The Internet of Things calls for caution

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During the Internet of Things congress in the Mercure hotel in Amsterdam, Danny Mekić (NewTeam partner and technology expert) talked with Marino Strik from NXP Semiconductors and Leo van der Putten from Clickey about the pros and cons of connecting everyday objects to the internet. The increasing level of technological connectivity makes it an important question whether we’re still in control of our own lives. Danny Mekić set the tone by stating that the smarter the technology is that we surround ourselves with, the dumber we become ourselves.

Moreover, as it turns out, the intentions of the various parties that control the chips in our Internet of Things devices are often unclear, as are those of the companies that gather data from things like driverless cars or our healthcare records. Is it a good idea to let major, quoted American companies run off with that much information? Danny Mekić thinks the government has a role to play in this. In his opinion, the government should take a step back from developments like these by minimising restrictions on new technologies, while maximising safeguards for citizens’ constitutional rights.

He also warns that it’s important that the government should require the private big names of the technological landscape to be transparent in their usage of collected data. The ability of the individual to choose whether or not to be included in their digital databases is essential for making sure we don’t become slaves to technology. He also argues for mandatory warnings whenever there are algorithms at work, such as the ones creating personalised online search results for you or the ones on holiday booking sites that charge more to some customers than others. It isn’t nearly always clear to users that they might be discriminated against on the basis of their profile.

In other words: even though the future offers an incredible range of innovative, beneficial opportunities, it’s important to keep a cautious eye on these developments as well, says Danny Mekić.

Innovation in healthcare: ‘Doctors and pharmacies are increasingly going to take on an important role’

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Danny Mekić was invited to be a speaker at the Mediq Uitblinkersfestival (Mediq Excellence Festival) on the 30th of May. The event was organised for 1500 pharmacy workers and had a diverse programme including various inspiring workshops on the themes of ‘innovation’, ‘health care’ and ‘creativity’.

NewTeam’s speakers are specialised in technological innovation among other things, and so the ‘innovation’ workshops of this day were held by Danny Mekić (technology expert). Danny Mekić discussed the future of health care, and particularly the part pharmacies will play in it. Think of possibilities like having medication delivered by drone from now on. Drones are going to be put to use more and more. Recently a student at the Delft University of Technology designed an ‘ambulance drone’ that can reach a victim within a minute (at a speed of 100 km/h). The ambulance drone is equipped with medical tools that can, among other things, improve cardiac arrest victims’ survival rate to 80% instead of the current 8%.

Danny Mekić is very enthusiastic about the future role of pharmacies in the health care sector, because doctors and pharmacies are increasingly going to take on an important role as insurance companies become more powerful. “I hope both doctors and pharmacies will continue to develop until they are absolutely on the patient’s side. This is not just about taking responsibility for the condition of the patient’s body, but also for their data.”

About the Electronic Health Records system in the Netherlands (now known as the National Switching Point (LSP)), Danny Mekić has voiced criticism as well: “I don’t know a single IT professional that I respect who would have created a patient records system as poorly made as this one.” Danny thinks data should remain in the hands of the patient and their doctor, and should under no circumstance end up in a central database where they can be unwantedly analysed by insurance companies and the Googles of the world.

Presentation about technological developments relating to health care

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This year, the Nederlandse Vereniging van Arthroscopie (Dutch Arthroscopy Society) organised an international anniversary congress at the Huis ter Duin hotel in Noordwijk aan Zee. The event was attended by 400 orthopaedic surgeons interested in the latest developments in the area of arthroscopy. It was a two day event with various appearances by scientific speakers. The programme on the theme of ‘innovation’ featured a more practical talk this time, discussing technological developments relating to health care. This presentation was held by Danny Mekić (CEO of NewTeam and expert on technology).

During his presentation, Danny Mekić talked about the prospects of the surgical profession, discussing new scanning technologies and the applications of 3D printing. He also discussed the future of health care, including the possibilities of big data and the role of doctors in the future. Because patients can more and more often use technology to make their own diagnoses, the doctor’s role is going to change.

Although some professions are threatened by new technologies, surgeons will only become more important in the future, says Danny Mekić. “Surgeons are becoming more and more capable and more and more precise at treating patients’ problems. That requires more than just knowledge and an understanding of the human body; it’s also important for surgeons to keep up more and more with technological developments that are or could be relevant to their field.”

Danny thinks this will be an exciting time for the healthcare sector, because he expects there will be more and more need for investments intended to improve healthcare in the long run, rather than on the short term, which the management of hospitals (where the surgeons work) will need to work on. In order to use 3D printing, first we’ll need to gain more experience with it. “It’s exciting because this could end up creating tensions, or it might not.”

