Archive for May, 2013

Facebook not quite “Home” yet on mobile phones

Apparently, Facebook “Home” is not to be, not yet at least.

The Android application launched by Facebook to create an FB overlay on the Home screen of the phone was supposed to be the big bet by FB to control the first touchpoint screen for a smartphone user. But due to poor reviews by initial analysts, Facebook is said to be revamping the FB Home application. The device which was supposed to launch this was HTC One and in US, AT&T was to be the exclusive carrier for this. In UK, operator EE and Orange were planning to launch it. The social network is said to be encouraging the carriers to delay the launch to give the firm more time to create a more palatable user experience.

The battle for the phone user is becoming more intense as time goes by. With smartphones overtaking web users globally, it is of paramount importance for tech firms to own the phone customer and drive more and more smartphone traffic to these firms’ offerings, in order to attract ad revenue and other commerce monetizations.

Without a doubt, Facebook social network application remains one of the top apps on all mobile systems including Apple iOS and Android. But Google, Facebook, wireless carriers and other media are jostling for more and more of user attention on phones as well as real estate on the limited phone screen, which are the next evolution of internet cycle.

Facebook released the following statement on Thursday evening via Engadget: “Following customer feedback, Facebook has decided to focus on adding new customization features to Facebook Home over the coming months. While they are working to make a better Facebook Home experience, they have recommended holding off launching the HTC First in the UK, and so we will shortly be contacting those who registered their interest with us to let them know of this decision. Rest assured, we remain committed to bringing our customers the latest mobile experiences, and we will continue to build on our strong relationship with Facebook so as to offer customers new opportunities in the future.”

htc-first-2

HTC First aka “Facebook Phone”  (Photo: Courtesy / HTC)

After extremely disappointing sales of the HTC First, Facebook will reexamine the Facebook Home before expanding its operating system to more phones in more countries.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has said he would’ve rebuilt Facebook as a mobile exclusive app if he had the chance, so clearly offering a solid mobile experience means a great deal to Facebook. In this regard, the Facebook phone was a brilliant idea and makes a great deal of sense — like Google and Android, a true Facebook phone would allow Zuckerberg & Co. to have complete control over the user experience and ad strategy. The HTC First was the company’s first attempt at such a device — Facebook would focus on software while HTC would focus on hardware — but with the phone failing so soon after its initial release, Facebook will need to take a long look in the mirror. 

Failure of the HTC First may be blamed on Facebook’s decision to make Facebook Home features too accessible to other mobile users on Android and iOS, or maybe Facebook will realize that the Facebook Home features were not that stellar to begin with.

Facebook has fumbled on mobile before, when it launched it’s first mobile site using the mobile browser channel – with poor user feedback on that approach, Facebook later changed course and focused on more cleaner mobile apps, but this was much later in it’s lifecycle; Facebook mobile has a history of bouncing back. The early years of Facebook mobile efforts were limited to working on a common mobile website version of it’s platform addressing multiple platforms like iOS and Android with one approach. It later realized that that approach did not augur well and got into building platform specific Facebook apps, which have been superb hits since.

The last note above take one back to mobile site vs mobile app debate, which continues to simmer in the mobile development world. So far, it seems, the Apps are winning with many firms (eg Financial Times) having switched from a common http://m.xyz-firm.com approach to custom mobile apps for each mobile platform. More on this later in this space.

(with extracts and ideas from International Business Times article dated May 24 by Dave Smith)

May 26th, 2013

A Fresher Should Have At Least One In Resume : Five Booming Tech Fields

After spending these many years in educating oneself, the one and only ultimate goal is to get a Job…! But how to get it and why most of them are not getting it? Is it the recession hindering or competition is tough? All these question’s answers point to one thing- Same Resume Content.

Recession and Competition inversely varies each other, balancing it is bit difficult. The thing that only matters is: How your resume stands different from others? A very simple answer lies in Tech & Skills part. That’s what you have to do, upgrade your Resume with one of these booming tech domains and see the difference. Let company approach you, you don’t have to approach them…..!

1 . Mobile OS – Trend has been changing so dramatically that now you won’t find silly Mobiles in everyone’s pocket, most of them are using Smartphones, Tablets, iPad, etc, and world is pivoting towards it. It’s all about Android, IOS, Windows, Blackberry, etc.  The functionality and graphics provided by these OS’s are simply awesome! Learn the tech, develop an App and launch it to the App Store and you are in the market and if you really bombard the market, one of the Mobile developing companies will hire you…..!

2 . E-commerce – Who cares to go to the shops and purchase a thing? Everyone wants to relax at home, view the product on site, compare it, place an order and they’ll deliver to your doorstep. That’s what E-commerce means and its growing and growing day by day. Learn various E-com technologies like, Magento, WordPress, Prestashop, etc,. Develop a basic E-commerce site for yourself and launch it or highlight in your resume about your knowledge or start a service base program with your friends where you can develop an E-commerce website for others.

