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"Conversation. What is it? A Mystery! It's the art of never seeming bored, of touching everything with interest, of pleasing with trifles, of being fascinating with nothing at all. How do we define this lively darting about with words, of hitting them back and forth, this sort of brief smile of ideas which should be conversation?" Guy de Maupassant

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Unfortunately, links to categories, pictures uploaded and permalinks to posts will be broken here, as Radio Userland has closed down.

New Blog URL - http://dinamehta.com/
Subscribe via RSS 2.0 - http://dinamehta.com/feed/
Subscribe via Atom - http://dinamehta.com/feed/atom/
Comments feed - http://dinamehta.com/comments/feed/

3:08:27 PM    comment []  trackback []

Monday, October 8, 2007

This is my last post on this blog. Radio Userland has served me well since I started blogging in 2003. I will post more details on the transition, at my new blog - for now I just wanted to make this announcement, and provide the new url and feeds.

New Blog URL - http://dinamehta.com/
Subscribe via RSS 2.0 - http://dinamehta.com/feed/
Subscribe via Atom - http://dinamehta.com/feed/atom/
Comments feed - http://dinamehta.com/comments/feed/

The new blog will also be called Conversations with Dina - it's just a new blogging platform - but the same old blog! I do hope you continue reading and feeding it.

My old blog will be archived at its old url (http://radio.weblogs.com/0121664/) and I will keep the archives going. Stuart, who has worked out the platform for Conversations with Dina on Wordpress has done some neato hacks - one that I love a lot is that the search function will not just search the new blog archives, but also my old Radio blog archives. And he has managed to transfer some of my posts over too. That's so cool!!! Lots more needs doing there ... and that will emerge I'm sure.

12:26:59 PM    comment []  trackback []

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Its been quiet here too long ....... the result of many many shifts. A new home, getting things to work smoothly, much travelling, transferring from a PC to a Mac, not being able to figure out how to get my Radio blog easily onto a Mac (Paolo has very graciously offered to help after I left a comment at his blog)....

And mosoci β

Mosoci is more than an idea - it is a beta platform, an emergent plan.  It is jazz, bricolage and serious play.  It lets us play a little music where chaos, creativity, diversity and complexity are all welcome.
It fulfils our desires and needs which are driven by the fundamental experiences of our souls, to live and work in an emergent, globally connected community.

What it is not, is a formal traditional organization.  We hope the lifestream we have built at the Mosoci blog demonstrates this.  We want it to be more than just the two of us.  Stuart spells this thought out really well:

"We know we would not be doing this without everyone that has read our blogs over the last few years. Social Media built the platform for our collaboration and the sense that our network and community would support, participate with us and help us grow. Now it is beyond an idea and yet it is still being formulated. We certainly don't want to end up as just the two of us. Today though we are happy to feel like we are in a constant state of beta. That's the zone where it is a real rush.

Thank you for your support, praise and interest. Our blogs and blogging will evolve just like our other social media activities are. For example we are really enjoying bringing our bookmarking into the feed. For now our tweets are there too. That may be overwhelming. Then it may also be helpful. We'll let the readers tell us.

A picture named mosoci2.jpgIt is born out of our curiosity, passion and deep belief in the strength of social technologies to make a real difference, our willingness and drive to share, learn and grow allowed us to experiment with and use those very technologies to communicate and collaborate on several projects over the years. More details from Stuart:

"Much happens today by chance. Things also emerge and we find ways to jump on them and adapt. Over the years Dina and I have enjoyed telling parts of our story. We first met in an online forum. I set her up blogging ìConversations with Dinaî with install instructions over an IM chat session, long before voice and video connections were possible. Skype also helped to revolutionize our collaboration and connectivity. Open channels between India and the US made collaboration around Learning Journeys, research, and just links and interests possible. Working in India for most of the last year, attending some conferences together around the world and we knew we were at the point where where 1+1 makes more than two.

Mosoci is the platform of our collaboratory around the interests we love, are passionate about and to reinforce the direction and learning we need to go in. We wonít be successful without our network and our community and the power of social media. Blogs, wikis, forums, twitter, bookmarking have enabled who we are today."

You may ask, what does Mosoci do?  Simply put, a) we immerse ourselves in research and deep dives, b) we facilitate change and help re-frame value for organizations.  The time and opportunity to conduct and deliver research and strategies in new ways is here. We constantly push the boundaries with emerging social tools (blogs, wikis, SMS, RSS, social networks, beta communities), with clients when and as appropriate.  We want to take this practice, this method of working, along with others who are doing some excellent work in this field, to the whole world.

Let's create that map together, in the hope that the map will bring forth the features of the territory.
We want your comments, perspectives, and just plain old honest help and advice to make this a success. We are open to suggestion and really donít want to stop at just a few of us.

It would be great if you would jump in on the conversation at Mosoci and add Mosoci Feed  to your reader. We'd love your feedback and suggestions.

10:29:31 PM    comment []  trackback []

Friday, June 29, 2007

I was driving back from a meeting when I had a few bloggy thoughts ... long drives in traffic and beating rain tend to do that to me! It was a good meeting - regular (I actually said that!!!) qualitative research project among IT students and professionals to understand motivations that drive them to join certain sorts of organizations in a highly competitive field, to figure out a strategy to draw them to my Client's organization. As we were discussing the research, I suddenly felt - wow - this is the perfect case for a social media / new media strategy ---- you have young professionals, in the IT industry, probably heavy users of the internet, a captive target audience that must be familiar with blogs, social networking sites, youtube and the like! When you think of motivations and drivers for this segment, how can you not think of The Influentials, who help them frame their opinions. Am waiting eagerly for my copy which is winging its way here currently. It would be neat to figure out who or what they are in the project I am doing. So somewhere midway in discussing sample definitions, I broke away and asked my client - do you have a social media or blogging strategy - you need one! She was interested I think, particularly since one of her marketing objectives is to build a powerful corporate identity in order to attract the best talent.

