Technology

Audio Books – Should books be heard?

Can books be heard?

Indigo’s on air magazine gives you a lot to learn. One of the most different ‘packages’ on ‘Sale’ on that magazine was from a company called ‘Reado’ about 4 Classic books on Sale – But those weren’t normal books – those were in fact ‘Audiobooks’ . Books that are read to you! While this is fascinating and there are whole companies actually trying this model out – the real question is Do you need AudioBooks in the first place?

Why Audiobooks?

Audible – A recently acquired company by Amazon tells us three reasons why Audiobooks should be used -

Audible on why Audiobooks

Why should Audiobooks be used

So, I am going to give this a shot – Can books really be listened? Can they actually improve productivity? I can relate to the usecase – I haven’t really finished the book I started 4 weeks ago – Predictably Irrational – By Dan Ariely! Let me give this a whiz and get back frankly!

Audio Articles

But one particular use of Audio is without doubt – Audio Articles on a mobile app like ‘Umano’ is really a fantastic experience. I know a lot of savvy pros who use it, and absolutely love it. I haven’t taken their pro subscription , but like to listen to these articles once in a while on 3G or WIFI.

All said and done, the new age Audio media is sort of a reinvention of a very old format – the radio- but delivered to you as a stream , and on demand. While there is hot debate on whether personalised music worked or not, but this new format of audio books and audio articles surely is finding adoption among a niche audience. And, it definitely fascinated me enough to blog about it!

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Business, Sports, Strategy

Indian Super League – Digital Media Review

What is the Indian Super League -

The Indian Super League is touted as India’s Answer to EPL – English Premier League – which is perhaps among the most popular football league at a global level, at least that’s the perception in India. The League consists of 8 teams from Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Pune, Northeast, Chennai, Goa and Kerala. The league is co-owned by Reliance, IMG and Starsports. For other details on the league visit the Wiki Page.

Why is the league different -

The league is different from other tournaments since it does not use a Relegation / Promotion system but instead uses a Franchisee system on the lines of the famous Indian Premier League. The thought is that this works in the long run since the franchisees get time to establish themselves as brands. The trouble with this is that new talent from a local state cannot really come up and rise through the ranks. This could happen over the years due to politics etc, but I guess for the initial years this format works best for the organisers, sponsors and players, and effectively for the audiences as well.

The Indian Super League Website Review – 8.5/10

How does the Website Look:

On first glance, the website is fabulous. Works well on both the web and mobile. The URL indiansuperleague.com is slightly long, but I guess thats unavoidable, from a branding perspective. The mobile site on both iPhone and Android gives us a notification to download the app which is a fabulous strategy. Nothing better than an App to drive engagement.

The website of the India Super League

The website of the India Super League

What works – The HomePage – 10/10

The HomePage presents an easily readable view of the latest match. The matchcentre is a good place to track the match from web / tablet or mobile – View Mobile Site here. Thankfully there isn’t too much happening on the
page, but that could also be attributed to the fact that there is only one match happening at any point of time in the Indian Super League.

What doesn’t work – No / Little opinions

What really struck me was a complete absence of opinions. While I grant that the fan clubs etc would happen over a longish time period, there is just a total absence of opinions, of views, of debates.. Would love to see player perspectives, post match interviews etc displayed at a match centre level.

The Indian Super League Twitter Page review – 9/10

The twitter page has created quite a buzz with an array of celebrities tweeting tirelessly(?) throughout the league. It definitely helps to have big names like Sachin, Kohli, Dhoni, Amitabh, Hrithik etc on board, but still, the efforts put on twitter are quite impressive, and would yield a long term result very much in favor of the Indian Super League. The Page tweets real time photos of celebrities, players, goals and retweets individual club account tweets for added fizz and views.

What works for the Indian Super League twitter Page -

The activity and buzz has ensured that Indian Super league already entered the top 10 trending topics on twitter multiple times. Particularly impressive was the opening day, when ISL was trending almost for 48 hrs non stop. A lot of celebrities are live tweeting during matches and half time as well, and this definitely helps with fan interest. Now, for the tough part, can this Indian Super League create stars out of players, especially the Indian Players? Remember, the celebrities etc do help the IPL, but IPL is IPL because of the quality of competition. Can India produce a crop of players that can actually take the field by storm? This would definitely influence the league in a big way!

