Thursday, December 3, 2015

Doing business in Malta – IT companies Perspective

In recent years Malta has become a popular destination for online gaming companies, in fact more than 400 licenses have been issued, this represents more than 10% of the global online gambling market.  Some may argue that they chose Malta just because the Government grants corporate and personal tax breaks.  This is just part of the story, IT related companies today are looking to operate in a certain culture, look for expansion possibilities and local talent.   We have to keep in mind all this when promoting ourselves abroad to potential investors if we want to keep enticing I.T. companies to set up shop in Malta.  We have to identify and capitalize on what sets us apart.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Is the Sharing Economy hurting traditional businesses?

The late 2000s saw the introduction of the term “sharing economy” as social media started allowing clusters of self-minded people to discuss how they can better utilize resources. 

Car pooling was the first such idea to gain traction, it allowed people to save on fuel, maintenance and minimize parking problems.  It was just a great idea to save money and help the environment but then someone noticed a potential for money making as well and the Uber service, whereby anyone can become a taxi driver offering his own car to give rides to people for a fee of course, started being offered in San Francisco in late 2009.  Uber expanded internationally within 5 years and disrupted the entire small vehicles transportation business model.  

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Google becomes part of the ‘Alphabet’

Google is undertaking a massive restructuring process. Is Google aiming to consolidate it’s position as an industry giant and is it ready for the challenges ahead?

For most people Google is just a search engine.  It all started 17 years ago as a research idea by two Phd students, with their first servers set up hastily in a garage.  In all these years Google expanded, the company acquired other successful ventures such as Youtube, created analogous services such as Gmail and the Android operating system but also managed to diversify from virtual services into real world applications such as self driving cars, medicine and life extension technology. 

What is BYOD and why is it reforming the workplace?

Companies implementing a Bring Your Own Device policy are perceived as innovative and younger, but do the risks outweigh the benefits?

Many ICT departments, especially ones on low budgets, find it difficult to keep up with the latest hardware and technology innovations.  On the other hand, most tech-savvy employees especially the younger generation buy the latest laptops, tablets and smart-phones.  Some companies are introducing a BYOD, Bring Your Own Device policy at work to allow employees access over corporate servers using their own personal electronic equipment.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Is Malta on the road to become a testbed for technological innovation?

IT companies are increasingly looking for small communities, preferably slightly isolated but still technologically advanced and with a diverse population, to test their new technology and ensure that any research is conducted in a segregated area. Malta has a diverse population, actively social online and our geographical position is ideal for us to become a test-bed for research and testing of new high-tech products.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Reality of Hacking

We are no longer using padlocks or safes to protect our documents, instead we are using passwords to protect our finances, livelihoods and most precious information making us practically rely on secrets to protect ourselves.

Hollywood portrays Hackers as cool, mysterious and mostly nerds who speak techno-babble no one really understands and are able to connect to any computer system over a network, find a vulnerable entry point and steal all the data they require in a few minutes.

Monday, June 22, 2015

An evolutionary click

You power on the computer, a completely dark black screen welcomes you, a blinking grey box staring back, expecting you to type something.  No there is nothing wrong with your computer, just a quick trip down memory lane, if you remember this scenario as soon as you power on your computer, then you, like me, are probably over 30 and can probably better appreciate today’s operating systems which are light years ahead of the old systems.

Operating systems as we know them today, such as Windows or Apple’s iOS rely on a Graphic User Interface (GUI) system to interact with it’s human operators, using icons to represent files, compared to the old Command Line Interfaces (CLI) such as the Microsoft DOS which ran on most IBM compatibles and relied completely on specific typed-in commands to access files.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Retail vs Online?

Borders group, a company that used to operate more than 500 book stores in the US and 150 in Australia and Singapore closed all it’s retail outlets abruptly in 2011, resulting in thousands of job losses.  The longest serving manager with this company affixed a sign to the store, before closing down it’s doors for the last time, stating “Thank you for shopping at Amazon”, clearly blaming the relatively young online giant for taking this company and many others out of business. 

In the last few years many more retail outlets continue to close down or at least loose business to online competitors.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A vote for Technology?

From Communicating the candidates' messages to electronic voting and predicting results, technology is leading the polls....

Free elections are the pillar and most important element of any democracy.  Advances in technology is today aiding the voting process itself and in some countries vote counting is also aided by electronic means.  The most important changes in the last 10 years were in the use of social media to deliver political messages and rally people to vote.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Brain Chip

The human brain has long fascinated scientists, some of it’s inner workings are still a mystery even today and some researchers have devoted their entire lives to studying how this organ works.  Many compare the human brain to a computer but in reality it’s like trying to compare oranges and apples, although some functions performed by both humans and computers, such as solving mathematical problems, lead to the same results, the processes and the internal workings are completely different.

A computer is composed of mainly two distinct functionalities, processing power and memory, this concept was created 70 years ago and remains basically the same today.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Video Game & Social Media Addictions

Have you ever started a quick game of Angry Birds and thirty minutes later you are promising yourself that this is the last game you will play, only to notice an hour later that you are still playing that same game over and over again.  

First generation videogames, classics from the eighties era, such as Tetris and Pacman earned the nickname “Addictive undefeatables”, due to the fact that the levels were at times so difficult that they were practically impossible to complete and players took the situation as a personal challenge to try to finish all the levels.  In facts most of these games are still popular and addictive even today.
It is becoming more evident that video game developers and software designers are today using modern psychological techniques to get their customers ‘hooked’ onto their products, notable examples are Facebook, Snapchat or even playing a simple yet immersive game like Candy Crush.  Our brains yearn for continuous simulation, even if it’s just a simple reward.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Gamification of Marketing

If you have ever noticed how someone seems to be completely immersed and addicted when playing a video game then you can start to understand how marketers are today exploiting this type of addictive behavior when using games to promote their products.  

Thanks to the internet and smart phones, a new trend in combining games and advertising is taking place, it’s being referred to as Marketing Gamification.  We have had loyalty programs around for ages, on a simple level these schemes were leading the way to today’s Gamification of Marketing.  Loyalty programs used to reward users for brand fidelity such as receiving a coupon every time one shops at a particular supermarket and later using the accumulated points to receive a reward.  Such plans have now become exponentially more complex thanks to modern technology such as the internet and smart phones.  Increasingly games are starting to become an integral part of any elaborate marketing plan.
Marketers are today trying to utilize people’s natural desires for socializing and personal achievement by using rewards, such as awarding virtual currency for players who accomplish desired tasks as part of their marketing plan.  An added advantage of using such techniques is that companies are immediately able to quantify if potential clients are engaging with their brand due to the analytics-driven nature of the process itself.  Rewards received by consumers make them feel more incentivized to proceed with a purchase or continue with further engagement with the same brand.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Unfair Competition? Is the sharing economy based on an alternative business model or just operating outside a legal structure?

In 1999 Napster started a revolution, sharing music not only turned out to be cool and cheaper than buying CDs but also allowed more choice.  Even though Napster turned out to be operating in a legal grey zone, the sharing model started a revolution which seems to have gained considerable traction in the past 5 years.

The traditional business model where a company employs staff directly and utilizes it’s own vehicles or buildings to deliver a particular service is quickly fading and is being replaced by a “sharing” mentality where resources are shared.  Sharing goods or services has long been a tradition between family and friends and in fact most of the companies operating under this business model started out between a group of friends who shared their resources and eventually evolved in huge social networks operating internationally.