Now am hoping it's a qualitative research +++ project!!  Am beginning to believe any organization or brand that is targeting an audience that is 'online' must have a social media strategy.  Social media is in-your-face today, no web user or surfer can really escape it.  

2:13:54 PM    comment []  trackback []

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Jon Husband of Wirearchy and Lee Bryant of Headshift, have recently put in a lot of thought on Enterprise 2.0 ...

"Will we see more written about what will probably come to be called Management 2.0 ? No doubt. Will there be massive struggles with this new set of conditions and ongoing resistance to coming to terms with these dynamics ? No doubt. Will resisting and ignoring and denying work? Maybe for the short term, but these new conditions are not going away ... and I posit that the issues engendered by linked interconnected bottom-up activities will necessitate significant amount of unlearning and re-learning, notably in the enterprise setting." Jon Husband

And Lee, building on Euan and Dion Hinchcliffe's recent posts on Enterprise 2.0 writes:

On the technical level, the integration challenges are non-trivial:

  • identity / Single Sign On (SSO);

  • internal application integration;

  • legislative obligations for data retention, privacy and audit; and,

  • availability.

But the integration of people, practise and (dare I say) process is even harder, with challenges such as:

  • devolving responsibility and promoting a DIY culture;

  • encouraging people to grow their own internal and external networks;

  • stimulating conversation and debate by overcoming fear of exposure; and,

  • for many people, simply overcoming the idea that any form of online communication beyond email is "not part of their job."
Related to these, is this neat post by Hugh Macleod on Corporate Blogging calling for "humanification" and "smarter conversations". And Britt Blaser, always sharp, talks about the People Law trumping the Power Law - I see this relevant to the conversation as well, as enterprise needs to realize the value in People Power.

I'd like to add another dimension to this conversation, which was triggered by presentations and comments I heard at the IAMAI Digital Marketing Summit last week in Mumbai. All pointing to the fact that there is immense potential for web 2.0 or social media (call it by whatever name you wish) in Marketing. In particular, I liked what Ajit Balakrishnan of Rediff had to say - here's the gist ... I may have missed a few words:

"Bloggers are our new gatekeepers of information. Journalists are hesitant to write up stories, unless bloggers are already talking about it. We get real news from the bloggers -- everything else is a press release. Smart marketers need them"

Rajiv Dhingra, who it was a pleasure to meet, summarizes the summit:

"The conclusion was similar to all the previous discussions and in fact this is to be noted - Marketers are now asking other media and medium what is the ROI!

...and thus concluded the IAMAI Digital Media Conference 2007.

I wish there were more marketers and especially FMCG product brand managers who had attended this conference because itís the offline world which needs to know that it is time to start switching online."

It's encouraging to hear marketers talk of blogs and social networking and building communities online, however, like Rajiv, I heard many unspoken doubts on Return On Investment (ROI) from such engagements. Its a question I raised at the summit. Is the industry doing anything to develop metrics to measure impact? Are they talking to bloggers about it? Simple answer - NO.

I know ROI is an obsession with marketers, and we would fail in our jobs as consultants in this area, if we did not address them. We've done the first part of our jobs by getting the words 'blog' and 'online communities' into the lexicon of marketers. They have some sense of what these can do. We can talk of benefits of corporate blogging, evangelism, influence on brand perceptions, using these tools to empower your customers to become your marketers. We can hold their hands on how to set these up for their companies. There's been some good thinking by Charlene Li at Forrester in October 2006 on ROI of blogging.

But do we have a model in place yet? Are we giving them more tangible, quantifiable metrics, the equivalent of or alternatives to GRPs and cost-per-clicks? Are we doing enough, in the area of showing them ways to manage risks involved ? How are we helping them 'market' social media internally to their VPs and CEOs who often tend to be older, more rigid, more in fear of giving up control.

Leaps of faith aren't always easy to achieve from organizations without any estimation of how it can affect bottomline. Bottom-up or top-down, as much as we want 'them' to speak our language, 'we' need to speak their's too. I was chatting with Veer and Rajiv at the summit, and I do believe it is time to get bloggers and advertisers/marketers together into a discussion on how this can come about. This isn't just an India issue, I know many of my blog buddies in other parts of the world are grappling with these concerns too.

Any takers? Suggestions?

Update: [link via Dave Winer - Nicholas Carr talks about two studies that provide some data on adoption of six prominent Web 2.0 tools - blogs, wikis, podcasts, RSS, social networking, and content tagging. "Although Forrester didn't break out adoption rates by tool, it did say that CIOs saw relatively high business value in RSS, wikis, and tagging and relatively low value in social networking and blogging." Read more at Nicholas Carr's blog.]

12:55:08 PM    comment []  trackback []

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Found at the Fast Company Blog: IFC, a World Bank Group organisation, and World Resources Institute has an interesting report - The Next 4 Billion: Market Size and Business Opportunities at the Base of the Pyramid. Some facts from their Executive Summary:

Four billion people form the base of the economic pyramid (BOP) -- those with annual incomes below $3,000 (in local purchasing power).

The BOP makes up 72 percent of the 5,575 million people recorded by available national household surveys worldwide and an overwhelming majority of the population in the developing countries of Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean -- home to nearly all the BOP.

This large segment of humanity faces significant unmet needs and lives in relative poverty: in current U.S. dollars their incomes are less than $3.35 a day in Brazil, $2.11 in China, $1.89 in Ghana, and $1.56 in India.

Yet together they have substantial purchasing power: the BOP constitutes a $5 trillion global consumer market.

From the Press release:

"In its geographic analysis, The Next 4 Billion finds that the Asian BOP market (including the Middle East) is by far the largest, with 2.86 billion people and a total income of $3.47 trillion, constituting 83% of the region's total population and 42% of the its aggregate purchasing power."

