an 8% like ratio while for influencers with 1-10 million the ratio drops down to 1.7%.

There are several factors that can explain this engagement gap. Firstly, the more followers an influencer has the more likely they are to attract a higher number of fake and bot accounts that will beef up their numbers but won’t actually contribute genuine engagement.

More importantly, for influencers with fewer followers, a large percentage will be people they actually know and are thus more likely to trust their recommendations. Micro-influencers are also seen as more authentic because they are less prone to plugging products on a regular basis.

The numbers support this theory. A recent study by Experticity focused on the power of micro-influencers compared to the average consumer and surveyed over 6,000 influencers and 800 of their peers to find out how effective their influence actually is.

Some of the main highlights reported in the study are the following:

  • 82% of consumers are “highly likely” to follow the recommendation of a micro–influencer.
  • Influencers are seen as at least 10% more credible and knowledgeable about products than the general population.
  • Compared to the average consumer, micro–influencers have up to 22.2 times more “buying conversations”.

The niche influencer

For a good example of why micro or “niche” influencers provide better engagement and ROI we can compare them to celebrities.

If a brand approaches a high-profile celebrity with a particular product for a very expensive sponsored post, they will probably get a lot of exposure. But how valuable is this exposure when a good number of the celebrity’s followers may not even be interested in that type of product?

It has been proven time and again that recruiting several smaller influencers that focus on the relevant industry is more effective in terms of traffic and sales.

Entrepreneur highlights several case studies in which micro-influencer campaigns provided successful conversions for brands, such as Shoes of Prey’s collaboration with beauty vlogger Blair Fowler (who currently has 286K Instagram followers), which yielded a 300% permanent increase in sales.

Niche Influencer for micro-influencers

Finding and pitching micro-influencers

The process begins with audience research and designing a persona for your brand (or for the specific campaign). Once you have an idea of your average consumer and where they are likely to go for information about products (do they prefer Instagram, Pinterest, some other platform?) it will be much easier to find influencers.

Different types of influencers respond to different incentives, so think carefully about what influencers in your target market will prefer. Food bloggers may prefer invitations to review restaurants and events over product reviews, whereas beauty bloggers love getting exclusive access to new releases. Do some research into what kind of campaigns brands in different industries do with influencers for inspiration.

As for identifying the right micro-influencers for your campaign? Be aware that the process of finding and contacting influencers can be time-consuming. You can start by searching for influencers through Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and you are more likely to find the bigger names through Google.

With micro-influencers the process is a bit trickier, but there are influencer marketing and blogger outreach platforms on the web you can utilize to locate them for you. Bloggers also tend to form a community and will frequently promote similar blogs. If you’re interested in YouTubers, the relevant videos section will be your best friend.


Guest Author: Eti Nachum is the CEO of BlogsRelease, the #1 marketplace where brands can get product reviews from bloggers worldwide. Connect with her on Twitter @BlogsRelease, Facebook,LinkedIn, and Google+.

 2017 in France:  More time with digital media per day than TV & More time with mobile devices then desktop and laptop time – eMarketer

Source: Media Time Will Tilt Digital in France in 2017 – eMarketer

Next year will mark a major milestone for media consumption in France. According to eMarketer’s latest forecast of time spent with media, the average adult will spend more time with digital media per day than TV, a first for that country. Also next year, time spent with mobile devices will surpass desktop and laptop time.

Average Time Spent per Day with TV* vs. Digital Media by Adults in France, 2013-2018 (hrs:mins)

In 2017, eMarketer estimates, adults in France will spend almost 4 hours per day online on desktop or laptop PCs or with nonvoice mobile activities. This compares to 3 hours and 51 minutes watching television. Daily TV viewing time will actually rise slightly, by 0.1%, while total digital media consumption will be up by just over 5.0%.

In another first for the country, next year adults in France will spend more time accessing the internet through mobile means rather than desktop or laptop PCs. This year, the average adult will spend 1 hour 41 minutes on nonvoice mobile activities, compared with 1 hour and 44 minutes of internet use on desktops and laptops.

Average Time Spent per Day with Desktop/Laptop* vs. Mobile Internet by Adults in France, 2013-2018 (hrs:mins)

Although mobile media consumption is booming, this year adherence to traditional media, such as print and radio will still be relatively popular in France. This year, eMarketer expects, adults will spend 35 minutes a day with print, compared with 3 hours and 46 minutes for digital. Time spent with both newspapers and magazines is forecast to drop this year, by 3.1% and 2.4%, respectively. By 2018, eMarketer predicts, adults will spend just 34 minutes per day with print, compared with 4 hours and 7 minutes for digital.

