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Posts Tagged ‘Ireland’

It’s hip to be square but is FourSquare ready for Irish businesses?

In Business Education, DCU Business School, Digital Marketing, Foursquare, Uncategorized on November 10, 2010 at 5:08 pm

FourSquare Logo

I have been humming and hawing about FourSquare for the best part of a year now. Why so much hype? I originally tried it under some assumed identity wayback after SXSW but quickly realized no one else was using it in Ireland so the experience was severely limited. Have things changed? Is it any use for Irish businesses?

A fortnight ago, I decided to revisit FourSquare but with a specific goal. How long would it take me to break the Top 10 users in Dublin in one week period? The answer is nine days to be No. 5 in the whole of Dublin. What does this mean? Well, as it turns out, not very much but the experience was not without learning and I will share some of the general opportunities (and challenges) of using FourSquare in Ireland in this blog. I will keep some of the better business ideas to myself though!

In life, you come in to the world with families. FourSquare is a bit more brutal. You start off with no family and more importantly, no “friends”! Yes, like Facebook, FourSquare abuse the f-word liberally. So what is it? I am still not entirely sure. It is like a cross between a social network, a SatNav system and a game (if you were fond of Panini Sticker books as a child then you love this!). Using your mobile phone, FourSquare pinpoints your position and enables you to share your location with your friends and share messages and tips with them, earning you points per logging location-based activities. For transparency, I used the free FourSquare App for the iPhone 4 and I found it both intuitive and, dare I say it, addictive.

 

My FourSquare Profile on the Apple iPhone 4

My FourSquare Profile on the Apple iPhone 4

Basically, users can do a number of things on FourSquare:

  • Add friends: FourSquare searches through your contacts and allows you search FourSquare and other social networks to inivite “friends”
  • Check-in: FourSquare locates you on a map and provides a list of nearby venues or places that users have geo-tagged (added to FourSquare). You can check-in to these places thereby notifying FourSquare and your friends of your location.
  • Shout: A “Shout” is the FourSquare equivalent of a tweet or update – the unfortunate use of the word “Shout” is offputting for Shouters and Shoutees.
  • Earn Points: You earn points for your check-in behaviour. These are city-specific and you can compare yourself to your friends and other users in your city. The top scores reset every Sunday night at midnight.
  • Be Crowned Mayor: If you check in to a place more than anyone else, you can be crowned Mayor but you can lose your mayorship too.
  • Earn Badges: your usage behaviour can also earn you badges (remember those Panini Stickers) which you collect e.g. Newbie (first check-in), Photogenic (checking in to three locations with photo booths) or Supermayor (holding ten mayorships at once). There is even a site for those interested in collecting FourSquare Badges – www.4squarebadges.com
  • Add Places: you can add and geotag venues or locations not on FourSquare (and get extra points).
  • Leave Tips: you can leave tips associated with locations for other users to see.
  • Add To Do Items: You can add To-Do items recommended by others to your To-Do List which is permanently available to you.

It takes awhile to get used to FourSquare and working out what works and what doesn’t. For example, you can accumulate a lot of points using “drive by checking” – i.e. checking in as you drive-by rather than enter a venue. This works better on public transport and is not recommended for those driving!!!! If you think that planning in advance will help you on your drive-by attempt, it might but you need to make sure you refresh your location as close as possible to the venue otherwise FourSquare will look at the disparity between the last refresh and the location and if too great, will check you in but refuse to give you points. If your phone, thinks your 250 metres down the road (where you refreshed) and you are actually in front of the venue, FourSquare assumes your phone is correct. Similarly, FourSquare will look at the frequency of your check-ins and may disallow rapid fire check-ins too.

FourSquare Dublin Leaderboard, 9 November 2010, 2306

FourSquare Dublin Leaderboard, 9 November 2010, 2306

How did I get to being No. 5 in Dublin? Well, firstly and I am not competitive (well maybe a bit), I would have been higher but didn’t realize that my points had been reset when I went to Cork last Friday losing me a whole day of check-ins. The trick is adding new places and checking in frequently – what is known as “oversharing”. Do this and you will be top of the pile. Your significant other will hate you and possibly leave you but you will be the top dawg! The exercise was not without merit; in one week, I:

  • Made 35 “friends” (only 5 could be classified really as conventional friends)
  • Checked in 200 times
  • Became Mayor 11 times including Mayor of my house, garden, the boat in my neighbour’s garden but also Bewleys Hotel (Drive By – well, I stopped outside it), and DCU Business School (where I work! This may be a surprise to the Dean)
  • Earned 10 badges including SuperMayor, Crunked, OverShare and I’m on a Boat
  • Left 7 tips (5 of which are genuinely useful)
  • Found 1 restaurant for dinner (Cafe Mexicana, Cork – recommended)

I know, impressive.

What can Irish businesses learn from my FourSquare experience?

1. Be patient, it’s free

FourSquare is still at an early stage of adoption in Ireland. Not a lot of people using it and not a lot of businesses but proximity based social networks and marketing are here and will develop. FourSquare will be in the mix and it’s free so if anything, it is worthwhile trialling things on. Even in my small experiment, I know others started using it because of my invites, to see what I was doing but also to compete with me!

2. Add your place

It takes no time at all to add your place. If you do nothing else, this may attract one customer for less than 3 minutes work. Again it costs nothing. Add a description and as much information as possible. If you have multiple sites, remember to do all sites. It may also be a good idea to register any sales agents or partners who sell your products or represent you throughout the country/world.

3. Add a Tip

Add some tips about your business or a related sector. Make sure it is valuable in some way to the user population. Tips can swing both ways – people leave positive tips and warn users of possible negative experiences. For example, during my experiment my wife and our youngest child (aged 9 months) visited the Marks and Spencers Rooftop Terrace for a coffee and dessert. We had a largely negative experience – they brought M&S Cola instead of Diet Coke (a huge crime in Theoworld) and didn’t bring over a babychair despite one being clearly available for over 15 minutes. Now M&S tried to correct my situation and gave use a freebie but nonetheless I tweeted this but also placed a FourSquare Tip which will be there for some time, one would imagine.

