mercredi 27 février 2013

Peel-and-stick solar panels can be integrated into everyday objects

Scientists at Stanford University have developed peel-and-stick solar panels, which can be attached to any surface.

Capturing solar energy efficiently and inconspicuously is something that the Solaroad cycle path has attempted in the Netherlands. Now scientists at Stanford University have developed peel-and-stick solar panels, which can be attached to any surface.

Currently, many solar panels take the form of large rigid structures and are placed out of clear sight. Researchers at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the university – along with help from scientists in Colorado and Seoul – have now created thin, flexible substrates that can convert solar energy. A new process also allows the cells to be transferred from one surface to another without damaging them, meaning that they could be attached to almost anything – from mobile phones and business cards to windows and clothing. According to lead researcher Xiaolin Zheng, the new solar panel breakthrough offers “flexibility and attachment potential we’ve never seen before, and also reduces their general cost and weight”.

With this lightweight and portable innovation in solar power-gathering could this be the future of small-scale energy production?

Solar panels power playground add-ons


Energy company NRG Solar has installed photovoltaic panels at a school playground in New Orleans.

We have seen solar energy used in playgrounds before, with the Son-X Octavia adding an electronic game element to children’s swings. Now energy company NRG Solar has broadened this approach by installing photovoltaic panels at a school playground in New Orleans.

Located at the Dr Martin Luther King, Jr Charter School for Science and Technology in the Louisiana city, almost 400 panels have been included on a canopy that shelters the playground. The electricity generated is used to make the space more engaging for children, powering fans, water dispensers, garden irrigation systems and illuminated inspirational sayings. Additionally, the renewable energy can be diverted to power one-third of the school’s peak electricity demand if necessary.

Seeing as solar power can provide a more interactive environment for children without using unnecessary energy, perhaps all entrepreneurs working on outdoor installations or games should be considering solar power add-ons?

Aux Etats-Unis, les incubateurs de startups pour l'éducation se multiplient

homme qui fait un bond entre une pile de livre et un ordinateurTélécharger

L'innovation dans le secteur de l'éducation ne cesse de croître. Les grandes sociétés du secteur comme Kaplan et Pearson commencent à s'intéresser au phénomène, et lancent chacune leur programmer d'incubation visant à soutenir les start-up "EdTech."

L’éducation est un sujet chaud en ce moment aux Etats-Unis, et les start-up orientées éducation s’attirent l’attention grandissante d’entreprises ou d’organisations du secteur, qui cherchent en retour à stimuler la tendance. Récemment, ce sont Kaplan et Pearson qui ont chacune lancé un programme d'incubation ou d'accélération dédié à la technologie de l'éducation. On note notamment l'EdTech Accelerator de l'entreprise de services éducatifs Kaplan, qui s’est lancé en collaboration avec l'accélérateur de start-up TechStars, et Pearson Catalyst de l’entreprise de formation du même nom. Ces deux programmes financés par les entreprises choisiront des start-up prometteuses et mettront à leur disposition des espaces de rencontres, un mentor parmi les leaders du secteur et d'autres ressources.

La collaboration proposée par Kaplan inclut un accélérateur de start-up très apprécié
L'EdTech Accelerator de Kaplan est un programme de trois mois au service de 10 start-up. Ces dernières créeront des produits ou services applicables à différents stades de l'éducation : « K-12, université, éducation professionnelle, éducation permanente et autre secteurs ». TechStars, qui a réalisé de nombreux programmes d'accélérateur et a pu attirer, dans le passé, des capitaux pour les entreprises, investira 20 000 $ dans chacune de ces entreprises. Kaplan donnera accès à son programme,« l'apprentissage à la manière de Kaplan », qui soutient les sciences, la conception éducative et la technologie destinée aux produits d'apprentissage. La portée de Kaplan auprès des étudiants, des districts scolaires et des partenaires universitaires pourrait également être, pour une entreprise, synonyme de base de clients considérable.

Pearson se spécialise en particulier dans les jeunes start-up éducatives
Le programme d'incubateur Pearson Catalyst s'adresse spécifiquement aux entreprises de moins de 3 ans ayant déjà des produits viables. Ce programme dure au minimum 3 mois, et chaque entreprise reçoit jusqu'à 10 000 $ et est sponsorisée par un dirigeant de Pearson. Pearson choisira des start-up complémentaires à ses propres produits et services éducatifs. Ces deux programmes témoignent de la stratégie d'investissement de grands groupes dans la technologie de l'éducation pour stimuler l'innovation dans le secteur tout en améliorant leur propre présence.

Source: L'Atelier

mardi 26 février 2013

LinkedIn's next target: Yammer, Salesforce Chatter?

Yammer and Salesforce, beware. Chief Executive Jeff Weiner said the professional network is cooking up private, collaborative tools for a corporate clientele.
(Credit: LinkedIn)

LinkedIn is chewing over a product that would help facilitate private communication for enterprises and allow staffers to better benefit from their rolodex on the professional network.
The vast majority of sharing on LinkedIn happens in public, Chief Executive Jeff Weiner said Monday during an appearance at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media, & Telecom Conference. So, to create value for enterprises, the one area where the healthy company is admittedly lacking, LinkedIn needs to think about creating private-sharing tools that work behind the firewall, he said.
LinkedIn is doing a lot more than thinking -- it's eating. Weiner used the phrase "eat at our own restaurant" -- to stand in for the term "dogfooding" used by other companies -- to explain that the social network for professionals is currently internally testing a private-sharing option that works behind the corporate firewall and helps enterprises share privately.

