Tag Archives: BIM

The Online Communication Cycle

‘Why are you writing in English’, Simone asked me. She had told me Victor had read my blogs about politics, business and IT on the internet which were sometimes in English. I told her I had two reasons for this: it gave me a broader audience and having worked for an English company where I learned to write compact English and liked doing this. ‘And why don’t you focus on one topic, you are writing about such a lot of different topics’. I answered: ‘Having studied Sociology and having worked a long time in IT I have always been interested in how the world was changed by IT, not only from a business point of view but also regarding their personal lives. And as Lecturer Information Management I also teach students about this and tell them about my personal experiences during the lessons and my view on this.’

She wanted to know more about my visit to Sedona and how I met Victor so I told her about the Resurfacing workshop and our discussion on the airport waiting for our planes because of the heavy snow delaying our flights. The reason I participated in this workshop was that I wanted to investigate if I could use this format as a lecturer. ‘I like to do things which in first instance don’t have anything to do with my work but there is always a new perspective which helps me further developing my thoughts. Just like the conversation I had with Paul last week on his startup: I was not sure yet how I could use this but I feel this could in the future. I explained her what we discussed the week before.’

Simone replied: ‘The problem with most people nowadays is that they are confused because of the fact so much is changing all the time. The media are focusing on hypes which are coming up quickly but also ending quickly and soon forgotten. And as most of these hypes have a negative background most people think were are going in the wrong direction. But if you look at it from a scientific and historical point of view we are steadily doing better al the time. The Swedish physician, academic, statistician, and public speaker Hans Gosling made a lot of statistics in which he proofed were are doing better than most people expect, he died a few days ago, a terrible loss for science.’

‘Victor’s communications paradox has to do with the fact that the way we interact and communicate with our environment is rapidly changing and that our mind is not able to cope with this, we are not in the drivers seat any more but constantly reacting to what’s happening around us. Direct one to one communication is now being replaced by new ways of communication and the big difference with the old way of communication is that in the past, when you were communicating with someone, the message was key and you were using verbal and none verbal communication to interact. Now, while the internet has become available you can easily communicate with all people allover the world using channels as Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat.

This way of communication is new for most people (Facebook exists only 13 years) and we don’t know yet what the real impact of communicating through these channels will be. This impact can be both positive, your tweet or post can go viral and become a hype, or negative in the sense that a wrong post can change the way others see you. That’s why mots people have their personal brand in mind when they communicate and respond when communication is not in line with this. That’s the reason most people don’t create content themselves anymore but are constantly responding and having an opinion on what others have to say by liking, sharing and replying, I call this spinning.’ She showed me a picture from Victor’s book how this has changed.’

‘As you can see in the picture online communication is more complex than direct communication and not everybody’s has the skills and is able to manage this process successfully. It starts with having a good picture of your identity and this can, especially when your young, become a big problem: when receiving negative feedback this can make them very unsure. Channels like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have become very important and have big impact on the way we communicate and the way we receive information.’

I responded: ‘True, and that’s why, according to me, you cannot talk about social media anymore as most people do. Technology made communication channels available and these have completely changed the way we communicate with each other and this development has just started and already high impact. From a sociological point of view this new ‘Online Communication’ can never replace ‘Direct Communication’ but it has changed it. And it will never change back to the days before we got our own PC or Smartphone, it’s here to stay. And what we need to learn our students now is what the value of these ways of communication can be, what’s is their potential.’

‘Take for example the development of popular music since the fifties of the last century when we had only the radio and television and the LP was not there yet. Songs were about love and personal communication and the message in a song was always very clear and easy to understand. This has completely changed, it’s not about the text of the song and the music anymore but about the artist and his brand and management taking care the artist is in the news all the time. Ask someone what a song is all about and nobody knows.’

‘I have studied Sociology, what did you?’, asked Simone. ‘Me too’, I said ‘but that was more than 30 years ago before I started working in IT, I’m not familiar with the latest developments’. ‘But if I read your blogs I’m not listening to an IT guy talking but to a Sociologist who is talking about the changes in society due to the Internet, why don’t you write something from your old Sociology background, I think the publisher I work with would be very interested’. She is right, I thought, what I’m writing about is not a structural analysis but just a reflection on what I experience and read somewhere, a more structural approach using the sociological body of knowledge would make sense.