Can you get rid of a Tip? Don’t despair M&S. Yes, you can. Two ways come to mind. Befriend the tipster and ask them to remove it or email FourSquare with a Tip Removal Request and they will consider it.

4. Decide whether you want/need to be King of the Castle

You need to decide whether you are comfortable with someone else being the Mayor of your business or venue. I can understand how this could be uncomfortable is someone is Mayor of your home and your business is no different, even employees being Mayor over managers may be uncomfortable. On the other hand, allowing employees or regular customers to be Mayor may be a nice way to recognize them in a small way.

The good news is that you have options. If you would like to have control of the Mayorship of your venue, you can Claim your Venue by registering with FourSquare as a business at http://foursquare.com/businesses/. It’s free and gives you control of your venue but also additional features like Specials (see 7 below), Statistics (See 10 below) and marketing collateral (see 7 below).

FourSquare for Business

FourSquare for Business. The right column lists various Irish business offers.

5. Reward your Mayor

You can reward regular customers (or more correctly visitors) by giving them some special discount or prize if they provide evidence that they are the current Mayor. They need only show you their FourSquare profile (and you can check this by looking up your venue on FourSquare). This can be done easily using conventional marketing (e.g. a poster) or creating a Special (see 7 below). If you are a registered business with FourSquare, they will provide you with marketing collateral support.

Check In Here Window Cling

6. Shout

Shouting is the FourSquare equivalent of tweeting. You can Shout via your phone, the FourSquare website or other social networking tools with FourSquare API integration. I use Hootsuite and integrating FourSquare was literally 3-4 clicks and I could monitor friends but also broadcast messages in a single instance to all my social networks including FourSquare.

7. Add a Special

Business users on FourSquare can access additional tools to attract, engage, reward and track customers. These include:

  • Mayor Specials: unlocked only by the Mayor of your venue.
  • Check-in Specials: unlocked when a user checks in to your venue a certain number of times.
  • Frequency-based Specials: are unlocked every X check-ins.
  • Wildcard Specials: always unlocked, but your staff has to verify some extra conditions before awarding the Special.

Again, these are free. But what I really like is that they combine relevancy, immediacy and location and in that way they are somewhat similar to Groupon.  The consumer has control – it is pretty much permission-based.

8. Add an “Add to my FourSquare” button

The “Add to my FourSquare” button is an image that you put on your website etc which adds a Place or Tip to a reader’s FourSquare To-Do List. Again, it’s easy and free. I think this could be used to great effect in PR activities by asking reviewers or journalists to embed the code in to their online articles or references. It’s simple, free and effective. You can find details on how to add the button at http://support.foursquare.com/entries/265950-how-do-i-embed-the-add-to-my-foursquare-button-on-my-site.

9. Create a Custom Badge

There are loads of different badges. Increasingly, FourSquare addicts are focusing more and more on specialist or elite badges. You should not underestimate how addictive collecting badges can become! I did.

Should you create a custom badge? Well, yes, if you think FourSquare users will be attracted to the offer. So two big factors – the value being transferred and its match with FourSquare user needs.

How do you go about creating a custom badge? I have identified three ways. The first is to suggest a badge to FourSquare at Suggest a Badge! Success is rare. You need to be quirky, relatively commercially obtuse and generous with your idea i.e. it needs to benefit FourSquare users generally and not you specifically.

Tarantino Badge from SXSW

Second, FourSquare seems to create custom badges for “Strategic Partners” or “Strategic Events”. Examples of strategic partners include Wall Street Journal, Bravo, Michelin Guides etc. SXSW would be a good example of a Strategic Event. In both instances, the partner and event needs to align clearly with the FourSquare user community and brand identity. Who are they? Look at the profile of smartphone/GPS-enbled phone users.

Finally, I have identified at least one company, Osnapz, who claim to offer custom badges for not only FourSquare but Twitter, Facebook and other social networks. I have never used them. Engage with caution.

10. Monitor your “friends” and statistics

A question I always ask about social networks is – What can I learn about consumer behaviour from the user behaviour on the social network? Well, looking at my own FourSquare data, I can tell a lot about my travel history and the different places that I stopped and in some instances visited commercial outlets. However, I have the advantage of first hand experience – I know what was a drive-by check-in and what was an actual commercial opportunity. Notwithstanding this, one could also analyse the timestamps and derive rules from these. Nonetheless, the travel data could be used for informing conventional marketing e.g. billboard advertising etc. It is also easy to see the types of brands and retail outlets I visit. Where I spend a lot of time etc.

For businesses, FourSquare provide a free statistics tool, FourSquare Analytics, which provides lots of interesting data to inform your FourSquare decisions but also your general marketing e.g.:

  • most recent visitors
  • most frequent visitors
  • the time of day people check in
  • total number of unique visitors
  • histogram of check-ins per day
  • gender breakdown of customers
  • portion of FourSquare check-ins broadcast to Twitter and Facebook

Note: FourSquare Analytics doesn’t support multiple venues but it’s not bad for a free tool.

11. Act Ethically, Act Transparently

I bring this up with reluctance but I do think there are some important ethical considerations. On my short experiment, I used FourSquare to locate a restaurant in Cork, in this case, Café Mexicana (I have no hesitation recommending them). We refreshed FourSquare and saw it there and decided to see whether any tables were free. As we entered the threshold of the restaurant, a Tip popped up from one of my “friends”, a well known digital marketing professional and prolific social networkers, asking us to consider going to another restaurant in the same area. For me, this was the FourSquare equivalent of having a Maitre D or waiter from one restaurant waiting at the door of Café Mexicana to steal me away or poach me and bring me to another restaurant. Why? Either:

(a) It was a genuine Tip. Mobile phone GPS is not the accurate and the Tipster was offering a useful tip which inadvertently is displayed when checking in anywhere in that area.