What these enterprise, private-sharing tools look like or do exactly is still very much a mystery, but it certainly seems as if LinkedIn hopes to turn enterprise employee rolodexes, accumulated from years of activity on the site, into more active recruiting and lead-qualifying assets. Weiner also suggested that his company could help enterprises with search, and help people inside a company gain and share access to additional information on members, data not available to others.
Sounds like the beginnings of a customer relationship management system or private corporate social network, doesn't it? Yammer and Salesforce, beware.

LinkedIn has hinted at CRM and in-enterprise social-networking interests before. The company acquired a social CRM product called Connected in late 2011, and then picked up the social intelligence plugin Rapportive last year. Both tools help people automatically glean more information about their contacts.

Weiner has also talked openly on the site's desire to court enterprises.
"We're focused on creating value by helping [enterprises] transform the way they hire, market, and sell," he said on LinkedIn's fourth-quarter earnings call, where he stressed that the sales piece was of particular interest. "The core value proposition there is enabling companies to eliminate cold calls in favor of warm prospects."
To that end, LinkedIn has already introduced a premium product called Sales Navigator that integrates with other CMS systems. But clearly, there's more to be done -- or eat, rather -- on the enterprise front, particularly as Weiner said the segment represents a "multibillion dollar" pie.

Source :

The Five Key Dynamics of the Seed Market in 2013

Last night I spoke at the Enterprise Tech VC Panel. We discussed five trends in the seed market and the outlook for 2013. These are the five most important trends for 2013, in my view.

MicroVC Funds Have Doubled Their Assets

Call it micro-VC or mega-seed fund, there's a new investor class which raises funds between $50 and $100M to invest in seed-stage companies. Felicis manages a $70M fund, Jeff Clavier at Softech invests from a $55M fund and Steve Anderson of Baseline has raised at two funds totaling $100M. These seed investors invest larger amounts than before (both initially and during follow-on rounds) and invest in more startups.

Seed Round Sizes Have Ballooned

In 2008, when I first started in venture, a$500k seed was sizable. A $1M seed turned heads. Today, those amounts are routine, if small. In the past year, micro-VCs have doubled the capital they invest each year to $1.6B. In addition, traditional VCs also have continued to participate actively in the seed market. As a result of these two pools of capital entering the market, seed rounds are approaching Series A sizes. Lacking accurate census data to illustrate the trend, I'll use an extreme case to prove the point: Virool raised $6.6M last week in a “party” seed round.

CrowdFunding and MarketPlaces Bring New Viable Forms Of Seed Capital

No one can argue with the success of fund raising campaigns on KickStarter and Indiegogo. Ouya effectively raised a $8.6M Series A in the form of early orders on Kickstarter. In addition to crowdsourcing sites, Angelist (in partnership with SecondMarket) and FundersClub attract $1k+ investment sizes from non-traditional angels looking for exposure to startups. As a friend pointed out to me, it all feels a bit like the 1999 bubble, when everyone can and wants to invest in a dot-com. Instead of using the public markets to buy shares, private markets have blossomed to meet this demand.

Mezzanine Seed Funds Have Entered The Market

You don't often hear the word mezzanine in the valley. It's much more common in private equity conversations. But with the boom in seed investments, driven by the capital flooding the asset class, mezzanine seed funds have taken root. Mezz seed funds target startups who have raised a seed round, but haven't been able to achieve the milestones to attract a Series A investment. So they seek a second seed round, a mezzanine seed round, for a bit more runway and a second chance to raise an A.

Rising Labor Costs Increase Burn But Fuel The Acquihire Trend

As infrastructure costs plummet, labor costs are soaring because of a talent supply/demand imbalance. These labor costs require larger seed rounds to achieve the same runway. In fact, for most of Redpoint's portfolio companies, labor is the single biggest line item on the P&L.
On the other side of the coin, the overwhelming demand for top talent drives the acquihire market. Every major technology company has a talent acquisition strategy based on M&A. Acquisitions by FB, GOOG, YHOO, EBAY and others provide a landing place for struggling seed companies looking for strategic options and a non-zero return for investors.

The New Bull Market

The seed market feels like a bull market: lots of capital rushing in, new asset classes being created, and a ton of opportunity for entrepreneurs looking for some early capital to change the world.
NB: Thanks to Sundeep Peechu and Chris Gottschalk who inspired this post. And thanks to Mike and Victor for inviting me to the panel discussion.


mardi 19 février 2013

Espagne : l'éolien, 1ère source d'électricité pendant un trimestre !

En janvier 2013, la péninsule ibérique a connu une baisse de la consommation d'électricité, de l'ordre de 4,3% (corrigée des variations climatiques) par rapport à la même période, l'année précédente. La demande brute d'électricité était de 2,8% inférieure à celle de janvier 2012, à 22.474 GWh.

Toujours concernant le mois de janvier, la force du vent a permis de produire 6.329 GWh (gigawattheure), soit l'équivalent de la consommation de la quasi-totalité des ménages espagnols. Sur cette seule période, l'éolien a représenté 27,3% de l'électricité produite globalement. Cette production a augmenté de 73,5% par rapport à la même période, l'an dernier.

Selon les derniers chiffres fournis par Red Electrica de Espana (REE), l'éolien a constitué la première source d'électricité du pays pendant tout un trimestre - de novembre 2012 à janvier 2013 - une première !  Grâce à des investissements massifs réalisés depuis plus d'une décennie, l'Espagne est devenue la 4ème puissance éolienne au monde, après les États-Unis, la Chine et l'Allemagne.

Par ailleurs le 16 janvier 2013, avec 345.011 MWh, l'Espagne a atteint un nouveau record journalier dans la production d'énergie issue de l'éolien et injectée au réseau électrique. Ce nouveau record est en hausse de 3% par rapport au précédent record enregistré le 18 avril 2012 (334.850 MWh).
La part de la production d'énergies renouvelables représentait en janvier 2013, 44% de la production totale, atteignant un niveau record. (éolien 27,3% + solaire PV 1.8%, + Enr thermique 2%, hydraulique 12,4% + solaire thermique 0.5%). 61,7% de la production d'électricité provenait de technologies qui n'émettaient pas de CO2.

