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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Digital Marketing and the Thumb Rules

With evolution of technology, everything is changing and changing so fast that we are unable to keep pace with it. Old traditional ways are taking the news ways to solve its problem through digital technology. ‘Excel is what we breathe in corporate life’ as told by seniors who are placed and working in big companies. Finance is handled by Financial Models and Excel is the best tool for it. HR uses HR Matrices and HR Analytics. I wondered what Marketing would be using? What is the future of Marketing? With a keen interest I started finding it. Luckily after many days of research I found the answers in Digital Marketing Summit 2015 at T-Hub, Hyderabad. So I would now attempt to try to explain what Digital Marketing is all about.

I recently read in a newspaper that, out of total budget of marketing expenditure 60% is allotted to Digital Marketing. I was amazed as there are plenty of companies in India and if it’s the future of Marketing, those who invest time and money here, will all going to be millionaires. In summit a person with amazing voice said something I never heard before. Mr. Nabeel took the topic of Principles of Digital Strategy. Digital strategy?? Is it Facebook, Youtube, Mobile Apps or Pinterest or Website making? These all thoughts invaded my mind. As told by Nabeel, it is not what you see. Let me put in simple words, “A plan to accomplish something with digital tools is Digital Strategy”. Wow, Simple yet powerful. All tools used for Digital Strategy must focus on these areas, Branding, Social Media, Content marketing, Video Production, Email Marketing, Website, Advertising and SEO.  What about principles? So here we go.

First principle as told by Nabeel was, “#1 Know Thyself”. The person must measure Brand’s social footprint that tells us its “presence”. We must also check “influence”- branded message adoption, “Perception”- Measuring emotional reactions, “virality”- People organically participating in conversation through blogs and other mediums and last “Resonance”. If you check on those focus points I think you know yourself.

Second principle “#2 Put your best foot forward”. This focus mostly on Defining voice & tone of the brand, Coming up with a compelling content strategy and Creation of targeted content. Content can be either curated or created.

Third principle “#3 Know your customer”. We really think we know our customer and it would too easy but this is the most crucial area to focus upon. Can you think of first customer who will buy your products and services? If you can name it, I think you are on the way. It becomes nowadays very important which need of your customer you are addressing. Brainstorming, market research and different tools will enable you to know who your customer is.

Forth principle “# 4 Actively Engage”. Engaging must done with dialogues and not monologues. Nabeel gave very good examples for this. Recently a post went viral that said Mr. Narendra Modi replied to a him on twitter. The guy expressed his excitement of getting the reply from PM of India. Another Engaging strategy would be story telling format. Best and effective tool as it creates an emotional bonding. But one must always focus ‘sort of emotions should story evoke’. Lastly ‘Story must incite some action’.

After listening to him I thought it was fascinating to work in a Digital Marketing firm. But all new technologies comes with challenges too. First challenge that one would face is there is “abundant choice” in the marketing. You need to gear up and give your best shot. Big players won’t give you much time to correct it, so doing it correctly the first time itself is the challenge. Second Challenge faced by people working in digital marketing is “scarce attention”. “As a marketing guy you need to be heard”, once our faculty told us in lecture. Hence getting attention in the vast pool of internet is itself a challenge.

Really this is the future. Future of Marketing. There will be a time when you will see that every person in the world will be going digital. Every Person in the world has his/her own website. The world would be on a very different note to what we see today!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Interview with Dr Neeta Gulati

Dr Neeta Gulati, CEO at Itnurture Den, sat down for an hour on December. 16 to talk about her experience in the field of Information technology with Our editorial member Vaibhav. Here are the edited excerpts.

Q: You have a lot of experience, good academic background and certifications like six sigma black belt. What are your thoughts about the next generation? What are they missing? Is it the skills or the grades that matter?

A. According to recent intake scenarios, recruiters’ focus is more on skills rather than grades. More than 70% of the students in Graduation and Post Graduation lack presentation skills. Students should learn an important trait to talk their way through. If you look at Silicon Valley its not their idea that shines. It’s the way they market themselves, is where the difference lies. I’m not suggesting Grades are unimportant. Grades are the ones that open the first door for you but don’t expect Grades open the every door or obstacle you face in life. Skills, practical knowledge and Attitude do that.

