Graph about falling crime rates
Technology

Web security in an increasingly wireless world

Here is what happened over the last 4 days –

  • Thursday – An unknown developer hacks into Apple Developer website 
  • Saturday –  Apple detects the problem late Saturday
  • Sunday –     Apple pulls its developer website offline
  • Monday –   Apple developer website is still offline.

That this comes in the wake of this article on the Economist cover page – which emphatically states that Crime rates have fallen is an indictment on the nature of our times . To quote –

Graph about falling crime rates

Graph about falling crime rates

Demographic trends are an obvious factor. The baby-boom in the decades after the second world war created a bubble in the 16- to 24-year-old population a couple of decades later, and most crimes are committed by men of that age. That bubble is now long deflated. In most Western countries, the population is ageing, often quite fast.

Clearly, the Economist does not take into account the fact that a lot of these 16 to 24 year olds are now expert hackers and are trying out new ways to find entry doors into secure websites . Today the incentive for a hacker to hack successfully into websites is enormous. Today’s ‘power’ isn’t cash nor is it forging signs. Today’s power is data, information, Credit card numbers and passwords. The site you are reading this piece on was itself grappling some hacking attacks over the past 6 months which meant that authors could write less on a blog thats close to five years old.

My hypothesis is that today, with so many things going online, it is also getting harder to detect crimes. Someone illegally swipes your credit card in Scotland ( for example ) – and you come to know about it only 2 weeks later – how can one prevent such an eventuality? Or how can one be aware of external environments when getting cash out of ATMs ? These are questions of 2013 which are relevant from an information security perspective.

So, what can web users as alert citizens do in the wake of such attacks? I suggest three simple tricks –

1. Be watchful – especially with things like Credit cards – do not make credit card information visible in public, even in ATMs. Cover the card and swipe it carefully even at an ATM

2. Passwords and 3DS/VBV – In India, there is an extra layer of security when it comes to swiping Credit / Debit cards online. This is a very nice feature from a security perspective for the consumer ( while it causes heartaches for the vendors though 🙂 ) . Do make sure that you sign in to your Bank for the 3DS program. Also, basic hygiene rules about passwords are a must.

3. Chargeback – If in case you stay outside India, and your credit card got swiped online, there is a consumer protection tool that can help you. It is called a chargeback. The customer has to claim the same with his bank and the bank would reverse the impact of the transaction , thereby charging the merchant a refund amount at its end. This transaction is called a Credit card charge back. To quote  –

The chargeback mechanism exists primarily for consumer protection. Holders of credit cards issued in the United States are afforded reversal rights by Regulation Z of the Truth in Lending Act. United States debit card holders are guaranteed reversal rights by Regulation E of the Electronic Fund Transfer Act. Similar rights extend globally, pursuant to the rules established by the corresponding card association or bank network.

Do you have any other interesting ways in which web security can be observed? Let us know here.

Image – Economist

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seamless
Technology

Seamless – The Technology buzzword of 2013!

Lo and behold! More than 6 months of 2013 are already through and they have been simply explosive for the Indian Technology enthusiasts! India has been quoted as the fastest growing technology market in the world and the world is taking notice.

Three biggest things happened in India Internet / Technology / Product sector according to me in the first half of 2013-

1. Amazon entered India with Amazon.in – A company that I have been following for years, Amazon entered the Indian market and is already capturing sizeable market share, if not market share, at least eyeballs. It remains to be seen how many of those eyeballs can be sustained; also how other competitors react to it. Notice that Amazon is within 1.5 mn uniques of Flipkart within literally no time.

Comscore data amazon

 

2. Redbus acquisition and the aftermath – Redbus acquisition has proven to the world that Indian market is alive and well when it comes to potential M&A activity in the Internet / Technology sector and has definitely given a wave of hope through the entrepreneur / employee / VC / Angel ecosystem . This has also implied that a lot of startups hitherto struggling to find lead investors are finding the investor community a lot more approachable, provided the business basics are in place.

seamless

Seamlessness as a Critical success factor

3. Seamlessness – However, the biggest trend of 2013, in my opinion is Seamlessness – Everything of 2013 has to be seamless. If your product works ONLY on the web, sorry, thats just not good enough! Your product has to work cross platform. Do you have an IOS app? Well folks thats not enough too, for your app needs to also be on the app eco system that has 70% market share outside the US – Android. Android is taking over the world and the developer community knows it. Every company – a publicly listed one as well as fledgling startups are putting considerable effort and are placing considerable bets on the premise of attracting loyal userbase on the promise of a seamless experience.