3 . Social Media Marketing – Everyone is aware with Social Media like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Linkedin, Pinterest, etc,; Most of them are aware with Marketing like sales, product, etc,;  But very few are aware with a thing called Social Media Marketing. This is the field where all companies are going for,  Marketing via Social Media in most inexpensive way.  Who wants to pay 1000 bucks for advertisement where it can be achieved by 10 bucks. Get familiar with and try implementing instead of surfing it.

4 . Cloud Computing – Cloud is very cutting edge technology in the market and still most of them doesn’t know about it.  Amazon, IBM, Eucalyptus, etc., played a major role in Cloud Computing.  You want to access a resource from point A to B Cloud will help you, want to download in a faster way Cloud will help you. Still India is yet to flood with this concept as it is quite expensive and rare thing to implement and execute., but future is in and within Cloud.

5 . Big Data– The name itself suggests what it is, it’s like Big Dam storing trillions gallons of water….! On any field or domain, one has to deal with data storage and manipulation and it never decreases.  Big Data has already influenced the market on very large scale. Facebook, Google,  EMC and most of them are on this side of Big Data. Master in it and go for it.

May 21st, 2013

HBR Article review “Advertising Analytics 2.0″

(excerpted from Harvard Business Review article on Advertising Analytics dated March 2012)

HBR has an interesting article on Analytics 2.0 which is driving advertisers and brands to fine-tune their effort allocations to the various media mix. Presented below is the crux of the article by the author Wes Nichols, CEO of MarketShare, an Analytics firm in LA, USA.

Until now, the advertisers are measuring ROI using swim lane tactics, which means that media spend on one channel is measured for ROI independently – it has to do with revenue attribution due to direct impact of that media channel advertising. In reality, the media is more complex, the various media have impact on each other which causes complex mixed media effect on consumer purchase decisions. Eg a TV spot on a Toyota Camry car may lead a user to dish out her smartphone to google search the Camry. The Google search shows a sponsored ad by a nearby Toyota dealer as well as it may lead the user to a sponsored YouTube video ad which plays the motion picture of the car ad. The user is thinking about Camry but purchase decision is still forthcoming. Later when the same person is driving down the highway, she notices the billboard advertising the Camry.  She remembers the sponsored dealer ad and decides to drive by that dealer. This concludes in a purchase decision to buy the Camry.

In the above scenario, each media channel has an impact on each other and it is hard to attribute revenue to one or more media channels directly. As a result, firms do not know how much to spend on various media channels and how these channels cross-impact each other.

Such analysis of one data campaign revealed that swim-lane measurement grossly underestimated the revenues attributable to social-media marketing and display advertising while overestimating PR and paid-search revenue. For firms like Ford, which have a $1 billion advertising budget each year, such analysis is crucial to derive maximum bang for the advertising dollars.

Statistical models that reveal the effect of advertising on consumer behavior and business results must account for hundreds of variables related to market conditions, marketing actions, and competitive activities. A software analytics engine uses those models to attribute each variable’s effect accurately, to optimize the marketing mix, and to guide spending allocation. Data on consumer response and business outcomes feed back into the engine, allowing marketers to fine-tune their cross-media spending in real time.

Analytics 2.0 requires that advertisers assign an elasticity factor between each impacting media – eg Paid search will have an elasticity factor due to TV ad spot and also from other media channels. So each media format is assigned an elasticity factor from every other factor that is likely to impact it, this is referred to as Assist factor. Such factors can include non-media factors like weather, competitive advertising, unemployment rates and like. This leads to a complex cross-dependency scenario across a wide gamut of factors. From here, the advertiser has to assign revenue attribution to each media factor followed by optimization and finally budget allocation. Optimization involves war gaming various scenarios across the factors in question to arrive at optimum marketing conclusions. Finally, this leads to re-balancing budget allocation to achieve the maximum efficiency marketing scenarios.

Factors -> Attribution -> Optimization -> Allocation-> Consumer Response -> Business Outcomes  …….. -> Attribution again

The Business Outcomes influence the Attribution in real time so it is a constant feedback loop.

HBR gives the case study of Electronic Arts (EA) which used the above cycle of Attribution, Optimization and Allocation to increase it’s ad spend efficiency dramatically for the launch of it’s new Battlefield 3 online game. It seems that EA was placing heavy emphasis on TV spot ads for its game launches but these were having only a marginal impact on the success of games sales. An Analytics study led EA to shift advertising dollars to online and paid search, and the game launch revenues improved remarkably for EA.

For the full HBR arcticle, click here.

May 20th, 2013

Business Development Plan : Do’s And Don’ts

By – Prof. Nandini Vaidyanathan – Founder & Mentor @ Carma Venture Pvt Ltd. Date – 10th May, 2013

Prof. Nandini has worked for many MNC’s for almost 20 years, within many domains and fields, she’s Board of several companies, Mentor & Promoter of Startup(forstartups.blogspot.com), India’s leading Strategist in management. She has even been a Teaching Entrepreneur in US, UK Premier Business School, Princeton, IIM-B, etc, etc, etc. If I still continue to introduce her, then I think I’ll just end up with her intro itself.