Q: For an MBA student what according to you are the 5 most important qualities to possess for placement or career in general?

A. It is very difficult to make a list of skills that interviewers essentially look in potential candidates. Most important skills according to me are:
  • First is Presentation — how you present yourself. Working on this area can help you a lot. As I have said before presentation is what defines a vision for your idea.
  • Second is focus on Body Language, best thing is to smile.
  • Thirdly, know about your weakness & what you are doing about it. Also know about your strength and display it.
  • Forth is focus on interaction, the way you interact in an interview plays a major role in your selection. 
  • Fifth is to Stay Calm, Practice deep breaths for achieving it. 

Q: You have worked in Capgemini and IBM. How was your experience? How are both the organizations different in terms of use of technology?

A. IBM is a known brand and is a big company. It is everywhere. IBM is the company that makes many tools that software organizations use these days. On the other hand companies like Capgemini are growing companies and often uses IBM tools and services. They work for IBM and in return they get trained by IBM. Regarding organizational culture, IBM has an open culture and people are allowed to work from home.

Q: In our campus, placement and internship season is on. Many of the students are confused whether to join a startup or go for a well-established organisation. How should we go about it?

A. It depends on the person and his needs. Big companies have a brand name with them and give a sense of security. People may have a satisfaction that they are working for a big organisation. But when it comes to learning, what a startup can give you in 2 years can't be achieved even after 5 years if you work in a big company. What I suggest is to work for a startup for some time and then switch to a big organisation. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Social Networks and the Echo Chamber

Social Networking which never existed 10 years ago has seen the penetration faster than any other service in the world. While there are many advantages to it, let's for a minute be cynical and look at what it does to our cognitive thinking.

It is human tendency to seek out information that validates our view. So we actively look for people whose views match ours. We Selectively read online columns or newspaper articles that appeal to our thinking. We watch youtube videos or television channels that agree with our views. We read opinion pieces and editorials in newspapers and magazines that coincide with our view. This puts us into an “echo chamber” where similar views are repeated and reinforced. The contrary views are brushed aside as frivolous or biased. 

While this might sound bad enough, modern-day social media algorithms has made it worse. All the algorithms facebook or any social network for that matter suggest the pages and ads that we might want to see or might want to like or might want to open. Nobody shows us the reality! Our Facebook feed is filtered based on previous likes. Flipkart suggests items on our pattern of previous purchases. Twitter suggests whose tweets we should follow bases on those we are already following. Social Networks are ensuring that we are fed with more of the same to the point where our brains start confusing opinions for facts. 

There is a debate whether this urge for constant reinforcement makes us more intolerant as a society. That’s a question best left for sociologists and psychologists to answer but this Echo chamber is catastrophic for a business world moving forward.

Before discovery of Australia people were convinced that all Swans are white. It is because they didn’t find a single swan which is black. This is a view based on empirical evidence. But immediately after they found a contrary view that black Swans do exist, they changed their view. But unfortunately we are doing quite the opposite. We first form a view and then look for evidence that endorses our view. That’s the reason we should have a clear line of difference between opinions and facts.

Even in organisations, it often happens that managers like “yes men.” This is called confirmation bias. Many leaders seek out and take opinions of people who say what the Manager wants to listen but not what is right. They might be right sometimes but when something goes wrong, they will not be able to recognise what went wrong while the data that is sought is completely biased. Research essentially decreases uncertainty in the decisions that a Manager has to take but the person that takes that decision should be unbiased in collecting the data instead of being caught up in an “Echo Chamber.”

A philosopher named Karl Popper famously said “The only way of testing a hypothesis is to form a view and to spend the rest of the day looking for evidence that proves you are wrong, a process known as falsification. Good decision-makers should consciously seek out diverse views that challenge their existing opinions.” This sums up what decision making is all about. 

That’s the reason, beware of Echo Chamber!

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the author's and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of DOT as a whole.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Li-Fi - The next big thing to look out for?

Li-fi (Light Fidelity) is being seen as the next paradigm shift in the field of wireless networks. While there are many upsides of replacing Wi-fi with Li-fi, our technology is not ripe yet. In this blog post we look at what Li-fi is, its upsides and downsides.