Never has seamlessness been so important in my opinion.

What are your opinions? Let me know!

 

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Will 2013 be the year of the enterprise startup?
Business, Leadership, Marketing, Technology

Is 2013 the Year of the Enterprise Startup ?

There has been a lot of talk about enterprise startups becoming ‘cool again’ , ‘the place to invest’ and so on. So what has really changed? How have enterprise startups, long considered boring and ‘un-scalable’ become sought after again? Here are the top three reasons

enterprise-startups
1. Tremendous focus on ROI at enterprise level
– The one common thread across all enterprise startups is an unwavering focus on ROI. This focus has particularly come in the spotlight in the wake of the global downturn that hit the World Economy in 2008. After this, there has been a definitive shift towards optimally using all resources, without exception, at an enterprise level. This has created newer opportunities and startups are exploiting those.

2. B2B outreach is easier than before – The biggest problem for a B2B startup is marketing. For example, an Accenture advertisement at best serves as a branding tool in the minds of 99% of the advertisement viewers. After all, mass media is definitely not the way to reach out to the enterprises. However, with the advent of channels like Google, Slideshare, Linkedin etc, this process has become simpler and inquiries through these channels are increasing for enterprise startups.

3. The advent of the cloud – Cloud, the ease of access and lowering costs of storage has meant that enterprise startups can stay afloat longer by curbing their expenses to the minimal. It wouldn’t be far fetched to say that enterprise startups owe a lot to services like AWS ( Amazon Web Services) for actually enabling their business models to go afloat at a lower cost than before.

Given all these factors, it is natural that enterprise startups are doing all sorts of innovative things and most importantly, at scale! Here are a couple of areas in which enterprise startups are totally cracking the whip –

(a) Analytics – A huge area where startups are innovating big time is analytics. An analytics backbone is a huge plus across sectors, be it in the ad network domain or in the enterprise effectiveness domain.

(b) Cloud storage – Startups like GitHub, Box, Dropbox, Diablo, Messagebus, Gridstore etc are all innovating on the cloud storage front and evolving new business models that are not only sustainable, but also scalable. And, they are well supported by Angel/VC money as well.

(c) CRM – Salesforce has literally become a common factor across almost all major companies today. The scale that Salesforce has been able to achieve has proven the scalability of B2B Startups. However, in the field of CRM, Salesforce is not alone and is closely followed by competitors like SugarCRM.

Given this, its natural that top VCs are entering the fray here –

KPCB is investing $200 mn

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers will invest at least $200 million this year in mobile applications and cloud computing services for corporate users, investment partner Matt Murphy said. The Menlo Park, California-based venture capital firm, which boosted its enterprise-technology investments in 2012, will also seek security-startup investments, Murphy said in an interview.

Startups focused on corporate users are benefiting as employees adopt personal smartphones and tablets for work. That’s triggered increased investment by companies in new tools to manage mobile and cloud-based computing, Murphy said.

“The traction in our enterprise portfolio really surprised us,” Murphy said. “We view the timing and opportunity as even better than in 2012.”

WSJ Articles about enterprise startups

When Andreessen Horowitz VC Peter Levine looked around a conference room Thursday in San Francisco and saw 10 reporters sitting next to five CEOs of enterprise tech startups, he could barely contain his glee. “There’s a renaissance in enterprise computing – if this were five, six or seven years ago, to get one person to show up in this room would have been quite difficult,” he said. Perhaps he was calculating how much those exits would be worth. After all, 80% of tech IPOs next year are expected to be from enterprise startups. Andreessen Horowitz has invested more than $100 million in the startups in the room.

An India view

In India as well, there is an unquestionable need for enterprise startups. In fact, a lot of Indian startups focused on the enterprise have made global waves too – Zoho being one such example. Will India react or adapt to this boom in Enterprise Startups? What enterprise startups will emerge from India in 2013? Have your say below.

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Business, Strategy, Technology, Web

Revenues or Customers – Facebook needs to pick one!

Read an interesting article by Mahesh Murthy on Facebook and its new ways to generate revenue. You can find it in detail here, but according to me the summary is that ‘Customers used Facebook because it was a cool and free place to come together. In the process Facebook became a big company and from advertising on the sides has few billion dollars in revenue. Now to increase the revenues Facebook is trying to charge customers from their posts without understanding how dangerous it can be. People switched from Myspace to Orkut to Facebook and god knows where they might go next’.