BOP populations across countries:

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More countries covered here.

Income vs expenditure for India in this BOP market:

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This shows huge market potential .. probably larger than ever thought before, and really undeserved by businesses. C.K.Prahalad must feel vindicated!

10:49:47 AM    comment []  trackback []

Monday, January 8, 2007

Everyone seems to be talking about it.  Nice to see these perspectives in the context of brands and products.  I read this at Brandchannel today:

SelfLead - the emergence of the sovereign citizen - by Ray Podder.


"What if anything and everything you owned, knew, thought, created or used was negotiable at any point in time? What if you could sell off your junk, get compensated for your opinions, or lend, borrow and bet without the need for banks or governments? What if your creative product had a larger audience than corporate networks? What if your lone dissident voice couldnít be silenced even by the rich and powerful?"

"At first, it may seem strange to think that you could be on the same level playing field as a multinational corporation, but just consider how business and customers co-exist in networked spaces. As of now, we both get our basic queries and network trend data from the same place. Pending the Net Neutrality power struggle and censorship issues of the moment, the deeper resources of the Internet will likely become available to everyone as well. Given the probability of that reality and the other factors previously mentioned what do we do to use this shift to our advantage both as individuals and as companies?

Enable the empowered. Marketing is no longer about messages. Itís about motivation. If you want to motivate the new sovereignty, reach them by the tools they will use to refine their participation power. That means be available as choices for personalization on start-page like environments where choosing your brand of service is a self-defining action. For example, if you deliver travel services, then the new sovereign citizen is both your traveler and your travel agent. If you sell art then the new sovereign citizen is your art promoter, using your art in experiential ways to define their personal spaces."

And here's another paper found at Brandchannel from Dec 2006 - How To Crash The Consumer-Controlled Party.  And Not Get Thrown Out .... (pdf file)

1:06:21 PM    comment []  trackback []

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

According to a survey by Harris Interactive "Fortune 1000 business executives are reacting slowly to the idea of corporate blogs as a communications medium."

Peter sent this link in to me, via Adverblog, with this comment ..."The interesting bit: 77% want to control 'sanctioned' blogs. 40% want to control any blogs. But only 30% say they understand what the term means!"

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Perhaps, they should be reading this Special Report in BusinessWeek on blogging among CEO's in America, which has a whole bunch of examples and links. Part of the report has a Tip Sheet with a short list of useful Do's and Don'ts:

  • Watch the kids: Children lead the way with new Web services such as the social network MySpace, the video sharing service YouTube, and personal blogs. It won't be long before they're in the workforce, bringing their networks with them.
  • Watch the kidsóin your company, too. You may be surprised to find that young folks in a department are using the Internet phone service Skype or a group-editable wiki Web site. Find out what's working and what isn't.
  • Try it yourself: Create a MySpace page. Open a Flickr account and upload a few photos. Write a Wikipedia entry. Program a Web mashup at Ning.com. The only way to understand this stuff is to use it. And it's easy.
  • Join the feed frenzy: Read some popular blogs to get a feel for how the online party line works. You can find them at Technorati.com and Techmeme.com, or better yet, subscribe to them with a so-called RSS feed reader, the most popular of which are listed on each BusinessWeek blog.
  • Write your own blog: Or if that feels too forced, at least encourage other people in the company who want to. Strive for authenticity, even at the risk of self-criticism, because blog readers will quickly jump on spin.
  • Elicit customer input: Many people love to offer their own expertise, and often it's pretty darn useful. Mars asked people to vote on a new M&M candy color, drawing 10 million votesóand a lot of attention.
  • Assume Web 2.0 is just for consumers: The online customer-management service Salesforce.com just did $105 million in sales, up 63%. Even the college social network Facebook recently allowed companies to create profiles.
  • Put up walls: Resist strict limits on employees' on-the-job Web use. The more they can connect the innovation in Web 2.0 with their own jobs, the better off your company will be.
  • Take it personally: Opening up blogs to comments from customers inevitably will attract complaints and criticism. That's OK. Consider it market research. Respond honestly, and watch your company's credibility soar.
  • Sweat the details. You can't personally keep up on every new Web 2.0 startup on TechCrunch.com, unless you don't need much sleep. You're running a company, remember? But make sure someone else is paying attention to these guys.

9:35:50 AM    comment []  trackback []

Monday, May 22, 2006

I have so much to blog about - I've been travelling extensively for the last month - attending the Microsoft Research Social Computing Symposium, helping facilitate an Open Space meeting in the US which was such a learning for me, meeting my good friend Rob Paterson  for the first time finally, observing Johnnie Moore so expertly facilitate the Open Space Meeting, and wrapping up a large ethnographic research study. I've also just concluded facilitating our first two-day bootcamp on Social Media which we have 'branded' Brand 2.0 Beta - Build Powerful Brands with Social Media, with Stuart Henshall. We're going to put this up on the web real soon.

And hopefully this week sees me back to blogging :) as I finally have breathing space!

In the meanwhile ... .

Click on the button for more details.

More on my experiences from these events soon ....

8:51:37 AM    comment []  trackback []

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Here's an extract from an excerpt of the book Connected Marketing: The Viral, Buzz and Word of Mouth Revolution by Justin Kirby and Paul Marsden (Butterworth-Heinemann, 2005):

"In the US, NOP (now GfK) research shows that 92% of Americans cite word of mouth as their preferred source of product information. Advertising company Euro RSCG has found that when it comes to generating excitement about products, word of mouth is 10 times more effective than TV or print advertising.8

Why should this be? Why should word of mouth connections become even more important in influencing buying behavior in an age when media formats and channels are proliferating? The answer has five facets:

  1. New personal communications technologies and digital media such as blogs, instant messaging, mobile telephones, email, online review sites, and personal Web sites are increasing the speed, reach, and utility of word of mouth.

