Friday, 23 September 2011

Week Seven

Ok so this week we had a lecture at SEATS to discuss the test and the Blog requirements. I have done the test and got 22/30 on the multiple choice questions.
This week we are looking at Digital Automata. I have had a little trouble with Moodle this week, there was a second power point presentation with a voice over but I could not get it to work.

1) Check this link to my ‘intelligent’ cybertwin which I also mentioned in the Powerpoint. You may like to create your own cybertwin as well. The more you 'train' your twin, the better the responses will be. While it is just a fun exercise, Think of the opportunities. Imagine if we had a cybertwin that could answer your questions about the course. Or perhaps a shopping assistant?

So the first thing we were to do this week was check out Ian's cybertwin. I had a chat to 'him' and was fairly amused with the response. Having met Ian once I think his cybertwin has far less tact than the real Ian does. I think I would want my own twin to be a little nicer to people before I would let it represent me in business. That said the whole thing was fun and good for a laugh. Here is a copy of the conversation Ian's 'twin' and I had (the you in the transcript is referring to me and the conversation is highlighted):

You: Hi Ian how are you?

Ian: My brain aches all the time and I can't seem to get interested in anything but doom and gloom? Am I ill or just rotten?

You: maybe ill?

Ian: I am the ultimate being, master of the dark place behind the fridge. Do not say maybe to me.

Ian: Have you thought about studying eBusiness?

You: yes.

Ian: I will do what ever I want.

You: ok fair enough.

Ian: Really matt Hams, you must articulate at length if you are going to become dastardly in any effective kind of way!

Ian: What job do you se yourself doing in 10 years?

You: running my business in the pet industry.

Ian: Pets are a waste of money, that could otherwise be spent on dynamite or spraycans.
So there you have it..... A little strange I know.......

2) Write a one paragraph describing the Turing test and another paragraph describing an argument against the Turing Test, known as the about the Chinese room

The Turing test is described as a test that assesses a machine's ability to think or understand. The tests original form was a person talking to another person and a computer. The conversation was text based from a key board and if the person conducting the test could not distinguish between the computer and the other person, then the computer passed the test. I am finding it hard to source my answer because I have read lots of different sites about this and this answer is my own spin on all that I have read. This article from Stanford university was interesting and discusses the test at length.

The Chinese room is an argument put forward by John Searle. From what I can gather Searle's main argument is that no machine truly has the ability to think and that all machines are limited to the depth of their programing. The analogy Searle uses is a good one and after my research I think I am with Searle. His analogy is that of a man in a room being passed notes under the door in Chinese. In the room the man has instructions about what he must do, these include some Chinese symbols that the man must copy and send back. If the man follows the instructions he need not know what the messages in Chinese say. In this same way a machine must only follow the instructions given to it to complete the task at hand. So if it follows the instructions (programing) given to it it will achieve the goal, yet it will not truly understand what it has done. A good example I thought of to demonstrate this would be if a computer was to be used to track fatalities in the military. The information could be processed by the machine and based on the numbers given to it, it could send out notice to the families of the deceased. However the machine would not understand that the information was sad, sensitive and that it may upset the family that is receiving it. the computer would achieve the goal but not with any consciousness about what it had done. 

3) Can virtual agents succeed in delivering high-quality customer service over the Web? Think of examples which support or disprove the question or just offer an opinion based on your personal experience. Write you answer on your blog page or express an opinion on this voice discussion board (it's simple to join). If you choose this option please link (live in an hour or so) to it from your blog page.

I have answered this question on the voice discussion board click the link and you will be taken to the board and you will be able to hear my post.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Week Six

Ok so this week has been another week in the online learning environment.

a)      What experiences have you had with shopping online?
I have purchased:
·         Clothing
·         Books
·         Movies and music (itunes)

