Posts tagged 'Internet'

Uniware : A Unicommerce Application

What is Uniware ?

Uniware is SaaS application for end-to-end management of order fulfillment. It manages online procurement, warehousing, shipping, dropshipping, inventory and returns effectively at one place. Uniware requires no extra investment in hardware and no license to purchase, its pay per use basis. The architecture is very flexible and unlimited scalable as per the growing business model with Secure & Adaptable SSL, API data sharing.

Let’s walk through some major features of Uniware:-

1. Order Fulfillment

• Send order immediately to Uniware through API or upload orders through excel
• Automatically allocate inventory to orders
• Specify category specific fullfilment SLAs
• Prioritize orders based on category SLAs, courier pickup timings
• Generate pick tickets at multiple systems optimized for picker traversal path and bucket size
• Optional sku validation of item at invoicing
• Print invoice in line with taxation rules with CST and VAT preloaded into the system
• Print shipping labels according to the courier specifications and proper routing codes (again preloaded)
• Generate manifest and add packages to manifest on a scan
• View and track complete order history
• Handle partial / complete cancellation or Holding of order till dispatch

2. Alerts As Configured

Dashboards to keep managers updated about warehouse operations and enable them to take needed actions in time. Customized reports on sales, returns etc which can be scheduled on timely basis to track the performance of the company.

•Monitor real time progress of the warehouse operations, picking and fulfillment velocity
•Set SMS/Email alerts on critical orders, low AWBs, inventory expiry
•Schedule daily/weekly digests on sales, inventory, returns
•Notifications on every order status update

3. Procurement
•Enables procurement of same SKU from multiple vendors
•Automatic performance based and manual vendor rating system
•Role based access and complete Purchase Order (PO) life cycle management
•Set reordering levels configurable in multiple ways
•One click PO creation against back orders or reorder levels
•Reconcile invoices against GRNs and manage vendor payments

4. Controlling Inventory
•Automatically assign inventory to a location for put-away with manual override
•Store products in unique or multiple locations based on bin/inventory characteristics
•View all receipts or customize views by filtering on selected criteria
•Cross-dock facility for faster fulfillment of on-demand orders
•Inventory serialization (barcoding) support for uniquely identifying items right from sourcing to fulfillment and even returns

5. Shipping Tracking

•Integrated AWB assignment, tracking and COD reconciliation for all your shipping providers
•Supports shipment consolidation from same location to save shipping costs
•Automate shipping provider allocation on historical performance basis
•Configure ship-together and provider allocation rules based on custom item attributes

6.  Integration
Time to market is extremely critical in the competitive landscape that exists and therefore Uniware is pre-configured to an extent possible.Uniware has integration time of less than a week.

•Ready plugins for popular shopping platforms like Magento, Prestashop, Shopify and more
•Pre integrated shipping providers
•In built taxation category mappings for easier and faster configuration
•Easy csv upload/insertion APIs for vendors, catalog, SKUs etc

7.  Secure & Adaptable
Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) ensures the flexibility needed in today’s environment to keep up with changing business demands. That’s why Uniware inventory, warehouse and shipping solutions are built using SOA framework making it easier to adapt to new requirements without costly and time consuming customization. Easy to use and consistent user experience leading to reduced training time and costs.

•Service Oriented Architectue
•SSL (https) data transfer security
•Horizontally scaling architecture to take up the load of millions of SKUs
•SaaS model, immediately available, no hassles of maintenance, free upgrades…
•Engaging and approachable graphical user interface (GUI)
•Easy APIs/JSON integration for every actions
•Ready plugins for popular shopping cart solution like magento, shopify, prestashop…

June 11th, 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

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

Map wars

Since the launch of Apple iOS 6, one is seeing major activity in the world of Digital Maps. Both Apple and Google have been duking it out recently on this front. Before the iOS 6 was released, Google Maps was the default map application installed on the iPhones. But map application in recent times has become perhaps the most popular mobile app and hence substantial customer engagement and media sales get initiated with the map experience. The primary fruits of iPhone mapping app were being enjoyed by Google, until iOS 6 came along. With iOS 6 and iPhone 5, Apple decided to take the Map app internal and worked on Apple Maps for this version of iOS, thereby dropping Google Maps as the default Map app on the new iPhone.