While drinking our wine we discussed what an interesting subject would be from a sociological point of view and agreed after some time it would be interesting to look how our view on the world around us has changed since the massive introduction of new ways of communication made possible by the internet. ‘Interesting subject’, I replied to her, ‘I will think about it and let you now how I would approach this but this will take time’. ‘Take your time, she smiled, ‘and in the meantime let me know once in a while how you are doing…’.

The Information Funnel

Two days later I received a phone call from Victor, he was in Amsterdam for a few days and wanted to meet me, did I have some time the next evening? He wanted to discuss something with me. I had already planned to go to Amsterdam to the University so we made an appointment at 18:00 in the American hotel, my favorite place to meet someone in Amsterdam. When I arrived, Victor was not alone, he was sitting at a table overlooking the Leidseplein and talking to a women of his age with long blond hair. When I approached, Victor introduced me to her as his Sedona friend and introduced her to me as Simone, the translator of his books into Dutch.

He was talking to her about his new book ‘The Communication Paradox’ which he already explained to me while waiting on the airport about impact of the changes in our communication infrastructure which took care we never had so many means of communication as before while at the same time direct one to one communication becomes harder for us, especially for young adults who are not able to communicate easily which causes a lot of stress and psychological problems for them. After this he looked at me and said to me: ‘and that’s why I asked you to join us, maybe you could help solving the problem.’.

I told him I was surprised and Victor smiled and continued ‘Working on my book I realised I was only describing a problem but not working on a solution and last week I remembered our recent conversation and that you told me you were lecturing Information Management to students, the same students who I describe in my book having all these problems. I want to know more about what your lecturing. What is the definition of Information Management according to you?’.

I responded: ‘Key for Information Management is that business nowadays have more and more IT available in which continuously data are stored about their customers, sales, inventory, distribution and financial situation but also data from the outside world available through external sources and the Internet. Information Management is the skill to translate all this data to useful information which makes it possible to manage your business, I call this the Information Funnel. There is so much data available that it’s not easy to do this, you not only need to understand IT but also the business of a company and understand what is going on inside and outside the company’.

‘Why do you call it a skill’, Victor asked. ‘Well’, I told him, ‘Twenty years ago Management Reporting was 90% plus financial and most of the time only available after month ends closing. If something went wrong in an organisation it ws only noticed when a customer had a complaint or your bank did not want to give you credit any more. Today changes go so fast that managers want information as soon as available and if possible direct online, stand and ad hoc. To be able to produce these dashboards and reports you need to know a lot about a company and be experienced’.

‘And what happens when companies not have a good Information Management Function?. Victor asked’. ‘Then you have a problem’, I responded, ‘It’s like a patient being sick and not having the right instruments available to investigate what’s wrong. Management Information gives you the insights on what’s going right and what’s going wrong so you can immediately take action when needed to change things for the better, if possible. In the past this was a role for the CFO but this has changed with the introduction of IT and is now more the domain of the CIO who does not only have to know about IT and needs to have broad business knowledge being able to combine both to usefull Management Information’.

‘Students have the same problem as companies nowadays, how can they structure all the digital data they receive so it becomes useful information for them? Digital overload is a big problem now for students, they are not able to filter the content which comes available all the time on the internet properly which can have big influence on their future performance’, Victor concluded. ‘Within companies the CIO is responsible for managing this information funnel and for students this of course should be the teacher and as you teach Information Management you are sitting on the solution of our problem’.

Since three years I was lecturing students the basics of Information Management on a private University of Applied Sciences in Amsterdam mainly from a manual yet like in the old days when only books were available. And during my lessons when all my students were busy with their smartphones and laptops multitasking between me and what was going on online. The manual I used ‘Information Management’ was clearly written by someone who had worked in IT because I recognised a lot described in my book as my own experiences in the past working for IT companies. And my students were not interested in these old stories because they were born in a world with IT all around them while I had slowly grown into this from nothing.

Victor looked at me and said: ‘ And you teachers could be the key for solving this issue, there is a task for schools and universities to prepare students for the information society certainly in a time when politicians talk about ‘alternative’ facts and everybody is creating his own Facebook environment filtering out post they don’t like’.

‘But how do you want to do this’, Simone asked. Victor relied: ‘Maybe a school is not the right solution for this, we need something to replace this which is more modern and fit for our Information Society. The reason why schools were founded in the first place was that families were not able to educate their children themselves and you need teacher to learn them how to read, write and calculate. Children were living in large families and lived in small homes so going to school made sense in these days. Since then a lot have changed, most children now have a room on their own and parents both working and the relationship between parents and children has changed a lot’.