Source : Enerzine

vendredi 15 février 2013

Google, No. 3 most active venture-capital firm

Google is close to becoming the top dog in yet another business sector: venture capital.
The search giant’s 4-year-old financing arm, Google Ventures, has quietly become the country’s No. 3 most active venture-capital firm, according to a recent report.
Google Ventures, which has $300 million a year to invest, participated in 71 funding rounds in 2012, according to data from CB Insights.
“Google has become a favored destination for entrepreneurs,” said Anand Sanwal, CB Insights’ CEO.
The allure of Google Ventures is obvious: worldwide brand recognition and access to some of the brightest bulbs in Silicon Valley.
Google—headed by Larry Page (above) — in addition to dominating search and online advertising, has becomeamajor force in venture-capital investing.
Splash News
Google—headed by Larry Page (above) — in addition to dominating search and online advertising, has becomeamajor force in venture-capital investing.
“Google is doing stuff to help the companies recruit, making its technology and talent available to portfolio companies, and trying to plug the companies into the Google ecosystem, value another investor can’t add,” Sanwal said.

Most activity is seed investments, partners at the firm have said. It would appear the unit has rung up gobs of profits — although there’s no way to know exactly how much.

So far the financial arm, whose lone investor is Google, has raised $1.5 billion, according to a Google Ventures spokeswoman. Last year only New Enterprise Associates or Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers did more tech deals.
Not content with merely cutting checks, Google Ventures is also finding exits for some investments.
In 2012, Google Ventures saw eight exits for startups it backed, a number that put the company in the top ranks of VC firms, according to research firm PrivCo.
“Google is a big VC firm, no question about it, and it is seeing exits,” said PrivCo chief Sam Hamadeh.

In 2013, the VC arm has made seven investments, according to PrivCo data, a pace that’s on par with Silicon Valley’s biggest investment firms.
The parent company has always been active acquiring companies and was among the top buyers of startups last year. However, its venture investment and acquisition philosophies differ.
“Google acts like a traditional VC,” Sanwal said. “There could be no strategic benefit to the mothership. It is looking for returns.”

That’s not to say Google doesn’t use its investments to survey the tech landscape and use it as a farm league for eventual acquisitions. There was one instance last year, and two overall, where the parent bought a company in which Google Ventures invested.
Google Ventures said yesterday it wasn’t surprised to hear the firm is now among Silicon Valley’s most active. Since its inception in 2009, it has invested in 200 startups, said Jodi Olson, the spokeswoman.
 “The idea isn’t to funnel up company ideas to Google; it’s financial returns,” she said.
Source: NewYork Post 

jeudi 14 février 2013

Le tatouage devient incontournable dans le suivi médical !


Le tatouage électronique, suivant la tendance de l’épuration des appareils médicaux, permettrait de remplacer les électrodes traditionnellement utilisées pour récolter les données biologiques.
A l'instar de l'université de Toronto, il y a quelques mois, le tatouage électronique à usage médical proposé par le professeur Nanshu-Lu de l’Université Américaine d’Austin (Texas) pourrait aller plus loin que la simple analyse du PH de la peau des sportifs. En effet, ce tatouage, dont l'équipe fondatrice est l'une des lauréates du forum 2013 Netexplo, se présente sous la forme d'un patch à la fois flexible et étirable, et permettrait aux médecins et à leurs patients de renoncer aux électrodes traditionnelles et intrusives jusqu’à présent utilisées. Ce nouvel outil de surveillance médicale, également indolore pour le patient (l’épiderme le tolérant facilement), permet de mesurer l'activité cardiaque, cérébrale ou musculaire d'un patient, sans lui retirer sa liberté de mouvement.

Une méthode de surveillance qui rassure les patients

Jusqu'à présent ce tatouage permet déjà de relever les données biologiques des patients qu'il renvoie ensuite vers un ordinateur. Et dans le cas de malades chroniques, il permet d’évaluer le diagnostique à distance et de surveiller l’évolution de sa maladie de manière continue, offrant ainsi un côté rassurant pour le patient. De plus, sa discrétion fait que le patient peut vivre normalement sa vie et n’a plu lu sentiment d’apparaître comme « malade » dans le regard des autres, ce qui peut lui donner la force de combattre la maladie. Encore en phase de test, il devrait être très prochainement utilisé dans de nombreuses applications médicales, à savoir la chirurgie ou les études sur l’activité du cerveau. Nashu Lu cherche aussi à développer un tatouage capable d’enregistrer les informations et d’y répondre de manière appropriée.

L’avenir du tatouage électronique

Par exemple en délivrant un flux d’électricité dans le cœur lorsqu’une crise cardiaque est détectée ou même en délivrant le médicament approprié en temps réel quand une anomalie liée à une maladie en particulier fait son apparition. De plus, il pourrait être également utilisé dans le secteur du jeu vidéo. Ainsi, l’application d’un tatouage sur la gorge d’un utilisateur de jeux vidéo permettrait de détecter les commandes vocales en distinguant les mots tels que « gauche » ou « droite » et donc contrôler un appareil électronique à distance. On peut cependant se demander si cet instrument médical de surveillance en temps réel n’est pas une entrave à la vie privée car si ces capteurs parviennent à terme à mesurer nos humeurs et motivations, bon nombre de marketeurs seront intéressés par l’utilisation de ces données.

