Posts filed under 'Yahoo'
Today there is a post in the Wall Street Journal as to how the websites are tracking all user activities, right from location, personal profile, profession, hobbies, likes and dislikes.
Today’s internet is perhaps “too open”, where users information is freely available to retailers, analysts, marketers alike. While this may serve the purpose of “personalizing” offers and deals to consumers, it risks being labeled discriminatory if such information is used to offer different product pricing or search results to consumers. Not to mention the bigger risk of spammers and ID thieves catching hold of such information and launching malicious campaigns against consumers.
A WSJ investigation found that the office products retailer Staples is offering different prices on the same stapler to two different consumers who were just a few miles away.
Retailers are justified in offering different prices to different customers – this is what happens in stores too especially in different stores of the same chain. Retailers argue that local operating costs, real estate pricing, manpower costs and other logistics etc influence local pricing. In that sense, the online differential in pricing is no different than it’s offline cousin.
“But the idea of an unbiased, impersonal Internet is fast giving way to an online world that, in reality, is increasingly tailored and targeted. Websites are adopting techniques to glean information about visitors to their sites, in real time, and then deliver different versions of the Web to different people. Prices change, products get swapped out, wording is modified, and there is little way for the typical website user to spot it when it happens”, says the Journal.
WSJ said that many firms resorted to such price tactics, including Discover Financial, Rosetta Stone, Home Depot etc. Office Depot told WSJ team that they use customers browsing history and geolocation to offer tailored product offers and pricing for online shopping.
Technically, this is all legal, but the boundary line to ethical or discriminatory behaviour is not far. Eg certain racial groups may claim discrimination or local governments may cry foul. It seems that 76% of Americans are opposed to this kind of differential pricing.
But there are advantages too for differential pricing. Eg certain services like movie theatres offer senior citizen and student discounts.
The key takeaways are :
- the fundamental premise of internet being an unbiased and same-for-all internet is bring eroded now as personalization increases and website behave differently for different people. The INTERNET IS NO LONGER AN EQUALIZER.
- while differential pricing is normal and legal, it can raise ethical and discriminatory haggles across sections of the society. So retailers need to tread carefully.
What is CellStrat view : Retailers and web commerce firms need to abide by laws and be careful in offering personalized offers and pricing. Tailoring offers based on user information or their location has to be considered in view of the prevailing laws and user acceptance. Otherwise, the online commerce firms risk alienating the consumers who took to the internet to find an equal society, in the first place.
(Excerpted from WSJ article titled “Websites Vary Prices, Deals, Based on Users’ Information” dated 23 Dec 2012)
December 24th, 2012
SoLoMo (Social Local Mobile) has become the new fad in town for most commerce firms and retailers, as well as technology providers. This concept refers to the idea of enabling hyper-local retail via mobile convergence and providing a social interaction between users and retailers for engagement, sales growth and loyalty.
What are the technologies which enable SoLoMo ? What products provide best of breed solutions in this space ?
Below is a sample list of some of the leading firms / products which offer solutions in this space :-
a) Digby – Leading Mobile Retail convergence solution. They have potentially the strongest Mobile Retail convergence solution and are considered a SoLoMo specialist - Digby solution provides integration between web store / offline store / mobile commerce / social commerce / QR code solution / real time messaging. Digby Localpoint software enables brands to create geo-fences around their stores and other points of interest and embed those geo-fences into the brand’s app
b) Capillary Tech - leading retail CRM / loyalty solution – one of the hottest startups from India, now a global phenomenon. High quality retail CRM / loyalty / retail analytics solution
c) Facebook Connect and Twitter API – for close Social integration to enable Social commerce
d) Pluck from Demand Media - Pluck is interesting as it allows social engagement, social commerce and social loyalty solutions. Pluck enables these concepts via communities, content generation and gamification.
e) Foursquare Enterprise solutions may offer robust gamification solutions - Foursquare is considered leading gamification firm around communities.
f) Groupon / LivingSocial / Snapdeal / mydala – these firms are known for the Group shopping experience and offer LBS capabilities. These are not products but full-fledged startups in the area of Social Commerce.
g) Antenna Mobile Platform / IBM Worklight / Sybase 365 - These Enterprise Mobility platforms offer Mobile app development which can enable a retailer to publish engagement and commerce apps for its customers. This includes Mobile POS on smartphones / tablets, mobile wallet and in-store apps.
h) Telibrahma – Telibrahma has solutions in the areas of virtual reality and LBS, which empower the consumer to have a closer interaction with the retailers. Telibrahma LBS relies on Bluetooth or Wi-Fi proximity marketing to allow retailers to engage the audience in the nearby vicinity.
i) ZipDial – ZipDial provides an intuitive missed call voting and feedback system, which allows a retailer to leverage the mobile shoppers in the store to respond to a retailer survey instantaneously. This helps retailer drive business intelligence and customer feedback about the store experience.