“Robotics are coming into reach”

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Many entrepreneurs in the Amerstreek area take an interest in robotics; that much was obvious during the Entrepreneurs’ Café by Rabobank Amerstreek on Monday evening, the 11th of May. Cees Gelderen, Director of Businesses, welcomed at least 250 attendees. They’d come to meet NAO in real life. This tiny robot was accompanied by guest speakers Danny Mekić, expert in technology, and Mike van Rijswijk, innovation strategist.

Creativity as an export product

Danny Mekić was declared most successful young entrepreneur in 2009 and is now a multidisciplinary expert. He’s taken an interest in technology and innovation since he was little. Danny believes the Netherlands need to be more innovative: “Creativity and innovation are the export products of the Netherlands. Science is ready; now it’s the people we’re waiting for. There’s a lot more room for innovation left. We just need to be willing to adapt our organisational structure, strategy or business model.”

Nanotech bandages

As technology keeps becoming smaller and cheaper, it comes within reach of a larger and larger number of people and companies, with applications such as preventive healthcare for example. But it doesn’t stop there. Think of self-driving cars, like Google is developing. Think of drones delivering packages or being used for security purposes. Think of 3D printers that can create anything. And how about nanotech bandages with sensors that keep an eye on your health? But there are also ethical concerns that rear their heads; for example, should the safety of a crossing pedestrian come first to a driverless car, or that of its own passenger? If dodging the pedestrian would make the car slam into a tree, should it? Not to even mention all those new technologies putting our privacy on the line.


As a management consultant, it’s a challenge to Mike van Rijswijk to keep finding new technologies and find out what entrepreneurs could use them for. “This is why the robot NAO has become part of my family,” he tells us.  His kids are growing up with NAO. Mike demonstrates making the roughly 10,000 euro robot sit down, stand up again, walk, dance, and even play soccer.  Since there are several different apps available for controlling it, it can be put to use in various ways. This is because Nao was initially marketed for educational purposes. NAO is a fun way for children to learn how to program. But in the area of healthcare, there’s a bright future for NAO’s big brother too, who can do many useful things there. For example, it could aid in lifting patients into their beds or help with the treatment of dementia.

Be bold, show entrepreneurship and go for it

But what can an entrepreneur do with this? Danny and Mike emphasise that you shouldn’t wait until the technology is here. It’s important for entrepreneurs to already start thinking now about what it can be used for. Much is already possible, but you do need to be receptive to it and see the possibilities and applications.  To put it in Van Rijswijk’s words:  you have to be bold, show entrepreneurship and go for it!

Marcel Wanders and Danny Mekić

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“At Marcel Wanders studio we believe in the power of multi-disciplinary thinking by assembling people from different fields. We believe mixing different crafts and cultures will lead to new creative solutions. This is how we work internally and this is why we start pioneering integrating different thinkers from the outside world as well. We are compiling a list of creative talent, cultural experts and boundary pushers that would be open to join brainstorms. We believe you are one of a kind and we would love to work with you.”

And so we did. After working on the same project for a shared client, Randstad, we now started working together directly.

NewTeam <3 Marcel Wanders Studio

Ten ways to improve your Tripadvisor rating and ranking

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  1. Reply constructively to every review.
    It can be terribly tempting to voice your frustrations with that one grumpy customer who showed up later than his reservation, only ordered things that weren’t on the menu and afterwards even had the nerve to leave a negative review on TripAdvisor! Please keep your composure when publicly replying to that review.

    It’s not about this one guest, it’s about all those future guests who will see that you deal with every comment — even unreasonable ones — in a dignified way. Not replying to a complaint will seem strange too; that gives the impression that complaints aren’t considered important, and then the complaint may end up taking on a life of its own.

    And possibly the biggest mistake you could make is not replying to positive reviews. Not replying can come across like you’re ignoring them. Behind every positive review, there is a potentially returning guest who selflessly went to the trouble to let the world know — and who might even refer more people to you, elsewhere online or in the offline world! Imagine how nice it would be to receive a word of thanks from (or on behalf of) the chef themselves.

  2. From the chef?

    Yes, from the chef. Usually it’s the owner or the (assistant) manager who replies, but does that make sense? For complaints, it’s a good idea to reply on behalf of the chef and the (general) manager or owner. We are taking your complaint very very seriously, is what that says.

