Tag: business

And if Google were to Create a Bank?
Traditional Entities would be on the Edge of a Cliff

 

“The future of the banks lies in becoming service providers.”

A few days ago I was giving a talk to some young university students and I asked them the following question: Would you rather put your money in a bank that Google would hypothetically open, or in BBVA or Santander? I was surprised that 100% of them responded Google without hesitation.

I don’t know if banks in general are realizing that the whole concept of “bank” and “banking” as we know it is changing. For the majority of the “millennials” the banks are, at best, largely useless entities that basically serve as a place for them to have their paychecks deposited each month. And that’s for those that work…

Very few of them confirm needing the services that a bank offers, much to the contrary of what happens with Google, which provides them with their daily necessities, communications, and services. These natives to the digital world have a different concept of banks and surely a different model in mind for managing their income.

Therefore, banks should ask themselves how their results would be affected in the case of a hypothetical banking service from Google coming to light and revolutionizing the concept of banking with a service that would allow for paycheck deposits and charges, directly linked to your gmail account. It would be home to your receipts and payments, and allow you to make payments, transfers, and sales through gmail in a quick and easy way throughout the whole world. You’d be able to ask for microloans for online payments and make installment payments for an item that you buy online all from the comfort of your Google account. Only with these services can they triumph with a middle-class clientele.

Furthermore, Google could offer big advantages in the form of low interest rates and zero commissions. The “core business” of Google wouldn’t be centered on the commissions or the interest since they have other sources of income that keep them going, which is exactly what would allow them to offer such attractive conditions compared to a traditional bank. They would have no need for branches when they already have a personal branch with each active Gmail account, and they wouldn’t need marketing campaigns to capture clients with the millions they already have. Lastly, they wouldn’t need users to download a new app because they would simply integrate a new “Money” app into the Android operating system that comes preinstalled on millions of smartphones.

Google would also open up the doors to their being able to add innovative services that a traditional bank wouldn’t dream of launching. For example, they could tack on a platform for home rentals with a flat rate where users could upload their available properties. The tech company would manage the rentals and could even offer joint purchasing options for housing in addition to new mortgage models. Think about new models that would be much more versatile and made in the same vein as the financing options that different automobile companies offer with their “alternative leasing” options.

“What will clients need in 20 years? That is the real challenge.”

Google is much better at understanding how millennials think since they are the ones behind a big portion of the new digital trends. I suppose Google would have to do some research regarding the legal obstacles that exist in terms of offering this type of service. However, with $250B, they could do away with many of the banks of the world and become the new major player in worldwide banking, revolutionizing the concept of “the bank”.

Traditional banks need to rethink their role and think about what they will be and what they want to be in 20 years because I don’t believe that the path lies only in some services going digital and releasing a plethora of Apps. On the contrary, they should think about and design new and innovative services, redesign the purchasing model, the housing model, and study the habits of the younger generation. In short, redesign the model of banking, and of the bank. They should think about becoming a new type of entity that understands the real needs that their future generations of clients, who are perhaps just now starting primary school, are going to have when the time comes.

Personally, I think that the future of the bank is to become a service provider more than a financial entity—a service company with a deep understanding of the relationship between clients, needs, & services.

10 Questions the Government should be Asking Itself in the 21st Century

 

“Are we prepared to face the new technology that’s springing up?”

We all know that most government thinking is relatively “short-term”. They know that their legislation may only last for four years, and instead of wanting to lay the foundation toward building a great country, they aim for the highest number of ribbons and gold stars with their eyes on reelection.

The big question remains: What is the real role of a government? The obvious answer would be “to run the country in the best possible way to assure that the majority of its citizens have the highest quality of life possible”.

A good leader should really have this keyword etched in stone: “anticipate”. The majority of the problems in Spain nowadays have stemmed from a lack of foresight, of vision, or worse yet, a lack of knowledge. It’s what in the past we used to simply call “having no idea”.

So, what’s done is done. We weren’t able to anticipate the housing bubble, we have been blind to the cracks in the banking sector, the corruption, academic failure, pollution, evictions, and the list goes on. Yet here and now, in 2016, is there really not a single person from any of the political parties that’s seeing the incredible technological change that is taking place? Are we really the few and far between that realize what’s steadily approaching?

Politicians are so blind that they can’t see that within 15 years our society won’t look anything like the model that we know today. Don’t they see the evolution of robotics, of communication, of e-business, of biotech?