Source : L'Atelier 

mercredi 13 février 2013

Payer ses achats avec un tweet sera désormais possible

Twitter et American Express sont en train de tester la possibilité pour les utilisateurs du réseau social de pouvoir payer leurs achats, services ou biens virtuels via un simple tweet, selon ce que rapporte le Wall Street Journal.
Et si Twitter tenait là sa future vache à lait de son modèle économique ? En tout cas cela me paraît intéressant à plus d’un titre. Premièrement pour le consommateur le fait de pouvoir payer avec un simple tweet via un #hashtag spécial, cela simplifie la vie. Et pour le réseau social, une commission sur chaque achat serait synonyme de rentabilité et ferait de Twitter une nouvelle place de marché virtuelle.
Amex Card

Comment cela fonctionne ?
Un utilisateur mentionne dans un tweet un hashtag qui montre son intention de faire un achat. En retour le compte @AmexSync envoie un hashtag de confirmation à l’acheteur potentiel. Une fois que l’utilisateur a retweeté le hashtag de confirmation, American Express envoie un email donnant 15 minutes à l’utilisateur pour confirmer son achat. Une fois fait, sa carte Amex est débitée automatiquement et son produit acheté est envoyé.
Pour tester ce partenariat, Twitter et Amex proposent aux américains une carte de certificat cadeau de 25$ à un prix de 15$, et seulement quelques produits sont proposés à l’achat dans un premier temps (avant que ce soit rendu un équivalent d’Amazon, ce n’est pas demain matin non plus) comme des tablettes Kindle Fire, des camescopes Sony Action, la Xbox 360 et des bijoux Donna Karan. La liste de tous les produits vendus via Twitter est visible dans la section “Favoris” du compte @AmericanExpress.

En passant d’un modèle de revenus plus aléatoire basé sur la publicité, Twitter ajouterait ici des revenus transactionnels, ce qui solidifierait l’entreprise pour le long terme et ferait certainement bondir sa valorisation (10 milliards de dollars actuellement). Vu que c’est pour l’instant en mode beta, il faudra voir comment cette nouvelle fonctionnalité du réseau social sera accueillie par ses utilisateurs.

Source : Vincent Abry

lundi 11 février 2013

Quelles collaborations entre grands groupes et start-ups ? Pour quels objectifs ? Exemples choisis en France [Publication Innhotep]

Incubateurs, speed meeting, corporate venturing, pôles de compétitivité… Au-delà de ces termes, Innhotep a souhaité ici identifier et comprendre, sur la base d’expériences existantes en France, les principales modalités de rapprochement et de collaboration entre grands groupes et start-ups et leurs finalités.

Meet The Next 10 Companies To Come Out Of StartX, Stanford’s Student Startup Accelerator

Startx Logo_hires

Stanford’s student startup accelerator, StartX, had its eighth demo day tonight in Palo Alto, showing off the latest class of 11 companies* to go through the program. The accelerator, which just raised another $400,000, has already had about 100 startups go through, raising $100 million along the way between them. This next batch is hoping to follow that lead.

Here’s the next class of Stanford StartX companies, in the order they were presented:
Pixlee. This startup wants to use user-generated photos to help brands market themselves. The idea is not just to collect and curate photos that will resonate with consumers, but also to present them in a personalized fashion. The idea is that everyone will get a different experience, not just see all the same photos. The company had been chosen by the 49ers for a fan-engagement campaign around the Super Bowl, which had more than 50,000 photos submitted. It’s also being used by brands like Yamaha, Major League Soccer, and the NBA. If you’re gay and new to an area, how do you find out where gay people hang out? And how do you find out whether or not someone hanging out in one of those places is also gay. That’s an overly simplistic description of a very complex problem that hopes to solve. The mobile app shows nearby places based on the measured popularity among the gay community, and allows its users to check in and help identify other gay patrons in those locations. In just a few weeks, the app has garnered about 40,000 users, who log in twice a day on average. The company has also attracted Peter Thiel as an investor in its seed round.

VipeCloud. This startup provides a “video business in a box,” allowing independent content creators, B2B companies, and other niche video producers to quickly get up and running with video distribution. VipeCloud not only provides a platform for sales, but also customer relationship management, enabling clients to build relationships with their audiences and determine what’s working and what’s not, what’s selling and why.

Insynctive. This startup seeks to give companies a better way to do HR, providing the connective tissue between various payment and benefits systems. It’s all brought together by a single, usable, user interface that employees, as well as in-house and outsourced HR, can all use while simplifying the usual crazy HR application stack.

Spot On. Spot On provides time-based search which will give its users more actionable information. The idea is to match the right activity to the right person at the right time, therefore becoming a user’s personal concierge. The app works by pulling temporal data starting with the start and end time, matching items based on location, and then filtering by a user’s personalized preferences. The first market the team hopes to go after is families with kids to help provide activities that parents and kids will both love when they’re free.

NuMedii. This company plans to use big data to shorten the amount of time it takes to develop and test drugs, and, in the process, massively lower the costs associated with drug creation. By matching the molecular profiles of diseases and drug actions, NuMedii can reduce the amount of time for drug testing from 3-6 years down to 3-6 months, and its accuracy has been crazy good, with 6:6 probability of success in early tests. That’s successfully translating big data into effective drug creation at a fraction of the time and cost.

Meet Mikey. We all know email is a pain in the ass, and Meet Mikey wants to change that. The mobile email app, which works with Gmail, is aimed at providing quicker results to questions, with embedded yes and no buttons that can be sent and translated into instant answers. It also can show you who’s opened emails and attachments sent, making sure that everyone on your team is on the same page. It essentially aims to increase productivity and provide easier access to the information users need, in the palm of their hands.

readImagine. readImagine seeks to empower artists and storytellers to create apps for children, with a platform for creation, curation, and distribution of high-quality kids apps. For creators, the platform makes building an app easier than before, and provides distribution through its own network of apps. For parents, it provides a curated group of high-quality apps their kids will love. Crowdfunding will be a $6 billion business this year, and that’s set to accelerate, but creators need better tools for managing their campaigns. This company seeks to make building crowdsourced projects easier than ever, by taking the guilt associated with hitting up friends, family, and other members of one’s network to fund their passion projects. The tool works by involving participants early on and making them part of the project’s story well before it gets to the funding stage, making them more willing to give and also making them feel like a bigger part of the creative process.