    Digital media's capabilities in turbo-charging the viral spread of information means that well-planned and well-executed connected marketing initiativesóparticularly those that integrate more traditional marketing communications techniques in their activitiesócan help business messages reach the mass market in a way that would require a significant investment if left to more traditional techniques alone.

  2. Increased marketing literacy among buyers means people increasingly dismiss traditional marketing campaigns as biased "propADganda." Instead, they turn to trusted word of mouth sources for advice.

  3. Acute advertising clutter is making it increasingly difficult for traditional marketing campaigns to break through and capture people's attention. To avoid the advertising cacophony, buyers turn to their friends for word of mouth recommendations.

  4. Accelerating media fragmentation is shrinking media audiences; more channels, more media are making it harder for advertisers to find and reach their target markets through traditional marketing campaigns.

  5. New ad blocking technology is empowering people to skip, stop, or avoid unwanted advertising messages and interruptive marketing campaigns.

Today, consumers are more involved than ever before in controlling communications and message delivery at a global level. And many brands are now finally realizing that "the most powerful selling of products and ideas takes place not marketer to consumer but consumer to consumer."9

I've been mulling over questions for marketers, advertisers and agencies to get them to start thinking of Social Media built around the principles of Web 2.0:

How can you make your customers your marketers? What is your strategy to adopt new forms of communication and collaboration that both enable and enhance consumer participation in your brand? How can you empower them to believe they trust you and can make a difference? How can you make them your brand ambassadors and evangelists? How is this trust and loyalty built in an open environment where you and they 'play' together? How can you make your market a conversation in ways traditional media has failed?

There is a third space that is evolving - the social web. It is changing how we 'consume' brands and promises. And its not just restricted to the desktop - it is mobile too. Jay Rosen articulates this so well - "Jay Rosen said something terribly important that (imo) went over the heads of most people in the room. He said the nature of authority is changing in our culture, and that this directly impacts all media. He used the example of a person who goes to the doctor and gets a prescription for an ailment. The doctor explains how the medication will work. The patient then proceeds to the drugstore and receives the medicine, along with (perhaps) an explanation from the pharmacist about how the medicine will work. But then the patient goes home and gets on the internet to research the thoughts of others who've used the medicine to discover what THEY think about how it works, and this impacts the doctor's authority. The doctor is still the doctor, but gone is the automatic acceptance of his or her words as gospel."

Are there other questions or issues you think that I might add?

8:46:54 PM    comment []  trackback []

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Last Session - Digital Summit 2006

Moderator - Rohit Mull, Tata AIG

  • Anup Bagchi COO, ICICI Web Trade Ltd.
  • Sanjeev Bikchandani, CEO, Naukri.com
  • Satya Prabhakar, President & CEO Sulekha.com
  • Harsh Roongta, Founder & CEO, Apnaloan
  • Sharat Dhall, Business Head, Ecommerce, Times Internet Ltd
  • Anaggh Desai, CEO, D'damas Jewellery (I) Pvt. Ltd.
Sanjeev Bikchandani - naukri.com
Foundation of naukri.com is based on the virtuous circle ---- we have the most jobs - so we get the most traffic - so we get the most response, so we get the most clients - so we get the most jobs. So first you have to have massive aggregation of content, unique content, need to know content and not nice to know, dynamic and updated content, and provide the best search of the content because there are 85,000 jobs on the site at any point in time.

Promotion and awareness - bootstrapping was a strategy - get repeat visitors, get buzz and word of mouth thru user experience, PR, early mover advantage. Today it is a much larger business with funds and a focus on promotions both offline and online.

Harsh Roongta - apnaloan.com
Put all resources into the online medium, although it was an online-offline service at that point in time. The biggest learning is that it is a mix of 4 issues - better online experience, value proposition - wanted to harness the power of the interactive medium, where our offers could be tailored, delivery to consumer - customer delight programmes - eg. we would contact the customer within 10 minutes of his putting his application online (so huge process adherence and processes were required) - and this got a lot of salience and goodwill. And finally, the CRM track. Some things were learned as we went along -- that we could calibrate our exposure to customers depending on our process capabilities.

To summarize - while user experience and value propositions are important, how you deliver, how quickly you deliver, and what tracking systems are in place are key.

Satya Prabhakar, President & CEO Sulekha.com
The most valuable commodity today is human attention. The number of offerings to us is exploding. So as the demand for human attention increases, but supply is constant, the value of attention will only decrease. The cost per unique visitor to site is about 30--35$ in the US.

Sulekha - connects Indians worldwide - blogs, groups, networks, classifieds, events, yellow pages.

The Internet can be a double-edged sword - while it is low cost to try and new service, it is also low cost to spread bad word of mouth. The 'mantra' - you get people, you get them to stay, you make them do new things. So acquisition is important, but retention the key. How can you get retention -- by providing value, a great user experience, caring for the customer at every turn.

Many media companies have a conflict between advertiser value and user value. Focus on the user, and the advertising will come.

Anup Bagchi COO,  ICICI Web Trade Ltd

Asks the audience, how many of you are in an online job -- i'd say over three-fourths of the audience had their hands raised. The point he makes is that businesses are businesses whether online or offline. The online world proposition must be strong. And is slightly ahead of its time - and thats good - examples - airline tickets, banking, naukri.com, apnaloan.com. In an online world service is key --- if you screw up, customer will go away and you cannot really track him. In an offline world, you can 'repair' the relationship - give him tea, suck up to him etc. Can't do that in an online world. Online can be cruel - it is completely transparent to the customer - you cannot fumble because he will not go to the next page. So the processes and policies have to be really well thought thru. Customer Activity Management must be really strong. There are no second chances, you don't have the nuances that talking to a customer can bring and that you can exploit to your advantage (IMO - Voice and even video may help here - more touch-feel definitely when servicing a customer!!!). And finally, there is a large offline portion to distribution -- eg. the supply chain has to be completed -- railway tickets must be ultimately delivered home the next day.