They don’t ask themselves how these changes will influence businesses, taxes, culture, or the longevity of citizens. The solution to the problems that we will have in 15 years must be thought out now, not in 15 years. Anticipation and foresight helps us avoid drastic consequences. Of course, not just anybody can simply foresee what will happen in 15 years.

Aside from tackling the current problems in Spain created in years past (the deficit, unemployment, pensions, etc.), here i will also present 10 little questions that the next president of our government should really ask himself.

1. Technology Dependence

How dependent on technology are we? And I’m especially referring to the technologies that the majority of Spanish citizens use and that could grow over the course of the next few years: telecommunications, energy systems, robotics, Internet, etc.

Technology dependence is indicative of the type of country that we will be in the upcoming years, something incredibly important when digital information and digital businesses completely dominate the social landscape.

2. Training

Are we really training our youth to be innovators and to be able to develop business models based around technology? Training is key, and programming and technology competence and knowledge really must be compulsory subjects in school.

3. Our GDP

In the next few years will we be capable of generating at least 15% of our GDP in digital form or based on technology-based businesses? We will be capable of innovating and exporting new business models to instil an image of a “digital” Spain?

4. Taxes

If technology is allowing business to reside wherever they want from a taxation point of view and they can develop their businesses globally, how are we going to stop a few companies from monopolizing certain services in our country while paying taxes somewhere else?

5. Pensions

The tendency in biotechnology is to help us live longer, and it’s no joke. Quite the opposite, the reality could be that in 10-15 years we have the ability to live to be 120 or 130 years old. How is this going to influence our current pension model? What must we do now to compensate for new demographic map that’s going to be created in the next 15 years?

6. Employment

What type of employment will be needed in 15 years? How will we compensate for the automation of certain jobs? You don’t have to be a genius to realize that the profiles of workers are changing. Not only are more tech-laden backgrounds more demanded, but we must also keep in mind that robots will be replacing workers in many cases. A robot doesn’t get sick, doesn’t take vacation, it has a clear price tag and profitability margin for the company and ends up being much cheaper than a human. Anybody who thinks this is science fiction needs a reality check. Robotics is about to take off in many sectors outside of the typical industry, retail, warehouses, and homes.

If we add up the unemployment that will be produced by this to the growth of the population and its longevity we end up with a substantial problem to deal with.

7. Climate Change

How will climate change influence our society and our economy? It’s a huge problem, yet we continue to bury our head in the ground like an ostrich to avoid seeing the true seriousness of the problem and the catastrophic consequences that will be brought about. Think climate refugees, water shortages, agricultural planning, and more.

8. Commerce

How will ecommerce influence our consumer model and our SMEs? Ecommerce still only accounts for a relatively small percentage of our consumer volume, but its growth means that in 15 years it will be a much bigger piece of the pie in terms of our purchasing models.

One of the clearest examples of the evolution of ecommerce has taken place in China and how they have changed their consumer models in the past 5 years. In Spain we don’t have an Amazon, we don’t have a Taobao, and not even a Zalando. There are no ecommerce giants in Spain planning for themselves. Zara could be one, but it is too specialized in only one sector. I hope that El Corte Inglés is realizing that their future could be robotizing 40% of the staff at their points of sale and becoming an ecommerce giant in Spain.

9. Banking

What consequences will digital banking bring about? The digitalization of banking services has its pros and cons. On the plus side, there will be reduced costs for the banks since clients themselves will be able carry out a large portion of banking services themselves.

So far so good, but how will we avoid giants like Amazon, Google, or Facebook from entering into the digital banking scene? For younger people, Google is a thousand times more well known, robust, and trustworthy than BBVA. I am completely convinced that if Google decided to offer a basic service for personal money management tomorrow, thousands of young adults would line up to keep their savings with Google instead of with a Spanish bank.

10. Energy

What influence will the changes to our energy models that are being developed have? It’s clear that oil is not the option of the future, but not because we don’t have it. Rather, it’s the pollution and contamination. If electric energy is going to be our main source, what kind of demand will there be in 15 years? Are electric companies planning for this future demand and are they making the right investments and creating the necessary solutions?

I understand that it is no easy task. My personal advice to the future president of Spain would be to keep an open mind and to surround him or herself with knowledgeable people who have an eye on the future. They must let money and private investment flow into technology innovation and into business and production models. Real, aggressive, and simple tax incentives must be offered to investors that want to invest in technology in Spain. Innovation should become one of the four main pillars of the country. We must design a country thinking about the future that is to come and not only about our present situation.