The webinar was awesome, never got so many meaningful and important things to learn just within 2 hours. Prof. Nandini was clear and sound, very straight to her points that were to be conveyed to the audience. So let’s get to her talks about Business Development Plan, I’ll narrate point wise:-

What is a Business Plan ?
“A Business Plan is nothing but your Wishlist that you want within specified period of time, anyhow. Make sure Entrepreneurship and Wishlist goes hand-in-hand.”

  1. If you are a new Entrepreneur, forget everything else and first approach to get Mentorship from a good Mentor, without which you may have very less chance to survive for long.
  2. Don’t ever write a plan just because you’re very eager or desperate to start a business or to attract an investor. Write a plan to capture an vision and fulfill your Wishlist.
  3. Don’t do copy-paste in your business plan, don’t come with a plan and say currently this is there in the market and we can do the same in an efficient way, never think of it. Your plan has a product, if someone sells this product to you then how much you’ll spend from your pocket? The more the price figure comes, the stronger your plan is…!
  4. Don’t make a business plan that has monopoly kind of business, research for the competitors and make a plan that defers from them. No one can win without competitors, if you don’t have competitors what you’ll compare & with whom you’ll compare, they’re the one who’ll point out your defects. Eg- Imagine everyone in the world with Mercedes Benz…!
  5. Don’t ask or refer your business plan to any of your friends, family members or relatives, they’ll support you because they wanna see you happy, they’ll speak what you want to hear. Eg. Hitler asked his Army Chief during war, “What’s our status?”. Chief:”We are going to win”. Ultimately Germany got defeated. Hitler:”Why you lied to me?”. Chief:”That’s the thing you always wanted to heat from us…!”
  6. Equity is Entrepreneur’s Blood, don’t plan to donate it at very early stage. Don’t let anyone rule over you, your team and your org. at an early stage. If you still need to raise funding at early stage, don’t look for Venture Capitalist, look Strategic investor. Never divide your Equity in 1:1, keep at least 51:49 ratio to make good future decisions in an easier way.
  7. Don’t consider that market is easy to cover with your awesome product, you are still a Starfish and Big Whales are already roaming there in the market. Have a point in your business plan that how your product will change, influence and grow the market. Get a Differentiator in your plan.
  8. Differentiator in plan can’t always be only in ideas, it can be in Execution too. Eg. Lays Vs. Bingo. Lays introduces itself in market flavours by flavours whereas Bingo introduced by 12 various flavours. They say every Bingo retailer in the market will have at least 12 packets…! Whatever Differentiator you have, it should be very unique and innovative.
  9. Market research is very important to get boom into the market. Eg. Kurkure researched that most of them want snacks while working on computers, so they introduced Kurkure in Cyber Cafe’s initially and boomed the market.
  10. Have your idea feasible, scalable and profitable. You should plan for innovation but not at that extent that it becomes hard to implement. It should be profitable, it you can’t take out profit from your idea, then just generate it. If one is not interested in generating the profit, then tell him to book his/her domain as .org instead of any other.
  11. During hiring process decide you want, a cat or a camel, because later you can’t expect them to change as per your expectation. Even if you get your cat, decide you want which specific cat- big, small, fat,etc. If you can groom your employee, you’re intelligent Entrepreneur, if you can’t (most of them) then deal with them.
  12. Discuss your plan with every employee, you know the plan very well because its your baby, but do your team know the plan? Does your team know what are your dreams and for what they are working? If you make your employees to work for the salary, they won’t deliver you your expectations, because they don’t know actually.
  13. Use simple English to communicate, simplify the high-tech and jargon words so that every one gets your idea thoroughly.
  14. Don’t chose Co-founders like tomatoes and potatoes. Every Co-founder should have complementary skill set. All should want same thing from the company. All should share same value.
  15. Best point to raise fund is when you don’t need it, that will make you stand above the VC’s. Raise funds only and as per your requirement, if you go for more than your requirement, you may lose control over your expenditure.

Elements Of Business Plan:-

  1. Have a snapshot summary; its easy to read index page than 1000 pages of a novel.
  2. Product and Customer must be focused.
  3. Hire a team that is die-hard, self-motivated and that can fly your ship.
  4. Market & Competitors. Your every competitor has a drawback, make it your strongest point.
  5. Good monetisation model excluding ads.
  6. Don’t have just one innovation, have a whole pipeline, a series of innovations.
  7. Budget planning for at least 3 years. Revenue and Expenses must have assumptions.
  8. Milestones- break your plan/wishlist into milestones.
  9. Monthly Profit & Loss Sheet should be there.
  10. Differentiate between Risks & Opportunities.
  11. Plan your Elevator Pitch. Say you are in elevator with Warren Buffet and you got just 30 secs to impress him so that he’ll give you a check in 30 secs, what you’ll say?
  12. Build Evangelical Team that will bring Evangelical Customers.
  13. Check where you stand . Give customer what he wants -> Colgate gave. Give customer more than he wants -> Google gave. Give customer which he never dreamed of -> Facebook gave.

So these were the great advices and suggestion by Prof. Nandini represented here in front of you. Hope you found it interesting and learned at least one point to follow your journey of Entrepreneurship…!

May 14th, 2013


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