OR

(b) It was a masked message. The Tipster is being paid, in cash or kind, to promote the restaurant.

In the first instance, while the Tipster is not at fault, what I call the “good neighbour” rule might apply. Would a good neighbour encourage such a thing? In the second instance, not only does the “good neighbour” rule apply but the Tipster may be entering a blurry area too. Should they, for example, indicate that it is a promotional tip like an informercial? Effectively a paid placement. The first is permission-based marketing, to some extent. The second is stealth-based.

On a related note, if you are using FourSquare as a business – tell people that you are using it to promote your business and for marketing purposes. Then it is up to them.

12. Please Rob Me

This is not a request but a warning. When FourSquare first came out, one wag set up a site called Please Rob Me so that people would engage with FourSquare and other location-based services responsibly. By broadcasting your location, you are also broadcasting your absence.

Take care. Buy a good alarm.

Where will our sales leaders come from?

In Business Education, DCU Business School, Dublin City University, Entrepreneurship, Ireland, Masters Education, Sales, Theo Lynn on September 26, 2010 at 11:30 am

Last week, the stigma of “sales” was confirmed to be alive and well to my dismay. Of 150 new postgraduates, only a couple would admit to having considered a career in sales. To a certain audience, “sales” is not “cool” or for the matter worthy of “academic attention.” And yet at the crux of any business, if there are no sales, there is no business.

My interest in sales education really started following my experience in Educational Multimedia Group in the late nineties and early noughties. I was then and remain now convinced that sales can be studied academically and indeed is worthy of such study. On joining DCU Business School, I retained this interest and began looking at the area in more detail. At that time, GrowingCo had just surveyed 218 executives in the Chicago area.  They found:

  • 38% of mid-market organizations (defined as having greater than $2.5 million in annual revenues) lack internal agreement on the role of marketing
  • 85% of sales forces have never been exposed to their companies’ marketing strategy or marketing plans.

The survey emphasised the negative impact of poor coordination of sales and marketing activities and to some degree highlighted the difference between the functions. Marketing and sales are intrinsically linked and the success of a sales effort is impacted heavily by the marketing effort – therefore incentives should be aligned. Interestingly in other surveys on sales management perception, one finds that senior management typically view their sales team performance as less than perfect. In Forum Corporation’s survey of 111 senior sales executives in 96 major corporations across 17 industries around the world, the average grade was 7 out of 10 or a C- in this context (although this could be a first class honours in Ireland!). Superior sales forces had no single differentiator – they performed better across the full spectrum of management, process and skills. A 2004 Accenture survey found 56% of 178 executives saw their salesforce performance as average, worse than normal or catastrophic.

Soon after, in 2006, the Harvard Business Review published a special double issue on “Sales” which served to highlight the dearth of academic research and highlight the area of sales management.  This is not the first time academia has sought to highlight this problem, but merely the most high profile. As far back as 1979, the enigma of the study of sales management was recognised – selling costs account for the largest share of marketing expenditure and yet is one of the weakest areas of academic research (Bagozzi, 1979).

Things have not changed much. You rarely find robust dedicated modules let alone programmes on sales or sales strategy in business schools. And I would be surprised where such modules are delivered, faculty either deliver them or if they do, have any real practical and sustained experience in selling at an operational or more importantly a strategic level. Donaldson (1998) summarises the problems of studying sales management as

  1. Traditionally, the emphasis in sales management is on implementation and tactical operations rather than strategic planning and policy, which has been the prerogative of marketing.
  2. The difficulty of isolating the sales response function and its causes. Many factors other than selling effort affect sales response.
  3. A myopic view that behavioural relationships and interactions in selling are not amenable to classification or variables are impossible to measure.
  4. Many principles of sales organisation, deployment and motivation are based on “how to “ principles, some of which are difficult to assess or understand, for example how to overcome objections. Much of the data are highly specific and anecdotal.
  5. The terrain on which operations take place is continually changing (territories, personnel, customers).
  6. Much of the input on sales management issues comes from disparate areas of research, behavioural sciences, operations research and economics.
  7. Much study and evidence is US-based and these findings in empricial research do not remain intact across the Atlantic.

In fairness to HBR, since 2006 they have published on the subject regularly however has the wider business education system followed this lead? Do primary and secondary schools encourage students to pursue a career in sales? If they do, what university programmes can they take? Is there now an abundance of postgraduate Masters programmes for the sales leader? Unfortunately not.

While few business postgraduates, and specifically MBAs, might value a sales position as their post-MBA career entry point,  in practice, good CEOs place an emphasis on spending time in the field with the sales force, view sales teams as strategic resources and understand that sales is critical to their personal career and their organisation’s success. Sales literally is where the money is…..but marketing sounds better to postgrads and….parents.

A couple of years ago, one of my postgrads and I surveyed a small group of students and sales professionals on their perceptions of sales as a career choice. Unsurprisingly, sales was not the most attractive career but for those interested, it was seen as a career that was potentially well paid and where earnings were very related to effort. Yes for sales professionals, one of the main reasons for the choice of a career in sales was that it didn’t require one to work weekends. Pay and control (whether related to effort or creativity) remained important but flexibility more so. These are probably not career attributes we “sell” in school or as parents for our future workforce.

Let’s face facts – it can be a brutal job. It is probably the most accountable job there is – you literally cannot hide from the numbers. Are we developing a generation of business graduates afraid of such brutal accountability?

In today’s post-growth economy, sales should be a huge focus. However, the investment in sales versus other market supports seems comparatively small. In many of the business networks, there are often experienced accounting professionals offering advice to SMEs to control costs and management cashflow, and this is very important, but there are few experienced sales professionals offering advice on how to grow sales.  And they’re not in academia either. And maybe this is the problem.