Anaggh Desai, CEO, D'damas Jewellery (I) Pvt. Ltd
What is customer acquisition --- boon or bane! Sells travel, and fine diamond jewellery. He uses the 3 I's model -- identify, invite, incentivize them to continue being with you. They provide a feel-good factor as opposed to the rest of the panelists who provide more functional offerings :). They kept advertising their travel portal on naukri.com -- naukri was doing the work and we were getting the customers !


Q - A part of the job is to make it convenient for the customer to find what they are looking for ... but it takes ages to download many sites -so what works? A - it is true - we need more usability testing (yayyy). This is very important in a country like ours where bandwidth can vary so much. The panel agrees it is one of the biggest factors in customer satisfaction and usability. It doesn't matter how good the site looks, if it doesn't load fast enough.

Q - From a client perspective --- people invest in media in order to build the business for the future. Why is it they are not willing to invest now even in a cost-per-lead model - and support this medium so that it pays back in the future? A - no real answer

Q - related qn --- have you killed the medium with the Cost Per Lead model ? The problem with an emerging medium, there are a large number of questions being asked by seniors about why you want to get into that space. And it is a medium that allows clear measurement and quantification. It really is the most measurable form of advertising. It is a process of evolution. It will happen. Another view --- Also, making marketing expenditure accountable is one of the key characteristics of this space. If you move away from that, you will kill the medium. If you can't deliver, you should not be there !

Q - How are cost per leads worked out by clients? What if their own processes or products don't get conversions? Or interfere with leads? A - the way forward is to start off with a figure of faith - both parties must believe and trust in the value they have worked out. Its a partnership of leads, quality and conversion. Also, are their parallel processes to identify what it the weak link if you under deliver?

It was great meeting Rohit Mull and Harsh Roongta after many many years. I had done some qual research for apnaloan.com many years ago.

4:46:48 PM    comment []  trackback []

Day 2 - Digital Summit 2006.

Moderator: V Ramani, CEO, Mediaturf

  • Naren Chandra, Head of Marketing, International Banking, ICICI Bank
  • VL Srinivas, CEO, Maxus, Asia Pacific
  • Kedar Sohoni, Director, Cross-tab
  • Lloyd Mathias, Marketing Director, Motorola
V. Ramani sets off the session with some posers :
  • are marketers really interested in this medium?
  • are traditional agencies equipped to handle online medium or are they masquerading as experts. Do we need experts? Why then are CMOs reverting to traditional agencies to handle their digital accounts?
  • should traditional marketing companies have an additional CMO for their digital markets? will marketers be forced to build special digital marketing teams?
  • do they realise that the internet can be a large research tool?
Lloyd Matthais - Motorola

What drives the digital medium - personalization, expression, immediate access, inofrmatio/content, viral capabilities - the internet enables you to build relationships.

The challenge for marketers -
1. Don't use online for building on your traditional media campaign - create communication specific for the net using its inherent advantages
2. Get your creative partners to think that way - the net is not just a medium - it is a creative experience
3. Look at holistic media measures
- industry standards are needed

Benefits - quicker, more flexible, higher response rates, real time tracking and emasurement, interactivity. The relationship changes - the customer is in control and the relationship is based on information, and the service based in real time.

Examples - Make it my Moto campaign which leveraged the need of customers to personalize their phone experiences.

Question from moderator - are their discussions with creative heads on the digital media - are the budget outlays large enough to justify it? Answer - honestly no. Agencies and marketers are equally at fault. As the net spreads, marketers willynilly will have to wake up to the need for specialists. But it will be a gradual process.

Naren Chandra, Head of Marketing, International Banking, ICICI Bank

Brief overview on how ICICI bank has gone global. Started off 4 years ago - needed to target indian customers and corporates abroad - NRI's. Apart from using mass media for NRIs - TV, print, events - they felt they needed to be more effective with reach, and at lower costs. He never needed had to justify his decision to go online to seniors - it has paid off.

Started off with typical stuff like cricket and news. But that has evolved. Also used online world to test out hypotheses - through forms of research, using email, chat even. Tested new sites, channels, media, products this way.

Key challenges - because it's an international target group - you need different content, style, creative, tone and value propositions. Also, need to be really active about competition.

Now they have launched an online savings product in Canada and UK - where local customers and not just Indians can open accounts. That is a first ! And it is all centralised in India. Lots of pride :)

Q - ICICI is one of the most advanced in scaling the digital media and marketing ladder. Whats the next challenge? A - how to take search forward into reaching the customer when she is thinking of the product - need to ascertain when a customer is reading an article on a topic, my ad pops up.

Dinesh Sharma - Samsung CDMA

CDMA is targeted at lower end of the market. As a technology, it has great potential for the upmarket segment as well.

Marketing approach - 360 degree marketing
Web marketing initiatives - target net savvy populations - we are experiencing pull traffic. Support provided to consumers - value-added services like ringtones, colour etc. Also internationally have registration and CRM programmes.
Web B2B - dealers and distributors - you need to deliver digitally to them. Building a Distributors Extranet.
One point made that struck me - in terms of online research, there is a lack of human and qualitative elements in online research.

Comment from moderator - when you engage with traditional research agencies, do you get involved in the actual fieldwork - all marketers need to do this.

Q - Why don't they spend more of marketing budgets into the mobile media? A - we have concerns and media experts need to convince marketers. Lloyd adds - traditional media will always be critical as we will always need to go further down to newer segments of potential customers.