In it’s haste to release the Map App along with iOS 6 launch, Apple mapping team seemed to compromise on reliability and accuracy in Apple Maps. The error proved deadly, as the Apple Maps app was widely criticized after iOS 6 was launched, being that rest of the iOS 6 as well as iPhone 5 was much appreciated. Apple Map Apps shows incorrect placement of landmarks and is frustrating mobile users around the world who rely on smartphone maps to guide them around cities.

This resulted in Tim Cook of Apple issuing an apology to Apple customers. Google, with a guilty pleasure, enjoyed the Apple Map criticism. Google has since announced that they are working on a custom Google Maps app for the iOS 6 platform. It is expected to come out before the end of the year.

Why are Map Apps such a big deal after all ? In an App survey conducted by Wireless Technology Forum, Atlanta, Google Maps was rated as the most popular mobile app. That means that navigation and directions via smartphone maps has become the most key use of these phones. One knew that Mapping Apps were popular and widely used, but who would have guessed that Map App is “the” most popular mobile app out there. Especially Google Maps. Obviously, smartphone users really use this app in their daily movements.

Maps are also used for the most cutting-edge of phone applications, that is Location-Based Services or LBS. LBS refers to finding businesses nearby and guiding customer traffic to those businesses. LBS also enables local advertising and shopping. LBS is key aspect of SoLoMo – Social Local Mobile – a concept referring to convergence between local commerce, mobile phones and social shopping.

Maps also facilitate searches now – Search is more relevant if locational aspects are added to it. Search Advertising has been a revolutionary concept and LBS makes Search even more relevant.

When the iOS 6 Apple Maps app faced ridicule, Tim Cook suggested that iPhone customers download Bing or other Map Apps from App Store. Google, of course, had not planned a iOS 6 compatible Map app, until it realized that iPhone users were clamoring for the Google version, after having experienced the cloogy Apple Map App. Apple Map flap has caused many a casualty at Apple office – with many execs including one of the most senior execs, Scott Forstall, being asked to leave. Just today, Apple fired another manager in charge of Map App.

With the Apple Map app mess, other mapping programs have gained eg Embark and Bing Maps.

Mapping wars are front and centre in the smartphone evolution, the various map providers need to check their coordinates in this new war.

November 29th, 2012

The Indian Web and Mobile Markets by the numbers

(excerpted from GigaOm Pro article at http://t.co/20B9JVyo)

Katie Fehrenbacher with Gigaom is traveling with Geeks on a Plane in India. She writes following stats provided by Google CEO Rajan Anandan to the Geeks on a Plane group :

Rajan Anandan on Indian internet scene : “We’re probably in 1996 in the U.S. in terms of the Internet market in India.”

Here’s the stats from Anandan’s deck. India has:

  • 1.2 billion people
  • The 9th largest economy in the world, with $1.7 trillion GDP
  • 600 million people below the age of 25
  • 22 languages
  • 250 million in the consuming class — these are the folks that buy e-commerce
  • 900 million mobile accounts, with 600 million unique mobile subscribers (many people have more than one account)
  • 30 million PCs — it’ll be a mobile broadband world
  • Average revenue per user (ARPU) is $3
  • 100 million Internet users, and 120 million Internet users by the end of 2011
  • By 2015 there will be 300 million to 400 million Internet users
  • 37 percent of Internet users access the web from home, 27 percent from an Internet cafe, 22 percent from an office, 3 percent from school
  • There are 50 million mobile data subscribers
  • 5 million access Internet only on the phone
  • In 2010/2011 e-commerce emerged as a $7 billion market, with $6 billion of that going to online travel
  • By 2015 the e-commerce market is expected to be $40 billion
  • 67 percent of e-commerce customers by electronics and cell phones. 18 percent buy apparel.
  • 15 million 3G mobile subscribers
  • Broadband is 250 kbps to 500 kpbs fixed line
  • The use of smart phones will grow 52 percent CAGR
  • There are 37 million Facebook users
  • Google Plus use is bigger than Twitter use
  • 23 million unique users on YouTube India
  • There will be $1.3 trillion in online ad spend in 2011
  • The English Internet will not scale beyond 200 million, says Anandan
  • 159 million read Hindi newspapers and 31 million read English newspapers
  • There will be a massive tsunami toward vernacular content on the web, says Anandan
  • 70 percent of non-travel e-commerce is “cash on delivery” (no online payments, buyers pay cash when goods are delivered)
  • This cash on delivery market has a 30 percent return rate
  • Web 1.0 and 2.0 are happening at the same time in India, says Anandan.