We need vision not just in R&D-based innovation but across all organisational processes. We want Ireland to be centre for excellence in bio-tech, ICT, financial services and many other sectors. Who is going to sell these products and services?Sales generates taxes. Ireland could be a global centre for excellence in sales.  If we aren’t going to be, someone else will. And that will be to our detriment.

PS – we now do deliver strategic sales workshops and personal selling modules in DCU Business School covering areas such as channel selection, sales models and process, tendering, selling tools, sales competencies, staff selection and sales team structure, rewards and incentive design etc etc. These are delivered by the Marketing Group.

Irish Blogs

Is Ireland ready for Groupon? Online collective buying on the Emerald Isle

In Boards Deals, Business Education, Business Models, BuyWithMe, Collective Buying, Digital Marketing, Dublin City University, E-commerce, Group Buying, Groupon, ICAP Media, Ireland, LivingSocial, MyCityDeal, O2 Treats, Pigsback, StealTheDeal, Uncategorized, VaVaVouch, Wowcher on September 8, 2010 at 5:35 pm

In February this year, a group of us looked at setting up a groupon clone for the Irish market. Following some research, we established that there were opportunities for an online collective buying and group discount service, but as a group we weren’t the ones to exploit them – or at least, not together. Notwithstanding this, the experience offered some valuable insights in to the collective buying model and the importance of immediacy and relevancy, some of which I will share here.

Tuangou is a chinese word that roughly translates as “group buying” or “store mobbing” and relates to the phenomenon of groups of Chinese shoppers congregating at once at a store and haggling for a group discount. A consumer-driven flash mob. (Check out Paula C’s presentation on SlideShare for a brief history of online group buying)

Mercata - A First Generation Collective Buying Site

Mercata - A First Generation Collective Buying Site

The first phase of online group buying sites emerged in the dotcom boom but failed for a variety of reasons:

  • it takes time to organise buying groups
  • discounts needed to be exclusive
  • people needed to have accessible social networks
Groupon - the Second Generation Collective Buying Category Leader

Groupon - the Second Generation Collective Buying Category Leader

The second generation of group buying sites addressed these issues by introducing immediacy and relevancy. Sites, led by Groupon, created demand by building a business model based on immediacy and relevancy. They offered deep, exclusive, time-based collective discounts targetting specific segments and narrow geographic areas. For example, 68% of Groupon’s users were in the 18-34 age bracket, highly education (80% had graduated from university), single (55%) and women (77%). The offers were focussed on large  urban areas. Buywithme has similar demographics – young educated professional women. Discounts were targetted (e.g. dining, health and beauty, fitness etc) deep (50%-75%), exclusive and were only activated if a minimum number of subscribers took up the deal. Typically only 1-2 group discounts offered per day. If a certain number of people sign up for the offer, then the deal becomes available to all; if the predetermined minimum is not met, no one gets the deal that day. The intermediary, Groupon, markets the deal and assures that the deal will happen receiving a commission, on average 22%, from the merchant.  The deals are truly viral – they are extremely spreadworthy due to the heavy discounts and restricted timeframe for decisions. Email, SMS and social networking enabled groups of friends to form groups quickly to ensure the deal happened.  This is a great business model – everybody is happy.

Vendors Customers
  • Guaranteed quantity of customers
  • Fast customer base acquisition
  • Low-cost, low-risk positive exposure
  • High word-of-mouth referral rates
  • High rate of repeat business
  • Deeper discounts than usual
  • Shared experience and membership of a social network
  • Unique offers

The key challenges for the broker, the Groupon clone, is to recruit subscribers and merchants. Subscribers are not that easy – the business model hinges on registration of not only the user details but also their credit card. Merchants are somewhat easier particularly if they are in businesses that may have excess capacity to fill and a cost base that allows deep discounts. What does a deal look like? Here are some examples with the minimum number to activate the deal and actual deal take-up in brackets:

  • $20 Paintball Outing With Randolf Paintball [20/759]
  • Truffle Workshop at Taste of Chocolate [45/1,114]
  • $24 for 24 day pass to drop-in classes at Healthworks fitness [24/3,997]
  • $10 for $20 Worth of Vintage Threads, Costumes, and New Clothes From The Garment District [10/1,334]
  • $35 for $70 Worth of Nutritious Pre-Assembled Meal Kits From Healthy Habits Kitchen [35/815]
  • $30 for a Sushi-Making Class at Sea to You Sushi [30/2,200]
  • $49 for One-Month Membership and One Beginners Class at MetroRock Indoor Climbing [49/1,162]
  • $49 for a Haircut, Blow Dry, and $60 Toward Any Waxing or Skin Services at Amaci Salon [20/2,465]
  • $20 for One-Month Membership and Two Personal Training Sessions at Fitcorp ($189 Value) [20/699]
  • $20 for $50 Worth of Italian Cuisine and Drinks at G’Vanni’s Ristorante [20/2,456]
  • $35 for $75 Worth of Steakhouse Cuisine at the Oak Room [20/943]
  • $20 for $50 Worth of Italian Cuisine and Drinks at G’Vanni’s Ristorante [30/1,248]
  • $20 Football Ticket to Boston College vs. North Carolina on November 21 ($37 Value) [15/862]
  • $30 for a Regular Membership to The Brattle Theatre, Plus Three Bonus Tickets ($104 Value) [45/2,000]
  • $15 for $30 Worth of Casual Fine Cuisine and Cocktails at 88 Wharf Riverfront Grill [149/706]
  • $45 for Lift Ticket at Bretton Woods Ski Area ($74 Value)  [45/2,000]
  • $149 Getaway to the Omni Mount Washington Resort [149/706]
  • $15 for $30 of Tasty Tapas and Cocktails at Tasca [15/2,067]
  • $40 for Acupuncture, Personal Training, or Massage at Joint Ventures (Up to $115 Value) [40/887]

As you can see these deals can be very successful bring in several thousand dollars worth of business. Obviously some businesses work better than others. For example, meal deals work because they are low value amount and groups of people can easily agree to go to one location and therefore subscribe to a deal. I also think there is a lot of value for multi-site retail chains however only if they have barcode or other technologies to manage duplicate submissions in real time or near real-time to avoid the same coupon being submitted in two geographically-disparate stores.