Kidaptive. Kidaptive hopes to provide better tools for kids to learn and for parents to help them during early development. Starting with its Leo’s Pad app, the company seeks to create a suite of 25 interactive stories that will play out over the course of a year-long curriculum kids can take part in. Better yet, the product helps empower parents to help their kids learn through a continued feedback loop that keeps them informed about how their child is doing, and what they could do to improve.

* For various reasons, one of those companies didn’t want any publicity for its pitch, so we’re excluding it from our coverage.

Source: Techcrunch

jeudi 7 février 2013

Banks Using Big Data to Discover ‘New Silk Roads’

JPMorgan Chase & Co., the largest commercial bank in the U.S., generates a vast amount of credit card information and other transactional data about U.S. consumers. Several months ago, it began to combine that database, which includes 1.5 billion pieces of information, with publicly available economic statistics from the U.S. government. Then it used new analytic capabilities to develop proprietary insights into consumer trends, and sell those reports to the bank’s clients. The technology allows the bank to break down the consumer market into smaller and more narrowly identified groups of people, perhaps even single individuals. And those new reports can be generated in seconds, instead of weeks or months, JPMorgan Chase CIO Guy Chiarello told CIO Journal.

It’s an example of how the nation’s four large universal banks—JPMorgan Chase Bank of America Corp. Citigroup Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co. — are beginning to make use of potentially powerful analytic technology known as Big Data, which describes a broad set of hardware and software and is designed to quickly process huge amounts of data, including information like social media posts and email, which don’t fit into conventional databases.
John Moore/Getty Images

The software can help analyze internal bank records and correlate them with other sources of information–to give banks a more accurate picture of their customers, and a better ability to predict which customers are likely and credit-worthy buyers of new financial products.

“Big Data is really the theme for 2013,” says Mr. Chiarello. He says that Big Data-driven “digital marketing will become a significant thing.” Currently, as with most large banks that have had to swallow acquisitions that further muddled traditionally siloed banking operations, JPMorgan Chase has a hard time aggregating all available information about a single customer. Information about checking accounts, mortgages and wealth management for the same individual were contained in independent information management systems, preventing banks from leveraging considerable analytic capabilities that could have helped account representatives provide customers with better service. Banks can also offer lower interest rates by using Big Data to reduce credit card fraud, thus reducing their overhead, says Mr. Chiarello. “We should be able to be a better credit bureau than the credit bureaus,” he said.

This opportunity comes at a time when banks are under enormous margin pressure thanks to a slack economy, and they have little room for extra spending on technology. Whatever spending they’re doing on emerging technology is coming from savings they’ve achieved by rationalizing their technology operations. Their ambitions include the use of real-time analytics, creating better mobile offerings, and further cost reduction through the use of more sophisticated ATMs. The question is whether they have enough to spend, and can create new products to create incremental revenue and put the brakes on customer churn.

The four big universal banks, far and away the U.S.’s largest banks with over one trillion dollars in assets, each spend approximately $7 billion to $10 billion annually on technology, according to Howard Rubin, principal at bank technology advisory firm Rubin Worldwide. Mr. Rubin would not discuss individual banks because many are clients of his firm. The banks do not publicly discuss technology spending separately from operations, in part because traditionally, spending on technology has been up to individual business units. Market research firm Ovum estimates that U.S. banks will spend $41.5 billion on technology in 2013.

Budget pressure notwithstanding, the big banks are moving into Big Data. Jeff Harte, a bank analyst with Sander O’Neill, says lenders are moving beyond traditional analysis of customers’ credit-worthiness and “are analyzing the behavior of customers,” seeking answers to questions such as whether they always eat dinner out or whether they offset shopping at high-end department stores with trips to discount stores. This information can be gleaned from credit and debit card statements as well as from posts to social media sites. “It’s a step beyond analyzing credit quality and towards analyzing the customers’ behavior,” he said.

Steve Ellis, executive vice president and group head of the Wells Fargo Wholesale Services Group, says “the behavioral analysis stuff is coming” in the next five years. He warns, however, that there’s still a lot to understand for the banks to learn before they can “get to one-to-one marketing. That’s the big promise, and that’s where competitive advantage will be played out in lots of industries over the next five years. And if you don’t figure it out, you’re not going to be best in class.”

Catherine Bessant, who runs technology and operations at Bank of America, says BoA used the analytic capabilities of Big Data to understand why many of its commercial customers were defecting to smaller banks. Until recently, it offered an end-to-end cash management portal which, it learned thanks to its analytic capabilities, was too rigid for its customers, who wanted the freedom to access ancillary cash management services from other financial services firms. “We started to get beat by smaller banks that could deliver more modular solutions,” says Ms. Bessant. Bank of America used data gleaned from customer behavior on its own website as well as from call center logs and transcripts of one-on-one customer interviews to determine why it was losing those customers. It dropped the all-in-one offering and launched a more flexible online product, Cash Pro Online, in 2009, and a mobile version, Cash Pro Mobile, in 2010, even though the previous product “had been seen as a cash cow,” she says. All the development work had already been done, which meant new business “went straight to the bottom line.”