  3. Show your awards.

    Some of the restaurant owners we’ve had the pleasure of meeting are just so modest! Show any special distinctions that the restaurant or (one of) the chefs has or have received — your (future) guests would be interested to know and it could be an extra reason to choose your restaurant too. If you can’t do it in text, make sure you can show some good photos in high resolution:

  4. Invest in a professional photographer.

    Close your eyes and think of your favourite dish. Take a moment to visualise the details. To smell it. Is your mouth watering yet? Surprisingly enough, not many restaurants take up the effort to have good photos taken of their most popular and best looking dishes, to show on their website and on TripAdvisor. Don’t forget to add a good portrait of the chef in his kitchen. If you don’t, then what people will see instead will be the badly lit, blurry photos from the shoddy cellphone cameras of your guests. Not exactly the impression you want to be known for, is it?

  5. The chef as a rock star

    More and more restaurants are also choosing to invest in a professionally made video clip showcasing their chef, kitchen and dishes and the ambiance of the restaurant. Take a look at this video — do we need to say more? Guests also really appreciate it if you continue this theme in the restaurant, for example with a note on the first page of the menu, personally welcoming them on behalf of the chef.

  6. A TripAdvisor card (only) for happy guests when leaving

    Remind your guests that they might leave a review on TripAdvisor as they’re leaving the restaurant. You could do this for example with a little card that you hand them at the end of their visit. Of course, you should only do this if you’re sure that those particular guests loved everything about their visit to your restaurant, to increase the probability of only getting top-rated reviews.

  7. Is your restaurant a fine dining restaurant?

    In that case it would be better not to hand your guests a card when they leave, but instead send them an email the next day, thanking them for their visit, asking for a comment and incidentally mentioning the possibility to leave a review. For example: Dear Mr./Mrs./Miss <last name>, dear <first name>, Thank you so much for visiting <name of restaurant>. We were very honoured to have you as our guest, and we hope you have thoroughly enjoyed your time at our establishment. We value the opinions of our guests very much, and would like to invite you to share your opinion on us, in order to help us perfect the quality of our service and our menu! The link to our page on TripAdvisor is given below.…
    We look forward to welcoming you to <name of restaurant> again in the future!

    Yours sincerely,

    <First name Last name>
    Chef <Name of Restaurant>

  8. In what categories is your restaurant listed?

    Are they all the categories that apply? We often see restaurants that have various vegetarian dishes on the menu, or where the dishes on the menu can easily be adapted for vegetarian guests. Advising our clients to make a separate menu or menu page for vegetarian dishes, and to have the restaurant listed in the ‘vegetarian’ category on TripAdvisor as well, has let us fill up many a restaurant in the past. Don’t forget it’s often vegetarians in a group who decide where the whole group is going to be dining. By accommodating vegetarians too, you can gain many new guests. People often underestimate how common vegetarians are, and they’re quite common: in the Netherlands it’s an estimated 4.5% of the populace.

  9. Seeming expensive scares people off.

    We often see restaurants that are very reasonably priced, but still show up in the most expensive pricing category ($$$$) on TripAdvisor. When people can choose between two restaurants with roughly the same cuisine and the same number of positive reviews, you can bet that the (seemingly) cheaper one is going to win. Think about whether it’s wise to classify yourself into the most expensive category, or whether you should pick a pricing category at all if you could just leave it out too.

  10. Don’t let your guests leave empty-handed!

    Do you want to have a positive influence on your guests after their visit as well? Then don’t let them leave empty-handed! Give the enamoured couple a rose, exquisitely wrapped in plastic with the logo and name of your restaurant printed on. Give small families a little box (with your name and logo, obviously) of freshly baked cookies or filled chocolate treats. Or think of something more original!

NewTeam has worldwide experience helping restaurants optimise their TripAdvisor pages. We can do this once, every four years or continuously. See TripAdvisor consultancy and management for more information.

To Blendle or not to blend?

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The last few weeks were marked by the launch of Blendle – an initiative of Marten Blankesteijn and Alexander Klöpping – the “iTunes for journalism” that makes it possible to purchase articles from newspapers and magazines (for which the authors don’t get paid directly). The Economist wrote about it:

If you want to prototype the iTunes of journalism, the Netherlands isn’t a bad place to start. The country has the highest rate of internet penetration in Europe and, even after more than a decade of internet-driven attrition, the Dutch journalistic landscape is still a crowded one. [..] Government media subsidies are gradually being cut back, but Blendle won a €200,000 grant from a government fund for new journalism ventures, matching the initial €200,000 put in by its founders and financial backers.

