All posts by Isaline Mülhauser

Why did I change my mind about open data?

Knowledge against fear and suspicion – open data is beneficial

Generally disagreeing about any kind of data sharing, I realized my behavior was mostly based on fear. Fear is a major impediment to anything innovative and to any kind of change. Why did I change my mind about open data? It is about differentiating between public and private data, and about the fact that data made public are first of all edited.

New work – new ideas

In November 2015, I started working at Liip and I had a lot of new projects and inputs. The core of my work is the same, I completely changed field though. I stand now in the middle of a flow of innovative ideas and energy, which is very motivating and helps me be constantly open-minded.
One of my projects, last spring, was the coordination of Liip’s involvement at the annual opendata.ch conference. No, I cannot communicate about anything if I don’t understand it! Otherwise I would write complete bulls**t, people would notice it and Liip would lose all credibility on the subject. In other words, I had to know what I was talking about in order to be able to talk about it.

Fear & suspicion, people will be stalking me and CFF tickets will get more expensive

I used to completely disagree on any kind of open data. I mean, why, on Earth, would I be okay to share my personal data with the rest of the world?
Seriously, I was sure that, if I collaborate with the CFF surveys, tickets will get more expensive between Geneva and Lausanne, because they will know my commuting habits. I was convinced that Swisscom will soon be selling my personal data to private polls. If I use a MBudget Card, some people will be stalking me as they know that I always go grocery shopping at the same Migros.

Fear brings fear. It is a major impediment to anything innovative and to any kind of change. The first step to any change of perspective was me realizing that my reaction was based on some purely irrational feeling instead of rational information.

Let’s get started with some reading!

Knowledge the best enemy of fear: What is actually ‘open data’ ?

My education to open data started with learning about the projects that Liip developed (like the open data catalogue of the city of Zurich or the project with the Swiss Federal Archive). I discussed with my colleagues, but the concept of open data remained difficult to grasp.
What is concretely open data?

Step 1: A definition:

The definition of open data as given by the opendefinition.org

“Open data and content can be freely used, modified, and shared by anyone for any purpose”

As it is very general, the full open definition gives a detailed list of attributes. It is a bit of an unfriendly reading, the open data handbook provides a summary of the most important aspects:

“Availability and Access: the data must be available as a whole and at no more than a reasonable reproduction cost, preferably by downloading over the internet. The data must also be available in a convenient and modifiable form.
Re-use and Redistribution: the data must be provided under terms that permit re-use and redistribution including the intermixing with other datasets.
Universal Participation: everyone must be able to use, re-use and redistribute – there should be no discrimination against fields of endeavor or against persons or groups. For example, ‘non-commercial’ restrictions that would prevent ‘commercial’ use, or restrictions of use for certain purposes (e.g. only in education), are not allowed.”

The important thing to remember is that it is a type of content completely available to anyone – public or private sector or even an anonymous quidam – and for any kind of purpose.

Step 2: Private data is not public data

I find important to differentiate between private and public data. When I heard about open data, I felt my privacy instantly threatened. However, opening public data poses no threat to my privacy.
Take the example of cadastral plans, they are available on request. A formal petition to the right administrative service would provide you the info. Opening cadastral plans merely mean saving people working with it the time necessary for the administrative hurdle.

In other words public data is often already available through an administrative process and in an inconvenient format. Opening public data mostly signifies processing and editing them in a convenient format and leaving them in a digital library. Opening public data is about creating a digital library, allowing people to find them without the administrative process.

Private data is one’s individual data, for example, the data-gathered by your period application, your MBudget card, your mobile phone’s GPS tracking. This data is usually under confidentiality.

Opening private data, is not only about making it accessible, but also about editing it, to make sure that it cannot be linked to anyone.

What if open data was beneficial to the community?

Commuting to Geneva, I used to be angry with the CFF, because my Intercity Train was poorly connected to my inter-regio train which lead to me losing 15 to 20 minutes twice a day. Spending 2 hours, 2 hours 30 minutes or 3 hours to commute makes a huge difference. What if the CFF knew that a significant amount of commuters take these same trains as I did? They could delay the train 5 minutes and I would be happier everyday because my travel would be shorter! What if a mobile company shared its data about the mobility of people and made these data available to the CFF? What if I answered the poll? Or better, what if, instead of spending money on a poll, the CFF could access data of commuters? The data quality might be higher and more relevant!

