miércoles, 26 de abril de 2017

Digital transformation of sectors (I): Tourism

It is said that digital technologies are changing any economic activity. This is something more than a common place. This is the first post of a new serie. I plan to review some legacy activities beyond the usual suspcts (government, manufacturing, ...) and shortly review the impact of the digital transformation on them. Let´s start with tourism, and next post with farming. After that we will see the next ones.

The World Tourism Organization (WTO) defines tourism in 2015 as "“a social, cultural and economic phenomenon which entails the movement of people to countries or places outside their usual environment for personal or business/professional purposes”. As a consequence, the digital transformation of tourism has two main drivers. On one hand, the growth of people´s personal hiperconnectivity due to the spread of smartphones as a personal and professional tool that is always at hand. On the other hand, the digital transformation of the places where they move to, which is symbolized in the creation of smart cities and communities underpinned by IoT, broadband and cloud infrastructure and the digitalisation of any kind of companies established in the place and their products and services. 

Digital transformation of tourism is characterized by the creation of data ecosystems, with data flows originated by the actors mentioned above.  The visitor, destination community and companies takes advantage of the data in the three stages of the touristic activity. Before the travel, with the anticipation of the tourist needs based on the previous activities of other travelers and the information on the personal demands of the tourist. During the travel, enhancing the experience of the tourist with constant flows of information and refueling the infirmation database of the destination and its companies with the personal digital footprint of the individual. After the travel, enabling travelers to share their travel experiences so that they can help other travelers.

Sharing the information and knowledge build on top of this data could benefit equally all of the actors with the transformation of tourism in an interactive activity based on co-creation and co-production paradigms. On one hand, tourist has access to personalized and context awareness services and products. On the other hand, the visiting community makes a better allocation of resources for the benefit of residents and visitors through real-time monitoring. Last but not least, firms and companies improve its economic sustainability with access to relevant information.

The keys for a successful transformation of tourism in a place it is two-fold. Firstly, the integration of tourism on top of the smart city or community as another service, taking advantage of the infrastructure already in place as a distinguished activity. Secondly, taking into consideration of the tourist as a differentiated profile of citizen to serve in both public and private digital services, to begin with with the extensive usage on multilinguism.

The revolution of transport makes places physical closer for tourist. Digital technologies extends the time of tourist experience beyond the timespace we visit the place and makes more intense our experience with visiting blending physical and virtual worlds. To sum up,  changes completely the dimensions of travelling.

miércoles, 19 de abril de 2017

"The Establishment", Owen Jones

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Owen Jones book is focused on the description of what he calls UK´s establishment, "the powerful groups that need to protect their position in democracy" from the control and check-and-balance mechanisms that exits in UK´s democracy. However, the book does not sound as a local book. With other actors and a different importance of each establisment´s subgroup within the power map, the establisment exists in every country. Therefore, some of the pages of the book would sound familiar to you.

To begin with, the composition of the establisment is similar in every country: media groups, think-tanks, rich families who have been rich for centuries, ... with similar abhor for the state and its mechanisms to ensure redistribution of wealth such as taxes. Patterns may sound familiar in some of the practices develop by each country establishment: newspapers that set up the framework in any policy debate according with the limits previously defined, police "trained to treat working people as the enemy within", dependance of the powerful groups on the largesse of the state, government´s lack of accountability, revolving doors between public and private sector, ...

But it is not a rare coincindence that establisment composition and practices are familiar for those who read the book outside UK. As Owen Jones warns, the "ideas of the establishment coincided with the interests of corporate power regardless of national boundaries". Globalisation has help to spread establishment ideology at the same time that the later has been the main tool for expanding the former, creating a virtuous circle that has fuel the worldwide hike of inequality. The author also reflects how it is emerging a global tiredness among the lower classes that is feeding a right-wing populism, that curiously does not defy the establishment power but underpins its force.

However, Owen Jones finalised giving a glimpse of hope. As the establishment footprint is global, it is also global the resistance to it. So it finalised with a call to develop a global movement that defies this free-market consensus with a new consensus based on the general interest and a more fair distribution of wealth.

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miércoles, 5 de abril de 2017

Saving the web

Some weeks ago, Tim Berners-Lee published one of this articles that must be read, several times, infinity times. The founder web enumerates the three trends that are killing the web: the lost of control of personal data, the easiness of spreading misinformation and the lack of transparency of online advertising (note: I have slightly changed the last one. Mr. Berners-Lee only pinpoint to political online advertisig, but as we see later the problem is in any kind of ads).

The three trends enumerated above also compose a virtuous circle. Our personal data helps to design algorithms to disseminate news that are wisely used by those who want to spread misinformation, who funded their activity with online advertising that fuels the business of trading personal data. On one hand, this fact makes the trends stronger, but, on the other hand, makes them easy to fight: Combat one of them with all your strength and you would kill the three

We have tried in vain to fight the loss of control of personal data. Create people  awareness on this issue has proved to be an impossible mission. Services in exchange of data are widely spread because people prefers to pay with this new currency than with actual money. Equally difficult is fighting the spread of misinformation. As the spread of "good" and "bad" information can not be separated, we can not fight against this part of the circle. Fighting the lack of transparency in online advertising is the unique option, but also the wiser option: follow the money is always a good strategy. 

Although Google and Facebook made some vague promises about cutting the flow of advertising to fake-news sites after the US election, it looks that politicians are not going to rest their faith for tackling the issue in self-regulation. Firstly, UK MEPs and Her Majesty Government criticised the lack of transparency of the ad distribution in Google for their customers. Afterwards, EU consumer authorities announces some kind of measures designed to make social media giants like Google, Twitter and Facebook abide by EU consumer laws.

It will take time to assess the effectiveness of this new strategy. Maybe it is the last opportunity to preserve non-commercial side of Internet, its role as a communication tool among humans.
palyginti kainas