Kedar Sohoni, Director, Cross-tab

Online market research firm - many other markets have moved away from F2F interviewing into telephonic interviews and online research. India still isn't comfortable with this new medium. Over 260 MR firms in Europe and N. America use online research. Been around for 10 years now. It's greater than a $ 1 billion industry worldwide. Massive projects, spread across different marets can be managed centrally and easily. Faster results. Automated so data is clean.

Some advantages - monitor results of a study as it happens in real time, reach exclusive and difficult to access respondents, no chance of data entry errors, get frank and honest responses to sensitive questions.

Online qualitative focus group screen shot shown - right hand side - chat window - left side is the client room - where the client can pass on virtual chits to the moderator.

Q - What kind of advice would you have for clients who are accustomed to traditional offline research. A - we face a lot of questions and some resistance quite often - they are comfortable with status quo.

Sudhir Nair - Grey Interactive

Reality check - we have imposed on this medium too many stringent measures in delivering clicks or leads. And we haven't even begun to understand its potential. The future is surround compaigns rather than integrated campaigns. Language will play a role.
Upshot - please set objective of the campaign and then craft our your digital marketing campaign. It cannot just be measured by brand leads.

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Sunday, January 15, 2006

I finally got around to doing some housekeeping on my blog. Have edited the categories and links - am hoping they will render alright. The nice thing is each of them acts as a separate blog - so readers can subscribe separately to specific categories that interest you!

Here they are - links and RSS feeds :

Weblog Home : (all categories) subscribe

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Saturday, October 15, 2005

Testing ... i think my blog is back :).

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

What can be better than when solutions are creatively crafted, by people who need those solutions the most. Solutions that ease the burden of day-to-day life. Solutions that make use of limited resources available. Solutions that work, despite little encouragement, aid and 'technical' know-how. Solutions that are adapted to the environment, in most cases, solutions that are eco-friendly.

While they are getting recognition, I wonder whether much is being done to nurture them and create micro enterprises out of them. Do they threaten large enterprises and governments, by the suggestion of wresting away control and power?


There is a Sci-Tech special in the recent Outlook - Gram By Microgram - which covers innovators across rural India. These are stories of individuals, practitioners of rustic science that is compelling, practical and applicable. Many ideas there tailored to the environment - some of the innovations featured :

- zero-head water turbines
- amphibious cycles
- gears in cycle rickshaws
- pedal washing machines
- convertible tractors
- water pumps operated through GSM mobile phones
- cow-milking machines
- electronic sticks for the visually impaired made from PVC pipes which even has a puddle detector

GreatBong at CSF writes :

The common threads through these nine stories----

1)Meagre resources available to the inventors
2)None of them have a formal engineering background
3) Government apathy to genuine innovation

Here's the whole set of individual stories in the feature:

Balram Singh Saini & Prem Singh Patiala Haryana, Nripen Kalita Jiakur Assam, Raghava Gowda Murulya Karnataka, Bhanjibhai Mathukia Kalawad Gujarat, Sanket V. Chitagopakar & Prashant V. Harshangi Gulbarga Karnataka, Sheikh Jabbar Nagpur Maharashtra, Arvindbhai Patel Vanch Gujarat, Remya Jose Nenmani Kerala, M. Saidullah Mathia Dih Bihar.

And a link to the National Innovation Foundation which has profiles, video demos and photos of almost one hundred other such rural innovations, courtesy Suhail.

Worldchanging, where I'm going to cross-post this at had also linked to a feature in the BBC News earlier this month on some other rural innovations, including - a motorcycle-driven field cultivator, a seed-cum-fertiliser dispenser and a bicycle-mounted sprayer.

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Thursday, July 14, 2005

Corporate blogging - books and surveys

Business Blogs: A Practical Guide by Bill Ives and Amanda Watlington was released earlier this year. The first half of the book is a guide for would-be business bloggers, covering topics from platform selection to blog writing and the emergence of RSS readers and feeds. The second part of the book was developed from interviews with 70 bloggers, and reflects current blogging practices in small firms, large firms, non-profits. 

Although out in May, I just read the book - the authors were kind to send me a free downloadable copy as I was one of the people they interviewed in the book.  I had enjoyed the depth of questioning from Bill when he interviewed me, and this depth and insight is reflected in the book.  The interviews throw up motivations for blogging, practices, how corporate bloggers have gained, and some lessons for them.

Read this article by Amanda, one of the co-authors, an excerpt here that relects the tone of the book :

Blogging takes real time and a strong commitment. Many of the bloggers interviewed for Business Blogs: A Practical Guide did not set specific goals for their blogs - they had a desire and a means to communicate. Although many bloggers have chosen this approach, I strongly recommend setting goals for the blog. Is it to increase product awareness or garner new sales? Whatever the goal set, traffic metrics can provide a hard measure of the results; however, most bloggers gauge their blog's success on the relationships built and the connections made.

Blogs are at heart a social-networking medium. In a business world where marketers are expected to be in conversation with their customers, blogs provide an ideal medium.  It's a potential we are just beginning to tap.

Related to corporate blogging - I am just looking at a whitepaper on Corporate Blogging [pdf] from Backbone Media (John Cass and co). Available at their site are - an executive summary, survey and case studies overview, a section on crossing the corporate blogging digital divide, analysis and commentary of the survey results, case studies and lessons learned on how to build a successful corporate blog. Here's a diagram that that illustrates different processes companies are adopting to cross the corporate blogging cultural divide.

A picture named corporate_chasm.jpg

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Thursday, June 30, 2005

I read with interest a preliminary paper by Anikar M. Haseloff on Cybercafes and their Potential as Community Development Tools in India . From the abstract, the premise of the paper :

"Using public Internet facilities in order to access information and communication technologies (ICT) is the main model of use after the more common models of home use (individual ownership) and access at work or at school/university. Especially in developing countries, public and shared facilities help to create desperately needed access and are a main strategy in several Internet access programs. In the context of public access, cybercafes play an important role as the most common Internet access model, especially in the urban areas of India. It is often argued that cybercafes could help bridge the digital divide, as they provide Internet access to people who cannot afford to have Internet connections at their homes or who need help in order to make use of ICT."