Here are some relevant links in this area :
www.digby.com, http://www.capillarytech.com, http://www.pluck.com/, http://www.groupon.com, http://telibrahma.com/, www.zipdial.com
A combination of the above technologies / products will enable the SoLoMo experience for a retailer or service business.
CellStrat’s next conference, the India Digital Forum on 07th Feb in N. Delhi, will address a lot of the SoLoMo topics and technologies outlined above. Be sure to book your seat today and hear from top speakers in the Social Commerce space.
November 27th, 2012
(from our Bangalore desk)
I attended this conference in Bangalore earlier this week – it was most interesting with hundreds of company execs, entrepreneurs and thought leaders speaking about product innovation, development strategies and emerging technologies.
I will list some major themes I picked up at this conference:-
- In India, next decade belongs to Product development and these will have major impact on business and social empowerment.
- Hiring best practices and product quality differentiate successful organizations and individuals from all others.
- In the new world, individuals and professionals which take initiative and drive innovation will take their organizations to leadership positions. This applies to large and small firms alike. These individuals will be the ones in most demand going forward.
- Design and Image is crucial in the new world – this translates to User Experience and Engagement in all we do. Think Apple or Amazon.com
- The big opportunities are in Smartphones / tablets, Mobile, Cloud, Analytics, Big Data, Social – all usual suspects. These are all big enablers of new innovation and present opportunities for growth. At the same time, these technologies create a level playing field. As a result, larger firms now find that small startups can cause immense disruption in the former’s usual businesses – hence executives in the larger firms must think like entrepreneurs to create new opportunities and ensure customer delight via superb delivery and engagement.
- India has 900 million feature phones and only 10% of these are smartphones. So Mobile Apps and Enterprise Mobility offer incredible opportunity growing forward – this is true of western markets as well, as Enterprises there adopt mobile in a big way for all their applications. Mobile has truly gone from Mobile Also -> Mobile First – >Mobile Only strategy. Now, major new programs and initiatives in leading firms are planning to do a Mobile only strategy.
- Cloud Computing is the new way of doing almost everything in IT for end clients – IT investments are shifting to Cloud at an incredible space – so much so that most new projects or initiatives are looking at Cloud as a preferred solution over an in-house hosting strategy.
- Big Data is not a fad – with all the Social channels and frenetic transaction activity, Big Data is a problem which is growing in size everyday – as such, it offers major opportunities for solution providers and product developers to slice, dice and analyze, in order to achieve actionable intelligence and business decisioning.
- Open source technologies are now fully mainstream and driving major new development.
- Collaboration and leadership are key aspects in driving success. Most new innovation requires good collaboration and partnership skills as well as passion to succeed.
- Naveen Tewari, Founder and CEO of InMobi, said that the three critical factors for success for a startup are :
- Thing Big – you can do it
- Hire the best
- Focus on product quality. Good products sell themselves
- Naeem Zafar, Founder and CEO of Bitzer Mobile as well as more than a dozen startups earlier, said that for each CEO, the main responsibility is “Don’t run out of money”.
- IBM-mers Peter Coldicott (Chief Product Architect), Robert High (IBM Fellow in IBM Watson), and Daniel Yellin (Enterprise Mobility Chief Engineer) spoke about IBM’s Smarter cities program, Cloud and the new IBM super-computer Watson which is making waves.
- Sharad Sharma (ex-MD, Yahoo India), spoke about product entrepreneurs as transformers of the society.
- Deep Kalra, Founder and CEO of MakeMyTrip, spoke about his entrepreneurial journey and the Indian startup ecosystem.