Our children should not suffer the consequences of us not thinking about their future.

10 Tips for Entrepreneurs:
How to help your Startup Succeed

 

“Always tell investors that they could lose money with the project.”

A startup is a vehicle that many imagine will make them rich, or will at least serve to provide them a stable job. However, it’s no easy path, and success is far from guaranteed. Here are a few pieces of advice to help mitigate the risks that always go along with being an entrepreneur.

1. Focus your idea

Defend your idea tooth and nail, but understand that others may not share that same passion and you will have to explain it thoroughly, adapting your message to each specific audience since not everybody has the same knowledge or experience in the digital or technology sector. Base your idea on something simple and basic, and keep it logical. Don’t worry if there is already something similar or nearly the same out on the market, which is often the case. Look to differentiate yourself from the rest.

2. Become what you want your idea to become

If you want your idea to turn into a business, think like a businessman; if you want your idea to turn into a non-profit project to help improve the world, think like an altruist. You may be able to secure funding in both cases, but have it clear who you are directing yourself to and what you need to tell them without having to hide your goals.

3. Surround yourself with talent

Surround yourself with people who bring something to your project. The team you create is one of the fundamental pillars of success. Looking for talented and committed people is not easy, and you may need to know how to manage different personality types with diplomacy. As a good leader must, aim to keep your team well bonded and excited about the big picture. Don’t be set adrift if your team doesn’t get on well, but rather keep going and find new employees who are excited and motivated to steer your ship back on course. Having to make changes to the staff is not always great, but sometimes the addition of a new team member can be just the spark your project needs.

4. Decide on being a big company or self-employed

Define what exactly you want your project to be, if you decide on it being a business, choose between develop a large company or, on the contrary, if you only want to create something for you and your team to live off of. They are two very different things that require different approaches, tempos, and sacrifices.

5. Take responsibility

Being an entrepreneur is difficult and demanding. A large percentage of entrepreneurs and startups are destined for failure. Understand and assume the risks, be true to yourself and know what you are getting yourself into. You make your bed, you sleep in it.

6. Network

At the beginning of a project you’ll need to wear many hats and take on many different jobs. A good CEO or founder must also be good with public relations and must never underestimate anybody. You never know where the opportunity that jumpstarts your company’s idea into becoming a reality may come from.

7. Choose investors wisely

Investors are 20% interested in your idea and 80% in how you will make money with their money. Understand exactly how you earned your first 10 euros and look for ways to replicate and scale that model that aren’t too expensive. Seek out investors that know exactly what they are looking for and with whom they invest; and though it may sound tough, always tell them that they could lose money taking part in your project. If that frightens them, seek elsewhere. You must accept that there is a high percent chance that your project goes down the drain and your investors lose their money. Not being scared by this thought means they understand the reality of startups.

Seek out investors who will also be your partners and help you grow in every sense of the word and not only give financial support, especially in the seed fund stage. Don’t be afraid of the different funding rounds and the loss of power and ownership. You must understand that whoever puts in the most money should end up earning the most. Be sure that your overall presence and essence as a founder is not lost, and be ready to assert your abilities to lead and manage at all times.

8. Understand the market

Get used to the idea that what you are going to find in the market once your project is up and running may not be what you were expecting. Users won’t respond the way you thought they would and you won’t meet the expectations you had set. Fear not, for it is normal. The market is not easy, and your financial backing and muscle should allow for you to adapt your idea or project as needed to better understand your users or clients and to mold your initial idea into a better, more profitable business plan.

9. Be patient

It’s a complete lie that in a startup everyone gets rich, strikes gold, or becomes a millionaire in just one year. It is incredibly difficult to become a millionaire with a startup. Never start a company with this idea- you will be going down the wrong path right from the very beginning. Try to keep the excitement, the creativity, and the tenacity alive at all times and forget about becoming rich, but rather maintain the idea that if things go well you will be able to make an honest living off of your project and be proud of what you have achieved. Making it to the one year mark with any startup is an achievement in itself, and three is a miracle. If you make it to four, you’ve really done it.

10. Give back

If you are one of the chosen few that genuinely succeeds and makes a killing, don’t forget about all those other entrepreneurs out there who, like you were, are still trying to make a living with their ideas and dreams. It’s your turn now to become an investor and to help create wealth.