Some Internet sites that have found success in India:

Thanks to Gigaom for the above post.

December 14th, 2011

E-Readers Help Spread Literacy, No Apps Needed

We often talk about the power of the Internet to spread knowledge and information globally, to make digital content accessible and affordable. But as we’re also often caught up in the “latest and greatest” gadgetry, sometimes we overlook that broad promise of global education and accessibility.

Such is the case, one might argue, with the news three weeks back from Common Sense Media about the so-called “app gap” — the disparity between children in low-income and higher income families and their access to mobile applications.

There’s little denying that the popularity of mobile devices — Androids and iPhones and tablets — has afforded a concurrent explosion in exciting new educational apps. The touchscreen screens, the accelerometers, the size, and the portability of these devices has enabled whole new genres of software and of imaginative and educational gameplay.

But if we focus on the “app gap” — those who have iPads and those who do not — are we ignoring or obscuring other aspects of the digital divide? Are we overlooking the potential for wide spread dissemination of and access to information by rushing to prioritize that information bundled in the shiniest new package?

While many schools in the U.S. are rushing to embrace iPads, other types of e-readers haven’t been widely adopted — even though they cost less and display digital textbooks, which is one of the rationales for transitioning from print books to tablets. But a non-profit organization called Worldreader is demonstrating how utterly transformative e-readers can actually be, even without apps and videos.

Worldreader distributes Kindle devices to students in sub-Saharan Africa. The devices are pre-loaded with e-books — some 63,000 e-books all told have been distributed through the program (including the recent addition to the Worldreader catalog of several of the best-known titles by children’s author Roald Dahl).

The e-readers offer a huge advantage over their printed counterparts. There’s the ability to put an entire library onto one device. A child can be given the e-reader at school and that device can be circulated throughout her or his family or village. There’s the ability to distribute those devices to the most remote villages without additional shipping costs of thousands of titles. Plus, the cost of e-readers continue to fall. Furthermore, there are thousands upon thousands of titles available for free.

While e-readers don’t have all the apps and features of tablets, they do contain some. They all include dictionaries. They often have 3G or WiFi capabilities. They have Web browsers. And they allow for the subscription to other news forms — magazines, newspapers, and newsletters for example. These devices also tend to have extraordinarily good battery life, which is necessary in regions that don’t have reliable electricity.

Literacy is one of the most important drivers of economic growth. Rather than concern over the “app gap” — over who has access to iPads and who doesn’t — Worldreader highlights how the discussions around access to the Internet and to digital content still needs to address some of the more fundamental “haves and have-nots.”

(This article was first written by Audrey Watters)

November 14th, 2011

State of e-Commerce in India

Indian ecommerce industry has certainly crossed the inflection point, from where growth is inevitably exponential. Increasing faith of investors, rampant consumerism, increasing disposable income, great internal consumption story and increasing comfort of people with online medium would drive the ecommerce to prosperity. Sharing his opinion on various dimensions of ecommerce businesses in India including recent bubble and eBay’s position in the ecosystem. In an exclusive interaction with Iamwire, Muralikrishnan said that the current hype and bubble surrounding Indian eCommerce industry is really unfortunate, there are many companies out there which do not have any significant differentiators but have attracted large funds and are literally flitting away money on internet marketing in global as well as domestic market.

As per Murali, the market is anywhere about 0.4 to 0.5 billion (excluding online ticketing) which is still nascent. However, it is interesting to see the enormous growth rate and moreover I would say Indian eCommerce is at an inflection point. At present it is at point from where growth rate is inevitably exponential. It is happening because of multiple factors – on one hand organization like eBay which has been consistently evangelizing and marketing the concept of eCommerce to the consumers. Earlier, people were worried about shopping online, however now with fundamental solutions like PaisaPay and eBay Guarantee, consumers are experiencing secure online transaction. On the other hand, consumer’s increasing comfort in using the credit cards online along with forward looking policy of government (especially RBI) for facilitating secure transaction are driving the consumer’s faith in eCommerce and online retail.