The event is one power-packed event with almost 1300 delegates which included almost 150+ blue-chip speakers and thought leaders from India and abroad. The presence of so many Silicon Valley luminaries seems to indicate that action in Bangalore is accelerating and many westward folks are now looking east to this part of the world for next revolutions in tech and digital.
Kudos to Nasscom, Nasscom President Mr Som Mittal and all the dedicated NPC volunteers for putting together what we consider is a remarkable show.
For more updates from this event, click here.
November 12th, 2012
Off the 71% of businesses that claim to use social media for customer service, 87.5% (and 62.1% of businesses overall) have realized a positive impact, according to October 2012 findings by Social Media Today, in cooperation with SAP and the Pivot Conference. About 3 in 10 of those companies using social for customer service claim a very positive impact, while only about 1 in 10 report no noticeable impact at all. However positive the returns, though, less than 1 in 5 handle 25% or more of customer service issues via social media.
October 23rd, 2012
Getting a fan to connect with you via a social network is the first step in a long process of building an emotional connection between a brand and a consumer, Mike Lieberman writes. Using social networks to distribute content that is useful, educational and easy to share deepens your connection with existing fans. “The goal is to start a conversation, feed the conversation and keep the conversation going,” he writes.
(via Smart brief on Social Media)
October 17th, 2012
Facebook and Twitter get a lot of attention but account for a relatively small proportion of social sharing, Alexis Madrigal writes. Studies suggest that 20% of social sharing happens on Facebook, 6% happens via Twitter and as much as 69% happens via “dark social” — tools such as e-mail and instant messaging that are difficult for brands and publishers to measure and track. The benefit of social media to consumers is not that public social networks enable sharing, but that they create a public record of what is shared, he writes.
October 15th, 2012
Social media is a great way to connect with your audience and have a two-way conversation. But it can be easy to forget that not everyone who finds your social media pages will speak your language, or be able to relate to your region’s latest trends.
Creating a global social media strategy early on will prepare you for all of these challenges, and will keep you from over-extending your resources. Just in 4 Steps we can easily guide you how to create a social media strategy that caters to your audience, whether in a specific country or across multiple nations. One can easily follow these steps to start with:-
Step 1:- Create a Global Social Media Strategy
Establish your overall social media strategy before you start tweeting, updating your Facebook status in multiple languages, or creating tons of new pages for each target country.Setting a strategy ahead of time will ensure that you can launch, optimize, and measure your global campaigns’ success without getting overwhelmed.
Step 2:- Organize Your Assets and Channels
If you’re targeting different channels for different audiences, things can get complicated very quickly. You should know which social media profiles go together, which pages on your site you should be linking to, and how all of your campaigns tie together.
Step 3:- Set Up Global Targeting on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter
Localisation features are fairly new to Facebook. You can follow a step-by-step walk-through of how to use each one, but keep in mind that Facebook may make slight UI tweaks that make the actual interface a bit different from the screenshots given in different guides.
If you’re using LinkedIn Company Pages to promote your business, then in that case you have two primary localisation features available to you.
Your global marketing approach on Twitter will need to be different than that on Facebook and LinkedIn because of its limited targeting capabilities. In fact, global targeting on Twitter is non-existent unless you’re running paid ads, or tweeting at someone in particular with an ‘@’ reply.
Step 4:- Develop a Content Strategy for Social Media
Whether you are posting content on one of your global blogs, Facebook pages, or Twitter profiles, there are certain content creation best practices for global audiences that you should keep in mind. It’s all about being highly targeted and relevant. If you can talk to each of your audiences about what they care about, you’ll garner the best results from your social media campaigns.
October 2nd, 2012
Recently I am hearing a lot about the fact that the IT budgets are increasing coming from the CMO department. Indeed “CMO is the new CIO”. Why this trend ? Reasons are manifold :
a) Customer touchpoint is the new focus : Customer touchpoint is where the action is now. Whether it is Customer Engagement, Customer Service, Customer Access or anything to do with orchestrating these, these are the hot topics now for enterprises large and small. This essentially means mobile devices, mobile apps, social, local, cloud, analytics etc. To be more specific, the big themes now are Mobile, Social, Cloud and Analytics – all that relate to customer facing technology or orchestrating the customer experience.