Urbanism: Pully as a case study

The city of Pully is pioneering in the domain with its urban project in collaboration with Swisscom. The project team is analysing the traffic – car, public transportation, bike or pedestrian – based on data provided by Swisscom’s mobile network. (More info in French about this project).
The city of Pully saved the investment necessary for a poll and had reliable data available. Processed to be anonymized, this kind of data is not a threat to my privacy. In this case, opening the data is beneficial to the whole community.
The objective of this project is to develop the urbanisation of the city according to people’s real needs and not to any lobby. It could result in the creation of bike lanes or an improvement of traffic flows.

Pully – Photo Credit l’Avenue Digital Media

Conclusion : open data supports innovation

Sometimes I hear people disagreeing strongly against the concept of open data. I hear fear and threat. The discussion very often goes towards an emotional level rather than staying pragmatic. I find it difficult to rationally fight against emotional argument. First of all, I wish people against open data could make the difference between public and private data. Opening public data means the digitalisation of an already existing public data, ultimately saving public institution’s time.
Secondly, I wish they could realise that sharing information is beneficial to the community. The potential benefit of open data is greater than its threat. Opening data means, processing data, editing and anonymising it to make it available. Open data is the necessary basis of innovation and of a general increase of our quality of life.

At the moment, data can be made available, mostly by investing money (for a poll or negotiating with a company belonging data). In other words, universities, start-ups or associations are restricted to the data they can find or buy. Do we want to live in a world where innovation is driven by companies having the budget to pay for data?

Further Information:

Listen to this podcast, welcoming Pia Waugh, an open data expert and advocate who explains all to Genevieve Jacobs on ABC Radio Canberra.

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Swissquote: How to become a leader in banking in 26 years?

Swissmarketing Vaud invited Jan De Schepper, Head of Marketing at Swissquote. I expected a guide to be a leader in a few simple steps. Highly interesting, this conference actually felt like one of my masterclass.
Report of the conference

SWISSQUOTE, EN 26 ANS, DEVENIR LEADER PAR L’INNOVATION ET LE MARKETING DE CONTENU
Jan de Schepper

At this conference, what I wanted to know was how to become a leader. I expected De Schepper to hand me over the strategic marketing keys to success. The secret recipe for me to make Liip, my entreprise, an absolute leader in web development.
What kind of advice did I get?

Swissquote, a content brand

According to De Schepper, the foundation of a company leaves a significant mark. The founders, Marc Bürki et Paolo Buzzi owned Marvel Communication SA, a company specialized in financial information softwares. Once they figured out that they could provide the services they were talking about, Swissquote became a bank and IPO’d as such on the 29th of May 2000. The focus of Swissquote was on content creation right from the beginning.

A basic brand structure

At Swissquote, they believe that the brand defines who they are and how they act. Their brand structure is actually not original, as it involves a vision and six values.
In De Schepper’s words, a vision is like an Evening Star (Etoile du Berger in French). It is what leads your way.

To be the world’s most pioneering and intuitive online bank.

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TEDxCERN: Don’t be afraid of technology

Technology is just a tool! In one of the most prestigious place for researches, brilliant scientists shared their inspiration during a whole afternoon. Ripples of curiosity was the theme. This is my report of the conference.

Some people travel to visit the CERN, whereas I had never been there. It is not an impressive building lost in the middle of a green field in the countryside of Geneva like I pictured it. It is lost in a suburban area and the building is not high. Rather, it has long, never-ending corridors filled with doors leading to little offices. It’s very quiet, people whispers there. It looks nothing like the big open space that I am used to. However the people I listened too, have the same conviction about their projects.

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Holacracy – what’s different in our daily life?

During the Swiss Web Festival, Laurent Prodon and I hold a workshop about the way we are internally structured. We focused on what it changes in our daily life.
Report of the conference.

Find the slides (FR only) Présentation SWF.

What does it change to be working in an enterprise organized according to a non-hierarchical framework?