b)     Describe a good experience
A good experience I have had is the purchasing of books from Amazon. The prices are always competitive, and the delivery has always been reliable and to the date which the seller informed me the books would be arriving.  
Another good experience is purchasing music from itunes. The systems that itunes have in place makes the whole transaction so easy. From search, to payment and retrieval of the purchase, the transaction is easy.
c)      What did you like about the online store you used?
In both of the above cases, I liked the visual aspect of the sites (seeing the covers of the music or books), and the recommendations. This has meant that I have been able to find similar books and music etc that others have also been interested in, and this has lead to an addition purchase for me in alot of cases.
d)     Describe a bad experience
A bad experience I have had is purchasing jeans from America. I purchased two pairs of jeans of the exact same size and brand, when they arrived one pair fit and the other pair didn’t. The jeans were cheaper to buy from America than Australia, but to post them back and have another pair sent which did fit would have meant that they were more expensive than purchasing in Australia. If I had purchased in store – I would have been able to try the jeans on, and would not have had this issue.
e)      What problems did you have with the online store?
The problems with purchasing the jeans online was that the sizes were not reliable, which makes purchasing clothes online in general a very difficult experience. I have not purchased clothing online since, as if they do not fit, the benefit of the clothes being cheaper is lost.
f)       What features make an online store more appealing?
For me, I like easy systems, as few a processes as possible to make a purchase, and I like to see pictures of what I am buying, regardless of what it is that I intend to purchase.
g)      What features make an online store less appealing?
Confusing purchase processes, for example unable to find the checkout or where or how or too many options for payment.
The sites which operate on an infomediary business model such as we discussed last week make an online store less appealing for me. I don’t like the intrusive questions which are asked and are made mandatory before I can make my purchase. Quite often, if a site asks me too many questions which are not related to the immediate purchase, I will leave the site without buying anything.
h)     Should we expect to see the prices of goods and services rise or fall due to the migration of consumers online?
In my opinion, the prices should continue to fall due to the migration of consumers online. As the demand increases for purchasing products and services online, more merchants will enter this market. For this reason, there will be more competition among sellers, thus decreasing prices.
More merchants are also becoming aware that there are less overheads when selling online, such as no rents to pay (besides the domain or online shop) and consumers willing to pay the postage costs in most cases.

Question 2
a)      The dispersion of prices will narrow
It is hard to say whether the dispersion will narrow. I think in the short to medium term the dispersion will not narrow. As the article suggested dispersion of prices on line is not much different from those in the bricks and mortar retail market. This is largely due to the following facts:
·         Product heterogeneity.
·         Buyer trust in online sellers.
·         Efficiency.
·         Ill informed buyers.
·         Buyers concern for time effective shopping.
It is interesting to think that the article we have been reading from was written in 1999. More than a decade on I believe the principles behind the reasons for the dispersion of prices are as relevant today as they were in 99. The article spoke a lot about the fact that these E-markets were immature. This is one area that, I guess, has changed over the past decade although as the markers mature the technology they use continues to surpass them and create room for further growth and development. It is for this reason i think that the dispersion will remain the same or simular for at least the short-term. I think a huge factor in the dispersion will be the further development of the semantic web. As the web becomes smarter and search becomes more dynamic, the search costs will decline and the result may be a more informed consumer and therefore the dispersion of prices may in turn narrow.       
b)     The importance of brand names will decrease
I don’t agree with this one. Brands have been important to modern cultures for such a long time and their importance transcends the purchase process and the purchase methods. I am not saying that I agree with it but brand names influence social standing, self esteem and inturn purchases regardless of the sale medium.     
This short film is an interesting look at brand names, it is around 15min long (but very funny) and is probably rated at least M15 (frequent course language) but as you watch you will see that brands are forever burned into our psyche. It is interesting to see the characterisation of  brands and the metaphoric way that certain brands have been portrayed. well worth a watch!   