Who owns the customer experience – it is the Marketing office and not really the CIO office.
b) Image and Branding : In this world awash with media and content, image is everything. Social and Digital Media are increasingly commanding higher order of CXO focus and budgets. It is now possible for unknown brands and firms to accelerate their visibility overnight via a variety of Social and Digital channels. Traditional firms often find themselves late to this party or reacting to their customers who are already present enmasse on these Digital Channels. Simple 140 character tweets can embarass monstrous corporations in matter of seconds. Image and Branding on new media has become a herculean challenge for large firms and leveled the playing field for consumers, smaller firms and startups.
Who controls a firm’s image and branding, CMO again. So CMO will drive investments in Social and Digital technology which is increasingly important to firms’s reputation and respect in the marketplace.
c) Backend infra is mature : Increasingly, one finds that backend infrastructure in traditional IT departments is mature – the big bang Oracle, SAP and middleware projects are stable and it is increasingly hard to find those big ticket IT projects now. Most of the transformational IT is now happening at customer edge and not in backend tech or networks. Of course, there are exceptions, like 4G and LTE investments by wireless industry and Big Data projects to slice and dice the voluminous data banks that now exist.
However, save for a few big items on backend, backend tech is now mature and even Oracles and SAPs of the world are now developing products for the front-end, where the growth multiples seem better going forward. The customer front-end, of course, is owned by the CMO and not the CIO.
d) Emergence of new tech : Web 2.0 is now being replaced by Web 3.0 – a world of seamless mobility, applications, and front-end use cases. Mobile Payments, Mobile Media, Mobile Devices, SME Cloud Apps, Social Networks, Location Services, hyperlocal marketing are the big glamour areas of tech now where most developers and firms want to focus their energy now. Apple may have started the trend of massive consumer revolution when it created the iPhone, Amazon has brought Web services to SMEs on a massive scale, Google is innovating in search and platforms, Facebook has amassed the largest number of eyeballs around the world. These kind of firms are at the forefront of consumer revolution in tech devices and applications.
Again, tackling this world is in the primary perview of the CMO with it’s mobile strategy, social and digital technology, connected consumer and advertising.
e) Consumerization of IT or COIT : COIT is a popular term now – where consumers walk in into the workplace with their consumer devices and force the CIO to adopt to their devices and apps rather than the other way round. The concept of a Social Enterprise is being adopted by all large firms to drive employee engagement, mindshare and collaboration. Gen Y employees are forcing their employers to change their ways and business practices to make these corporations employee oriented. Talent crunch is forcing firms to adapt to the employees wishes rather than the other way round. Hyper-informed customers are, in turn, pressurizing companies to provide relevant product information and fantastic customer service.
Certainly, CMO is the consumer and people expert and not the CIO. Most of the COIT trends require CMO to play a key role in the tech strategy.
To be sure, the CIO is not going anywhere and remains the bulwark of operational infrastructure and execution framework within the firms. The tech jazz (and related budgets), however, are now owned by the CMO due the macro trends outlined above. Indeed, CMO is the new CIO in the tech world.
September 24th, 2012
As if you have not heard enough about iPhone 5 already, here is more of it
Apple announced iPhone 5 on Sept 12th. The other big thing that happened that day was Quantitative Easing version 3 announcement by US Federal Reserve – one wonders, it was a synchronized announcement – just kidding.. Certainly, some market analysts have said that iPhone 5 may do more for US GDP growth than Fed’s QE3..amazing..
Well, intentional or not, both the announcements have a dramatic impacts – QE3 will accelerate the stock market rise around the world, fuel more inflation etc. Apple announcement will lead to Apple maintaining it’s hegemony in the smartphone ecosystem. I know, I know, some of you are on side of the table which is less than enamoured by the new iPhone 5. However, our take is that the ecosystem of Apple is much too strong and still underestimated by most. The vertical integration of iTunes, Macs, iPhones, iPads, licensed content in there, seamless charging via iTunes, cross-device synch capabilities are so intense and so transformational in the tech world, that few can match up with Apple prowess over the marketplace. Apple ran out of online inventory of iPhone 5 in one hour of opening the sales..validation enough of a huge pent-up demand out there.