What doesn’t work -

No Fan retweets – I am sure fan retweets and views would rock on this page as well. While this is a double edged sword, but still, that really influences discussions and connect with the league.

Contests lack buzz and lack of daily involvement -Why not try giving away tickets at venues? That should really get a lot of fans hooked on to the page.

Twitter account of India Super League

Twitter account of India Super League


The Indian Super League Facebook Page Review – 8.5/10

The Indian Super League Facebook page really got off to a rousing start by crossing a million Likes in the first week itself. While that certainly was a sight to behold, the momentum has slightly eased off in the following week , which can be seen in the trends below. Currently, the ISL Facebook Page stands at nearly 11 Lakh Likes, but there certainly is room for lot more, especially as the league reaches its final stages in December.

What works for the ISL Facebook Page:

There is some real engaging commentary going on with a lot of user participation. The viewers are expressing their views freely. Whats important is that ISL is taking even criticism into its stride, particularly the criticism about not including Bangalore or on the lack of a relegation/ promotion system.

What doesn’t work for the Indian Super League Facebook Page:

It could be very interesting if the ISL actually starts responding to user queries, that would really help with interactivity and ensure that viewer voices don’t go unheard.

What is your opinion?

Write about your views below. Can ISL become a long term crowd puller and make India a Footballing nation? Let us know!

India Super League - Facebook Fan Page Stats

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Business, Strategy

User Privacy or Website metrics – A tough choice

The other day, one very interesting question came to me, from Raj, one of my students. He was referring to the ad below –


Privacy-settings-internet

Privacy-settings-internet

I browsed for some TShirts and shoes on a top Internet Website. And those kept coming back to me! Again, and again! Everything I do, is being tracked. I get a feeling as if I am being watched! And I don’t like it one bit. 

The problem -

The main issue concerning Raj was the lack of choice that these websites gave him regarding his browsing preferences. There was no choice given to him by respective ecommerce websites regarding what the websites can/cannnot do with his activity. Raj went to the activity settings, and tried to remove the tracking, but to no avail. When he deleted cookies, he found browsing becomes clumsy, because of the absence of tailored recommendations etc.

How much is too much?

All businesses, particularly VC backed ones are under immense pressure to grow their users, revenues and activity. For this, they are ready to take the data battle to the next level, by using advanced techniques like activity targeting, retargeting, social retargeting etc.

Behavioral retargeting (also known as behavioral remarketing, or simply, retargeting) is a form of online targeted advertising by which online advertising is targeted to consumers based on their previous Internet actions, in situations where these actions did not result in a sale or conversion.

What often gets missed in this mad rush is the user himself. Are we taking care of the user? Are we understanding user concerns when it comes to the ads that get planted in this rush to get revenue? Are you scaring users away by these tactics, particularly female users who are very concerned about privacy?

The true question – How can right balance be achieved?

Message me on facebook.com/stratin with your views and we would publish them with your permission.


 

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Business, Marketing, Strategy

Four reasons why Diwali Shopping is different in 2014

Diwali Shopping Phenomenon

Nationwide, its been widely acknowledged that Diwali is the biggest festival in India. And, what does a festival mean? Festival means meeting family, friends, lots of sweets and of course shopping! This has been the norm for decades! But then, 2014 was different for India, so much so, that Minister for Commerce & Industry – Nirmala Seetharaman had to say this about complaints on Flipkart Sale Day

flipkart big billion day

Flipkart’s ‘Big Billion Day’ sale on Monday, that offered steep discounts on various products, has raised concerns among small and big traders that such campaigns would badly affect players in the traditional retail market.
 
“We have received many inputs. Lot of concerns have been expressed. We will look into it,” Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters here.

So, what has changed? Here are the four things that have changed in the aftermath of the Big Billion Day on Flipkart, and similar discounts on all other players!


Smartphones have gone truly mainstream

Diwali Dhamaka week Amazon

While mobile was there in the pockets of Indians for a long time now, what has happened is that Smartphones have truly gone mainstream. Look at the offers going out – there is a smartphone element to everything . There is such a race to push apps to consumers, that extra discounts are being offered to make the app more attractive. This phenomenon started with Whatsapp going mainstream, and more and more people taking up data connections. The other day, the driver who drove me to the airport in Ahmedabad asked me the following:

Kya iss Samsung pe Whatsapp aata hai? (Does whatsapp work on this Samsung phone?)