‘My students spend on average 7 hours on school and 4 hours a day online next to the time they spend online at school,’ I responded, ‘and for them these are two differente worlds. If you want to change this you need to change the whole school system and integrate these worlds into one and make more connections with the outside world. Why only go to one school and sit in a room with the other students and always the same teacher and following an education developed for the average student? Why not making this more flexible and use all available capacity with courses for students with different backgrounds and levels?’

‘Research has shown that collaborative learning works better than learning on your own, this has to do with the way your brain works. Another interesting conclusion is that you can better stay up late to finish a deadline than start early in the  morning, the time most schools want you to be the most productive. Also most teachers start with the theoretical concepts and than apply these while it’s better to first do something and than reflect on this form a theoretical background if you want to learn.’

‘Another important issue which influences learning is the changing relationship between students and their parents. It depends of course on the educational background of their parents but a lot is nowadays discussed around the kitchen table. 25 years ago students learned stuff not understood by their parents because the study content was more theoretical. Nowadays the study content is much more up to date and so students can easier discuss the content with their parents which makes it easier for them to learn’.

‘And just like companies need to manage their Information Funnel, students have to learn also how to qualify all the information they receive through their devices whole day and integrate this with what they learn on school or universities, this are not separate worlds but complementary. They have to learn the difference between facts and fake facts, an opinion and something which is scientific proven and how you can filter information which is relevant for you. They need to not only to see their smartphone as a tool to play with when they have noting to do but also as an instrument to become a useful member of society. Most schools see these diverse as a threat while it should be an opportunity.

‘In the Netherlands the school system is not able to educate around 15.000 students because their parents cannot find a proper school for them or schools don’t want them because of a lot of reasons. Around 5.000 of them have permission to get education at home from their parents  or private teachers giving lesson at home. At the same time the number of students who need extra lessons after schooltime from specialized institutes is growing and the same is happening for private schools were parents have to pay a lot of money to give more tailored education fit for the students needs.’

‘That’s why I thing we need to rethink the fundamentals of our school system’, Victor said, ‘We should develop a flexible system for all by which during once lifetime we van learn or teach others the necessary knowledge and skills to become a citizen, employee or owner of a business using all available methods and technology. If you define a school now a student now will say it’s a combination of a building and a set of teachers capable of giving lessons in a certain domain. This should be a student with certain qualifications who has to learn some things otherwise he/she can’t survive in society and invest in other qualifications he enjoys doing and which can potential become his future business. And the tools to do this can be having a course in a class with a teacher a a level and location of choice, following a virtual course, doing a study trip or internship, earning study points with a public service, travel and write an essay on your experiences, participating in an online knowledge community, doing a skills test, talking to a study coach, visiting a museum with their parents or talking to an entrepreneur or even start up your first business’

We talked about this for some time and Victor left around ten, he had to fly back next morning very early, I stayed behind with Simone. He was very glad with our discussion and it was very useful for him.

How IT has changed & the comeback of some old brands

Ian West, VP Analytics & Information Management at Cognizant, published below picture on LinkedIn about how things have changed over the last 50 years in IT and got more than a thousand like in the last 10 days. In this blog some comments on this.


As lecturer information management, I’m always interested in pictures like this which could help explaining IT, there is so much going on in IT that an overview like this could help. The newest generation students has grown up in this century and are very good at working with smartphones and tablets but understanding the difference between data and information is already a big challenge for them… What would I tell them when showing this picture?

I would tell them I agree with the phases when looking back although I miss one big development which had a big influence on IT: the  availability of large data centers which made both the cloud, social media, big data and the IoT possible. And these big databases have become the backbone for the internet where only a view companies have the technical and financial capabilities to build and maintain these. On this market, only around 7 big service providers are active and the prediction is that in three years 3 or 4 will be the key players worldwide: seize and innovative capability cost money and starting a new datacenter company wil become almost impossible. Datacenters have their own datacenter management software and developing this costs a lot of the money and building a datacenter is very expensive: impossible for a startup to do this on their own. You can see the same development with social media and market platforms where in a view years only a view will remain, a big reconciliation is this market is expected the next three years.