A lot of start ups are getting funded because people including investors are convinced that eCommerce is a big viable alternative to offline retail, this growth potential led to exuberance in terms of investment. However, candidly speaking, there is a certain amount of hype with ongoing investments in eCommerce. In fact, investments are going on sans a focus on building sustainable business model. Entrepreneurs are not working out to create differentiators. They believe providing products at a cheaper rate with the lot of funds splurged on the marketing would give them profitable business. I believe sustainable business cannot be built in this way. I think, business based on sustainable competitive advantages would thrive and survive in a long run.

Two new and innovative trends that are driving and which will be the main pillars of the Indian digital ecosystem in next few years to come are social networking and mobile.

One of the most interesting success stories in user stickiness in Indian eCommerce space has been seen with rapid growth of Facebook. In India, Facebook have 30 million users. Social media is bringing lot of people across demographics and geographies with engagement we have never seen before. The emerging markets globally including India are at forefront of adopting social network as a medium of engagement. And what social networking has done to the companies like us that it open up the platform to reach out and engage with consumers in an active manner.

The second part is mobile – there are multiple trends we have been witnessing on mobile front. The reduction of prices of entry level smart phones (especially android enabled smart phones). With 3G network people are getting better quality mobile data network. All these landmarks have led to increasing usage of mobile internet. I think in the near future mobile internet would trigger the concept of mobile payments. In fact, the Indian Government is starting to use mobile payments for Mobile Inclusion.

(For full interview click here)

October 7th, 2011

Mobile moms & how to harness there power

Consumer electronics in general, and the smartphone in particular, are becoming an indispensable part of family life.

According to some recent studies, 71% of moms do not go more than one day without using the Internet, with 40% saying they can go only a few hours without using a mobile phone and the Internet. (Comparatively, only 18% say the same about television.) In fact, 79% said that cell phones are a necessity, compared with 42% saying the same about a typical landline.

“While the penetration of smartphones is significant, moms use [them] in so many different ways. “These things have essentially become a tool for modern families.” Moms have embraced mobile — email, apps, SMS, voice, and the mobile web — in a big way. This isn’t a burgeoning trend. It’s the reality right now.

According to another study where more than five thousand moms were surveyed, moms are 18 percent more likely than the general public to have a smartphone. And they are using them all day, every day.

From researching family health questions to scheduling and documenting her kids’ lives to diffusing her child’s meltdown in the checkout line, mom’s smartphone is her constant companion. It helps her save time, money, and her sense of humor.

For marketers, mobile represents fertile, new area. But to reap the benefits of this new channel, you have to keep a few things in mind.

She loves her smartphone
Mom has an emotional connection to her smartphone. It delivers a sense of confidence and accomplishment that decreases her stress. She is absolutely (and unabashedly) addicted, spending 37 percent of her media time on her smartphone, more than twice what she spends on TV. Mobile is the first thing she checks in the morning, the last thing she looks at before bed, and the media source she visits most frequently throughout her day. Mobile also enables her to easily fit guilty pleasures like music, entertainment, and gaming back into her media diet, by allowing her to “snack” on bits and pieces as she commutes to work, waits in the bus/ metro line or relaxes after bedtime.

Takeaway for Marketers: The mobile media channel has a 24/7 prime time and mom is always tuned in. Creating multiple mobile touch points is not only viable, but advisable.

She demands utility
Utility is her new luxury. Motherhood adds 10.7 daily hours of parenting time into mom’s already busy schedule. She needs to get more done in less time so she can spend more time with her family. Smart mobile solutions help her do both.

Takeaway for Marketers: Mom loves mobile because it helps her solve problems faster, better, and more efficiently than ever before. Help mom be better at her job and you win.

At the same time, families are still heavily reliant on face-to-face for intra-family communications. While 81% of moms use Facebook and 57% use blogs on a daily basis to communicate with each other, only 2% use Facebook to communicate with their kids.

Moms respond well to mobile ads. 46%+ moms have taken an action after seeing an ad on their smartphone whether it’s an online purchase after seeing the ad on the phone or followed up with more research later or clicked a banner ad to go to a mobile wap site or purchase the product later in store or clicked to call…

Share your views on how you have harnessed the mobile mom’s power…we would love to see your comments and case studies in this area…

August 9th, 2011

Open Leadership – Empowering Employees and Customers : Expert Advice from Charlene Li (Altimeter Group)

Attended a webinar by Charlene Li of Altimeter Group. Charlene is one of world’s foremost experts on Social Media and Opening up Corporate environments to discussion, feedback and engagement.