This is truly the first MOBILE FIRST Diwali in the country, and the offline retailers just weren’t ready for it!

Online retailers and their funding warchest

Online retail makes anything available everywhere, that too at a great price. Checking top comparison engines tells you the story – flipkart, amazon, snapdeal, myntra are all in a league of their own when it comes to prices. Offline retailers will have to come up with something innovative as well, since Online retailers are entering the market with huge funding – Flipkart recently raised one billion dollars, amazon 2 billion, and Snapdeal too raised undisclosed funding with Ratan Tata himself participating.

Inhibitions to buy online reducing

Even now, roughly 10-15% business has gone online, and not more. Yet, why the offline retailers are feeling the pinch is that these 10-15% consumers were the top buyers. They were the ones who brought ‘Diwali’ to their shops in previous years. Now, with Mobile apps etc, people can shop on the go, and the products get reliably delivered to their offices/homes within 2-3 days. They have seen this with friends, and this has reduced inhibitions to buy online.

Unconventional tactics – Customer focus and unlimited choice

Check Snapdeal today on SnapdealOne big change that online players have brought to the table is customer focus. In order to attract customers, Online Players are taking customer service and customer focus to another level. Product bunding, discounts when shopping above a certain amount, same day delivery etc are taking customer focus to another level. Such level of customer focus isn’t found in the offline world. Just creating a huge offline store for customers to come and shop isn’t going to be enough from now on. True problem solving for customers is something that will win customers from now on. This has stumped the offline retailers in some way.


The future – will it be Online all the way?

So are winds blowing the online way only? I wouldn’t say that just yet! I would still back offline giants to come strongly back into the ring, with innovative solutions to overcome these challenges. They surely can, and thats when it would be interesting!

But this Diwali, the true winner in this hullabaloo has been the consumer! ‘Grahak Shakti’ has truly been on view in Diwali 2014, and that is the prime reason why 2014 Diwali has been different!

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Entrepreneurship

Four Ways to Think like an Entrepreneur

The Premise


Entrepreneur in you

Today, a lot of things don’t work like they did before. And as a student, you know what’s happening in the world around you. A student has better idea than an existing professional about what the future is going to be, since she/he is already using stuff that would grow more popular in the future, thats the nature of your demographic. The best way to use this situation to your advantage is to think like an entrepreneur!

Why to think like an entrepreneur


Ownership -

The real reason why entrepreneurs are so valued is the sense of ownership that they bring to the table. In many ways, corporates and Startups alike love those people who take ownership. The ones who take responsibility, and own a particular metric, balance sheet, growth objective, business target – these are the people who are truly respected in the firm.

‘Hiding’ Information is not a long term competitive advantage -

In many ways, the truth about majority of industries today is that information has become much more fluid than before. This means that a lot of information, industry tips and tricks are available freely. An example of this is Google and Facebook share more data about their ecosystem than top media companies ever did. This means that you have to start thinking differently in order to stay ahead.

Achieving targets -

Every sphere of professional life is associated with a Business Goal. An entrepreneurial spirit is something that can drive you to transcend the ‘achievement’ aspect but in fact it should be ‘finding easier and scalable ways of achieving a target’.

Ways to think like an Entrepreneur


Way #1 – Competitive Benchmarking

One thing is for sure, every business line, right from HR to Analytics, has competition. Some competition within the company, some outside. Its very important to understand what works for these people, and adopt in many ways the best practices. At a firm level, there is also incentive to collaborate with peers in order to achieve a company wide goal. These collaborative projects form an ideal ground for yourself to benchmark against your peers, find your weaknesses and turn those on their head into your strengths.

Way # 2 – Intensity at work

A lot of times, intensity at work is a function of external factors such as push from top management, personal lives, even weather! This is not how entrepreneurs work. The best entrepreneurs don’t let these things act as impediments, but instead give their best intensity at work. That in a way separates the entrepreneurs from te rest.

Way # 3 – Knowhow – Read, Read and Read!

One way to create a difference at your workplace is to keep constantly reading about developments in and around you. If you are a developer, read about the latest Android update. If you are in Finance, read about the latest tool by Intuit. Read about Sales, Marketing, Ops – but surely, do Read!

