Archive for September, 2012

Drivers & Barriers to Mobile Marketing in India

Last week, I attended Mobile Marketing Association’s first forum in India. It was a two day event and comprised of  two back to back workshops on Mobile Marketing and Advertising on first day and main conference on second day. Great set of speakers from across the world and their wow case studies thrilled the audience making one and all feel if anything is there that cannot be mobilised.

Paul Berney, CMO of MMA conducted a hands on exercise with audience on creation of a campaign for promoting a Sedan to 25-34 age group white collar professional who owns a small car now. Teams of 5-6 people were formed and made to present their ideas. Excellent ideas came up from all perspectives – agency, marketers, advertisers, researchers etc.

Paul also conducted another exercise on what audience think are the drivers and barriers to Mobile Advertising from India perspective. Quite a long list was created for the same. I would like to share a few of the important ones below:

Driver of Mobile in India for brands:

Reach and target
Real Time
Engagement and Interactivity in terms of UI, videos etc.
New Media
Innovative features
Highest penetration in youth
Access to data
Revenue generation
Time spent
Always on

Barriers to mobile for brands in India:

Privacy issues
Stringent TRAI regulations
M-Commerce feasibility
Cost of smart phones
Fragmentation of devices and demographics both
Knowledge/ education on phone features usability
Low measurability
Not a solo medium but the last to be adopted for media campaigns
Lack of access to relevant user data
Screen size

September 27th, 2012

Social Commerce changing the way people shop…

One of the hottest topics of the market lies on the web that is social commerce. Social commerce is the new buzz word nowadays, and we shall be the first one to cut this hype and tell the readers exactly what it means and how it is being done.

We started off from Media, and landed ourselves into the world of Social media, but now social media has moved on, it’s not enough to just engage the customers in fun chit-chat, one can now sell them directly through their favourite social media platform like Facebook. Ayojak, one of the famous event management platforms in India recently set up a commerce functionality on Facebook , one of the most favourite platforms for luring maximum customers and targeting a good number of audience. This allows event organisers to get more sales for their events while sharing content with their audience right from their facebook pages. Many other brands are also scrambling on the footsteps of Ayojak to monetise their fb pages by deploying relevant commerce apps. There is a small company named Exprestore, based out of Bangalore, India, which is enabling brands to use their payment gateway integrated facebook platform to sell goods. This trend of selling through facebook is being termed as f-commerce or facebook commerce.

The nightmare of dragging people from their social networking site to the website homepage has been eradicated now. One can get things right there where they are. One can easily set up his/ her own social commerce site within social media platforms building a loyal community who will keep coming back and buying from you.

September 26th, 2012

Big Data helps firms hire and retain workers

(excerpted from Wall Street Journal article titled “Meet the New Boss: Big Data” dated Sept 20th, 2012)

New hires are being put to a different kind of tests now, in order to be selected as employees of firms. These firms have found that traditional methods of hiring and talent acquisition have a lot of problems and often lead to wrong hires or people who leave the firm very fast, causing losses in training and recruitment. The new process involves replacing human hunches with software-based testing and decisioning for hiring and talent acquisition.

Various small and large talent management software firms have come up to help companies sort through talent and find the right fits. Firms like Xerox are using software from Bay Area startup Evolv Inc. to scan call center workers who are likely to stay for at least 6 months – the time needed to recoup Xerox’s $5000 investment in training a new hire. Evolv tools tell Xerox that an ideal hire lives near the job, has reliable transportation, uses one or more social networks (but not for more than 4 such networks), tends to be creative but not overly inquisitive.

Big tech has spotted the opportunity in this area. IBM recently acquired Kenexa Corp for $1.3 billion. Kenexa has Data analysis tools to help hire and retain workers. Oracle acquired job applications firm Taleo and SAP acquired SuccessFactors, which specializes in performance tracking, recruiting and compensation.

Evolv software helps grade Xerox applicants into Red, Yellow or Green categories, Xerox only hires candidates who score Green. Welcome to the new hiring paradigm – computers will test applicants for suitability now.

Such automated hiring processes and tools help in removing biases, which might be based on manager discretion, appearances, gender, age or other in-person traits. Certainly, such tools help in better ROI on hiring in terms of lower attrition and better candidate fitment. However, such software can also weed out certain categories which are protected by law, eg senior citizens or women or race-based, leading to legal issues for firms hiring. Xerox is not using the data from Evolv testing which pertains to measuring distance from work, for fear of being singled out about race-based hiring (as people of certain race may live in certain areas far from town).

