Feb 13 2014

What are the dimensions of the internet?

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JLiebenauOn Monday 10 February, Jonathan Liebenau presented a synopsis of one of the research themes of our team during the February’s London Enterprise Technology MeetUp held monthly at the LSE. Read here Jonathan’s remarks, key questions and possible ways forward of a core theme of our research:  understanding the dimensions of the internet and their implications for business, regulation and the digital economy more broadly.  

I have long been anxious to answer a set of core questions about the digital economy and especially how business is conducted in the internet industry.  Before I could do this I felt it was important to know about the dimensions of the internet.  I wanted at least to know:

  • What are the boundaries of the internet, and how can we distinguish private networks from the open internet?
  • How much traffic passes through the networks, and what are the trends, disaggregated by type of traffic and type of business?
  • What is the speed of traffic, both in the experience of retail customers and as regards the internal, core network?
  • How many people are employed in the sector, where, and for what tasks?

I thought it would be straightforward enough to find out these dimensions, even if more imaginative research would be needed to learn about those features, such as pricing, costs and value added, that we know well about most industrial sectors. Continue reading

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Feb 6 2014

Banking on a digital revolution

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currency-cloud-portrait-small008The age of big data, combined with novel uses of cutting-edge technologies, has opened a new landscape for emerging businesses in the financial services. Modern finance applications are just emerging and there are divergent expectations of what will happen. In this post Mike Laven, CEO of The Currency Cloud, presents his view of the emerging financial services in light of the research that we have been conducting at the LSE under a NEMODE (RCUK Digital Economy) grant. Mike suggests that we shall expect to see disruptions and changes, mostly on the retail banking sector.

Over the last few years a variety of technology firms have emerged looking to accelerate money’s transition from the analogue to the digital. Historically, banks have monopolised the financial services industry and with little to compete against, the sector has been slow to respond to a complete digital revolution to reflect the internet economy. Up until the last few years, there had been no major innovation since the introduction of SWIFT in 1977, the first electronic credit card in 1958 and ATMs in the 1970s. Although there have been a number of other notable advances such as chip and pin and internet banking, these have only been upgrades to existing technology and services. However, the growing maturity of the internet is now changing the playing field and a number of true digital euronote_modularinnovators are beginning to gain traction in the industry, giving traditional financial institutions a sobering problem.

Growth of the internet, particularly in recent years, has led us towards a progressively multichannel world; from widespread smartphone and tablet adoption, big data and cloud computing to the rise of social media, apps and ecommerce, internet technology has become incessantly entwined in our everyday lives. This digital revolution has finally begun to filter down into the financial services industry, triggering the emergence of alternative customer facing services or ‘new finance’ firms into the mainstream. These firms are in tune with the digital age and they provide cutting edge technology, improved customer service and lower costs. By seeking out inefficient segments of the financial value chain, they are able to use technology and big data to build out services based around the needs of their customers.

From peer-to-peer lending to mobile wallets and crowdfunding, innovators are redefining old verticals or creating entirely new ones – the likes of Azimo (allows consumers to send money overseas via Facebook or mobile) and Transferwise (peer-to-peer money transfer network) are transforming the way consumers send money abroad. Other companies such as Kantox and my own firm The Currency Cloud are offering real-time, transparent solutions for the international money transfer market minus the hidden fees and failed payments that come inherently with banks. Continue reading

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Jan 21 2014

The future of big and open data and its impact on the digital economy – notes from our participation at #HICSS47

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Silvia_EC2 During the second week of January 2014, our LSE team attended the 47 Hawaii International Conference on System Science. In this post, Silvia Elaluf-Calderwood reports the highlights of our participation in the conference, and scores the relevance of research work on the underlying dynamics of the digital economy in the UK and worldwide.

The LSE team presented new research at the 47th Hawaii International Conference on System Science (HICSS) last week. Our paper, entitled “Modularity and network integration: Emergent business models in banking”, was part of the mini-track “New economic models of the digital economy” organised by Roger Maul (Exeter, NEMODE) and Cathy Mulligan (Imperial College, SSN+). Both NEMODE and SSN+ are research projects sponsored by the Research Councils UK and both support work of our team.hicss47

HICSS is one of the most important conferences in the information systems research community calendar, along with ICIS. HICSS conference gathers around 900 participants from all over the world in its annual event just after the New Year in the beautiful Hawaiian Islands. Every year the event is hosted by the University of Hawaii and this year it was held at the Big Island.

Our paper presented findings of our current work on big data and new business models in the financial services. In our session, there were three other presentations relating to diverse aspects of the digital economy and new business models. The other themes Continue reading

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Dec 20 2013

Economic health of the internet ecosystem: briefing from CAIDA’s 2013 workshop

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Silvia_EC2JLiebenauLast week, the Cooperative Association of Internet Data Analysis [CAIDA] and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) held its 4th invitation-only workshop on internet economics on the theme “Economic Health of the Internet Ecosystem”. LSE Tech’s Silvia Elaluf-Calderwood and Jonathan Liebenau presented ongoing work on internet measurements. In this blog, they provide a general overview of the event, which is regarded as a highly valuable effort to integrate findings for understanding the future of the internet.  