Groupon Dublin Facebook Page

Groupon Dublin Facebook Page

So what about Ireland? Well, Groupon has a Facebook site for Ireland and has acquired MyCityDeal but there doesn’t seem to have been a real push and LivingSocial has been “coming to Dublin” for a number of months.

VaVaVouch - An Irish Collective Buying Site

VaVaVouch - An Irish Collective Buying Site

Vavavouch is a local website but doesn’t seem to have gained much traction and I frankly have not heard much lately about Boards Deals. Is it that Irish people just aren’t interested?

Boards Deals - an Irish Collective Buying Site

Boards Deals - another Irish Collective Buying Site using the boards.ie brand

We surveyed 83 people earlier this year. The respondents were largely female (76%), university educated or some other professional qualifation (85%) and aged between 22 and 34 (76%) – a pretty good sample relative to the US sites. Most (75%) go out to restaurants, bars, events or other social activities at least once a week and spend over €50 on a typical night out (63%). However, only 2 people were familiar with group buying sites and this is the crux of the matter – people simply don’t know about these sites and how the operate.The overwhelming majority of respondents have never heard of Groupon, Wowcher, LivingSocial, BuyWithMe or StealtheDeal. Pigsback had good brand awareness ratings with over 76% of respondents but that is a different business model altogether. It would seem in Ireland collective buying may be a matter of ignorance and not disinterest.

So are they interested? Well, we asked. Firstly, the respondents did use coupons and vouchers – over 35% in the previous 6 months and over 56% had a supermarket or retail store loyalty card. So they do use discount cards and vouchers. When we explained what group buying sites are and how they operated, over 58% said they would consider using these sites. On what?

  1. Restaurants and bars (81.4%)
  2. Concerts (51.4%)
  3. Local retail (47.1%)
  4. Movie Tickets (45.7%)
  5. Spas, Salons and Assorted Pampering (37.1%)
  6. Trips: B&B, Skiing, etc (37.1%)
  7. Events (24.3%)
  8. Tours and Sightseeing (15.7%)
  9. Theater (14.3%)
  10. Lessons and Classes (11.4%)

Interestingly, 46.5% of respondents have received a coupon, voucher or other discount offer via their mobile phone however only 8.5% had used the mobile phone coupon/voucher in the previous 6 months.

Basically, it seems to me that Irish people are interested in group buying, or at least our respondents were, but the group buying sites need to promote their sites and educate customers a lot more. Certainly Facebook and Twitter are much pervasive and this will allow spreadworthy messages to go viral particularly in these more economically-straightened times. Whether the time-dependent deals will take off is another matter.

O2 Treats - a partnership between O2 and ICAP Media

O2 Treats - a partnership between O2 and ICAP Media

Broadcast discount services like O2 Treats seem much more likely to be successful given the high mobile phone penetration, high SMS usage (and ease of spreading messages via SMS), the location-based targeting capability, and the relatively conditionless exchange. Even at an 8.5% adoption, this would generate significant sales for merchants, value for users while generating high revenues for the service provider.  Good news for ICAP Media!

So what about our little startup? Well, we developed the spec, had a catchy (if somewhat quirky name) and had identified a company in the Far East who could develop the site and back office functionality fairly cheaply but…unfortunately too many cooks or maybe too many Indians and no real Chief. Or maybe if it was so easy for us to enter the market then it will just be too much hassle to defend over time.

Irish Blogs

Leaving the ‘Paris of the East’ – Goodbye Shanghai! – Day Nine of the DCU Business School Trip to Shanghai

In Business Education, DCU Business School, Doing Business in China, Dublin City University, Ireland, MBS in Marketing, MSc in Business Management, MSc in E-commerce, Next Generation Management, Shanghai, Shanghai Museum, Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, Travel, World Expo 2010 on August 11, 2010 at 9:18 am
The DCU Business School Group pose one last time outside the Ya Fan Longmen Hotel, Shanghai.

The DCU Business School Group pose one last time outside the Ya Fan Longmen Hotel, Shanghai.

And so our Shanghai adventures come to an end.

We decided to spare ourselves the hassle of  negotiating the Shanghai transport system at 7am and rented a coach to the Airport – it took significantly longer than the MagLev! Unsurprisingly (1) we had more luggage leaving and (2) few people were awake to witness our departure through the outskirts of Shanghai. Checking in at Pudong International Airport was straightforward and only one person had to pay extra baggage charges!

Laurynas Binderis modelling a fetching pair of sunglasses at Duty Free in Pudong International Airport, Shanghai.

Laurynas Binderis modelling a fetching pair of sunglasses at Duty Free in Pudong International Airport, Shanghai.

Pudong International Airport is extremely modern and the range of shops and duty free goods is excellent. I think I did a good job avoiding the propensity to buy unusually large amounts of tacky souvenirs and bought what I thought my wife and kids would genuinely like (and for the record they did!) – a Shanghai Tang scarf for Niamh, a “genuine” Chinese ethnic doll for Aoife, a panda bear pillow for Jamie and last but not least, a Panda hat for Chloe. The Panda hat may be a bit big!

Ciara Dolan models Chloe's Panda Bear hat as Micheal O'Leary looks on enviously in Pudong International Airport, Shanghai. Stylish.

Ciara Dolan models Chloe's Panda Bear hat as Micheal O'Leary looks on enviously in Pudong International Airport, Shanghai. Stylish.