Both Facebook and Instagram have done some big bloopers in the past few weeks. Instagram change of policy caused a major controversy and probably loss of users! Facebook charging money to promote posts is again a big blooper! I understand making money is difficult but here our a few ideas from my side for possible revenue streams!

  • Facebook Messenger vs WhatsApp: Techcrunch wrote that Facebook might be in the talks to acquire WhatsApp. Ofcourse Facebook can acquire another company but the fact remains that Facebook Messenger could have easily been more successful than WhatsApp! Facebook already had the contacts as friends list, had a mobile application and everything WhatsApp had except business development. Only Focus and Business Development were needed.
  • Dating / Matrimonial Site Integration: Whether its Match or eHarmony in the UK/US or Shaadi.com or BharatMatrimony.com in India or something else in other countries! Helping Single people meet each other has going on since centuries and now there is a way to do this and also make money! Facebook already has the ‘status’ and can easily extend this, ofcourse giving user the option to whether use this service or not and whether charge for this service or not.
  • Workplace or Competing with LinkedIn: It might not work because people like to keep personal life and professional lives separate. However I was told that one of the few things which employers first do when they get a job application is to search for applicant’s Facebook page and go through it …. so it just might work! I know applications like BranchOut have been around but a direct attempt by Facebook might be more successful.
  • Deals or Competing with GroupOn: Facebook actually closed its deals site in just 4 months! I was very much disappointed with this because I felt Facebook with all the users likes, history, location would be much better at this. Anyways a business definitely for Facebook’s Future, otherwise what is the worth of all that user information?

There are many possible revenue streams for Facebook but the common factor which leads to all of them is just one – Customers and more than 1 billion of them! Don’t alienate them …

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Business, Entertainment, Technology, Web

Analyzing internet search – more than what you could guess

Analysis of the web searches of people all over the world has provided some interesting answers and the adult search content is not even among the top 3 in volume.

Some major trends in the internet search:

  1. Maximum searches are for social media sites, be that facebook or linkedin, but why do people still search for these sites??
  2. Second rank holders are the video sites, that will be youtube by far.
  3. Next comes the email providers like yahoo, gmail, hotmail, etc.
  4. Fourth rank is taken up by adult search content.

Now, while trying to understand the logic of searches the world over, there are more interesting things that pop up.

  1. People like to do searches just for being sure that spelling is right. There are multiple reasons for that, some users do not want to take a risk of going to other site by mistake and some others find it easier than typing the whole text.
  2.  Most searches do not have any meaning. The search for meaningless words is very high, much higher that they command a huge traffic volume. Take for example asdf, qwertyuiop, etc. These have become huge because people search for them out of boredom and these are the easiest ones to search from keyboard.
  3. Then there are people who do not have time or are just lazy enough that they even want to search than finding the link on page. Classic example is people searching for facebook login on google than on facebook website.
  4. Search for public personalities is on a huge rise with the popularity of people from business, sports and entertainment field generating a lot of interest due to the availability of information online.
  5. People do search for adult content and these are the only top searches which are less focused on a site and more on generic verbs/nouns.

All definitions of what internet was made for have changed over times and so have the search engine purposes.

It would be interesting to hear what our readers think has been changing in the world of internet search. Please do put down your thoughts below.

 

Source: Google Zeitgeist, Mike’s marketing tools, AOL’s top searches

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Joglekar 984
Business, Technology

Five ideas to grow revenues on the Internet

Recently, the Gulf Maharashtra Business Forum ( GMBF ) organised a fantastic conference cum exhibition at the DWTC – World Trade Center in Dubai. The conference was an avenue for Small businesses from Dubai and India to know more about the markets from a market entry and business expansion perspective. This was of particular interest for small businesses from India. I was invited there to talk about Case studies of Startups and Small Businesses which are using Internet as an effective marketing medium. Here is the presentation I made there.

A quick jist –

1. Internet can change lives – Who in India knew of Psy before Gangnam Style went viral? Today, the video has more than 50 Crore views online, and thats a huge achievement. Psy has become a world figure because of Internet. A similar story with Kolaveri Di.

2. Don’t go by the buzzwords – All the high flying buzzwords should make little difference to startups. Don’t go by the hype. Just do one thing, but do that one thing really well.

3. Email Marketing – Groupon and Snapdeal did one thing perfectly, that was Email Marketing. Just use Email marketing to tell your customers that you care about them, that you are doing something new and you will be rewarded.