This trend is also visible in the new Internet of Things phase where we suddenly see old names like Texas Instruments, Cisco and Honeywell come up as IoT leaders, all old tech companies: 50 years ago I had already a calculator from Texas Instruments. In all past phases in the picture new companies come up which become IT leaders, with the Internet of Things phase this is changing. Probably these old companies are good in mass production of the necessary devices and machines which make the IoT work, although the production itself is probably outsourced to low wage countries (note: in the coming Trump area, this could change…).

What the picture also shows is that all leaders mentioned in this picture are US companies  except for SAP. Is there really nothing innovative happening in the rest of the world? What for instance about Alibaba which is bigger than Ebay? It will not take long and all these highly educated IT guys form China and India will come up with companies who also become world players, certainly when the US becomes more protective and only wants their own people to profit from new technology developments…

Mag ik het met jouw robot doen?

Sinds ik een nieuwe smartphone heb is het mij al een paar keer overkomen dat dit apparaat plots met mij ging praten. Gisteren nog, toen ik mijn studenten college gaf, klonk het plots “Zei u iets meneer Geerlings?” en “Als u wat heeft gezegd dan heb ik dat niet verstaan”. Daar waar ik tot nu toe gewend ben dat computers alleen iets doen als je het vraagt blijkt er plots leven in het apparaat te zitten en reageert het blijkbaar op wat je zegt. Zonder het te beseffen zijn we een nieuw tijdperk ingegaan en beginnen computers menselijke trekjes te krijgen en worden ze onze beste vriend. Gisteren en vandaag stonden er twee interessante berichten in de Wetenschapssectie van De Volkskrant die deze trend versterken en wat mij betreft een nieuwe licht werpen op onze verhouding met de techniek.


Het artikel van gisteren ging over een onderzoek onder 12 miljoen gebruikers van Facebook waaruit bleek dat mensen die Facebook gebruiken gelukkiger en gezonder zijn dat niet gebruikers en zelfs een hogere levensverwachting hebben. Van belang daarbij is de definitie die Facebook geeft van een actief sociaal leven: je bent het meest actief als je niet alleen berichten schrijft  (zoals ik) maar Facebook vooral gebruikt om foto’s te plaatsen van vrienden en bekenden. Tevens blijkt dat mensen die voornamelijk uitgenodigd worden vriend te worden door anderen gelukkiger zijn dan mensen die meer verzoeken versturen dan ontvangen, dat lijkt me dan weer logisch! Toch vind ik dit wel gek. Wat ik om me heen zie, is juist dat mensen die veel met hun smartphone bezig zijn nauwelijks oog hebben voor de mensen om hen heen en dat dat vaak juist tot asociaal gedrag leidt, zo zie je vaak in restaurants mensen alleen maar met hun smartphone bezig en niet met elkaar communiceren. Tevens had ik de indruk dat de mensen die erg veel op social media zitten een beetje zielig zijn omdat ze schijnbaar niks anders te doen hebben. Ik heb dit aan mijn studenten voorgelegd maar die waren het helemaal met het onderzoek eens: ‘Facebook maakt je gelukkiger en  wanneer je een tijdje zonder moet krijg je juist last van afkickverschijnselen’. Op doktersrecept dan allemaal maar op Facebook zou ik zeggen!


Dan het interview vanmorgen met de Britse expert David Levy over kunstmatige intelligentie. Dat gaat nog een stukje verder. Zijn belangrijkst vraag is ‘Kunnen we met computers relaties onderhouden’ en zijn antwoord daarop is ‘ja’. Dat mijn smartphone in ene ongevraagd met mij kan praten is maar een eerste stap, we zullen op niet al te lange termijn met ze kunnen converseren net als met mensen. Sterker, volgens David Levy zal het op niet al te lange termijn zelfs mogelijk worden seks met ze te hebben: de seksindustrie is al bezig robots hiervoor te ontwikkelen. In het interview legt Levy eveneens een relatie met eenzaamheid ‘Beter seks met een robot dan helemaal geen seks’. Volgens hem zijn robots geen substituut voor een menselijke relatie maar aanvullend. Maar wat als de robot zover doorontwikkeld wordt dat het fijner is bij je robot dan met je eigen vrouw? Wellicht gaan vrijen met de robot van mijn vrouw dan maar?

Business Case Workshop

Are you planning to start your own business or perhaps already in the process of setting it up? Or do you have your own business already, started without a business case and have problems making money out of it? Or are you now looking to expand, increase or decrease services and activities? Do you have the feeling you lost clear focus and need to re-clarify the main objective of your business?imageFor this purpose I developed a training workshop on developing your business case: during the workshop you will be guided on conceptualizing and writing your business case and challenged if your case has real potential,  which areas contain risks  or you need external help etc.