The reactions on the initiative are positive. But it could still take a while before Blankesteijn and Klöpping’s investments recoup, remarked innovation expert and NewTeam/partner Danny Mekic’ in the article:

You can’t tell anything from the usage statistics so far. Blendle users receive €2.50 worth of free credit at signup, and it could be weeks before most begin to spend substantial amounts of their own money. With Blendle taking 30% of the fees charged and the rest going to the publishers, the site will have to sell millions of articles just to recoup its initial investment. Still, its first week was promising, with 40,000 users signing up in just a few days.

At NewTeam we hope that the founders of Blendle will succeed in building a decent platform on which readers and authors can be linked directly, not only through existing publishers. And we can soon write about the introduction of the “Spotify and Netflix model for articles” quickly: unlimited reading for a monthly fee.

Innovation: speed boats and oil tankers

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A faltering economy leaves little room for innovation within a large, established company. More than ever, employees with good ideas who want to innovate are met with critical scrutiny and demands for a well fleshed-out investment proposal: before an innovation gets the green light, it needs to be proved that this innovation will be successful. Successful and lucrative. And that’s exactly what you can’t ever know in advance for a true innovation.

That’s why more and more creative and innovative people are leaving large organisations, to start an enterprise of their own or go abroad. There are currently 30,000 Dutch people in Silicon Valley, and they certainly aren’t filling in Excel spreadsheets or begging for innovation budgets there. In fact, there is a large money surplus in the Valley at this moment. If you have a compelling idea, have good presentation skills and are willing to put in a few years of hard work, investors will be glad to have a talk with you.
But that won’t solve the ever growing problem we have with innovation within large, established companies in the Netherlands. Of the 100 largest companies here, at least 50 are bulky, lumbering oil tankers following the same heading they have been for years. How do we abandon this stagnated approach to innovation, without having to spend a fortune, and maybe lure a few great Dutch innovators back from the Valley as well?

It’s simple: have the oil tanker deploy some speedboats. Set out small teams of innovative people, let them work on their own with their own budget, and let them collaborate on an innovation with students and scientists. A speedboat can do that at a fraction of the cost. And another advantage of a speedboat is that it can move freely across the water without getting stuck on the shoals of the vested interests of the company’s internal politics.

(source: Radio 1 Column by NewTeam-partner Danny Mekic’)

‘Don’t get online just because your neighbour is’

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Whoever wants to be an online entrepreneur should first make sure they have a very specific goal.

No matter how enthusiastic internet consultant and online entrepreneur Danny Mekić may be about online entrepreneurship, companies shouldn’t expect results too quickly.

Some entrepreneurs become active on the internet just because their competitors are too. “That’s making a tool into an end in itself. You won’t be successful that way,” he says.

An entrepreneur should be very clear in advance on what they hope to achieve with their website, their advertisement campaign or their company page on a social network site.

Social network sites can be useful for answering questions, finding potential customers and understanding their needs, among other things.

A suitable medium
Once its goals are clear, it also becomes easier for a company to decide what medium is suitable for its message. “What medium you should use entirely depends on your goals and your target audience,” he explains. Pinterest for example is very interesting to fashion companies, having a 72% female user base.
Nonetheless, entrepreneurs shouldn’t have too much of a pigeonhole mindset. It’s a major misconception that only young potential customers would use the internet from tablets and smartphones.

The fastest-growing group of mobile internet users is that of people between 65 and 75. “And there aren’t many service providers yet who cater to them.” Considering how rapidly this group is growing, he thinks this could be a major opportunity for companies.

Entrepreneurs should be careful about what happens to their data. And that’s not just a matter of digital security. If a company creates a customer network on Facebook, for example, those data will not belong to the company itself. If Facebook would close down, companies like that would lose their valuable information.

Danny Mekić thinks it would be wise not to become dependent on just one service. “Because they are popping up one after the other more rapidly than ever.”
It would be a better idea to get to know the main niche websites on your particular subject. “Invest one afternoon into finding those pages, and ask them to link to you.” That would give your page more specifically interested visitors.

Every day
In order to be successful online, an entrepreneur should work on that every day. And that’s a matter of trying things. He advises entrepreneurs to do ‘A/B tests’. A company can create two versions of a website, an advertisement or an order button, and test which one does best.

And the budget doesn’t have to be an issue if competitors join forces to set up a joint online advertisement campaign for their field. Not to mention that many services are available for free. “Don’t be too quick to pay for something,” Mekić advises.

The best example of an online entrepreneur might actually be Danny Mekić himself. He goes around with a battery that can feed his laptop and smartphone for 30 hours, he has an online signature and he hires a postal service to print and post physical letters for him. “I actually don’t really have an office myself,” he admits with a chuckle.

(source: dannymekic.comNu Zakelijk)