Laszlo Block, a senior VP at Google and a Director at Evolv, said software will supplement hiring decisions but will not supplant broader hiring practices. In the long run, such software might be used to device promotions and performance appraisals.

Kenexa screened 30 million applicants last year for thousands of clients. Their test show that lengthy commutes raise risk of attrition in call-center and fast-food jobs.  People who move a lot are also likely to attrition faster.

Welcome to the new hiring manager and boss : Big Data

To read the complete WSJ article, click here.

September 25th, 2012

CMO is the new CIO

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

Apple iPhone 5 is here : CellStrat opinion

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

Texting program helps track, manage patient satisfaction but tablet apps get better feedback

Some US hospitals use text messaging to identify how patients feel about their hospital stay, and track down the source of any unpleasant experiences, according to a story published by MedCity News recently.

The texting program–CareWire, by vendor Healthy Heartland–communicates with patients before and after their stay, providing appointment reminders, procedure information and questions about their experience in the hospital. The most useful segment of the program, MedCity reports, is a post-discharge text sent to patients a few hours after they leave the facility. The text asks the patient to rate his or her experience on a 0 to 10 scale. CareWire uses an algorithm to parse out the reason for any low scores, such as the type and time of the visit, which doctor the patient saw, and other relevant data. Customer service reps then can follow up immediately on any low scores.

Hospital officials tell MedCity the program has boosted patient satisfaction rates, although they don’t say how much. Brett Long, the health system’s vice president of strategy and growth did say that the program has been so popular, they expanded from an initial five-facility pilot project to using the service at all 19 of its primary care locations, with plans to later roll out to specialty clinics, etc., as well.

The big value is in getting patient opinions in real time. However, It’s not the only way to get faster (and more) response on patient surveys. Some hospitals, like Brockton Hospital in Massachusetts, have mobile-enabled their surveys for tablets, rather than texting, according to another MedCity News piece.

Brockton uses a commercial app, Survey on the Spot, that is loaded onto an iPad. Staff hand the tablet to patients just prior to discharge for completion. Hospital officials indicate it has improved response rates and satisfaction as well.

In India, we did a texting promotional campaign for Fortis chain of Hospitals back in 2008, to huge number databases in Punjab, Chandigarh and Haryana regions of North India promoting Fortis Hospital’s new OPD facility and generated huge patient line-up on their opening ceremony. From then on, Fortis chain of hospitals is a regular user of texting facility for engaging their current and prospective patients.

(For complete story, read here)

September 16th, 2012

Indian e-commerce market valuations take a dip

(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 while bought online rival 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

Mobile Device Parade looms this week

This week, we watch in excitement as a mobile device parade looms from leading device makers. Motorola, Nokia and Amazon are all expected to announce new devices ahead of Apple’s iPhone5 announcement next week.

Motorola is bringing out a Droid Razr smartphone, which amounts to revival of the Razr brand, which Motorola sold successfully for many years before smartphones stormed the markets. Motorola, now owned by Google, has been a struggler in the last few years, and none of its smartphones have caught the fancy of the consumers yet, so far.

Nokia is announcing new Windows 8 phones – Windows 8 phone OS is the prelude to the Windows 8 desktop OS to be announced by Microsoft later this year. Windows 8 is supposed to work seamlessly across PCs, phones and tablets. Nokia’s Windows OS, so far, as been lackluster. Windows Phone OS has only 3% market share in the smartphone market compared to 64% Android share and 18% Apple iOS share.

Jeff Bezos of Amazon is set to announce the next version of Kindle Fire at an event on Thursday. Kindle Fire’s last version has reportedly sold out, as per Amazon, one is sure these device makers produce such products in limited quantity to create the marketing effect of a device in short supply. But certainly, after the iPad, Amazon Kindle Fire is the most successful tablet so far.

Then comes the big brother Apple on Sept 12th, with its reported iPhone5 launch.

While we feel that Apple is the mover and shaker of the mobile smartphone business with bulk of app and device profits as well, sometimes one wonders if the Android market share of 64% vs iPhone OS market share of 18% bodes well for Apple or not. No wonder, Apple is spending millions in it’s lawsuits against the Android device makers like Samsung.

Samsung had recently released the Galaxy Note 10 inch version – Galaxy Note has been a runaway success for Samsung as was the case for Galaxy smartphones.

Device wars are heating up and it can only get better for consumers the world over.

September 4th, 2012