Laurent and I went through our usual type of brainstorming in order to prepare this conference: we wrote on the walls and used sticky notes. We were divided about how much we should explain what Holacracy is and how much we should tell about how it feels. As we are both passionate personalities, we went through a great deal of debate! However, we settled on what we consider the main differences between a hierarchical management system and a system based on Holacracy.

Organise the work not the people

A classic hierarchical system would be organized according to the people and their position in the enterprise.

SWF-hola

The credo of Holacracy is ‘organise the work, not the people’. It means that we focus on the work to be done, not the people or their position in the enterprise. We think in terms of purposes and the accountabilities they imply.

One person and many role

This is the most important difference for Laurent. The years passing by, he started doing a lot of different things, essential but not necessarily related to his ‘official’ title of Scrum Master. He is supporting the recruitment of new Liipers for example, which is usually related to the HR. He is also doing some Business Development.

SWF2

Today, thanks to Holacracy, we defined these many roles. What Laurent does is now clear, for him and for others. Today, we know what we can and can’t expect from him.

With a system such as Holacracy, one person can grasp opportunities to develop his or her potential where it is most needed in the enterprise. No one is stopped by a contract or a statement of work. There is room for evolution. In other words, the employee can work where s/he can help fulfill tasks.

A dynamic organisation

The structure is in a direct connection with the teams and the work to be done. The organisation is subject to change any time. A role can be created, modified or cancelled any time that it feels necessary to its purpose. Furthermore, a role does not intend to fit the whole enterprise, but only to provide a solution to a given difficulty.

As a result, the structure of the organisation is constantly evolving and fits at the closest to the needs of the employees and the work to be fulfilled. The organisation chart always represents the reality, what people are actually doing.
For example, some day, a developer in Lausanne meant that it would be useful to have someone doing some Communication work for the project achieved here. In no-time, the role was created, first embodied internally, and eventually someone – me :) – was hired.

Decision making

That is the most important difference for me. A common issue in hierarchical enterprises is the fact that decision, once taken at the top, have to be applied and mirrored in each department. Often the top management will decide something, and the lower levels of management will undergo the decision in their department. As a specialist, you then end up with a project or a task you do not believe into.

In a system like Holacracy, each person is to take relevant decision in order to fulfill his/her roles’ purpose. In other words, each person decides which objectives, KPIs and task is relevant for his/her role(s). There is no decision taken ‘in theory’ with no knowledge of work field.

SWF1

To conclude: the challenges and the joys

We are just humans. There is sometimes a great deal of scepticism; changing how one thinks or one’s habits is a difficult thing. It happens that I even hear trolls at my lunch breaks. However, in the end, we realize that we are part of something really innovative. This is exciting! And the advantages of the system are far greater: we can evolve and develop with our entreprise. Our workplace suits our needs, not the other way around!

 

Pictures at the Swiss Web Festival by Sarah Jaquemet

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Data-Journalism and scraping skills – Report of a meet-up

Tuesday 27th September, at Liip Lausanne, we had the pleasure to welcome Barnaby Skinner from SonntagsZeitung and Tages-Anzeiger and Paul Ronga from Tribune de Genève for a meet-up about data-journalism. You’ll find the slides and further readings here.

During the summer I came across a news, written by Barnaby Skinner about a 3 months course at Columbia University in New York, that he was attending with Paul Ronga (from Tribune de Genève) and Mathias Born (from Berner Zeitung). The course was mainly intended for journalists, teaching them to gather data, improve their analytic skills (for example with Python, Panda libraries, SQL, combining the three, scraping with BeautifulSoup and using Selenium for automated scraping).

Finding the theme extremely interesting, I invited both Barnaby Skinner and Paul Ronga, at Liip Lausanne to tell us more on the subject.

Why are Scraping Skills Important, Especially For Swiss (and Other European) Journalists, Researchers or App Developers?

You can find the slides Datajournalism_Presentation.