Some highlights and excerpts from the paper :

  • While in their initial stage a mostly urban phenomena, cybercafes over the years have mushroomed throughout India, and today can even be found in small towns and some of the bigger villages. They seem to serve a crucial portion of Indian society as access points for the use of computers and the Internet, as can be seen when examining the size of this sector. As there is a lack of common definitions, regulations for registration, and authoritative measurement, the exact number of cybercafes in India can only be roughly estimated. There exist several such figures, but they have to be seen as estimates rather than exact numbers. In 2001 the Indian Market Research Bureau (IMRB) estimated around 12,000 cybercafes in India (Achar, 2001). Since then the number appears to have grown steadily all over the country, and Caslon Analytics (2004, p. 4) estimates the number of cybercafes for all of India as approximately 50,000 in 2004. The same figure is given by Pasricha (2004). These estimates show that cybercafes are slowly becoming part of contemporary city architecture in India and may serve a large proportion of the Indian population as access points to the Internet.

  • Table 5: SECs and access place - (SEC = Socio Economic Classification which is a matrix of occupation and education used in research in India to reflect lifestyle, as opposed to mere income - A1 being the higher group and E the lowest). The table below from the report is interesting - it shows that SEC B and C uses more cybercafes than SEC A, as the latter group has greater access to the internet at home and work.

    SEC A1

    SEC A2

    SEC B

    SEC C
































  • The most frequently used service in the cybercafe was the World Wide Web (90.3 percent), followed by email (72.3 percent), phonecalls/netphone (52.1 percent), games (49.6 percent) and chat (48.7 percent). Almost half of those interviewed also used the cybercafe for educational reasons, which may be related to the high number of students. But it should also be noted that many teachers use cybercafes in order to prepare their lessons.

  • More useful stats on cybercafe use by age, gender, employment and education status

Here's a signboard I took a picture of, outside a 'computer academy' which actually turned out to be a cybercafe in a small town called Bakshi ka Talab in Uttar Pradesh, India :

A picture named paharpur_pb_up_day_2_paharpur_065.jpg

[Thanks Rajesh for the link to the article]

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Friday, July 23, 2004

Always On World

Rajesh Jain talks of how access devices, access infrastructure and real-time applications present a platform for an Always-On world, in his column, TECH TALK: Tech Trends: 8. Always-On World.  An excerpt follows (bold is mine) :

"Two years ago, it would have been hard to imagine that Indians would be buying cellphones at the rate of nearly 2 million a month. Similarly, today, it is hard to imagine a broadband India ñ but that is exactly what we are about to see. The next couple years will see Indian consumers and enterprises enveloped in ubiquitous, high-speed connectivity from multiple sources ñ wireless, DSL, cable and satellite. Complement this with WiFi-enabled laptops and smartphones, and the always-on world is at hand. This will necessitate a change in the not just employees work, but also the interactions between enterprises and customers............

..............The world of always-on in a natural manifestation of the convergence of various industries ñ computing, telecom and consumer electronics. It is a world which telecom- and computing-poor countries like India can leapfrog to, with the right vision and will. Just like South Korea has done. "


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Wednesday, July 7, 2004

Howard Rheingold is Visiting India

A picture named paintedshoe.jpgHoward Rheingold, author of Smart Mobs - The Next Social Revolution is visiting India -  he's going to be speaking at Doors of Perception in Bangalore in March 2005.   

"I make a little money writing, and most of what pays my bills comes from speaking engagements. Sometimes, I do keynotes or panels, and sometimes organizations bring me in to brainstorm with them about smartmobby stuff in addition to a briefing or talk. I've been invited to speak in Bangalore in March, 2005. The inviting organization can pay my transportation costs, but not a fee. I'd like to spend at least a week in India, a country I've always wanted to visit, but have never had the opportunity. But I can't afford to lose a week or more of work. Are there organizations or businesses in Bangalore who would be able to pay me less than my usual speaking fee -- and no travel expenses -- to brief their people about Smart Mobs and my latest endeavor -- The Cooperation Project?" [posted by Howard here].

Am thinking along the lines of approaching MTV India, Reliance Infocomm, The Times of India group, CNBC Asia. And hoping to swing something for him so that he can visit Mumbai too !  Any suggestions or leads ?  

Use this form to contact him directly - or leave a comment at this post - or email me please !

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Thursday, April 8, 2004

Perfect Pitch - Corporate Blogging

Judith reminds us of the 'Perfect' Corporate Weblogging 'Elevator Pitch' Competition.  Go on, take that ride :

Don't Forget The 'Perfect Pitch' Competition...

Have you submitted your ëPerfect Pitchí entry yet?

The rules of engagement for this contest are listed in:
The ëPerfectí Corporate Weblogging ëElevator Pitchí Competition, which was posted on March 29, 2004.

We have the honor of hosting this competition with an awesome group of internationally respected judging panelists:

danah boyd, Dave Pollard, Dina Mehta, Don Park, Elizabeth Lane Lawley, Flemming Funch, Jason Shellen, Jim McGee, Lilia Efimova, Martin Dugage, Phil Wolff, Ross Mayfield, Scott Allen, and Ton Zijlstra.

So submit your entries soon as the deadline is Midnight [EST] April 15, 2004!