The workshop is interesting for 1) those who have already a business case and need to pitch their plan to an investor and see if their plan is solid enough to attract the financial injection they need but also for 2) those who don’t have a business case yet and are in the proces of translating their ideas into a formal business case.

Gerard Geerlings, the facilitator of the workshop, has a track record in Business Planning & developing and reviewing Business Cases & Business Plans. Based on this experience he developed a methodology which helps startups to develop their own Business Case in 7 steps: The Business Case Funnel Gerard Geerlings june 2015During the workshop he wil introduce this methodology and give you a chance to test your own case by going through a checklist with others. The aim of the workshop is to give you new insights on what you are good at and understand where you should focus on to improve your case.

Next workshop: June 20th 2015 14:00 – 17:00 organized by e3events Pedro de Medinalaan 1, Amsterdam or signup with Meetup

Feel free to contact me if you want more information or want to plan a simular workshop!

Gerard Geerlings – gerardgeerlings@gmail.com or www.gerardgeerlings.nl

De Belastingdienst en Big Data

De ICT-sector is altijd op zoek naar nieuwe aansprekende Buzz woorden waarmee ze hun proposities op de markt kunnen brengen en hun klanten nieuwe producten en services kunnen verkopen, dit onder het mom van: ‘Als je voorop wilt lopen als bedrijf moet je hiermee aan de slag gaan’  en ‘Je kunt het beste met ons in zee gaan want wij weten daar alles vanaf!’. Momenteel gaat het vooral over ‘The Cloud’, ‘The Internet of Things’ en ‘Big Data’, allemaal begrippen die niet staan voor iets nieuws maar een nieuw label zijn voor technieken en ontwikkelingen die al langer aan de gang zijn en door de commercie slim op de markt worden gezet.Online-Marketing-Expanding-Value-In-Advertising-WorldNeem Big Data, een term die staat voor het feit dat tegenwoordig ontzettend veel digitale data beschikbaar zijn omdat zowat alle transacties tegenwoordig digitaal worden vastlegd en je met moderne analyse tools verbanden en trends kunt ontdekken die een bedrijf of organisatie in staat stellen hun klanten beter te kunnen begrijpen en dus bedienen. Daarbij gaat het niet alleen om wat er in systemen vast ligt maar ook om telefoondata, zoekgedrag en gebruik van websites en sociale media. Nog niet zo lang geleden, toen al deze data nog niet beschikbaar waren, werd er ook al veel marktonderzoek gedaan door bedrijven en gespecialiseerde onderzoeksbureaus naar wat er in de omgeving van bedrijven gebeurde. Daarbij werd meestal gebruik gemaakt van eigen beschikbare data aangevuld met kwantitatief en kwalitatief onderzoek, vaak gebaseerd op steekproeven.

Het grappige is dat door de opkomst van nieuwe informatie technologie deze oude tools van marktonderzoek nu soms geen relevante resultaten meer opleveren. Zo konden bij de laatste UK verkiezingen de opiniepijlers geen goede forecast van de einduitslag doen. Als gevolg daarvan ging de discussie in de media steeds over de noodzaak van een drie partijen coalitie. Bij de definitieve einduitslag bleek dat de Torries wonnen met en absolute meerderheid. Als reden voor de slechte prognoses werd opgegeven dat het systeem van steekproeven gebaseerd op het telefoonboek nu niet meer werkt omdat 1) niet iedereen meer een vast telefoonummer heeft en 2) soms zelfs meerdere mobiele nummers heeft of 3) belt via Skype of WhatsApp. Blijkbaar biedt Big Data, als alternatief voor het doen van ouderwetse prognoses, geen uitkomst, Big Data als instrument is dus nog niet volwassen genoeg om zoiets simpels als ‘op wie ga je stemmen’ te voorspellen.

