Disruption through Internet of Things ( #IoT ) is yet to come

Though at one point of time it seemed like straight out of a sci-fi movie, the concept of internet of things, popularly known by its acronym IoT has been with us for the last few years.
Image Courtesy: The Tribune

Image Courtesy: The Tribune

Those of you who have been following Consumer Electronics Show (CES) or the tech evangelists cum geek meets at South by SouthWest (SXSW) would quite naturally be excited by the promise and the scale that IoT can deliver.

Well, that’s the good news. The not so great news is when was the last time you used an IoT connected device and more so for how long? Wearables like FitBit, iWatch, Gear S2 is the closest an Indian consumer can get to experiencing the phenomenon of IoT. However, the wearable tech market hasn’t been able to capture the mindspace of consumers (both at home and globally) due to the high penetration of mobile devices, where an additional device seems more of a luxury. As per industry reports, more than 1.2 billion smartphones are expected to be sold by early 2016 and that just puts into perspective the difference between the consumers fascination (with IoT) and the actual need for another me-too devices with IoT promise.

IoT continues to evolve with quick adoption in some sections of the world led by smart homes, smart cars and smart kitchens market. These are the new toys of the millennials, who will be willing to spend a buck for the sheer experience. The demand though is largely coming from the Europe and the USA where disposable income is relatively higher and the awareness is more due to wider internet penetration. Niche segments in the emerging markets like India may not be too far behind but are sure to witness a surge.

So, are the brands to be blamed for the lack of public interest? The answer is both yes and no. Many brands are competing with their products. Though innovation has been seen from sensors to smartphone-enabled connectivity for home, there isn’t a wow factor anywhere. Even though a refrigerator may be able to track the contents and expiry date, technology remains largely unaffordable. The consumer on the other hand is unaware and mostly confused when it comes to making an informed decision about the smart technologies they should buy. It’s the convenience that drives the audience in this segment with Android and iOS being the front-runners. However, the biggest drawback is that appliances of different brands can hardly communicate to each other.

IoT is the technology of the informed consumer and is only going to get better in future. And all the cues point to this as the disruptor of consumer and enterprise technology in years to come. Just to put into perspective, there are more devices connected to the internet than humans and by 2020, 26 billion devices or ‘things’ will be connected to the internet. For the time being, consumers just have to wait for their ‘eureka’ moment till a brand comes with a single highly desired product which can create mainstream demand. We need another ‘iPod’ moment in this space to transform this vision into reality.

(First published in The Tribune  on  April 9, 2016)

Share your thoughts about #IoT with me on Twitter- @Wvishal

 

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Debunking Myths About Facebook. Really?!

Everything that catches attention always comes under the close scrutiny of the critics. Everyone has an opinion be it the tech geeks, social media experts, politicians or the general public. And when it comes to Facebook –  we love to have conversation about it both on and off it. facebook engancha

Cynics have suggested conspiracy theories of world domination in Facebook’s policies. Well, it could seem quite believable when you find the company imitating ever walk of ones social life and wrapping it for display online. It’s not that no one has tried it before- MySpace, Orkut and loads of other have traveled the same road and got lost in tech graveyard. Sometimes the burden of rising user expectations have pulled them down while at other times extreme focus on monetization of user base have got them bleeding.

Though the jury is still out on Facebook’s future – nearly a billion users network can’t be discounted that easily. The social in facebook is still strong and those who think getting the taste of e-com to the network could be the beginning of the end are in for a big surprise. Simply because ‘Money is Social’. That’s where most networks in the pre-Facebook era have lost the plot. They tried to monetize the social by selling it i.e. the numbers to advertisers anyone and everyone. Perhaps it was the only logical model that they saw delivering the moolah following the steps of big brother Google.

But Google didn’t have stakes on social until recently with G+. What these networks didn’t understand was that Google was all about numbers and algorithms – a mechanical code that barely touched upon the psyche of social existence. In fact, only thing it managed to capture was the hype and persona of the glittery banner ads with somewhat segmented traffic base which came in hordes and disappeared even quickly. But Google has evolved and learned it’s lesson about where the real money is.

So where is the real money? Well, its there where it has always been. Any guesses? Yes, its the people. People have the money. But people have a nasty habit – they don’t give you the money when you want it unless that’s what they want and they have to want it badly. And Google or Facebook  would want them to do just that.

So, what’s the great idea – Make Money Social. And Facebook is doing exactly that. It is enticing enough for people to mirror their real life or reel life relationships on the network. And now that everyone I know and you know is on Facebook what’s the next thing we can do.

Well, it’s the same thing you do every Friday after work? PARTY.

Only difference is this party doesn’t need a Friday to start. It lasts the whole week. Your fancy clothes retailer is even offering an ‘Offer’ with exclusive discount. You got shoes available too. Well, why not invite everyone else too! And you know what’s even better let’s show off to the losers who missed out. Blahhh.

Well, that’s facebook. So when next time someone tells you Social is money! They are almost right but it has always been the other way round. Remember this – whoever said money can’t buy everything didn’t know how to Facebook.

Help him log in. Peace!

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Well, this article was actually supposed to be about Myths about Facebook. The serious stuff. Will write that sometime today.

Are you social media SMART?

Infographic on how Social Media are being used...

Infographic on how Social Media are being used, and how everything is changed by them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are you? Well lets find out.