Citi, for its part, is experimenting with new ways of offering commercial customers transactional data aggregated from its global customer base, which clients can use to identify new trade patterns. “New silk roads are being created, and we think this information could show signs for which might be the next big cities in emerging markets,” says Don Callahan, who manages internal operations and technology at Citi. According to Mr. Callahan, the bank shared such information with a large Spanish clothing company which it was able to use to determine where to open a new manufacturing facility and several new stores.

The banks believe Big Data can help them grow revenue in a slack market. Thomas Sanzone, a senior vice president at consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton who advises financial services firms, says Big Data represents “a significant opportunity for cross-selling and customized marketing because you have new technologies and techniques that give you access to pools of data that used to be unreachable. That changes the game and can create significant opportunities you didn’t have before.”
Banks executives also hope Big Data will help them use better marketing techniques to address a big problem with customer churn.  JP Morgan Chase said in an investor’ day presentation in 2011 that it expected between 50% and 60% of its customers to leave as a result of new fees on checking accounts.

But first the banks must find room in the budgets to fund these initiatives. In many instances, investments in innovation are being funded by savings accomplished through rationalizing systems and automating processes.

Citi, which announced a large reorganization in December, with approximately a quarter of the savings coming from its operations and technology unit, reduced overall spending in O&T by more than $4 billion over five years, according to Mr. Callahan.

Kevin Rhein, senior executive vice president of technology and operations at Wells Fargo & Co., says the bank has largely completed the work of integrating scores of different systems, and almost two years ago began the work of moving “to the next stage of technology and operations.” For the three previous years, “we spent a lot of money on integration, and there’s a lot of pent-up demand [for technology services] as a result of that. He said approximately 80% of the company’s technology spending is now on new services and capabilities requested by the business units. Still, he said, “I think we are under-investing” in technology. “I’d like to be investing more,” he said during an on-stage Q&A with the Wall Street Journal at a CIO event sponsored by consulting firm Gartner Inc.
Mr. Chiarello said JP Morgan is plowing savings from having consolidated technology units into new initiatives around technology. But “net spend is flat from 2007,” he said. “And that’s with more investment in innovation.”

Mr. Harte of Sander O’Neill says JP Morgan and Wells Fargo are some 12 to 18 months ahead of Citigroup and Bank of America in terms of folding in the systems of merged banks, giving them a lead in the innovation race, but that the latter are catching up quickly. “The ones who got through the crisis in better shape had a head start of around six to eight months, but the others are closing ground quickly,” he said.

Bank of America has been able to shift the bulk of technology spending from activities around consolidation to investing in more innovative technologies, such as Big Data. But Ms. Bessant says the banks also must make cultural adaptations if they hope to make a good return on these types of investment.  The leaders of those large institutions must be willing to absorb unwelcome news—such as accepting that customers are unhappy about a particular service, and why — and change as a result.

The promise of Big Data is “the manufacturing of brilliant data and making brilliant use of it, and we have a drive for abject purity in listening,” she said.

By Michael Hickins
Source: Wall Street Journal 

mercredi 6 février 2013

Jewelry brand hires blind workers to create designs with sense of smell

Made In The Dark is a UK project that is helping to integrate blind people in India into society with a unique method for manufacturing jewelry.

Deaf workers make up the core of the staff at the Atfaluna restaurant in the Gaza Strip, and now another business is making an effort to integrate those with sight problems into society. Made In The Dark is a jewelry brand enabling blind women in India to create designs using their sense of smell.
Created through a collaboration between three Royal College of Art students in the UK and two students from the National Institute of Design in India, the initiative is working with the Blind People’s Association and the Andh Kanya School in India to find blind women work making handcrafted jewelry designs. Made In The Dark uses scented beads so that the women can identify which colors they are using and alter their designs accordingly. The creations are then sold to ethical retailers to appeal to the growing market of progressive middle class women in India.

Considering that there are 15 million people with sight problems in the country – and that many blind people fully trained in craftwork still struggle to find sustainable jobs – Made In The Dark could help improve quality of life by providing a platform for those with existing talent, while also teaching them new skills and raising awareness of the blind community. Are there other ways to help disadvantaged people show off their skills in the business world?

Spotted by: Katharina Kleck

Source: Springwise

Bridge the gap between in-store and online shopping ?

Platform lets consumers add products to online baskets from anywhere

Slingshot hopes to make online ordering more convenient by enabling consumers to place items found around the web or in real-world locations into their online shopping accounts.
Breaking down the boundaries between online and offline retail spaces is something that China’s virtual Ulitmate Yihaodian is currently aiming to do. Similarly, UK-based Slingshot is now offering a platform that enables consumers to place items found around the web or in real-world locations into their online shopping accounts.

Those browsing the web may sometimes come across a product they want to buy and then navigate to a retailer’s site – perhaps a supermarket where they have an existing account – to purchase the item. However, with Slingshot, shoppers don’t have to leave the page they’re on. Companies taking part in the scheme – which so far includes major UK retailers such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Boots and Superdrug – can team up with brands to place the button either on the brands’ own sites, web banners or Facebook pages. Users already registered with Slingshot can then simply click to add the items to an existing account with a retailer. If they are not, then clicking the button will prompt them to link their existing accounts with Slingshot. Most interestingly, QR codes – which act as real-world versions of the buttons – can also be added to the actual products themselves, making it easier for shoppers to instantly purchase an item online that they have seen on the shop shelf. The following video shows the system in action:

While many bricks-and-mortar retailers have benefitted from launching digital versions of their stores, the two have – for the most part – been separate entities for consumers. Could this kind of innovation bridge the gap between in-store and online shopping?

mardi 5 février 2013

Amazon Launches ‘Amazon Coins’ In Its First Move Into Virtual Currency, Targets Apps And Games On Kindle Fire

Screen Shot 2013-02-05 at 9.14.37 AM

Amazon has just announced a new virtual currency for Kindle Fire owners to use on in-app purchases, app purchases, etc. in the Amazon Appstore.
The service will launch in May, at which point Amazon will be giving away tens of millions of dollars worth of Amazon coins to customers. Users then have the choice of paying for apps or in-app purchases with their credit cards or with Amazon coins.