Although beautiful San Diego, California was slightly cooler than usual, the twenty invited participants from business and academe enjoyed the venue and the University of California’s generous hospitality. The LSE Tech team presented on “Measuring what might be regulated; regulating what might be measured in the internet” and contributed to discussions throughout the two days of debate and analysis.

ucsdThe workshop included a wide spectrum of presentations from leading researchers at institutions such as MIT, U Penn, UC Irvine, Northwestern, UC Santa Barbara, CAIDA/UCSD, U Minnesota. There was also participation by industrial representatives from Comcast, Microsoft, BT Research and Innovation, and Verizon.  This group includes a large number of people who have served or are currently serving on governance bodies including the Federal Communications Commission, the Internet Society, ICANN, and the US National Academy of Sciences internet committees.

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Dec 10 2013

The new business realities in the digital age: Jonathan Liebenau addresses opening keynote at #FT summit

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FT_jonathanLiebenau3_dec2013On December 4 Jonathan Liebenau addressed the opening keynote of the FT Mobile Business Futures Summit. The half day event brought together leaders and senior executives from key sectors in the economy to discuss future opportunities and challenges that the age of mobility poses to organisations. The event also discussed how forward thinking industries use technology innovations to secure competitive advantage through productivity and optimisation, drawing on examples of current uses in retail, financial services, healthcare and media.

The new business realities in the digital age – How are business models changing as a result of innovation and mobility?  Jonathan’s keynote offered an academic view on what is changing, and what we may expect to see in the age of mobility. His presentation and photos of the event are available on the FT website.

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Nov 14 2013

Just Released: DCMS’ UK Broadband Impact Study

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JLiebenauTheUK Department for Culture, Media & Sport released today a report on the benefits of superfast broadband in the UK. In this blog, Jonathan Liebenau from LSE Tech offers initial thoughts on the study’s general scope, its  usefulness and limitations and raises questions for further analysis.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport published today a study by SQW consulting of the impact of increases since 2008 of fixed broadband attributable to the current set of publicly funded interventions to improve quality and coverage.  Using data from a variety of sources relating to both the broad economic context of internet use and specific characteristics such as supposed productivity effects and multiplier assumptions, it provides an optimistic view of the UK up to 2024.

The report’s claims of beneficial effects on the environment, society and the economy are predicated on careful trends analysis and numerous well-informed assumptions.  There are numerous limitations to the study, which I will comment on in a future blog.  Some of these stem from the self-imposed constraints of the investigations such as the focus on the expenditure of public funds, the exclusion of expensive business connectivity services, and significantly, taking no consideration at all of mobile services.  Some limitations are inherent in the methodology and some from the perception of technological impacts generally, such as the effect on reduced travel and the advantages accrued from utilizing cloud computing.

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Nov 9 2013

Big Data for finance: emerging trends in business models, innovation and technology

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CarlaBoninaQuestions around big data have received notable attention lately, from a wide range of actors and across sectors. In this post, Carla Bonina explains an on-going LSE Tech research on big data and new business models in the financial services that has been sponsored by the Research Councils UK’s programme Nemode+. If you’re in the financial services sector, or doing work on big data with potential applications for finance, do get in touch with our team to know more about how to get involved in this pilot. 

There are growing expectations about the potential economic value and innovation that may emerge from big data. The financial services sector has been traditionally a data-intensive industry. Even so, the age of big data has opened a new landscape for emerging businesses based on cutting-edge technologies: equity platforms based on crowd funding, new platforms that match lenders with borrowers in innovative ways, data visualisations tools to follow companies, suppliers and clients, and a whole range of new payment systems based on mobile and cloud technologies. These game-changing players include early innovators as well as established financial players who provide big data-related services that are disrupting the traditional financial markets.

Earlier this year, we have embarked into a new, exciting research project that focuses on these issues. In June 2013, we held an LSE workshop on big data and new business models with a special session on the financial services. With the presence of key players of the industry afintechnd academia, we discussed potentially disruptive innovations in financial businesses and examined how new business models find access to the incumbent players in the sector.

In August 2013 we started a pilot research project that has received a grant from the RCUK Nemode+ network. Our pilot research will provide insights into new and innovative data-driven business models in the sector. Using a systemic approach, we seek to answer a simple yet very powerful question: how is big data transforming the financial services sector? Our aim is to understand the main components, evolutionary patterns and emerging dynamics of Fin-Tech businesses as well as how big data access, transformation and consumption are enabling this to happen. Continue reading

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Oct 7 2013

Internet metrics, telecom and internet policy: highlights from the TPRC 2013

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Silvia_EC2JLiebenauThe TPRC is the oldest and most influential continuous meeting on telecoms policy, always held in Washington, D.C. and nowadays subtitled the “Conference on Communication, Information and Internet Policy”. Silvia Elaluf-Calderwood and Jonathan Liebenau of the LSE Tech team presented papers and reported on the conference on our twitter account. In this post, they summarise the main debates.

