Written by Frederik Simoen

The bootcamp was all about technology on Wednesday. The bootcampers were introduced to Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, chatbots, robots and the many possible applications and implications of these new and emerging technologies. The program took the bootcampers one level deeper, to understanding the actual application of these technologies, the implications on their customers and on society as a whole.

Ignition Bootcamp Utrecht: Wednesday March 22nd, 2017 - Day 3

OMAR MOHOUT - HOW DO YOU RAPIDLY DESIGN AND DEPLOY

Omar told the bootcampers to get their hands dirty. If they believe a technology is relevant for their company, they should experiment with it. There are plenty of free online programming courses. You don't have to become an expert, but you have to experiment with what's out there.

Technology is only one part of innovation, though. Companies also have to innovate with business models. Being top-3 in your industry, used to be a comfortable position. Even number 10 was usually still a good place to be. No longer! The new world is ruled by power laws. The leader has 95% percent of the industry. The second place doesn't exist anymore, there is only a first loser! Who of you knows the number two after Google, Amazon, Uber and Airbnb? Except for some Chinese giants, all these companies have no real competitors.

Omar discussed two types of business model in more detail: the community and the ecosystem. A community can help a company achieve growth by engaging users or customers to help each other. In this model, companies acquire mindshare before market share. In times when agility is key, communities are a great resource for companies to continuously gather feedback from a base of engaged customers.

Actually, we should think about communities as an intermediate step into becoming an ecosystem. In an ecosystem, partners develop products and services around your offering. Every single one of these partners extracts value from and gives value back to the ecosystem. In an ecosystem companies can focus on their own core. You can have partners invest in businesses that are important to you, but not your core. Think, for example, of e-commerce companies investing in delivery companies.

NICOLAS DERUYTTER, RAYMOND HANNES, JELLE VAN VEENEN AND BRAM VANDERBORGHT - AN AFTERNOON ABOUT DATA

Nicolas kicked off an afternoon about data with a brief explications of what neural networks, machine learning, image classification and natural language processing are. He amazed the bootcampers with a program that can identify cats in pictures. It could do lots more:  identify people's sentiments or even detect cancer! But beware, in the end, this is still "dumb machine learning". The machine will only do what you trained it to do, and even then it still make mistakes. He also warned the participants that 80% of the work with machine learning is data preparation, this is hard work that takes lots of time.

Raymond told us how artificial intelligence actually has the power to make people happy! We, humans are really bad at processing others' emotions, and even worse at expressing our own. It is proven that simply paying attention to your own emotions will make you happier. That's why he believes technology can help us. It's a tough ride, though. If you would, for example, try to do this with a chatbot, it has to remember everything you ever told it: who you are, how you felt last time, … Because in the end, you want people to think they are talking to a real person, not a machine!

Jelle told us how the legal industry is on the edge of disruption, too. Lawyers from the 1900's could easily still be doing their jobs today. They would only have to get familiar with e-mail. But there is hope, the law is also making steps forward! You can already pick lawyers, judges and courts most suitable to your case based on historical data. Even the law is experimenting with new technologies and business models!

Bram concluded by telling the bootcampers that new technologies will not only bring happiness, but also new jobs! He presented his research on collaboration between robots and humans. There are lots of advancements being made in Japan, for eample. This is because the Japanese population is aging rapidly. There are less and less young people who have to support in increasing amount of elderly people but these are now supported by robots. And there is more benefit to be gained from robots! Advanced prostheses help amputees regain mobility, exoskeletons do the same thing for those who suffered from a stroke. These exoskeletons will even be used in physically demanding jobs, creating superpowered employees! Bram concluded with the story of the 'Red Flag Act'. When cars were first introduced in the UK, it was mandatory by law for someone to walk in front of them, waving a red flag. Only after this law was abolished, the British car industry was able to grow to the size it had in the 20th century. That's why we need an all-inclusive robot-agenda in Europe.

The bootcampers were treated with a VR-experience at the end of the day. They were very amazed by how 'real' this virtual reality has become!

This is the third of a series of five posts about the Ignition Bootcamp of the week of 20 March until 24 March. Stay tuned for more daily reports in the next two days.

We've made a short compilation video of our third bootcamp day as well. Check it here.

Want to join one of our next Ignition Bootcamps? Check them here