4. Facebook marketing – Quite a lot of innovative companies are investing heavily into Facebook marketing very intelligently. Facebook builds engagement, which is vital for startups. Check out Chumbak, Mirraw and Bewakoof for knowing what these companies are doing.

5. SMS and Mobile Marketing – Building a connect via SMSes is something the Banks and Mcdonalds have done well. No reason why startups cannot replicate that aspect.

As said in the last part – its all about dangling the right carrot!

To know more about how these ideas can be implemented for your startup – please write to us at siddhesh AT strat DOT in

Here are some pictures of the convention – Mahabiz 2012 –

Chief Guest Jayantrao Patil

Mahabiz conference

 
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Human Resources, Marketing, Strategy, Technology

Cheapest form of Marketing

Can you live without breathing in?

I know we can’t, but some companies try to do that.

Every company wants to increase revenue and cut costs, but then going ahead and cutting marketing is like stopping to breath to live longer. So, this post is for all those companies who want to cut costs without stopping to breath.

What is your cheapest source of marketing, you just have to look around. They are your employees, cheapest and best source of marketing. Best because the people they talk to and they will influence will rely on the information much more than any other source of marketing and cheapest because anything you spend to keep your employees happy is generating you multiple benefits i.e. human development, better products, better work efficiency and of-course marketing.

So you would want to know what are the ways in which employees can do marketing

1. The social space of employees is one area through which they reach out to hundreds and thousands of people. This space is their personal, but company can provide enough benefits and encouragement for employees to use their social network for comany’s benefit. Just one share of an employee reaches out to more than 10,000 people on linkedin and 25,000 people on facebook even for the less connected ones. Simple actions like liking company’s updates does greatly boost the reach of each of the company’s message.

2. Providing gift articles like t-shirt and bags do much more than just making the employee happy. They are your visual displays on the run. You can never imagine buying a movable display at such a cheap cost. So, provide the best messages on those gift articles so that whoever comes across those remembers them. When using this medium be careful of providing good quality as otherwise your employee will never use it or even worse, people will identify your brand with bad quality.

3. Providing referral bonuses to employees is another good way, so that, employee indirectly reaches out to his network of school and college alumni to make your brand presence felt everywhere. You can also be assured that he will say good things about the company more as he would want people to join.

Invest in your employees, the cheapest way of marketing.

 

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Bell-curve-shift-India
Marketing, Technology

Geekgiri – Is the bell curve moving to the right in India?

Today, we are introducing a word called Geekgiri.

geek.gi.ri

[gee-k-gi-rii]

noun

1. The practised art of acting like a geek in the perception of others either in an offline or online but public forum
2. The attempt at geek bandwagon hijacking by non-geeks  in the aftermath of post-iPad era

 

A Geekgiri example – 
An example of Geekgiri – 10 years back, there would have been no-one who would have known what a time-lapse video is. However, this morning, when I showed this video to my neighbour’s 15 year old kid, he instantly exclaimed that this is like an app on his mobile phone which takes photos every minute and then speeds it up to create a video like feel. It was brilliant! This got me thinking though, is Geekgiri, as I would like to call it, truly spreading in India?

 Is Geekgiri cool? Is Geekgiri Fashionable?

From a tech marketer’s perspective, I would think Geekgiri becoming cool and fashionable would be the best thing to happen. Imagine that you were a marketer at a big tech company like Samsung, Nokia etc . For you, a Geekgiri epidemic will rock! It would mean more early adopters, better spreading of the message for new launches and in general easier hype generation around anything that is an advancement in technology. To put things in perspective, geekgiri can actually help spread a word about say a new product like iPhone 5 or Windows Phone 8 quickly beyond the confines of the famous ‘Quora-Mangala’ or ‘Hinjewadi’ or ‘Powai’ or DLF-Phase-‘n” areas! So clearly, whichever technology company you are, Geekgiri becoming fashionable is in your interest!

From GandhiGiri to Geekgiri –

Gandhigiri happened because of the underlying social fabric in the pre-independence era. Current social fabric of the metros in India is extremely suitable for Geekgiri. Look around you – People with disposable incomes are increasing. Disposable incomes are leading to major upswings in gadget uptakes across the nation. All this is leading to India becoming a ‘not-worth-neglecting’ market for any company in the world. In fact, 2012 is a world where European tourist guides openly say that Indians are their major business generators!

Relating all this to the bell curve for technology adoption –

We all know of the Bell curve and the dreaded chasm that any technology product has to cross before it truly becomes popular.