“Over 70% of France’s internet users also have a smartphone this year, eMarketer estimates, and that share will reach 76% in 2017,” said senior analyst Karin von Abrams. “At the same time, all major online information and service providers—not to mention Facebook, Twitter and other popular social networks—now cater for mobile users with sophisticated, user-friendly apps or mobile sites. So it’s no surprise to find that mobile devices claim an increasing share of time spent on the web. We expect that trend to continue in 2017, as well.”

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The 30 Things Customers Really Value

Focus on needs, not breakthrough ideas.

Source: The 30 Things Customers Really Value

Executive teams often struggle to land innovations that will significantly grow the business. A chronic problem is their emphasis on searching for breakthrough innovation — the creation of a truly new, highly valued product or service that could redefine their industry and lead to unprecedented revenue growth. “Where’s our iPhone?” they wonder.

Almost by definition, breakthroughs are rare. When they do occur, they usually come from insurgent entrepreneurs who founded companies such as Nest or Netflix (today), or Eastman Kodak or Ford Motor (over a century ago). Rarer still are breakthrough innovations from established enterprises, Apple’s iPhone being an obviousexception. Breakthroughs may be worth pursuing, but most companies benefit more from incremental innovation efforts that add new forms of consumer value to their present products and services. The trick is to determine what elements to add in order to boost the perceived value of your offering. You don’t want to expend resources adding features that consumers don’t care about.

While what constitutes “value” can be nuanced and vary from person to person, my colleagues and I have identified 30 universal building blocks of value that meet fundamental human needs. These are basic attributes of a product or service that address four kinds of needs: function, emotion, life changes, and social impact. Functional elements, for example, include saving time, reducing risk, and organizing. This latter element is central to brands like The Container Store and to Intuit’s TurboTax, because both help consumers deal with complexities in their world. The pyramid below shows how value elements fit into the four categories.

In our September 2016 HBR article, “The Elements of Value,” my colleagues and I discuss the power of the 30 elements in themarketplace and describe how companies can select and integrate innovations into their products to provide value that consumers actually want. Companies that deliver well on multiple elements of value tend to have stronger customer loyalty and higher revenue growth rates, as Bain & Company’s analysis shows. The research documents 50 companies that deliberately added elements over time to improve their propositions, either to turn around a flagging business or to accelerate growth.
In financial services, for example, Charles Schwab has outperformed many other investment companies by excelling on four elements of value: variety (a wide range of investment products), providing access (multiple contact and advice channels available around the clock), making money (generates income for customers), and quality (numerous Lipper Fund Awards for investment performance).

Since 2013 Schwab has added several new elements of value to its services. Schwab’s Accountability Guarantee reduces risk by refunding fees if clients are not fully satisfied with the product. Its Intelligent Portfolios tool informs customers about the status of their portfolios and provides investment advisory services with no advisory fees. StreetSmart Edge reduces effort with an online trading platform to simplify complex trading and provide an intuitive experience for active traders. And its low-fee college savings plans provide heirloom value to parents saving for their children’s college education.

Likewise, in the retail pharmacy industry, CVS Health has embarked on a health initiatives strategy by adding new elements of value for consumers, including providing access, saving time, wellness, and therapeutic value. For example, CVS Health bought Target’s pharmacies, adding over 1,600 locations in 47 states. Many consumers now have more convenient locations, which helps them save time. The company has expanded access to health care through its MinuteClinics, providing both basic medical services, such as general exams, summer camp physicals, vaccinations, and the like, as well as assorted wellness services, such as contraceptive care and smoking cessation.

Other companies have judiciously added elements of value to their core proposition. Throughout 2015 Uber added services to integrate multiple aspects of consumers’ lives, from delivering meals and groceries to providing flu shots. Discover added a feature that allows cardholders to instantly freeze and unfreeze their accounts without canceling their cards, reducing risk and reducing anxiety for cardholders. And Spotify added a feature for runners in 2015 that detects their pace and finds music to match it, hitting on elements of wellness and motivation.

The search for elusive breakthroughs can make the entire innovation process intimidating and discouraging. To help, think about which new elements of value will resonate with your customers and which can be delivered effectively by your company. Judiciously adding elements can bring new life and growth to existing products as well as build customer loyalty — with far less risk and lower costs than hunting for breakthroughs.

Eric Almquist is a partner with Bain & Company’s Customer Strategy & Marketing practice and the global head of consumer insights for Bain.