Developers who already have their app in the Appstore don’t need to do anything to leverage the Amazon Coin system, but if new developers would like to get in on the virtual currency they must have their app approved by the Appstore by April 25.

The idea is to take advantage of what Amazon calls already-high conversion rates from Kindle Fire users on the Amazon platform and give users a new way to spend money. Amazon has been giving developers more options to generate revenue in the Appstore, most recently with the introduction of in-app purchases.

Adding a virtual currency, which takes the sting out of spending hard-earned cash, is simply the next logical step toward the goal of helping Amazon developers make money.
Developers will still get their 70 percent cut from each purchase made, whether it’s from credit card or Amazon Coins.

According to the Amazon Coin FAQ, one Amazon Coin is worth one cent, so an app that is valued at $2.99 is worth 299 Amazon Coins.
The Amazon Coin system is only available to U.S. consumers at the time of launch, and will not be eligible as payment for any subscription services.
It’s still unclear whether or not developers, as opposed to Amazon itself, will be able to reward users with Amazon Coins as part of their own promotions.

Source : Techcrunch

Renaissance Factoy, spécialiste de la relance de sites marchands en difficultés

françoise govare 275
Françoise Govare, dirigeante de Renaissance Factory© S. de P. Renaissance Factory

Après avoir levé 270 000 euros auprès de Kima Ventures, OTC et Angyal, le spécialiste de la relance de sites marchands en difficultés dévoile son business model. 

JDN. Renaissance Factory se positionne comme un "accélérateur de business". De quoi s'agit-il ?
Françoise Govare. Nous sommes un accélérateur de business pour des sites marchands dans le sens où notre structure leur permet de mutualiser coûts et compétences afin de les relancer et de leur donner un second souffle. Notre modèle se base sur des acquisitions de sites positionnés sur des niches, dans l'univers de la maison, du textile, de la mode voire des services d'e-commerce par abonnement. Dès la première année, nous souhaitons les amener au million d'euros de volume d'affaires. Notre démarche n'est cependant pas agressive dans le sens où nous sommes bien accueillis par les dirigeants de sites marchands. Ils savent que nous sommes là pour les aider.
  Comment sélectionnez-vous les sites que vous comptez racheter ?
Nous faisons une due-diligence au préalable, au cours de laquelle nous étudions leur concept, les leviers de croissance et les synergies que nous pouvons trouver avec les entrepreneurs. Nous essayons avec eux de développer un business plan le plus détaillé possible. En ce qui concerne la taille des structures, nous ne regardons que ceux qui ont eu une réelle expérience sur leur marché, c'est-à-dire des sociétés qui ont une activité opérationnelle d'une durée de six mois à un an et demi.

Quelle est votre stratégie pour relancer un site marchand ?
Nous nous interrogeons dans un premier temps sur la viabilité deson positionnement afin de lui trouver les meilleurs leviers de croissance. Puis nous réévaluons et ajustons ses besoins marketing et déployons ses campagnes en faisant fonctionner tous les leviers d'acquisitions client traditionnels, qu'il s'agisse du SEO, SEM, d'affiliation et des comparateurs de prix. Enfin nous avons accès à une plateforme et un ERP souple fait-maison qui nous permet de gérer du Magento, du Prestashop et même du RBS.

Vous parlez d'un modèle de développement low-cost...
"Notre objectif est de miser sur d'importantes économies d'échelle"
Notre objectif est de miser sur d'importantes économies d'échelle, par exemple grâce à une base de données que nous allons mutualiser et segmenter pour optimiser nos performances en matière d'emailing. La valeur ajoutée est également permise grâce aux compétences de notre équipe et de sa capacité d'exécution. Ainsi, nous allons pouvoir racheter deux à quatre sites marchands par an pour les relancer.

Qu'en est-il de votre prise de participation ? Quels sont vos objectifs de cession ?
"Nous visons une valorisation de 1 à 3 millions d'euros pour les sites après 3 à 5 ans"
On ne prend pas forcément 100% du capital des sociétés mais nous montons au moins à 51% pour conserver une marge de manœuvre. A ce moment leur valorisation n'est pas importante et notre rôle sera de leur permettre d'atteindre une valorisation de 1 à 3 millions d'euros après 3 à 5 ans. Nous avons un projet de cession du même ordre de durée pour chaque site. Les futurs acquéreurs peuvent être autant des e-commerçants déjà installés sur le marché que des industriels intéressés par la perspective de diversifier leur activité grâce à des verticaux de niche pertinents.

Que se passera-t-il pour les équipes en cas de cession ?
La situation ne s'est pas encore présentée. Nous avons jusque-là uniquement racheté un spécialiste du linge de maison baptisé Cosyforyou et sa fondatrice Aurélia Denoual nous a rejoints pour participer à l'aventure Renaissance Factory. Le jour où nous revendrons une activité, nous étudierons les offres au cas par cas et s'il faut accompagner les acquéreurs, un moment, nous pourrons le faire. Si, en interne, le repreneur est intéressé par certaines de nos ressources, tout est envisageable.

Diplômée de l'ESCP Europe en marketing international, Françoise Govare débute sa carrière dans la grande consommation en 1980 où elle passe chez Jacques Vabre, Danone et L'Oréal. En 1995, elle rejoint Prisunic puis Sephora avant de se spécialiser dans le luxe chez Baume et Mercier. Elle devient consultante indépendance en grande distribution en 2004 où elle se spécialise dans le mode et les cosmétiques. En 2010, elle devient directrice marketing du groupe marocain Aksal. Elle fonde Renaissance Factory en 2012 avec Aurélia Denoual (directrice marketing) Jean-Sébastien Grainzevelles (directeur des opérations) et Phetdavanh Sisombath (directeur technique). La structure a été fondée avec le soutien de Martin Génot (AchatVIP, Network Finance).