Lack of NFC or some other popular features, now commonplace in other smartphones, will not deter iPhone 5 in creating breakthrough success once again for Apple sales. What most people fail to realize about Apple is that it does not usually toe the line created by others – it creates new models which, in many cases, become the benchmark over time. Coming back to NFC, Apple did bundle a feature called Passbook in the new iPhone 5 – a loyalty and coupon management feature – this is not payment enabled but it could evolve into a Digital Wallet. Many leaders like eBay, Square, Paypal are making do without NFC in Mobile Payments and quite successfully at that. It is likely that NFC may never become the mainstream mobile payment tech if Apple and others listed here do not push it.
As to what Apple iPhone 5 does pack, it has a laundry list of neat features :
LTE (4G capable), Thinner, Lighter, bigger screen (4 inch diagonally), all new Apple-designed A6 chip, better retina display, improved camera (although megapixels remain at 8 megs), enhanced HD video recording, 5 rows of icons on the screen, improved Siri assistant, new lightning connector, new Apple mapping app, better iCloud integration, 700,000 apps, new iOS 6 OS, Passbook loyalty feature, the list goes on and on.
To view all iPhone 5 features, click here.
As far as we can visualize, we still feel demand for iPhone 5 will be back-logged and people will go gaga over this device the world over. Apple mobile leadership is far from being threatened, not until they make major blunders or others truly can provide a neat vertically integrated ecosystem. So far, we see only Amazon as being anywhere close to providing the vertical ecosystem with Kindle platform. Samsung tried but it is missing many major components for creating a complete ecosystem, music partnerships to begin with, among other things. Google does not try as their focus is entirely different – to monetize via search engines on Android devices.
So – for now, it is Apple’s world to rule in the mobile arena, until somebody else “does an Apple” on them.
September 17th, 2012
(with some ideas from The Wall Street Journal article dated 11 Sept, 2012)
The Wall Street Journal has an article today on how the Indian ecommerce is loosing it’s allure. Flipkart, Myntra and Snapdeal were once being hailed as the next-big-things in the India tech scene but that image is now loosing some shine. It has to do with a variety of factors, the predominant one being the Web bubble burst Phase 2 in the West. As we know, the valuations of Facebook, Zynga and Groupon have been halved or even lower on the western bourses. Indian ecommerce firms, which are considered equivalent in India, are also seeing a declining shareholder and venture capital interest due to this. The valuation of ecommerce firms in India has been chopped into half (roughly) for now.
The Indian economic slowdown and the realization that such models face issues in monetization, has led to further decline in venture capital land grab of Indian ecommerce outfits, a trend widely prevalent last year; it was just last year when the India ecommerce firms like Flipkart and Snapdeal were flying high on the valuation scales. In 2011, VC investing in Indian ecommerce firms rose to $344.4 million from $49.2 million in the prior year.
But, despite the recent downturn, Indian ecommerce market holds stupendous promise. According to Zinnov Management Consultants, India’s e-commerce industry is expected to accelerate from $10 billion in 2011 to $260 billion by 2025, a whopping 26 times growth factor. Only 10% of India’s 1.2 billion people are online so far, as per comScore, which tracks online usage patterns.
Some consolidation is now happening where the big firms are gobbling up some others. Eg Flipkart bought out rival electronics online retailer letsbuy.com while fashionandyou.com bought online rival urbantouch.com in August.
To read the Wall Street Journal article, click here.
What should the Indian ecommerce entrepreneurs do going forward :
a) Market is too big over the long term for entrepreneurs to ignore
b) Entrepreneurs need a viable business model which can sustain over a long period. These startups need to develop brand recognition and sustained marketing over a long term to survive and thrive.
c) Customer service and customer experience is key to customer acquisition and retention.
d) There are a variety of niches which can be targeted eg location-based services, home and lifestyle, kids and women, healthcare services, infrastructure-oriented ventures, education and many others.
e) Offline retail partnerships and arrangements are key to drive down costs and warehousing challenges.
f) A gradual drive for product innovation and clean websites can help entrepreneurs differentiate their offering from the hodge-podge of ecommerce outfits emerging everyday.
g) Mobile, Social and Local convergence (or MoSoLo) can drive a lot of the innovation in ecommerce business model and delivery.
h) Mobile and Tablets are perhaps the most suitable channels for market reach and scalability. PC / laptop penetration may remain low and grow slowly.
i) Tier 2 towns and unexplored markets like rural may offer interesting possibilities for online entrepreneurs.
September 11th, 2012