The flight home was a mixed affair. I got upgraded to Business Class so I was as happy as the proverbial pig however the group got randomly spread across the rest of economy rather than together and I think the BA crew could have been more understanding in relation to some specific cultural requirements some of our students had. Equally everyone was tired. The minor stopover at Heathrow, lunch at Giraffe and short hop to Dublin was not worth mentioning – everyone home safe and sound!

6,141 miles, 9 days, 24 postgrads, 3 support staff, one monkey, very little sleep – was it worth it? Absolutely.

The roll of honour:

Andrew Bonello (Research Assistant, DCU Leadership, Innovation and Knowledge (LINK) Research Centre, DCU Business School)

Andrew Bonello (Research Assistant, DCU Leadership, Innovation and Knowledge (LINK) Research Centre, DCU Business School)

Sarah McPartlin (Teaching Assistant, DCU Business School)

Sarah McPartlin (Teaching Assistant, DCU Business School)

Micheal O'Leary (Teaching Assistant, DCU Business School)

Micheal O'Leary (Teaching Assistant, DCU Business School)

Wafa AlMuhamma (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Wafa AlMuhamma (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Laurynas Binderis (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Laurynas Binderis (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Siobhan Buckley soaks up Shanghai on the Big Bus Tour

Siobhan Buckley (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business School)

Rosemary Clancy (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business School)

Rosemary Clancy (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business School)

Brian Connolly (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Brian Connolly (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Joe Cullinan (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Joe Cullinan (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Sean Cullivan (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business School)

Sean Cullivan (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business School)

Ciara Dolan (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Ciara Dolan (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Sean Donnelly (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Sean Donnelly (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Niamh Downey (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business School)

Niamh Downey (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business School)

Rob Elliffe (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business Sc

Rob Elliffe (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Martin Hennig (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Martin Hennig (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Dan Higgins (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business Sch

Dan Higgins (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business School

Keith Lawless (MSc in Business Management, DCU Business School)

Keith Lawless (MSc in Business Management, DCU Business School)

Tanya McNamara (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business School)

Tanya McNamara (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business School)

Beatrice Metzler (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business School)

Beatrice Metzler (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business School)

Laureen Morrissette (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business School)

Laureen Morrissette (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business School)

Niamh NicClamha (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Niamh NicClamha (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Lorna NiMhuiri (MSc in Business Management, DCU Business School)

Lorna NiMhuiri (MSc in Business Management, DCU Business School)

Nicolae (Nick) Opris (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Nicolae (Nick) Opris (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Carolann O'Sullivan (MSc in Business Management, DCU Business School)

Carolann O'Sullivan (MSc in Business Management, DCU Business School)

Barry Sweeney (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Barry Sweeney (MSc in E-commerce (Business), DCU Business School)

Zara Walsh (MSc in Business Management, DCU Business School)

Zara Walsh (MSc in Business Management, DCU Business School)

Ekaterina (Katia) Zavershinskaya (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business School)

Ekaterina (Katia) Zavershinskaya (MBS in Marketing, DCU Business School)

The Monkey

The Monkey

r. Theo Lynn (Director, DCU Leadership, Innovation and Knowledge (LINK) Research Centre, DCU Business School)

Dr. Theo Lynn (Director, DCU Leadership, Innovation and Knowledge (LINK) Research Centre, DCU Business School)

More photos on flickr.
Irish Blogs

Return to World Expo 2010: What happened next? – Day Six, Part 2 of the DCU Business School Trip to Shanghai 2010

In Angerer & Obermayr Messegastronomie, Ansgar Halbfas, Balancity, Business Education, DCU Business School, Dublin City University, German Pavilion, German-Sino House, Ireland, MBS in Marketing, MSc in Business Management, MSc in E-commerce, Next Generation Management, Pavilion of the Future, Rhone-Alpes Lighting Pavilion, Rhone-Alpes Urban Case, Shanghai, Travel, World Expo 2010 on July 28, 2010 at 8:30 pm

We had left our story with the intrepid group of DCU Business School students outside German Pavilion at 5pm in the afternoon in the summer heat of Shanghai. The German Pavilion was closed to the public but our new found friend Ansgar had agreed to meet us later in the evening to bring us on a tour….if it opened again.

Balancity.

Balancity.

With time to kill, the group went their various ways. Myself, Lorna NiMhuiri and Keith Lawless travelled back to the Puxi site to visit some of the urban best practice case pavilions in the urban square. Lorna and Keith are working on a group practicum as part of their MSc in Business Management in the LED sector and there were some possible leads for their client in the Rhone-Alpes Lighting Pavilion and in the Pavilion of the Future. After a pretty long walk and a small water fight, where there were no winners except the amused (and confused) Chinese onlookers, we eventually reached our destination. I am not sure there was much to take from the Rhone-Alpes pavilion or their light show but I really enjoyed the various exhibits in the Pavilion of the Future housed in the former Nanshi Power Plant.

Astronaut Haibao outside the Pavilion of the Future at World Expo 2010 in Shanghai. The Pavilion of the Future is housed in the former Nanshi Power Plant.

Astronaut Haibao outside the Pavilion of the Future at World Expo 2010 in Shanghai. The Pavilion of the Future is housed in the former Nanshi Power Plant.

As you walked through the Pavilion of the Future, the exhibits introduced different facets that will need to be considered in future urban design including environmental factors. Using giant books, sculptures and other media from history the exhibits go on to contextualise much of the thinking from history. The main display, Dream of Yesterday, however was the best. It was a huge hall with gigantic 36 meter high screen showing an animated film against the backdrop of themed sculptures and other settings. As you leave, you enter the Dream Is Approaching section which focuses on bringing many of the concepts that we saw in to the real world including the Intelligent Home, Healthy Community, Low-Carbon City and Harmonious Environment. There were some really good examples of cutting edge technologies from intelligent refrigerators to home biodiagnostics amongst others. Lo and behold, even Lorna and Keith found some material for their practicum – intelligent lighting is part of the future!

