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Category Archives: Digital Business

No substitutions allowed

One famous scene from the movie Five Easy Pieces shows Jack Nicholson ordering a side of whole-wheat toast with his omelet at a diner. He’s then informed that the system doesn’t allow sides of toast. So he orders a chicken salad sandwich on whole-wheat toast—without butter, lettuce, mayonnaise, and chicken.

Nearly everyone recognizes what’s wrong with the “system” in this scenario—the customer doesn’t easily get what he wants. But the traditional approach to “fixing” this might be to simply add more options for what the customer might want. That change would impact the diner’s ordering system, the inventory needed in the kitchen, and even how the kitchen staff cooks. So sometimes it’s easier to simply say, “the system doesn’t work that way,” or, in other words, “no substitutions allowed.”

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What we’re learning from the Target data breach

Data breaches in the news over the past two months have affected millions of people; 110 million Target shoppers and 1.1 million Neiman Marcus customers. Retailer Michaels Stores is investigating a possible data breach. In addition, some Marriott Hotels, Holiday Inns, Sheratons, and other sites managed by White Lodging Hotels were also the target of cybercriminals. As these retailers, businesses, and industry experts brief Congress on the situation, consumers are learning more about the implications of cybercrime. The overall takeaway is that data breaches are common and will continue. In fact, as The Washington Post reported in Experts warn of coming wave of serious cybercrime,” “Only 11% of businesses have adopted industry-standard security measures … and that even these ‘best practices’ fall short of what’s needed to defeat aggressive hackers.”

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Is there a hole in JetBlue’s digital strategy?

Winter weather—and its associated travel woes—are nothing new to the Northeast or the Midwest. But the early storm (Hercules) of 2014 saw a nearly unprecedented level of cancellations and chaos days after the actual storm.

Those most impacted were passengers of JetBlue. Several days after the initial storm, JetBlue halted all operations at Boston’s Logan International Airport and all three New York-area airports. According to, “JetBlue said it cancelled 435 flights, affecting 49,000 passengers.” The airline blamed both the weather and new FAA rules that extended the hours of rest crews needed between flights.

Not only has this incident exposed some core airline operations issues—not planning for the extension in required rest hours and not having the flexibility to move aircraft—but it has also exposed some holes in JetBlue’s digital customer service.

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Bitcoin’s role in digital strategy

The hype around Bitcoin is largely speculative; as The Washington Post stated in its article, “12 Questions about Bitcoin You Were Too Embarrassed to Ask,” the price of Bitcoin is “extraordinarily volatile,” also noting, “It lost more than 90% of its value between June and October 2011.” Since then, the currency has gone from $0.30 in 2011 to $600 today. It’s definitely a speculator’s market. The currency may continue to increase in value, or it may fall.

Some argue that Bitcoin’s story could mirror that of the Internet—a technology waiting for a few “killer applications.” As a result, there are numerous startups raising venture capital funds to build businesses and applications around Bitcoin.

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