c)      Price competition will make all products cheaper
My feelings about this one are based on the answer I gave for the first part of this question. Just as the price dispersion may not necessarily narrow because of a multitude of factors, the same could be said for over all prices and wether they will go up or down. There are so many factors that come into the price that one consumer is willing to pay for any given product. I think the simple fact that the overheads for online markets are generally so much lower than those of traditional outlets that there will be a drop in the cost of shopping online in comparison to shopping in-store.    
d)     Digital markets will become dominated by a handful of mega-sites like
I think that this is a real possibility. And in some ways is already starting to happen. Sites such as iTunes, Amazon and EBay are already taking so much of the market share and I think it is because of their ability to reach the broadest cross section of users in relation to the computer literacy of those users. If we look at all of these sites they are all simple to use and have built up a trust with online shoppers. As was stated by Smith, Bailey &  Brynjolfsson (1999) a recent Xerox study that found that just 5% of the websites online receive nearly 75% of the hits.    
e)      How do you think the balance of power between buyers and sellers will change
There is an assumed answer here I think. That being, that with the increase of choice online and the huge reach a buyer now has, that the balance of power will shift to give the consumer more power, the power to ‘choice’. I think that while this is true, the basic fundamentals of marketing and customer service will still remain the drivers of success for any business. That essentially the power will remain with the sellers who market themselves well and make the consumer feel that they need what the seller is selling.       
f)       Prices are clustered online
To answer this question I just started to look on line for different products to buy and from what I have seen I don’t think that prices are clustered online. The obvious main reason for the diversity is again, the product heterogeneity. A search for flat screen televisions reveals a price range from $200 to $1000’s but there are so many different products displayed that it is difficult to draw comparisons between prices.     
g)      Online prices are elastic
I really don’t think that any price regardless of the medium is truly elastic. Demand has always been and always will be the driver for price.
h)     Online prices are generally transparent.
I don’t think that I could say prices online are transparent. This is such a massive topic to be discussed in one paragraph. The word ‘prices’ in this context is impossible to generalise in such a manner as to draw a conclusion on the transparency of such. The simple fact that the product and service range online is so extensive gives rise to a comparatively extensive answer. I do think that if the products are known and understood by consumers, that there is some degree of transparency, due to the ability to compare prices of homogeneous products.
Question 3
a)      What types of m-commerce services does your cell phone provider offer?
Telstra – the ability to check how much data I am using through my mobile phone through an application (Bigpond) on my iphone. I can also download many free things or watch free TV which Telstra has in combination with other partners (eg. Sunrise). I can check my bill and my account details. This is the extent of what Telstra – i.e. my cell phone provider – offers.  

b)     Which of these services do you use?
I regularly check how much data I use on my mobile, to ensure that I do not go over the amount allocated per month – this is about all I use through the cell phone provider.

c)      What types of transactions do you perform through your cell phone or other wireless device?
·         Internet banking
·         Ebay
·         Google maps
·         Email
·         Facebook
·         Checking weather

d)     What types of transactions would you like to perform, but are currently unable to?
I would like to be able to look at a restaurant online, check availability of bookings at the present or future time, make a booking, view the menu and wine lists, and have the option of pre-ordering food. This can be done to an extent now (bookings via email etc), but not often in real time.

e)      What is your opinion of wireless advertising/mobile marketing?
In the case of SMS marketing, I find it intrusive and annoying and I have never taken up any offer made in an SMS.
In the case of mobile marketing on your mobile. When I decide to transact through my mobile, I am generally going to do one thing and I know what it is I am after. Along with this I am busy (hence using my mobile as opposed to going to a computer), therefore leading to me not generally undertaking any offers which come up on my mobile. When I transact through my desktop computer things are much different and I sometimes take an interest in the advertising which I am shown.

Smith, M., Bailey, J. & E, Brynjolfsson (1999). Understanding Digital Markets:
Review and Assessment Paper 140

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Week Five

Ok so this week has been another week in the 'on-line' learning environment. We have had no class time. This week we are looking at Business Models.

Describe the features of each of these business models. Give an example of each.

This model is a model where the business creates a market by bringing together buyers and sellers and creating a transaction. The Business generates an ongoing profit by charging a commission on the sale. The commission arrangement can vary from the buyer paying, the seller paying, any combination of the two or set prices and percentages. Arguably the most famous business that is in this category is EBay.

This is the model where, obviously, the business makes it's profit from advertising. This model had evolved rapidly over the last decade. Things such as paid placement advertising in search and link advertising allow for a much more direct advertising method and are far less intrusive and annoying that the popular banner and flashing banner models of the 90's. Another important development within this model has been the ability to track the impact of the advertising through data collection such as the click through rates. The most obvious example for this model is Google Ad's.

This I have found, is a hard business model to describe. The term Infomediary is derived from the words information intermediaries. From what I have read on the net and in particular Rapper's sight, this model helps both businesses and consumers by providing information about products or services. Information is analyzed and used to target advertising to the people who will be most likely to be interested in the product or service. Infomediary companies usually offer a service or allow access to sites or information on the condition that the user registers and logs in. This process of registering and logging in creates, as we have looked at earlier in the course a data stream for the companies to analyze and then use for marketing purposes. An example of an Infomediary business I would think would be Google. 