The US government, data driven US companies, NGOs, Thinktanks make so much data available. At least when you compare it to Swiss and European governments or companies. That’s why scraping skills are all the more valuable for Swiss journalists, researchers, app developers: in so many cases the data is actually there. It’s just not structured in a way that is easily machine readable.
Starting with the basics, we will discuss more elaborate and sophisticated scraping techniques, using examples and, discussing and sharing some sample code.
By Paul Ronga and Barnaby Skinner

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High level targeting: how Beacons can enhance your customers loyalty

What is a Beacon?

A Beacon is a technology, often looking like a mini square (about 3cm2), able to communicate with mobile apps via Bluetooth. It works on apps running on iOS or Android devices.
Bluetooth (or BLE – Bluetooth Low Energy – to be specific) allows a device to transmit information to another device. For instance, this technology is used to play music on wireless headphones or speakers, over a short distance.

In other words, Beacons will allow a contextual communication between two devices when they are close enough (a few meters up to a few dozens meters) for a Bluetooth connection to be made.

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Mobile apps – Our 3 best advice for your success

Everyone wants a mobile app that people will own, love and use every day. Before you jump in, ask yourself, and your team, these 3 basic questions to avoid the most common mistakes. This is our guide to help you focus on your strategy and make sure that you invest in a mobile app effective for your business.

1 – What is your objective? – Strategize and test

Do you want a mobile app, because during a meeting, the CEO/CMO/Head of Marketing or whoever proposes ideas you have to follow said ‘we should have one’?
Or because a mobile app seems to be a symbol of innovative, modern or digital enterprises, you want one? Maybe because an app is the symbol of your enterprise taking on the digital turn, you need one?
It is time to rethink.
You should not ‘decide’ to have a mobile app. A mobile app should not be a ‘one shot’, it should be part of a marketing mix, which means, it belongs to a strategy.

Start by focusing on the needs of your business and identify the blockers in the customers’ journey. Ask yourself, what added-value would this app offer your customers. If it is a mere duplication of the content of your website, you should not start developing one.
An app needs a user centric design or is meant to fail. Make sure that the objectives of your mobile app are as clearly as possible defined. Skipping this step is taking the risk of developing something useless and/or having to modify it afterwards.

Keep in mind that the further you are in the project, the more expensive it is to modify. Investing time at the beginning of a project to strategize or, in the best scenario, even test with real users the first wireframes is not wasted time.

2 – Who and where are your customers?

Your app will be effective at its best if it answers your customers need. It is essential to know them and their behavior and where you find them. Then, you will maximise your targeting.

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Rebranding – a symbolic move to recover from an economic downturn?

Swiss marketing Vaud
Conference 2016.04.12
Revamping the Identity of an Iconic Technology Brand: Logitech

Rodrigo Castaňeda, Head of Brand Experience

Logitech

© Atelier Kaïros photos

Logitech’s rebranding was qualified as the most ambitious brand transformation in its 30+ year history’ in the summary of the conference. It was intended to reflect the company’s commitment to design and its transformation into a stronger, multi-category technology brand.
I was particularly interested in listening to Rodrigo Castaňeda and on which perspective he would adopt to explain Logitech’s rebranding. Not only thanks to swissmarketing’s appealing summary but especially because I think that there is nothing challenging like crisis communication or management. In those situations we learn the most and get to understand, in retrospect, from the weight of our decisions. The way a company tells its history is revealing of its essence.

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How do UX and Agility connect in project planning and execution?

Wednesday 16th March 2016 at Liip Lausanne, we proudly hosted the first swissICT UX meet-up held in Romandie!

SwissICT is the primary representative of the ICT Branch in Switzerland. They are based in Zürich and the largest professional association of the ICT industry, with 800 companies, 2’200 single members and 16 groups of experts (including User Experience).

As one of the objective of this non-profit organisation is the promotion of professional knowledge, the UX Expert Group organises various events throughout Switzerland (there are regular meet-ups in Bern, Zürich, Fribourg and now Lausanne). Four specialists of the UX Expert Group, Dorit Horst (Associate at Uservalue), Eva Siegenthaler (Manager UX@SBB-Team, SBB), Andreas Weder (Head of UX at Magnolia International Ldt.) and Philipp Murkowsky (Head of User Experience at Puzzle ITC GmbH) organized the event in Lausanne, with the support of the Liip Team.

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