Iedereen is het er over eens dat Big Data veel potentie heeft en een belofte voor de toekomst is. Er moet echter nog heel wat gebeuren voordat bedrijven er echt wat mee kunnen. Een van de grootste problemen is natuurlijk dat er wel heel veel data opgeslagen worden maar dat dit nog niet wil zeggen dat je er dan ook toegang toe hebt. En daar waar men wel toegang heeft tot al deze data staan er wetten en regels in de weg die bepalen of je deze deze data ook daadwerkelijk mag gebruiken. Natuurlijk heeft Google toegang tot onze zoekgegevens en weet Facebook ook allemachtig veel van mijn vrienden maar dat wil nog niet zeggen dat deze bedrijven bij elkaar in de databases kunnen of mogen kijken: er spelen natuurlijk ook commerciële belangen hierbij: voor wat hoort wat!big dataDaar hebben de overheden minder last van. Vandaar dat het interresant was vorige week in De Correpondent een interview van Martijn Maurits met de algemeen directeur van de Belastingdienst Hans Blokpoel tegen te komen. In het interview ‘Baas Belastingdienst over Big Data: ‘Mijn missie is gedragsverandering’ geeft hij inzicht in de  in de case Belastingdienst die vanuit een wettelijke basis de power heeft beschikbare overheidsinformatie te gebruiken om de aanslag en het innen van belastingen te verbeteren. De Belastingdienst heeft net een mislukt project achter de rug om een nieuw informatiesysteem te implementeren, dit project heeft ruim 10 jaar geduurd en 203 miljoen euro gekost en is in 2014 gestaakt. Nu zoekt de belastingdienst de oplossing in het geautomatiseerd koppelen van alle bestaande systemen, sommige al 50 jaar oud. Hierin zijn ze nu wel succesvol en het gebruik van Big Data technieken is een essentieel onderdeel, zo niet de kern, geworden van hun nieuwe strategie ( en die ook mooie nieuwe kansen geeft voor ICT bedrijven).imageUit het interview met Hans Blokpoel, voor deze nieuwe strategie verantwoordelijk, blijkt dat hij voor openheid en transparantie is, een goede zaak! Geruststellend is ook dat de Belastingdienst alleen gebruik maakt van de eigen gekoppelde overheids data die de overheid al in huis heeft – een beetje smalle definitie van Big Data omdat alleen de beschikbare overheidsgegevens gebruikt worden. Maar daarbij gaat het wel om heel veel data en in heel veel bestanden zoals onlangs bleek uit een brief aan de Tweede Kamer van de Minister van Veiligheid en Justitie. In de bijlage bij deze brief van 24 maart 2015 staat een overzicht van de 92 koppelingen van de Belastingdienst met andere overheidsinstanties exclusief de koppelingen met de lagere overheden, die na de recente decentralisaties waarschijnlijk alleen maar zijn uitgebreid. Volgens de Rekenkamer werkt de Belastingdienst met 1.200 applicaties. Vanuit Informatie Management oogpunt een hele uitdaging voor de data analisten van de Belastingdienst om zinvolle informatie uit deze gigantische dataset van 10 miljoen belastingplichtigen en 1,2 miljoen bedrijven te halen!

Logisch dus dat er volgens Hans Blokpoel nog heel wat te halen valt uit het koppelen van deze bestanden om de efficientie van de aanslag en inning van belastinggeld te verbeteren en daar slim het label Big Data op plakt. Zo blijkt dat de Belastingdienst een eigen database heeft voor wanbetalers en in de gaten houdt of wanbetalers economische activiteiten uitvoeren die geld opleveren voor de fiscus: ‘Dynamisch Monitoren’ noemen ze dat. Gebruik maken van in andere overheidsregistraties beschikbare data lijkt me in dat geval meer dan terecht.

Waar ik wel vragen bij stel is de ‘Profiling’ van belastingbetalers die de belastingdienst aan het opzetten is. Er is een nieuw samengesteld team bezig met ‘Profiling’ van ons waarbij gekeken wordt wat de risico’s zijn met betrekking tot de aangifte en de inning. Doelstelling is in een vroegtijdig stadium doelgroepen te identificeren die een risico kunnen vormen met betrekking tot de inning van belastinggeld. Volgens Blokpoel moet daarbij gedacht worden een bijv. echtscheiding maar je kan natuurlijk ook denken aan mensen die ZZP’er worden, werkloos of ziek. Gegevens hierover zijn bij andere overheidsbestanden bekend en door koppeling kunnen deze groepen worden geïdentificeerd en door de belastingaangifte vroegtijdig benaderd, waardoor correcties achteraf van fouten worden voorkomen.