Charlene Li is Founder of Altimeter Group and a former Researcher from Forrester Research. She has authored two of the leading books in Social space – Groundswell and Open Leadership.

Here are Charlene’s thoughts on Open Leadership, Social Media and Employee Empowerment :

The Dell case study is the subject of lot of Social Media books. A Dell laptop caught fire in a Japanese fire many years back and a video of it circulates till date on YouTube and other media portals. Dell, at the time, was not equipped to respond to the PR nightmare that followed. After that Dell engaged in extensive introspection and created a powerful Social empowerment strategy for it’s employees.

Charlene talks about three key aspects to developing an Open Leadership enviroment : Strategy, Leadership and Preparedness.

Strategy :

Today’s leaders need to “Learn” about what is happening in employee circles and customer spheres. This requires “Dialog”. Best Buy has created twelpforce – a twitter support group about 2500 strong to provide support to customers.

The Social Strategy involves an Engagement Pyramid :

The Engagement Pyramid indicates various levels of Open Leadership possible in a firm.

DellOutlet drives sales with Dialog on twitter – this channel is used to announce promotions. Web announcements and brochures are other ways to promote new products but they do not engender any user feedback whereas the same promotions on twitter drive user feedback and sharing. Similarly, Kohl’s retail chain encourages its customers to share their purchase experiences on its user portal.

This is all about enabling Dialog.

The next idea is “Integrate” support in your business. One firm has 85% of its employees engaged in customer support forums. This leads to good customer satisfaction. Starbucks invites ideas on www.mystarbucksidea.com. Almost 100 customer ideas from this portal have been implemented.

Leadership :

This means that top leadership needs to have the confidence and humility to give up Control and empower it’s people. This also requires authenticity and transparency. Sunguard CEO said that it would be arrogant for a CEO to think that he or she can make better decisions than the thousands of people below him/her. Sunguard CEO implemented Yammer in his firm – the intranet equivalent of twitter.

Premier Farnell (a manufacturing firm) runs the “OurTube” portal for its employees and engineers – this portal allows the engineers to share ideas and best practices. Salesforce.com – the premier online CRM firm, uses its own Chatter platform for internal communication and sharing.

Preparedness :

The question is how to get started on the path of Open Leadership. Charlene lays out a five step process :

#1 Align Social with key strategy goals for current and next year

Take some risks with Social technology if you have to

#2 Create a culture of sharing

Exercise sharing muscles. Often times, CEO and other leaders must lead by example by sharing themselves. Eg Edelman CEO blogs every single week since 2004.

How to encourage sharing :

  • Give sharing a purpose eg. goal, project or event
  • Build trust : Limit people you share with, at least initially
  • Use video : eg one can use cellphone to record yourself and put it out there

Send it out by email for sharing – email works also – in addition to social networks.

#3 Discipline is needed to succeed

Formalize the Open Leadership process – without definition, people do not know the boundaries and may not be comfortable with this media. rules of atticate, rules of behavior, rules of culture.

#4 Ask the right questions about value

Some orgs use brand metrics or net promoter score – but these are tough and laborious to measure. Whereas social technology is infinitely measurable – metrics is not the key, but relationships are.

#5 Prepare for failure

No relationships are perfect. Google’s mantra is – “Fail fast, Fail Smart“.

It’s about RELATIONSHIPs at the end of day – relationships with customers, relationships with employees and relationships with partners.

Baby boomers – some are active on Social Media even though common perception is that they don’t get it. Millennials – they are new in orgs and hence least secure to brand as Empowered employees.

For a firm, the best people to put out there acting as ambassadors are – folks who are passionate about this stuff – these are often baby boomers.

Q & A :

How do management set personal and professional boundaries for Social empowerment ? depends on what relationships a firm wants – that will determine the boundaries.

Another question is to check “Readiness” of firms for Open Leadership. How ready is it to engage ? many departments like legal, investor relations, marketing and others need to provide the clearance for this.