Way # 4 – Problem Solving

In many ways, life has so many elements that can be traced back to one key theme – Problem Solving. This is the common thread that runs across functions, across seniority and across sectors in the professional world. A ‘Can Do’ attitude is what entrepreneurs bring to the table when it comes to Problem Solving. As such, this is what makes your professional life fun and worth it – whether you enjoy Problem solving in your expertise area or not!

In Conclusion


I feel a lot of times, our education system trains us for ‘jugaad’. Find the easiest way of doing ‘x’. To truly prosper at workplace, you don’t need the easiest way for you, but for the organisation. That takes some serious ‘un-learning’. This is the true spirit of entrepreneurship. Do check what Paul Graham has to say about Counter-intuitive aspects of startups and entrepreneurs -

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Business, Technology

Flipkart and its BigBillionDay!

Yesterday, Oct 6, 2014 was a huge day in Indian Ecommerce. It all started with this ad by Flipkart, and Snapdeal tried to ambush it right on TOI front page itself! (Surprise, surprise!) .

In any ways, here’s what I thought of the whole thing –

  • I thought largely the BigBillionDay was executed well
  • Of course there were aggrieved customers, and posts from an ‘esoteric’ blog about how prices went up and down, but still I thought, a lot of consumers actually did prepone their buying decisions and that was great for the ecomm players.
  • In fact, even other ecomm retailers benefited in this frenzy! Won’t be surprised if one found out that other players like Amazon, Infibeam, Snapdeal also benefited from the #bigbillionday
  • This was basically an attempt by Flipkart to emulate Alibaba’s strategy of achieving 5x sales, which Alibaba routinely executes, and with aplomb on Singles’ day – Nov 11 in China. -Check this BBG article to know more!

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., China’s largest e-commerce company, broke its one-day sales record by more than 80 percent as it heads toward an initial public offering that may be valued higher than Facebook

Taobao and Tmall, Alibaba’s two main platforms, topped 35 billion yuan ($5.75 billion) in the 24-hour period, surpassing last year’s sales of 19.1 billion yuan, the company said on its official Twitter Inc. account. Yesterday was China’s Singles’ Day, a local twist on Valentine’s Day, and e-commerce firms marked the occasion by flooding the Internet with promotions and fueling demand on China’s biggest online shopping day

What’s more, Flipkart has got a lot of marketing eyeballs, for free as well! Flipkart, and Indian Ecommerce is slowly reaching heights that few have reached, and to me, this is just the beginning! Quite exciting times for Indian Internet space, I say!

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Reflections, Strategy

Three Tips for your Self Zeitgeist 2013

Yep, its that time of the year when Zeitgeist stories take centre stage again. The time before holidays start and the time when a lot of people start looking forward to the year that will soon start with a lot of hope!

Its at these times that Zeitgeist type of stories work the best. Whats a Zeitgeist in the first place?

Zeitgeist – The defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time.

Here are the top Zeitgeist stories I have found so far which would help fashion a Self Zeitgeist –

1. Facebook Stories - Found Facebook stories to be a compelling read. You can view the most inspiring Facebook stories here or check your own ‘Year-in-Review’ on Facebook by typing the following link on your browser – https://www.facebook.com/yearinreview . Found the Year in Review very compelling because you feel like you are going through what you did in the year all at once.

Zeitgeist

Zeitgeist on Facebook Stories

2. Slideshare Zeitgeist – Perhaps the most shareable & readable content in the world – both text and visual is found on Slideshare today. So, its quite natural that Slideshare Zeitgeist would be awesome too. Check the same out below –

SlideShare Zeitgeist 2013 from SlideShare ( Click on this link if you cannot view the Presentation in the email newsletter)

3. Self Zeitgeist

– I feel creating a Zeitgeist for oneself at these times would be quite awesome too. It will help you take a self evaluation on what could be done better and try and make efforts to better that. For example, one thing I realised while thinking back is there is a necessity for me to be consistent in my efforts towards a certain goal. I had, still have a habit to go with the flow, but that really doesn’t help. At some point of time, consistency / persistence is what may lead to a long term reward.

What is your Zeitgeist? Please share in the comments section!