Traditionally roughly 5-7% people in India have been considered to be early adopters or innovators ( which has been generally used as an explanation as to why no major IT / Internet product has emerged as a truly globally recognised product from India bar a few notable exceptions.

Now though, there is reason to believe that the Innovator + Early adopter percentage has nearly doubled due to incessant efforts of marketers by all the technology companies . Now, there is greater awareness than ever about different products, companies, product lines, future innovations and most importantly, about the planned launch dates. According to me, the Bell curve has decisively shifted to the right in the following manner.

This nearly reflects the US curve or the European curve . Perhaps by 2014, Indian adoption curve may become more closer to this one rather than the above figure quoted of 5-7% . But then, you never know – as more Indians adopt smartphones, the Late majority and laggards will grow at a much faster pace as well.

Overall though, much to the delight of technology companies, marketers, social networking agencies, mobile application developers and most importantly, the consumers themselves, Geekgiri is indeed in vogue! Or is it? Let us know your views here or on the facebook page

Image credit 1
(PS: On Strat.in, we have introduced a lot of Buzzwords – Datasexual , Trusketing (Trust based marketing) and so on! )

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Marketing, Web

Seven tips to sell your product using Internet

Presence on Internet today is not an option, its a necessity. But, just like merely opening a shop does not ensure its success, opening a website/ any other web presence does not ensure customers. There needs to be a plan, a thought out, executable plan with a timeline which needs to be put in place to ensure that you can use the internet in a profitable manner and acquire customers directly on the web.

1. Start small – Today, a lot of people will tell you to open a website and a facebook page and a google ad and a twitter account and a mobile website etc etc. Understand that your customer never asked you for that. I would always recommend to start small. I would recommend open a Facebook Page and start posting your products on the page. Alternatively, you list your products on free websites or on platforms to sell products like ebay or on educational marketplaces like trait etc.

2. What next after a Facebook Page? – After starting a facebook page – ensure that you post at least once a day on this facebook page. And every day, share this page with say 7 of your friends.

3. How to build activity – First rule of building activity is to encourage it. The answer to ‘How to encourage activity’ lies in (a) quick responses (b) Leading your audiences to talk (c) Posting about topics of general interest

4. Launching your first Internet presence – It may make sense to launch your internet presence, be it a website or facebook page, among your select customers etc. It can be a good avenue for interaction, thoughts exchange, networking as well as engagement.

5. Monitoring activity on the site – 3-4 months into your first web presence, you can start spotting trends about the website. That people check out certain pages more than others, that you are getting responses about a certain product or service more. Keep tracking all these things and accordingly post links to these pages more prominently on the Homepage. Remember that Homepage is the most frequently browsed page on the site and giving more visibility to an inside page on homepage is important even for Search engines like google.

6. Customer Testimonials – Its very important to build confidence among the community by posting testimonials by customers about your product. Keep posting testimonials regularly.

7. Set ambitious , yet achievable targets – Set targets such as getting 10 requests from the website in the 4th month of operation. Setting realistic goals is very important and it motivates the team in that manner.

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Marketing, Strategy, Technology

Samsung Galaxy note 2 – Marketing spree overview

If there if one device that is on one huge marketing spree currently all over India, that device has to be the Galaxy note 2. After the rousing success of Galaxy note, Galaxy Note 2 obviously comes with an air of anticipation around it. And Samsung is sparing no efforts to make its flagship product known to one and all.

Lets have a quick look at the marketing aspects of Samsung Galaxy note 2.

Bigg-boss-powered-by-galaxy-note-2

1. Presence on reality shows – Bigg Boss Season 6 has just started at the right time for the product launch. Branding the show as powered by Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is a brilliant move for sure. It will surely catch mass eyeballs here.

2. Cricket world cup – Both TV and internet . Its a known fact that cricket is the best place to tap technology / phone buying audience. Nokia and Blackberry have used this strategy to good effect for so many years now. Obviously, Samsung won’t be left behind. Expect a lot of ads on TV, internet, mobile about the Note 2.

3. Internet – Samsung Galaxy note 2 being an eagerly anticipated product, is prominently featured on all top ecommerce sites – Ebay, Flipkart, Infibeam, Rediff Shopping etc. You name it and that ecommerce site features the Note 2 prominently. This kind of publicity cannot be bought! Here are the top 3 deals I could find for the Note 2 online ( as on Oct 9 )

So, are you going to buy the most marketed product of the season? Especially with the festive season approaching, a lot of peoples’ answer would be Yes! Let us know your reviews or anything about the note below!

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