Please submit your entry to: pitch at weblogsinc dot com. Thanks! (-:=

 [The Social Software Weblog]


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Saturday, January 24, 2004

Corporate Blogging - How Blogs Help Companies

Am away from my usual fast (?) dsl link connection - and on a painfully slow dial-up connection.  Was browsing through my news aggregator and i saw a piece by John Porcaro, Group Marketing Manager, Microsoft.  We've connected many times through our blogs and i sense he's a marketing guy who believes in not just listening to his customers, (a lot of marketing guys do this) but in really hearing them and engaging them in conversations (and my guess is not all do).  

I suspect John is one of those who really does.  And tells us how blogging helps him do this.  At his blog, John shares his thoughts and own personal experiences on how blogs help companies.  Where he describes how his blog helps him in his job, by allowing him to have conversations with customers and hearing their views. 

I like the piece he's written.  A lot.  Especially the parts i have highlighted in bold font.    

"I started my blog because I really believe in the clarity that comes from really listening to customers. Marketing really comes down to understanding customer needs, and creating products or services that meet those needs. The best way to understand what customers really need is listening to them. And Iím convinced that really listening (and appropriately responding) leads to a more trusting relationship.

Blogs offer a way to start a conversation. Iím amazed at how much more involved I am in customer issues from the hour or two a day I spend blogging. Most of the time is spent reading what our customers are writing. Because the best blogs are so current, and because they link to other blogs, I find I can follow a thread easily, and get a great deal of information about what everyoneís buzzing about.

Perhaps more importantly, blogs offer a great way of aggregating comments, asking questions, and addressing issues. Iím often amazed at the insight I get on a topic Iím pondering when someone posts a relevant comment.

As a company, I think Microsoft is doing some great things by encouraging technical blogs. Even though weíve never really hired anyone to blog, weíve seen blogs grow organically because it makes it easier for people to share ideas. MSDN blogs are a great way for the tech community to share ideas, tools, even code.

One of the key benefits of blogs is that they connect people as individuals, rather than rely on thinking of customers as an indefinable mass of ìusers.î Robertís blog has helped me understand the issues our customers are concerned about (good, bad, or otherwise!). And putting a ìhuman faceî on Microsoft helps build trust, and hopefully helps customers know that weíre listening."

John ends by asking his readers ... "how are blogs helping your company?"  I'm hoping he gets tons of responses - share them with us John !

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Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Selling to the Old Brain

Got this in Connection Advantage - the newsletter from Spoke Software. 

'Using the Language of the "Old Brain" to boost the impact of any message'

By Christophe Morin & Patric Renvoise, authors of "Selling to the Old Brain"

New research in neuroscience reveals that the human brain is divided into three separate parts that act as separate organs with different cellular structures and different functions. Knowing how these separate parts work can help you in your efforts to reach and influence customers.

Three Parts of the Brain

The brain stem, formed during the earliest stages of evolution, sits atop the spinal column in the base of the skull. This is the "Old Brain" (also referred to as the reptilian brain, because all vertebrates have one, from vertebrates to reptiles), a.k.a. the "Survival Brain," because it's responsible for fight, flight and feeding functions.

The Old Brain also oversees such important functions as breathing, sleeping, reproduction, circulation of the blood, and contractions of muscles in response to external stimulation.

The two other parts of the brain include:

1. The "New Brain." The New Brain thinks. It processes rational data and shares its deductions with the other two brains.

2. The "Middle Brain." The Middle Brain feels. It processes emotions and gut feelings and also shares its findings with the other two brains.

Since it is responsible for our survival, the Old Brain plays a central role in all decisions. It takes input from the other two brains, but it alone controls the final decision-making process.

What Stimulates the Old Brain?

We've found six proven stimuli that influence the Old Brain. If you use these to speak to the Old Brain in a language it can understand and relate to, you'll significantly improve your ability to influence any audience, anytime.

1. Self-Centered. The Old Brain is a selfish entity. General considerations about what others think don't reach it. The Old Brain is the center of me. Don't assume that it has any patience or empathy for anything that doesn't immediately concern its survival and well-being.

2. Contrast. Before/after, with/without, slow/fast all allow the Old Brain to decide. Contrast is a safe decision engine. It enables the Old Brain to make quick and safe decisions. Without contrast, the Old Brain enters a state of confusion, which ultimately results in delaying decision.

3. Concrete. Numbers work for the New Brain, but the Old Brain won't decide based on numbers alone. The Old Brain constantly scans for what's familiar and friendly, what can be recognized quickly, what is tangible and immutable. The Old Brain can't process concepts like "flexible solution," "integrated approach," or "scalable architecture," without efforts and doubts.

4. First and last. The Old Brain forgets most everything in the middle. This short attention span has huge implications on how to construct and deliver powerful messages. Placing the most important content at the beginning is a must, and repeating it at the end is an imperative. Keep in mind that anything you say in the middle of your delivery will be mostly overlooked.

5. Visual. The Old Brain is visual. Neuroscience demonstrates that when you see something that looks like a snake, your Old Brain warns you instantly of danger ñ so that you react even before the New Brain physically recognizes it's a snake. This implies that visual processing enters the Old Brain first, which can lead to very fast and effective connections to the true decision-maker.

6. Emotion. The Old Brain is strongly triggered by emotions. Neuroscience has clearly demonstrated that "emotional cocktails" create chemical reactions that directly impact the way information is memorized and processed by the Old Brain.

To maximize sales efforts you need to craft your message to appeal to the Old Brain. Having insight to the point of view of the person you are meeting with will enable you to create a message honed for the Old Brain. By implementing this model you can positively influence the sales cycle."

I spent some time looking around the SalesBrain website too - there are useful pointers not just for 'sales persons' but more for communicators in any field - market researcher, educationists, advertisers and marketers.  There's a little test to gauge how adept you are at Selling to the Old Brain -  I scored 118  - a healthy score i think :). 

I noticed that many of the questions borrow from the field of NLP - techniques we have been using for a while now as researchers and communication consultants.  

Has anyone read the book ?  Views ?  

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