Je kan je afvragen of de overheid met deze ‘Profiling’ niet een stap te ver gaat, tot nu is het uitgangspunt dat alle burgers geacht worden de wet te kennen en belastingaangifte en betaling een verantwoordlijkheid is van de indivuduele burger die zich kan laten bijstaan door onafhankelijke belastingadviseurs. Door ‘Profiling’ en het pro-actief benaderen van burgers krijgt de overheid de rol van Big Brother en loop je het gevaar van stigmatisering als andere overheidsdiensten ook gebruik gaan maken van deze labels. Op zijn minst zou er een onafhankelijke toezichthouder moeten komen die dit soort activiteiten in de gaten houdt, toetst aan de wet en moet deze werkwijze openbaar zijn voor de burger. Nu is het niet meer dan een, welliswaar goed bedoeld, iniftiatief van de Belastingdienst niet gebaseerd op wetgeving. Handelen op Marrtkplaats Hans Blokpoel ontkent ambities te hebben ten aanzien van het gebruik van andere beschikbare online data en dat de Belastingdienst alleen de reeds in de overheidsbestanden beschikbare fiscale data gebruikt. Toch denk ik dat de Belastingsdienst vroeg of laat er niet onderuit zal komen ook externe bronnen bij de aangiftes te gaan betrekken, zie bijv. de Markplaats case hierboven. Er worden steeds meer van dit soort economische activiteiten buiten de formele economie in de schaduw economie uitgevoerd die nu fiscaal onbelast blijven (9,1% volgens schatting 2012). Het gaat hierbij dus om best grote bedragen zoals ook blijkt uit de CBS cijfers die door de EU gebruikt worden voor de afdracht aan Brussel, de handel via het internet speelt daarbij een steeds belangrijkere rol. Wij dragen als Nederland geld af op basis van fiscale gegevens plus de schatting van de schaduw economie door het CBS aan de EU terwijl we daarover zelf geen belasting innen waardoor de belasting geheel voor rekening van de belastinbetaler komt die ter goeder trouw is. Het ligt voor de hand ook economische activiteiten op Marktplaats, Uber, Airbnb, Ebay, Croqqer etc. als bron van inkomsten voor de belasting aan te boren: deze gegevens zouden via Big Data technieken aan de bestaande databronnen kunnen worden toegevoegd. Het zou goed zijn als dit punt ook op de agenda van de Belastingdienst komt en jammer dat Hans Blokpoel deze discussie in het artikel niet aankaart…

image Aanvulling 20 mei 2015: Een dag na het publiceren van bovenstaande blog kwam het nieuws naar buiten dat de Belastingdienst de komende jaren een transitie door gaat maken om bovenstaande ontwikkeling verder uit te bouwen (zie artikel in De Volkskrant van 20 mei 2015 hierboven).  Eerst zullen er 1.500 hoogopgeleide inspecteurs worden aangenomen die in staat zijn met de verbeterde informatievoorziening op basis van Big Data extra inkomsten te genereren, naar verwachting 750 miljoen tot 2 miljard per jaar. Tegelijkertijd zullen er 5.000 lager betaalde banen vervallen, hierbij gaat het om functies die nog steeds op de ouderwetse manier informatie verzamelen. Per saldo gaan er de komende jaren dus 3.500 banen weg, wordt de gemiddelde leeftijd van het personeelsbestand lager (nu 53 jaar gemiddeld) en de relatie tussen de burger en de Belastingdienst waarschijnlijk een stuk formeler… image Aanvulling 21 mei 2015: Weer een dag later is het verantwoordingsdag in de Tweede Kamer en komt Saskia Stuiveling met haar laatste rapport van de Rekenkamer waarin drie grote rsisico’s worden benoemd voor de overheid: 1) Defensie, materieel en ICT 2) Belastingdienst, verouderd ICT landschap en 3) Rijksbezuiningen die wel ingeboekt zijn maar niet gerealiseerd. De Belastingdienst herbergt volgens de Rekenkamer het grootste probleem door het gebruik van 1.200 deels verouderde applicaties die zorgen voor kwetsbaarheid voor zelfs de kleinste verandering.

Digital Overload in the Classroom

imageWorking as a lecturer on a University in Amsterdam, I experience daily the big impact of digital devices on my students in the classroom. My lectures take around two hours and, when there is no break planned, the students will make a point to have a break halfway because they want to check their E-mail, WhatsApp and Facebook. When I don’t allow this the number of students who need to go to the toilet will increase significantly! In the meantime they will use every opportunity they get to check their devices. This problem is called Digital Overload or Digital Obesity and in this article I want to investigate what the impact is of this problem and if we can develop a strategy turning this problem into an opportunity!