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Business, Entrepreneurship, Technology, Web

Housing.co.in – RightMove for India!


housing
Having witnessed the success of RightMove in the UK, I always wondered why there wasn’t an Indian Counterpart for it. Seeing Housing.Co.In yesterday answered that question :)

Housing.Co.In enters the tricky domain of Indian Real Estate! A market with innumerable dealers – who in many ways survive on the fact that market is not transparent and illiquid. Want an apartment to rent in a new city? Get ready to deal with thousands of agents, no certainty who is the landlord, no knowledge whether you are overpaying or not – absolutely no information. Want to rent out your apartment? Again get ready to deal with many many agents, always demand a big housing deposit, ask neighbours how much are they charging! In the digital age where the entire city maps are online thanks to Google – how can this still be the case?

  • Housing.Co.In provides a great layout which simplifies these things.Choose your location, Rent, Buy or Sell, Enter desired location and instant results on a map! Prices, Pictures, Reviews, Commute, Neighbourhood – basically everything you want to see before actually going to see the property.
  • Transparency: Specially in the Indian Real Estate Sector where the market is always higher when you want to buy and always lower when you want to sell! Its a boon for everyone! Initially property agents might not like it but I believe in the long run it is beneficial for them as well – as with transparency we will get more transactions!
  • Ease of moving: Going to a new city? Switching jobs? The main question becomes housing! Sir par chat to honi chahiyen na mere bhai …. hopefully this solves such issues
  • Information: Many such property websites have now started publishing market reports and market status – giving more information to users, government, industry and so on. The information advantage is also huge.

Do try it out. The number of cities are 9 for now but they cover most metros. Pretty good effort and will be interesting to watch its growth from now on …

 

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Business, Marketing, Strategy, Technology, Web

Loyalty Card and Analytics together via Apps! – Way to go GBK

 

Everyone knows that Apps! are serious business. Instagram acquired for $1 billion, over billions of apps on iPhone and Android, to a large degree windows phone and blackberry failing due to lacks of apps! There is Facebook App, LinkedIn App, BBC News App, NDTV App, Hotel Booking Apps, Amazon Apps – many many apps! Most of the apps however are of 1 category – taking interaction from the user from the computer to their mobile device – which makes sense as it keeps the user engaged all the time.

gbkTill now, I have not seen many real consumer based companies moving to Apps to keep the user engaged and also gather useful analytics for themselves. This attempt by a Gourmet Burger Kitchen in the UK seems like a clever entry point.

Loyalty Cards have been around for a long long time. They give the user an incentive to come back, generate more revenue for the service provider and many times the user introduces other users to the brand as well. All this has been fairly well understood. Till now – loyalty cards existed like cards and not Apps!

By introducing the GBK App as a loyalty card – GBK gets so much more information and in turn helps grow the business.

  • User Analytics – App helps you measure number of repeat visits (per week, per month, per year)
  • Customer Retention – If the user starts using the app but does not come back then surely you can give them some special coupon to get the repeat business!
  • Location – When you are in the restaurant business, one of the most important things for you is Location! Through this app though you get to know exactly how many people and which people frequent which areas for GBK.
  • Paperless and Convenience - We all want to be green! And no one wants to look for bits of paper when you can have it in your smartphone.
  • Customer Categorisation – As the user needs to use to app before ordering to get the discount – you know their usual order size and margins – better of all you know the customer details. You can focus on the most profitable customers!

I believe this is just the start of the move of loyalty cards – maybe one day the term itself will change to Loyalty App!

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India Trending topics
Marketing, Strategy

Are Facebook updates and Tweets equal to Mass media popularity

Over the past few months, I have been trying to gauge if yesterday night’s top program was indeed on twitter or not, in its Trending topics section I mean. As an example, Sunday Night’s top Program in Mumbai was the Champions Trophy final, billed as the last clash between Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid. Empirically, the correlation stands. Even at 7.45 AM on Monday, these programs were on Trending topics of twitter. Check it out –

mass media to twitter trends

Trending topics on Twitter and correlation to Mass media spends

The real question here is – Can & should mass media be swayed by the “socially” active programs? Should mass media advertisers truly ascertain value to such twitter trending topic presence or Facebook Trend presence? Lets look at both sides of the coin here –

Continue reading

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