Multiple Possibilities in the Pavilion of the Future features a 36-metre-high screen and animated film.

Multiple Possibilities in the Pavilion of the Future features a 36-metre-high screen and animated film.

The group assembled again at the bar to have a stein of beer at the German restaurant where Ansgar was waiting with our beloved Sennheiser wireless earphones.  Angerer & Obermayr Messegastronomie of Munich run the restaurant and it is worth a visit if only for the beer…..apparently. Despite the quality of the beer, the excitement of the German pavilion was too much of a draw….even for the Irish. It was open again. Steins down, off we go!

Laureen Morrissette, Barry Sweeney, Rob Elliffe and Niamh NicClamha toast Ansgar and the German Pavilion at World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

Laureen Morrissette, Barry Sweeney, Rob Elliffe and Niamh NicClamha toast Ansgar and the German Pavilion at World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

The German Pavilion occupies a plot measuring around 6,000 m² – the largest area a national pavilion can be given – and they have packed in a lot – so much so, I won’t and can’t do it justice in this blog so check out the German’s really excellent virtual tour – the interactive round trip. As we had already toured the exterior, we went through the tunnel which is lit in blue (and features different media representing transport routes to enter Germany) and then in to the urban planning area, The Urban Office, where you could explore some of the German ideas around urban planning.

DCU Business School Students in the tunnel entering the German Pavilion at World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

DCU Business School Students in the tunnel entering the German Pavilion at World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

The German architects put a lot of effort in to interactive elements that use all the senses so you could see and touch different types of materials as well as explore mini-cases on different ideas like multigenerational housing, the evolution of transportation from individual mobility to public transportation. From the urban space, you transition into The Garden. Ansgar explained that they wanted a contrast in the design and this was achieved by using different material, such as fabrics hung from the ceiling and interactive elements hung from the same that you literally put your head in to. The Garden sequed in to The Depot, a exhibit based on a German Warehouse with towers of crates illustrating the manufacturing and design legacy of Germany – Bosch, Sennheiser, Villeroy and Boche, Hansgrohe and Adidas are just some of the famous brands I recognised. I was particularly taken with the Otto Bock Blizzard wheelchair which I didn’t no much about but is transforming the lives of many physically disabled people. Ansgar really hit home the policy of “Designed in Germany, Made in China” – a true algorithmic economy vision that Irish policymakers should not only be aspiring to but emulating.

e Germans! Beatrice Metzler and Martin Hennig (our token Germans - only kidding!) pose at The Depot in the German Pavilion at the World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

e Germans! Beatrice Metzler and Martin Hennig (our token Germans - only kidding!) pose at The Depot in the German Pavilion at the World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

As you exit the Depot, you enter the Factory exhibit which has a full production system and some sustainable product ideas. It wasn’t working while were there but Ansgar explained that usually you could control the system using some augmented reality applications they have – some of which can be controlled by your iPhone Touch. We continued quickly through The Park exhibit to the Studio.

Siobhan Buckley and Beatrice Metzler (one of our token Germans!) attempt to read their heights at the German Pavilion at World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

Siobhan Buckley and Beatrice Metzler (one of our token Germans!) attempt to read their heights at the German Pavilion at World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

The Studio was a really enjoyable space with lots of interactive exhibits that gave a different more light-hearted perspective on German culture and a bounty of ‘silly photo’ opps ranging from Carnival masks to German karaoke. Oh yes, we had an attempt. Who else but Laurynas, our dependable Lithuanian. He literally will try anything!

Niamh NicClamha as a little girl at Carnival (she really is the one in the middle!)

Niamh NicClamha as a little girl at Carnival (she really is the one in the middle!)

The City Square was the next exhibit. It was good to take a break and rest on some stone blocks and watch a multimedia piece on urban life in Germany but this was just an apertif for the highlight of the German pavilion, The Energy Source. The Energy Source is an interactive experience hosted by two students, a German boy and a Chinese girl. They guide, encourage and cajole the audience in to collaborating to change the color of and move the Energy Source, a large ball hanging from the centre of the ceiling in a spherical room. The Energy Source reflects the sound of the audience and follows the two hosts using concealed packs that they carry. The hosts bring you in to their show until becomes the audience’s. You really have to be there but trust me it’s good. Check out some of our German Pavilion pictures on flickr.

The Energy Source at the German Pavilion at the World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

The Energy Source at the German Pavilion at the World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

We must have made an impression on Ansgar. He recalled my interest in interactive education and organised for a private tour of the German-Sino House with the Facility Manager, Soeren Puerschel. Germany is in an unusual situation in that it effectively has two sites at the World Expo, the main pavilion and a second exhibit, which while not officially a pavilion, is nearly more impressive than many of the pavilions at World Expo, i.e. the German-Sino house.

The German Chinese House at the World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

The German Chinese House at the World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

The German Chinese House epitomises the “Designed in Germany, Made in China” philosophy and is the result of a three year study tour of the next four cities after Shanghai and Beijing. Although officially closed by the time we finished in the German pavilion, Soeren welcomed us and gave a great tour. The house structure is made of bamboo and metal – sort of representing Chinese natural resources and German engineering. Soeren explained that bamboo is a material that is cheap, underused, abundant in the Far East, sustainable, very strong but flexible. Unfortunately it has fallen out of favour. The idea of the German Chinese House is to showcase how bamboo can not only support a modern structure but looks good. And it really does!

Soeren Puerschel and Ansgar Halbfas explain the design of the German Chinese House to the DCU Business School group at the World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

Soeren Puerschel and Ansgar Halbfas explain the design of the German Chinese House to the DCU Business School group at the World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

So what about interactive education? Well, when we came Soeren had a photo taken of our group on the stairs of the House. He then brought us in to a room to face a wall with a computer application projected 16 times on it – our group numbered 16 on the visit! Serendipity was calling. Soeren and his assistants then guided us through a game whereby we built sustainable buildings through computer software which interpreted our shadows on the wall. For example, the first step required us to create a shadow in the shape of our building – the software interpreted this shape using digital cameras above and behind us and then projected our shadows as buildings.