Why does Apple succeed in spite of being so closed ? Charlene mentioned that although Apple is a very closed organization and is keep its operations and new products very secret, but they still succeed due to their fantastic product quality. But another way to look at it is that Apple has so many passionate fans that act as their ambassadors and advocates. That said, Apple has it’s share of problems etc the Antenna issue in the iPhone 4 caused so much PR problems for Apple.

Open Strategy must focus on RELATIONSHIPs and not on tech platform eg Facebook or twitter or email etc

Companies try to start with content creation – blogs, youtube (90% push, 10% feedback) before they go onto other steps in Openness.

Sometimes firms find that people are not participating in an Open environment – this is a training and prority issue. Charlene says that leaders have to look for passionate staff who thrive on feedback.

Why Openness can fail : often times when it is not structured. Business requires context and structure to be successful

Which departments use Social Tech ? 40% of it is in Marketing dept. Increasingly, Corporate Communication and HR depts are using it. As well, HR, Investor Relations, Corporate Social Responsibility depts are beginning to use it.

Cultural nuances ? Charlene found that cultural nuances effect Social and Open in different countries. Eg in Korea and Brazil – producing content is twice as popular than in USA – people want to create content as there is little of it so far.

China – people are transparent about their salaries, not so in USA. Different cultures share different things but the point is that they do share.

Eventually, Social Technology will be like air – anywhere and everywhere.

Over time : When one locks into grocery store, they will know who I am and what I typically want

If consumers are adopting Social technology, companies need to be there too.

You HAVE TO GO where your customers are, firms cannot just focus on their websites etc.

What about privacy issues ? Charlene said that there is clear distinction between PRIVACY and PERMISSION. But, society’s norms change quickly about privacy. Eg Caller id was resisted by people before as it was considered invasive of privacy. But now it is mandatory before people answer calls.

One has to constantly test where the public boundary is for privacy.

- What about failures when trying out Openness ? Charlene’s book has one complete chapter on Failure of Openness.

Most CEOs feel their stomach churning when they enter this arena. It takes some time and experimentation for management to develop a comfort zone with Open Leadership.

If one is in job market today, potential candidates are demanding open firms. On the flip side, some people want more structure around Openness. It is the Younger generation that has a preference to continue to be social.

How about loss of employee productivity using social networks ? Charlene says this is a management problem and not a productivity problem. If a firm blocks people from using social media, people do it anyway on their phones and take long breaks.

Learning about Open Leadership is the MOST IMPORTANT OBJECTIVE as all firms today want to become people-oriented.

Focus Groups and Surveys are hard to do and get responses. It is much easier to search Social Networks and one knows the participants’ profiles and biases.

June 16th, 2011

Welcome to the Cloud !!

At the Apple’s WWDC event on June 06, 2011, Steve Jobs unveiled the “iCloud” – Apple’s answer to the Cloud Computing fever which sweeps the world. The stock of Salesforce.com – the first B2B SAAS service which houses all your CRM and ERP data in those massive server farms around the world, has gone vertical since its debut. Cloud Computing, SAAS (Software as a Service) and Online Media Lockers are real and happening at a breakneck speed. Amazon and Google released their online music and media lockers to much fanfare and Apple has followed suit with it’s iCloud offering.

Apple iCloud

Businesses have adopted online CRM and ERP applications offered by Salesforce.com, Oracle and Microsoft. Microsoft Office 365 – Microsoft’s online Office suite is a Cloud-based product and is due to be debuted end of June ’11. Business applications and documents find their new home in the Cloud and the transaction models have evolved from licensed software to Subscription services.

The whole idea of Cloud-based Apps and Content envisages universal access from all devices including PCs, phones, tablets etc (TVs to be added in near future). In other words, smartphones and tablets are integral part of the access channel for Cloud services. The front-end in Mobile phones and tablets in such cases are either Apps or Mobile websites, underscoring the relationship of Mobile Apps/Web with the Cloud. Speaking simply, a mobile app may simply be a door to a cloud-based service, product or content.

Such cloud infrastructure, of course, assumes high availability of networks and fast speeds as in case of 3G or 4G services. So far, these issues have not been a major bottleneck in the rise of Cloud Computing.

Cloud Computing in the consumer arena has a profound impact on Media and Content industries. The illustration below depicts these changes.

Impact of the Consumer Cloud

 

June 10th, 2011

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