What’s Li-fi?

We love internet and the way we access internet these days is Wi-fi. (Wireless Fidelity) Wi-fi uses radio waves which has a smaller spectrum compared to Light or Visible spectrum. Without going into technicalities, I would try to explain what spectrum is and what advantage we get using a larger spectrum which is light spectrum.

Before that let’s first see how Wireless networks work. All the data is digital and is in the form of 1s and 0s. Now let’s take a crude example. Let’s say that if the frequency is low, it is represented as 0 and if frequency is high, it is represented as 1. So, using two levels of frequency, we can send one bit at a time. Now let’s say, we can communicate 4 different  levels of frequencies. Let’s name them low, medium, high and very high. Now these 4 levels of frequencies can represent 00,01,10 and 11 bits. On the whole, you now are able to send 2 bits at a time. Now lets say, you are able to send 8 levels of frequencies. So, you can send three bits at a time. (000, 001, 010, 011, 100, 101, 110, 111) So speed of the network depends on how many levels of frequencies you can communicate at a time. 

No of bits you can send at a time=  log(No of levels of frequencies you can send)

Though theoretically, you can communicate unlimited levels of frequency at a time but for the receiver to be able to discern between several frequency levels after the addition of noise, you can only communicate limited levels of frequencies. (ie., you can send 2.3 Mhz signal, 2.31 Mhz, 2.311 Mhz, 2.3111 Mhz, etc.. but for receiver to discern these frequencies you cannot just send whichever level you want.)

Here comes the difference between Wi-fi and Li-fi. Wi-fi is based on radio waves and the bandwidth (Roughly speaking, bandwidth is the difference between highest and lowest level of frequencies) of radio waves is much lower than visible light on which Li-fi is based on. So higher the bandwidth, high are the no of frequency levels you can transmit. So high are the no of frequency levels, high are the no of bits you can send at a time. Therefore, high are the no of bits you can send at a time, faster is the network. So, achieving 1Gbps has been an easy task for Li-fi.

How does the Li-fi Work?

We have modems in our home which transmit wi-fi signals for use. In Li-fi, we use the lights to transmit Li-fi signals. So as explained above in a crude way, if light is on it is 1 and if light is off it is 0. So if light is able to glow in different brightness levels, we can send many bits at a time. Normal lights will not be able to do it. So we use LEDs in place of normal incandescent lights for two advantages: 

1) LEDs can glow in different brightness levels.
2) They can switch to these different levels very fast.

All our mobiles have an ambient light sensor on top of the screen, generally near the ear speaker to detect the ambient light conditions and change the brightness of the screen accordingly. A similar sensor but a much more sensitive one will be placed in the receivers to receive this Li-fi signals. This is how Li-fi works

Now many people are jumping on it as the next paradigm shift in internet communications but it should be taken with a pinch of salt. Here are some reasons why we are many years away from seeing Li-fi replacing Wi-fi.

1) It is true that Li-fi gives you 1Gbps of speed, but is there a optical fibre network (which is an input to Li-fi modem which is LED light) that provides you 1Gbps of speed? Our current modems, based on technology they are operating on can give upto 400-700 Mbps but current optical fiber links are unable to catch up with even that speed. So what's the need to jump to even more powerful modems? Its like having a larger tap connected to a narrow pipe.

"Its like having a larger tap connected to a narrow pipe."

2) Downlink is okay but to transmit data from your device to the router, you still need to use Wi-fi or infrared unless you install an LED light on your mobile or laptop to transmit data in the same way as Li-fi does.

3) Li-fi cannot work in bright sunlight for the fact that sunlight dominates any LED light.

4) Li-fi cannot be used in different rooms across a home because light cannot traverse through the walls which is essential for Li-fi to work.

5)Light should be on all the times. Though the scientist behind Li-fi, Mr. Harald Haas explained that light's brightness can be brought down so much that a naked eye can't determine whether the light is on or off and can still send the data, it has to be proven yet.

So before you jump into Li-fi bandwagon, remember that there are still some limitations left unanswered!

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the author's and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of DOT as a whole.