Sean Donnelly, Niamh NicClamha and the DCU Business School group create virtual buildings at the German Chinese House at World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

Sean Donnelly, Niamh NicClamha and the DCU Business School group create virtual buildings at the German Chinese House at World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

We also had to simulate trees and by holding hands connect our power. When we finished all the steps all our buildings were connected and displayed as a city block in a sim city type environment accessible online at http://www.deutschland-und-china.com/media_de_detal_127.shtml. Our Game ID is 9693 – that is the address of the DCU Business School block designed at the German-Sino House. Come and visit!

Block 9693 (Designed by Irish, Made in China, Developed by Germans)

Block 9693 (Designed by Irish, Made in China, Developed by Germans)

As Soeren explained, whilst our group was the large and we knew each other, most people coming to the House come in twos and threes and have never met. The game, designed with Aachen University, not only teaches some sustainable building principles, it acts as a means of connecting people who had previously never met. Soeren brought us upstairs to show us some of the other products that have been generated from their study tour. This included modular bamboo furniture including some units themed around each of the four cities visited. Soeren urged us not just to consider Beijing and Shanghai but also the next 4-10 cities, all of which are huge by European standards – this may be a good lesson for Irish companies and indeed Irish universities.

Modular bamboo furniture design in Germany, made in China displayed at the German Chinese House at World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

Modular bamboo furniture design in Germany, made in China displayed at the German Chinese House at World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

After thanking Soeren and Ansgar, we had to return our VIP passes to Indrė Kumpikevičiūtė at the Lithuanian pavilion. We were all fading and in need of some nourishment so we headed to the Argentinian pavilion for some beef – it was good, really good! And so, at 10pm we left the World Expo 2010 and caught a taxi back to the Ya Fan Longmen Hotel for a drink…or two.

Time to go home. DCU Business School students leave World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

Time to go home. DCU Business School students leave World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

More photos on flickr. Day Seven to follow….
Irish Blogs

how can we prioritise ICT investment in education in a “recession”?

In Learning Technologies on May 20, 2009 at 10:03 am

On Monday (18 May 2009), we, LINK, organised our first free seminar on technology for education with the Irish Computer Society. About 35 people attended, primarily from K12, to hear myself, Dr. David Whyley (Wolverhampton Local Authority and Learning2Go), Ed Collins (Cambridge University Press & Global Grid for Learning) and via the Internet, Mark Nichols, Dr. Sam DiGangi and Angel Jannasch-Pennell (ASU alt^I and IDEAL) talk about our experiences with learning platforms. What became apparent from our experiences in Ireland, the UK, Saudi Arabia and the US was that the technology in itself need not be that expensive. In fact, it is managing people and their capacity for change that can be costly (although not necessarily so). From talking to attendees, there is clearly increasing frustration that despite a strategy for a SMART Economy, the Irish government is failing civic society through lack of investment in educational ICT. Although this lack of investment in educational ICT is an ongoing bugbear in Ireland (one commentator compares ICT investment of €75m in Northern Ireland vs €14m in the Republic), the mandarins are now reciting a familar refrain…how can we prioritise {INSERT ANY RANDOM INITIATIVE TITLE (in this case – ICT investment in education)} during a Recession? There are apparently so many other initiatives that need to be funded with limited resources.

Rather than focus on why we shouldn’t invest in educational ICT, maybe we need to unask the question and look at reasons why we should be investing in ICT:

1.   It’s about the information society – how can we expect people to function adequately in a society permeated by technology without embedding this in our schools and colleges

2. It’s about jobs – how we expect people to function adequately as professional workers in businesses permeated by technology without embedding this in our schools and colleges

3. It’s about learning – technology can increase learning time by extending it beyond the classroom and in to the home and weekend. It can improve the instructional process and learning outcomes and may provide advantages to students with learning disabilities. It may act as a catalyst and accelerate other educational innovations like problem based learning, collaboration and informaton handling – all skills required for advanced knowledge based economies.

4. It’s about industrial development procuring and buying technology may further stimulate the national technology industry and stimulate innovation. It may also attract foreign direct investment. This all results in more jobs, more income etc etc 

5. Its about cost technology can reduce the cost of educational materials, staffing, training as well as make academic staff more productive. There was an interesting interview on either Newstalk or Today FM with the owner of www.schoolbookexchange.ie that illustrates this well. If you take books alone – there are some 10 million books in circulation in Irish education. In K12, these books are updated regularly (as they should) but this results in an additional cost burden to parents as the books can no longer be recycled. Similarly, publisher-generated workbooks are replacing copybooks for homework and class exercises. A technology-based initiative for school texts alone could reduce the cost for parents dramatically: ebooks are much less costly to reproduce and update and workbooks could be either interactive or printed from the Internet.

6. It’s about student numbers – technology usage could allow students that cannot attend educational institutions to participate more fully in formal education. At third level (and may be even secondary), technology may attract more students to a particular institution thereby increasing revenues at a much lower cost of delivery.

7. It’s about the environment – this is a stretch but using ICT in education and in particular online resources and delivery may reduce carbon footprint etc

8. It’s about global competitiveness – technology readiness, education, and innovation are all a key metrics in global competitiveness which impacts market confidence etc.

9. It’s about feeling good – the feelgood factor is a major thing. Failing Irish success in sports (and I have to admit we ain’t doing badly), we need as much to feel good about as possible. I have met teachers and parents whose schools have scraped the money together to buy a SmartBoard or some other equipment for their school and they REALLY feel good. Why? Their kids are excited about going to school – excited about learning – isn’t that justification enough?

10. It’s about investing in the future.