The 4 Big Businesses of the Internet

 

If we take a step back and review the evolution of the Internet and the exchange of data on a global level, we can see quite clearly which big businesses have stood out from the pack and whose evolution will significantly determine our future: content, big data, banking, and wireless communication.

Content

Content is the foundation of the web, and without it there is nothing. Its evolution has been amazing considering that 25 years ago, computers were black and white and very few could even play a basic video. Content on the web has been the source of global interconnection. Not too long ago, web pages were filled with text, they were ugly, and offered little more than hypertext or links. Nowadays, websites, mobile phones and TV tend to display less and less text in favor of more photos and videos. Content is becoming much richer and more audiovisual thanks to increased bandwidth.

Bearing that in mind, content becomes one of the big businesses of the Internet, and its creation just as much as its distribution will play key roles in how our future progresses. Although, there is of course still much progress to be made: multiplatform, organized, localized content, on demand.  

Having spent 25 years on the Internet specializing in content, I see infinite possibilities for business development. Content, and especially its monetization on the web, is only in its infancy and I still cannot fathom how Google is capable of maintaining YouTube without having any clear use for it. Thinking about those millions of videos occupying hundreds or thousands of terabytes with content that contributes nothing to the company makes my hair stand on end… I can’t understand that their only way of monetizing the platform is with ads that almost nobody sees, thereby making YouTube completely obsolete in my opinion.

Content creation on the Internet is mainly accomplished in two ways: the first, and most used, is by the user who feeds content into the platform (YouTube, Facebook, Instagram…) and the second, is the company that creates its own content, be it through outsourcing or through its own creation (media, newspapers, television…). Neither of these methods of content creation has evolved much in the last 3 or 4 years due to the fact that, despite having more technical capabilities and bandwidth, few advances have been made in terms of monetizing content.

Monetizing is no easy task since users are all too accustomed to “everything free” and that has led to the failure of many paid models, leaving few alternatives to inserting ads into free videos. Personally, I believe that the tendency for users to expect “everything free” will change. At this time, an average user may perhaps utilize 99% free content, but in the future they will tend to demand higher quality and be open to the idea of paying for certain types of content so long as the cost and method of payment also evolve to adapt to the modern digital consumer.

If we analyze this last comment, we come to the drastic conclusion that only a handful of companies will be able to control the content business on a global level. The business strategy here is volume, with flat rate models or low fees for on demand downloading from huge quantities of users. Therefore, I believe that the next concept to be revolutionized is “Home Content”, where there is still plenty of room to grow, to evolve, and still much to offer in the content business. Computers are completely obsolete while mobile phones are peaking in terms of design and usability leaving little more to be offered that would be truly revolutionary. But, the house, our home, is still by and large in its infancy.

The TV watching experience must change radically and content is the basis of the entertainment business at home. Companies like Movistar TV are betting big on controlling this content.

Big Data

Another one of the big businesses that the web has brought us is the information that the user generates while they interact with content. The new age of digital knowledge opens a large door in the world of marketing because the way we understand sales has changed from a global to a personal level. La individual level data that the Internet offers is astounding. This information is a global superbusiness where big Internet companies see a true goldmine.

Understanding the user and how they interact with technology and content is of the utmost importance in order to analyze their consumer profile. There is still plenty of information from users to be soaked up. In my opinion, hypercontent is key to the evolution of big data, the next step in understanding users’ actions and interactions with content.

Banking

Banking still hasn’t really taken off in all the ways that it needs to. Payment systems are undoubtedly a cornerstone to the evolution of the digital world if we want to make the Internet a great business. From my point of view, many banks are completely oblivious to what is about to happen.

I don’t understand why Google hasn’t developed its own personal funds manager or something similar to Internet banking. Or why not a platform of credits to close the circle of Gmail, YouTube and the Play Store? Or an application to set up direct deposit and payments for payslips and bills?

With millions of users, Facebook or Google would have much more credibility with younger users than many of today’s banks. Furthermore, with their huge masses of users they could offer conditions that banks would never be able to keep up with. I see an excellent opportunity to completely redefine what being a bank really means to the digital user. Young people speak a different language than that of traditional banks.

Wireless Communication

The companies that have suffered the most given the changes over the last 20 years are surely those of telecommunications, namely wireless carriers. Slaves to infrastructure and networks, they must adapt their offers to user demand. In fact, we have gone from pricing plans where voice was king and we spoke about cents per minute to flat rate data plans that made SMS messages a thing of the past. The big providers have had to adapt and adjust their offers to the demand generated by successful startups, who determine the consumption habits of these carriers’ clients.