Jonathan and Silvia’s paper: “Metrics for Assessing Internet Business Models and Sustainability” had a very good reception and a long discussion ensued on how to move ahead the on internet metrics for policy, strategy and regulation. Silvia’s second paper at the conference was also well received; it is a product of collaboration with Telenor: “Regulatory Policies in Relation to Metrics and Data Collection for Measuring the Emergent Internet”. The LSE presence was deepened by the attendance of many friends of the NEF, including Clare Milne (LSE Media & Communications), Johannes Bauer (Michigan State), James Alleman (U. Colorado-Boulder), Barbara Cherry (Indiana), Eli Noam (Columbia), Lorenzo Pupillo (Telecom Italia), Edmond Baranes (Montpellier), Christopher Yoo (UPenn) and our collaborators from MIT: David Clark, Bill Lehr and Jesse Sowell.  Geoffrey Myers from Ofcom and currently lecturing at the LSE Department of Media and Communications presented: “Spectrum Floors in the UK 4G auction: An Innovation in Regulatory Design”.

The emerging theme turned out to be “one size does not fit all”. Stress on the variety of solutions currently been tested for spectrum auctions and broadband with examples from Latin America and other parts of the world illustrated the case. The conference was split in five areas: internet policy, spectrum and mobile applications, competition and innovation, governance and media, IP, privacy and security, and there were more non-US cases presented than usual. In addition to a considerable number of papers addressing European and Asian themes, there were whole sessions devoted to Latin America and to international comparisons.

An unusual panel took place during the conference dinner on free speech in an electronic age on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Ithiel de Sola Pool’s book “Technologies of Freedom”. Pool was a forward thinking scholar and the occasion allowed many of us who were influenced by his writings the opportunity to reflect on his prognoses, which can be summarized by his phrase: “the norms that govern information and communication will be even more crucial than in the past”.

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Sep 27 2013

Upcoming presentations of our research work this weekend: internet metrics and big data

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CarlaBoninaIt’s been quiet for some time on our blog. But we have been busy continuing our research work and introducing some new material. In this blog post, we offer some updates of upcoming presentations by members of our research team during the upcoming days: the TPRC conference in Washington and the London Enterprise Tech Meetup. Do join us!

During this weekend, the 41 Research Conference on Communication, Information and Internet Policy (TPRC) is taking place in the George Mason University School of Law, in Arlington, Virginia. The TPRC is an annual conference on communication, information and internet policy that brings together international researchers and policymakers from academia, industry, government, and non-profit organizations. The agenda is already available, and it contains exciting work for those interested in internet policy, its regulation and applications.

This year, Jonathan Liebenau and Silvia Elaluf-Calderwood present research work on Metrics for Assessing Internet Business Models and Sustainability. Below I share an excerpt of the abstract of the paper:

“In this paper we describe a view of how changes to the layered model of internet architecture has created space for new services and products and in particular the mixing of roles across previous boundaries described in part by the distinction between regulated and unregulated segments. We then consider the utility of current metrics and show how additional or alternative metrics can enhance our understanding such that we can come to a far better view of trends and practices on the internet. We show what minimum requirements there are to data that ought to be visible to all stakeholders of the internet.”

The paper is available for download from the SSRN site. Feel free to share your comments with us.

The other presentation is taking place on Monday 30 September, when we will introduce our on-going NEMODE sponsored research project called “Big Data for finance”, as part of the September’ London Enterprise Tech Meetup (LNETM). The London Enterprise Technology Meetup brings together fellow technologists, entrepreneurs, and investors to discuss exciting ideas, new projects and opportunities of investment. In our presentation, we will introduce the work we’re doing on emerging trends in business models, innovation and technology that are happening in niche sectors of the financial services, such as peer-to-peer lending, crowdfunding and mobile payments. You can sign-up and get tickets for this ad future events on the LNETM event website.

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Aug 13 2013

Three research questions for big and open data

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CarlaBoninaOn the 1st and 2nd of July 2013, the LSE hosted the second New Economic Models in the Digital Economy (NEMODE) Community Meeting. In this post, LSE Tech fellow Carla Bonina shares the three research questions that emerged as part of the big and open data group: the value of open data, the labour market needs for profiting for big data and the ethical implications from experiments using big data.

During the first days of July, we welcomed the second NEMODE+ community meeting at the LSE. NEMODE+ is a network initiative funded under the Research Councils UK Digital Economy research programme that brings together academics and practitioners to explore new economic models in the digital economy. During the first day, we heard insightful updates on projects that have already been funded by the NEMODE+ network. Day one also covered the overview of eight new projects that have been funded as part of NeMinDE, a sister initiative under the RCUK Digital Economy programme.

Day two was a hands-on project. One of the objectives of NEMODE+ is to stimunemodemeeting_bigdatagrouplate new ideas, propose areas of research and policy engagement around the opportunities and challenges that digital technologies bring to the UK economy and society. Therefore, part of the activities of day two included working in groups around six areas of interest proposed by the delegates in advanced. I took part in the sub-group clustered around big and open data, along with four colleagues from other institutions. As a result of the brainstorming exercise, we arrived at three main research questions that were later presented to the whole community. I share these as follows with a brief explanation of the sub-set of questions or issues to address. Continue reading

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