According to me lecturing is about four phases: 1) Getting attention – from students, 2) Knowledge transfer – from teacher to student, 3) Understanding – by the student, 4) Applying – by the student.  It all starts with getting attention from students, without this my attempts to teach them something will never be very successful! The impact of digital devices on education has been growing last five years significantly because of the availability and price of digital smart devices. Next to the real world we now also have our own ‘Online’ virtual world available  which we can setup ourselves. As this a recent development we have not found a balance yet between these two worlds: this digital world is very attractive to students and it seems more fun…image

What is the impact on students?

The German Psychiater Prof. Manfred SpitzerIk wrote a book about Digital Dementia which contains some interesting scientific facts:

  • Children spend nowadays more time with their mobiles, tablets, computergames and television than being at school.
  • Using computers at early ages will lead to concentration problems and reading problems at a later age.
  • e-Learning behind a computer is not very succesful for all ages.
  • The more time you spend time with digital devices, the more difficult it is to concentrate on reading and understanding a long text on paper.
  • Even when a mobile device is not used and just laying on the table in front of you your performence to do an exercise will be lower
  • Spending much time before a screen until late in the evening causes sleep problems.
  • Digital social networks do not lead to better social contacts but more likely to social deprivation and isolation, solitude and being unhappy.digital-overload-300x200

This is not only a problem for children but also for adults. But, if you want to solve this problem, I think we should focus on children: during their formative and educational years digital overload has the most impact on their development.

How can we solve this?

We need an innovative strategy how to reduce digital overload based on the assumption that we can only solve the negative impact of excessive use by spending less time with digital devices during education and normalize the use. This strategy should not be based on fighting technology but by changing it in the direction we want.  The question we need to answer in my opinion is simple: how can we take care digital devices are supporting education and not decreasing attention in the classroom?

Evolve2Here my recommendations how to counter this problem:

1. Get to know how students use their devices and make use of IT.

Every time something new is invented people will start using it the most in the beginning, having a new device gives you status, by using it you want to show you are part of the new world this device belongs to. Probably we are now on top of the hype and the usage of digital devices will normalise in time just like it did when other new innovative new technology was introduced. To normalize the use you need to integrate the availability of these devices in the classroom into your teaching methodology. To do this effectively you first need to know how students use their devices, start using their Apps and use available tools on their devices for planning meetings, send reminders, communications etc. or even develop Apps for this purpose.

2. Be clear on your digital policy in the classroom.

DIscussions on this issue  with other teachers always concentrate on allowing students to use devices in the classroom or not. Some take a position in between and apply rules when and how these devices may be used in the classroom. When different teachers apply different policies it becomes confusing for students and gives a lot of discussions in the classroom. My advice would be to have clear guidelines in schools on the use of devices so everybody knows what the code of conduct is and why these rules are there. In daily life there are also conventions and students need to know what the do’s and don’ts are already at school.  So not only explain them how the SmartScreen and BlackBoard works but also how IT is used in the classroom and when your allowed to check your mail during the day and why this rule is justified.

3. Have a clear IT strategy in the schools curriculum.

As lecturer Information Management I learned that students know all about their laptop and smart phone but don’t have a clue what the IT basics are: they don’t make the connection. When I start explaining the difference between data and information they don’t understand what this has to do with their mobile device. There is a challenge here bringing the world of IT and digital devices together. Every school and University should have an integrated strategy with clear objectives how IT is incorporated in the schools curriculum. IT is not an area of study on his own but a lot of other items in the schools curriculum can only be understood when you know something about IT. It all starts with learning the basics of and later broadening the scope.

4. Invest in innovative IT tools supporting education.

MS Classroom

If you look at the  vision of IT firms on how they see the role of digital devices around us you can see what the industry thinks the role of IT will be in the future. See for example this commercial from Microsoft which gives their vision on the status of IT in 5 years: Microsofts Vision on IT in 2019 . In above picture from the video you see children communicating through a screen with a class on the other side of the world, in the classroom there are no tablets or laptops and still books being used. Schools and universities should set direction to IT innovations in the classroom and not wait until the industry comes up with a solution.

It would be interesting to get your feedback on this!

Addition: the same day this blog was published in the Dutch  Newspaper NRC: a scientific experiement has tested and proven that even when a mobile phone is on a table which is not online, people have less concentration than without one around!