It’s obvious that at this moment, data is the big business of mobile phone companies. But, what would happen if a company decided to offer free data in exchange for inserting ads? Where would that put mobile operators on the totem pole? Access to the web will be cheap and customer loyalty to a given operator won’t come from their current model of offers, but rather from their ability to offer bundled services like news, home automation, and localized content.

In conclusion, the big businesses that have emerged in the new age of digital communication are completely influenced by both innovation and by the demands generated by users themselves. The time is coming when we may rewrite many of the concepts we once thought would last a lifetime.

Internet Data is the Petroleum of the 21st Century

 

“Companies want to ‘get to know us’ in order to sell us products and services.”

I don’t know if somebody has asked why huge companies on the Internet invest millions in expansion, sometimes without having a clear or profitable business plan. The answer is clear: having users means having information and information is both business and power. In the 21st century, user data is turning into one of the most sought after items in business.

The web has a peculiarity that no other means of communication previously had. It’s not just the immediacy or even the interactivity, but rather it’s the way of navigating between contents, from one to the next, that has revolutionized the ways of connecting with the user.

Until the birth of TCP/IP and the World Wide Web, all channels of communication were linear. In fact, they still are. The hypertext or link that was brought upon by Internet browsing allowed users to choose their own browsing path through different sites based on their likes, searches, preferences or curiosities. The hyperlink offered non-linear navigation which allowed visitors to the same site to choose different paths and destinations.

Therein lies the business

Every time a user clicks a link they are telling us one way or another what it is they are looking for or what interests them. Being able to analyze that information, which at first glance doesn’t seem so important, is revolutionizing the way business is done in the world.

One company that has been able to take advantage of user browsing habits and interactivity with different pages and sites is, of course, Google. This company has had it very clear that they needed to offer basic services to the user (Gmail, Youtube, Google Plus, Google News, etc.), completely free, in exchange for the information that these services generated when being used.

But, not everyone knows how to get the most out of this type of data and make a business out of it. Information has become very complex and it has, above all, come to the end of its first phase.

In the case of Google, the strategy for capturing information has been to parse or analyze millions of web pages and capture the keywords used for searching. The equation is easy if you know what is being searched for, who is doing the searching, and where to find it. The searched item only needs to be shown to the user and a business is born.

In other cases, the use of cookies to analyze browsing habits and link clicking creates what is called Big Data. But the age of hypertext is coming to its end, since web content has less and less text and we are seeing more and more photos, audio, and video. The next phase of the information business is hypercontent.

What is hypercontent?

Hypercontent is interactive content, content that offers the user different alternatives to choose from. One clear example would be Instagram photos or Youtube videos and all the information that comes with them. The tendency we have see with companies like Google or Facebook is to develop technologies that monetize the content containing information (photos or video), since users show habits of wanting to read less and see more, which changes the model for capturing information.

While it may seem easy, it is quite complex to know what products, brands, services and experiences a photo or video may contain, and especially which users are interested in them. To know this, we need the photo or video to be tagged, archived, and connected to an action that piques the interest of the user when they interact with said content.

Tagging systems have evolved, but we have yet to see a global tagging solution for products and experiences that can encompass hypercontent. It’s a multi-million dollar business that will lead to an intelligent web of vertical data capable of knowing each individual user’s tastes and interests.

In the end, this data will mean the ability to make sales if we focus the business on e-commerce. Being able to sell to the whole world from just one place has completely changed the way we value the sales process. Proximity is playing less of a role while price becomes more important. Trying on or testing something where it’s sold is taking a back seat to recommendations and influences. Nowadays, you can sell any item to anybody in the world whilst only having to know what they want and when they want it.

Personally, I think that it’s a good thing for companies to know certain information about us. The way this information is handled is the key to making sure that the data we provide these companies is used our benefit in the end rather than being used against us.

From our incubator at Atomic Internet we are researching and developing technology for a global tagging system making it easy to tag any item found within Internet content, wherever it may be found and from any type of device. We will be able to store all the items that you see and like, whether it be from TV, on your mobile, or in a shop window. The evolution from networks to the Internet of things and the fact that all of it can be connected opens up a whole new area for business. When it comes to the Internet, this is only the beginning.