Social: Is community the focus of your social media campigns? Or are you just obsessed with getting the likes and show a bunchful of members (Read Zombieland of Facebook Likes) adorn your business page. If latter is the case then you are not ready for social media campaign. You are not old fashioned but you haven’t changed with time. Well, here is the time to start. Where to start? Try by visitng your competitors social media outposts – now check out others from your industry but in different geographies. Probably trendsetters are already leading the way. If you are a small business owner then read, learn and start experimenting. But you got to start NOW. Make an status update, let the love flow and let your community and customers know that you not only exist, you care too. Be social!

Measurable: Now that you have taken the plunge and there are two possibilities- either you are on your way to become a demi social media rockstar (slowly), or you are just lost in the SM jungle. Either way be cautious but not at the expense of sacrificing your social aspect. Try to gain some insights about your referral traffic. Find what is driving uers to your SM pages and then away. Are there any influencers you can establish relationship with? Does data point towards your core community? i.e. have you got their attention or are these just random users. Mind it, either way there is an opportunity to cash on – woe these users and develop a relationship, do not let them go.

Actionable: So you have got it started and you are begining to feel the love with all the likes, shares, comments and retweets. Good job! What now? Well, whats your USP? Think hard about it, and then go have a look at your community. Find ways through which you can customise your content so that it reverberates with your community. Keep them at the core, develop content that balances your busines goals with their interests. Remember, when being social all work and no play can have adverse affect on your social community. So, don’t hard sell. Try to co-create, crowdsource your content, learn and then redeliver. There are loads of engagement opportunities to avail. Don’t miss it!

Realistic: Be realistic, unless ofcourse you are Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga. Getting liions of fans and thousands of retweets isn’t practically possible. Size of your business plays a big role here. Your first objective should be to nuture your community, develop some brand awareness and get the conversations going. Aim to make stories around your brand which your community enjoys. If you are doing that much, you will be exhausted at the end of the day – but it will be rewarding.

Trackable: Track what you put out and not just bin it. Your links, posts, images and videos all add to your brand’s social capital. So, track that link going out, find out who retweets you and what. At the end of the day establish a benchmark for you- weekly and monthly. Compare it your efforts and find out how you are performing. Eventully its the ROI that matters based on your business goals. So, don’t forget to track your content and its effectivess. Possibly you have got your call to action wrong – how many downloaded that white paper you sent out or was that branded video which got most traffic to your website. Develop a set of metrics for yourself, without making it too complicated and geeky.

At the end of it all. Enjoy what you doing. Remember, its social media and unless you try to be social you cannot deliver.

Coming up in next post a Checklist to find out your SMART quotient.

The Zombieland of Facebook Likes!

Español: Icono del botón de "Me gusta&quo...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Likes are affirmation of a users’ confidence in your brand. This comes from the content you put out, the brand value that is evident, and the special offers. All of this and more comes together to form a lively community inhabiting your Facebook business page.

However, marketplace is full of people and companies who sell ‘Likes’ for as low as $50 per 10,000 likes. Is it worth it? Of course not and we will tell you why.

These likes are from fake profiles i.e. people who do not exist. Facebook can easily know about the activity from these people of unknown identities who exist just to like your page. If you still choose this option then you risk your page getting banned for good!

These likes are of no use to your brand i.e. they won’t comment, share and like your post. It makes your brand looks bad, as if you are living in a zombieland. If you truly want to gain profit from your Facebook page and are obsessed with ROI, then its real people who matter for you. Invest time, more than money and it will pay rich dividends.

So, what’s the way out? In short, start by taking a deep look into your analytics and find what is that your customer want? Align your campaign idea with your customers’ interest and make it SMART – Social, Measurable, Action driven, Realistic, and Trackable .

If you get this right, you can steer clear of dud likes!

This post by me was first published on ODigMa

LinkedIn touches 150 million members

Image representing LinkedIn as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

This was announced by LinkedIn through a press release issued on Thursday. The mentioned figure of 150 million is an increase of 20 million over November, 2011.

Financial results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ending December 31, 2011 was also announced.  For those of you interested in numbers here are the highlights:

1)       Revenue for the fourth quarter was $167.7 million, an increase of 105% compared to $81.7 million for the fourth quarter of 2010

2)       Net income for the fourth quarter was $6.9 million, compared to net income of $5.3 million for the fourth quarter of 2010; Non-GAAP net income for the fourth quarter was $13.3 million, compared to $5.2 million for the fourth quarter of 2010. Non-GAAP measures exclude tax-affected stock-based compensation expense and tax-affected amortization of acquired intangible assets

3)       Adjusted EBITDA for the fourth quarter was $34.4 million, or 21% of revenue, compared to $16.3 million for the fourth quarter of 2010, or 20% of revenue

4)       GAAP EPS for the fourth quarter was $0.06; Non-GAAP EPS for the fourth quarter was $0.12

5)       For the full year 2011, revenue increased 115% to $522.2 million from $243.1 million. GAAP EPS increased to $0.11 from $0.07 and Non-GAAP EPS increased to $0.35 from $0.24. Adjusted EBITDA increased to $98.7 million from $48.0 million

The official press release can be accessed here.

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Missing your fans on Facebook? Want to know why?

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

So, you have been on Facebook for quite some time and even got a business page setup for your brand in one proud moment. You expected people to like your jokes, share your photos and comment on your posts, as they have been doing on your competitors Facebook page.

However, nothing seems to be working and the loneliness if starting to hurt your brand. