Monthly Archives: November 2015

The End of Cyber Monday

Photo of a young woman in a clothing store looking at her phone.As I write this blog entry, we are still two weeks away from Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. While I believe the first two will continue into the future, I think the term Cyber Monday has become irrelevant, largely due to technology changes, and will end this year. In this post I will lay out my reasoning for predicting its demise and invite you to give me feedback as to whether you believe Cyber Monday is doomed.


The term Cyber Monday was coined in 2005 by, the digital arm of the National Retail Federation. also runs the website in which they invite participating retailers to share their Cyber Monday shopping deals. The term refers to the Monday after Black Friday when the most online Christmas shopping is done. It was not true in 2005 but was by 2010. Now it is only one of many large online shopping days reaching back into mid-October.


I believe that the biggest threat to Cyber Monday is technology. The theory was people would go to work on Monday after the long Thanksgiving weekend and purchase all of their remaining Christmas items online using the faster company internet connection. That is now irrelevant for two reasons:

  1. Home internet connections are now fast enough to stream digital content such as movies so they are more than adequate for shopping.
  2. More people are shopping now from a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet so they do not need to be tied to the home or office internet connection.

The term “showrooming” was coined to define the practice of visiting a store to view merchandise before ordering it online at a lower price. Best Buy has been referred to as the showroom for Amazon. In theory, you could even stand in a brick and mortar store and order the same product online through your smartphone. I think this practice will decline as we get closer to price parity between online and traditional retailers.

Web sites and apps such as and have taken the steam out of Cyber Monday by advertising a wide range of retail deals 365 days a year. I can define my product search and get alerts as to the best price and retailer, regardless of whether it is on Thanksgiving weekend.

Timing is everything

Retailers are creating shopping events earlier and earlier. I can already see “leaked” Black Friday ads from several retailers even though Thanksgiving is still several days away and Christmas is more than a month away. Soon we could have our Christmas shopping done in September, eliminating the whole holiday rush of late November and early December.


I realize that retailers will continue to roll out special deals on certain days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but I think that technology advances and the way that we choose to do business will make these exclusive days less of a bargain.

Am I just being a Scrooge or am I on to something? Is technology changing how and when we shop? Has Cyber Monday become irrelevant? Let me know your thoughts.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

The Future of Financial Technology: Small Business Transactions

Credit cards emerging from a cell phone.I have wondered about the technology that powers the economy through all of the electronic transactions we make every day. It seems to be transparent and behind the scenes until something goes wrong or a system goes offline, and then it is obvious. It has to be robust to correctly handle the millions of daily transactions. I know that the way I work with financial institutions is very different from what it was even just a few years ago. What exactly is powering all of this?

Crowdfunding Payments

In the new world of crowdfunding there are millions of online credit card transactions involved, some for as little as $5. A number of startups have stepped in to process transactions using affordable technology. WePay works with small businesses, crowdsourcing companies, and acting as the payment processor between individual buyers and sellers. They charge a 2.9% transaction fee, which is competitive, and have turned a nice profit.

Mobile Payments

Square has made mobile payments easier through a device that connects to a cellphone and processes credit card payments without a traditional hard-wire connection to the bank. I first saw these devices at craft fairs and farmers’ markets but am now starting to see them in stores, especially small shops, in place of traditional credit card transaction machines. This technology allows small businesses and individuals to process payments offline, securely and affordably.

The New Lenders

Small business owners are sometimes locked out of conventional loans because large banks cannot always verify assets or income source. Online lenders like Kabbage verify income through a business’s electronic accounts such as PayPal or Quickbooks. The loan can be used to purchase inventory, meet payroll, or expand a business. The loans are generally small and the business owner can skip the traditional loan paperwork by verifying assets through existing electronic accounts.


Technology has provided great tools for small businesses and individuals who are often locked out of the standard transaction or loan process either because they are too small or they are not profitable for a bank. As more people start small web-based businesses, others are there to help them. Whether their goal is to grow and expand or to continue selling quality products to a few individuals, the infrastructure and processes are already in place to help them pursue their dream.

If you are a small business owner and you have used any electronic services to process payments for sales to individuals, let me know about your experience. Is technology powering future commerce? Will traditional banks and lenders join in on this innovation or will it pass them by? Let me know your thoughts.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

People of Ability

Group of business people assembling jigsaw puzzleIn my volunteer positions I have worked with youth of different abilities, often called disabilities. These youth may be mentally, physically, or emotionally disabled. Despite these disabilities, they contribute greatly in various ways and have taught me many lessons that I carry with me. In this blog post I will highlight some stories of people with disabilities who contribute to the field of information technology.