A merchant is basically a business model that buys and then sells products or services. One of the key differences of this model is the fact that the proprietor has a much higher risk due to the fact that inventory has to be purchased, stored and then distributed. Unlike all of the above mentioned models who deal mostly in information or intangible goods, the merchant has higher over heads due to the complications of dispatch, stock purchasing and warehousing. An Example of a Merchant is

Manufacturer (Direct)     
This is where the person or company who makes the product is selling it directly to the end user. One obvious benefit of this model is the 'cutting out the middle man' effect. Where by the manufacturer can obtain a higher price for their product by, bye passing the wholesaler and receiving the retail margin. An example of a Manufacturer model is

This model is again one that deals in an intangible service. The Affiliate model raises revenue by helping other businesses make sales by directing traffic from one site to another. The value is measured by the click through rate, that leads to sales. A real benefit to this model is that it has very little overheads and it usually does not cost the merchant anything at all until it yields results. An example of this model is

This was the hardest yet to define. Short of cutting and pasting something that I didn't understand, which I have avoided thus far I have had trouble with this one. From what I can gather this is a model where users band together in chat rooms and forums and swap information. I can see from Rapper's site that revenue sources from such a model rely on donations, sales of ancillary (support) services or products and contextual advertising. Also as Rapper stated in his podcast often businesses will have more than one model. From what I have read on his site and others, this model may well work concurrently with a subscription model.

This is a model where the consumer is charged a periodic fee for a continuing service or for the use of a product. This model has become more popular in recent times, as businesses sell subscriptions rather than one off items to a consumer. The person is charged the same amount regardless of usage. This obviously has the potential to be beneficial or detrimental to the customer. An example of this model that I have dealt with just today is Nortin Anti Virus.

In this model the consumer is charged for what they use. It is a metered system and is common for lower priced purchases such as news paper articles and other information. A benefit of this model over ones such as subscription is that the consumer only pays for what they use, this often makes a person feel better about their decision to make a purchase. An example of this model is slashdot.

In this weeks topic out line, Ian asks, What is the business model for TWITTER? It is an interesting question and also one that is difficult to give a definitive answer. I would think it has a myriad of different models. Including but by no means restricted to advertising and affiliate. While researching this question I found an interesting article at Harvard Business Online published October 27, 2009, titled 'Twitter's Business Model' here is the URL. 

Next up we are looking at the The Global Information Technology Report 2010-2011.  

1) What is the Mobile phone use/100 population - compare Australia, USA, China and India.

This is the way that the mobile phone use/100 population, is worked out as per the report.

Mobile telephone subscriptions
Source: International Telecommunication Union, The World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Database 2010 (accessed in December 2010) (Dutta & Mia, 2011)

  • Australia, 113.8 Rank 45
  • USA, 90.8 Rank 76
  • China, 55.5 Rank 111
  • India, 43.8 Rank 119
So as we can see Australia is ranked the highest, with more than one per person.

2) Internet use/100 population - compare Australia, USA, China and India.

This is the way that the Internet use/100 population, is worked out as per the report.

Internet users are people with access to the worldwide network.
Source: International Telecommunication Union, The World
Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Database 2010 (accessed in
December 2010)  (Dutta & Mia, 2011)

  • Australia, 74.3 Rank 20
  • USA, 78 Rank 15
  • China, 28.9 Rank 75
  • India, 5.1 Rank 118
 So here we can see that the USA is the leader. India is ranked very low. I guess this is due to the huge class gap in the country and exemplified by the massive population.

I have decided to answer questions 3 & 4 together
3) Compare main strengths and weaknesses of Australia.
4) What does the survey suggest to you about the Information Technology readiness of Australian business compared to Australian consumers?
Australia ranks well in No. of days to start a business, second only to NZ. We also rank well in Financial Market Sophistication. I think that these two are both very important for the economy and set us up well moving forward. We ranked quite poorly for a developed nation in the Mobile Phone usage and in the Internet usage. Also Business usage on a whole was average so in my opinion businesses and the Australian consumer are in a similar space. 


Dutta.S & Mia.I. World Economic Forum. (2011) The Global Information Technology Report 2010 - 2011. (ISBN-13: 978-92-95044-95-1).Geneva, Switzerland:SRO Kundig.