Source : Journal du Net

Samsung dit vendre 3 TV par seconde et veut conquérir la maison par l'électroménager

Samsung, qui tient à Monaco l'édition 2013 de son forum européen, a affirmé mardi vendre trois téléviseurs par seconde dans le monde. Non content de revendiquer le titre de numéro un sur le marché de l'électronique grand public, le sud-coréen entend bien désormais s'imposer dans l'électroménager.

Alors que tous les analystes s'accordent à dire que le marché des télévisions s'essouffle sur le Vieux continent, déjà saturé, Samsung revendique pour sa part une croissance soutenue, et se fait fort de conforter sa place de numéro un en 2013 grâce à la nouvelle salve de produits dédiés au salon dévoilés en janvier dernier, lors du CES de Las Vegas (ultra HD, nouvelle interface Smart TV, reconnaissance vocale, moteur de recommandation de contenus, etc.). Lundi, le sud-coréen a annoncé lors de son Samsung Forum 2013 avoir vendu 40 millions de téléviseurs en Europe en 2012.

« Pour la première fois depuis 2007, les gens ont dépensé plus en 2012 que l'année précédente pour leurs télévisions », a affirmé Michael Zöller, directeur du marketing TV chez Samsung Europe. Raisons de ce retour en grâce ? D'après lui, un appétit croissant pour les grandes diagonales, avec un segment des TV 46 pouces qui tendrait à devenir le plus courant, ainsi que la démocratisation des interfaces de type Smart TV, introduites avec les télévisions susceptibles d'être connectées à Internet.

« Il y a trois TV Samsung vendues chaque seconde dans le monde », a pour sa part clamé B. K. Yoon, président de l'activité TV Samsung au niveau international. Le fabricant écoulerait donc près de 7,9 millions de téléviseurs par mois dans le monde.

Samsung moteurs de la croissance TV
Les clés de la croissance sur le marché TV selon Samsung

Si ce forum, organisé à Monaco et destiné à la presse ainsi surtout qu'aux revendeurs et partenaires, sert de vitrine européenne pour les nouveautés mises en avant lors du CES de Las Vegas, il est également l'occasion pour le sud-coréen d'afficher ses ambitions sur le segment de l'électroménager. Samsung est présent depuis des années sur ce marché mais n'a pas su, encore, y reproduire la dynamique qui est la sienne sur l'électronique grand public.

« L'innovation est la clé du succès pour une société », a encore fait valoir B. K. Yoon. « La prochaine étape majeure, c'est l'équipement domestique, tout simplement parce que le foyer est, pour nous, tous, le lieu le plus important de notre vie ».

Le point d'orgue des évènements dédiés à la presse a donc consisté en la présentation d'une nouvelle machine à laver dotée d'un tambour capable de favoriser l'action du détergent, même à froid, par l'ajout de bulles à l'eau de lavage, ainsi que d'un réfrigérateur dont l'intérieur, modulable, dispose de casiers amovibles (idéal pour sortir toutes ses sauces et condiments d'un coup). Cerise sur le gâteau : un panneau de contrôle inséré dans la porte permet de régler individuellement la température des différents compartiments de l'appareil.

Samsung machine à laver Eco Bubble

On note par ailleurs qu'aucun de ces appareils n'est connecté ou connectable, bien loin des scénarios inventés par Samsung comme par ses concurrents sur les grands salons de type IFA ou CES : le mythe de la machine à laver pilotée à distance depuis un smartphone n'a rien d'utopiste, mais ces produits ne semblent pas faire partie du programme commercial prévu par le fabricant pour les prochains mois.

Les nombreux journalistes venus à Monaco à l'affût d'une exclusivité plus high-tech ont accueilli l'annonce non sans quelques commentaires sarcastiques (« pensez donc, Maryse, un compartiment amovible pour la moutarde, quelle innovation ! »), mais le message n'en est pas moins passé : fort de ses positions dans l'électronique grand public, Samsung compte bien mettre à profit sa stratégie de développement produits et sa puissance - marketing, économies d'échelle ou R&D - pour partir à la conquête de l'univers des home appliances.

Source :

vendredi 1 février 2013

Pen vibrates when the user makes a mistake

Lernstift is a pen that vibrates every time the user makes a spelling, grammar or legibility mistake.

The Bruynzeel My Grip pen may have been designed for kids by kids themselves, but it seems safe to say it lacks at least one feature that most schoolchildren would surely value. Imagine a pen that alerts the user as soon as they’ve made a mistake, and you’ve essentially got the Lernstift, a new innovation from an Austrian startup by the same name.

Electronics integrated into the Lernstift enable the device to recognize a wide variety of writing movements and alert the writer by vibrating when a mistake has been made. Specifically, two functions are available on the pen: Calligraphy Mode, which points out flaws of form and legibility, and Orthography Mode, which focuses on detecting spelling and grammatical errors. The company explains: “Lernstift’s subtle, yet unmistakable vibrating alert lets us know instantly and sensorially when a mistake was made. This makes Lernstift a unique and effective educational aid that makes learning a fun thing to do.” The video below (in German) explains the premise in more detail:

Future versions of the Lernstift will include a dynamic pressure sensor and a networking module to connect with PCs and other devices, as well as an open platform for app development. Its Salzburg-based maker plans to launch a crowdfunding effort starting in February, it says. Education-minded entrepreneurs the world over: one to get involved in?