Meticulon Consulting

I have worked with people on the autism spectrum who are excellent programmers. They are methodical, meticulous, and often very creative. They like routine work and excel at logic challenges such as coding. In a recent article, Meticulon Consulting, a Canadian technology firm, was highlighted for hiring people with autism. Their experiences were the same as mine. The people they hired were meticulous, hard working, and loyal to the firm. Meticulon co-founder Garth Johnson makes the point that he is not hiring people with disabilities out of sympathy but because it makes good business sense. Johnson said, “I’m not interested in this as a charity. If we can’t prove business value, then I don’t view it as sustainable for our employees, either our typically enabled or our people with autism.” Other companies cited in the article are coming to the same realization. It makes good business sense to hire people with disabilities.


The German software giant SAP shares that experience. Their goal is to have one percent of their workforce from the autism community by 2020. This goal came out of a project with the Autism Society of India after SAP programmers created software to help children with autism communicate better. The project was successful so the employees proposed a pilot project to hire adults with autism. SAP recognized the fact that these new employees come with a different perspective and a fresh set of eyes. Jose Velasco, a SAP executive and head of the Autism At Work program said, “There is a skill set people on the spectrum are bringing that has business value.”

Physical Disabilities

In our AIM Program course, Information Systems and Management, we talk about the stereotype of technology workers who are more comfortable with computers than with people. Whether the stereotype is valid or not, it has nothing to do with physical abilities. I have worked with people with hearing or vision impairments or other disabilities who love technology as much as I do. An employer may need to make some accommodations for them, but in my experience it is worth the effort; they bring a rich skillset and unique perspective to a project or an organization.


I believe that we need contributions from people of all abilities in order to make a strong and complete team. We all bring different skills and experiences to our work so the fact that we don’t all think alike or move the same should not make a difference. I would like to hear about your experiences working with people with different abilities. Are there benefits or drawbacks? Let me know.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

Back to the Future: Hits and Misses

Photo by Erin Cadigan

Photo by Erin Cadigan

In the 1985 film “Back To The Future II,” the characters create a time machine and travel 30 years into the future, to October 21, 2015. I am a fan of the trilogy so I have been thinking about how accurately they portrayed our current year. There were some hits and some misses.

Flying Cars

While we do not yet have commercially available flying cars we do have working autonomous vehicles. Google has prototypes driving on city streets in California. Toyota, Volvo, Audi, Mercedes Benz, Apple, and Tesla are also developing self-driving cars. Apparently it is easier to develop a self-driving car than a flying car. Now, if only we could develop an autonomous flying car, that would be really cool.


In the movie, the main character rides a levitating skateboard, which he calls a hoverboard. We do have those, although they are not in mass production. Lexus recently demonstrated a hoverboard, partly to coincide with the date in the movie, which may be the first step toward their goal of developing a levitating car. If they succeed, we could some day have flying cars, but they wouldn’t fly high up in the air like in “Back To The Future” or “The Jetsons.”

Fax Machines in Every Room

In one scene of the movie, they show a home with multiple fax machines. I think we moved past this technology. Fax machines are still available as standalone machines or integrated into scanner/printers, but faxing has largely been replaced by other electronic communication methods. Now we have screens in every room and in every hand.

Large Screen Advertising

When the main character arrives in the future, there is outdoor advertising everywhere on large screens, almost to distraction. I think we have this one covered. I can drive down the highway now and see full color video on billboards. In 1985 who would have thought we would have 60-inch high definition televisions in our homes? In terms of screen size, we subscribe to the “bigger is better” philosophy. The largest current sports arena screen is the Jumbotron in Houston, which measures 52 feet high and 277 feet wide. We have definitely figured out how to make large displays.


Some things, such as flying cars, have been anticipated since the 1950s, but we haven’t quite perfected them. Other predictions are already old school. I wonder if movie scripts mimic our ingenuity and development, or is it the other way around? If we were to make a movie today portraying 2045, what would it look like? Will we all still be walking around looking at six-inch screens or will we have integrated our viewing into wearables such as glasses and holographic projections? What do you predict for the future? Let me know your thoughts and I will circle back in 2045 to see if you are right.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.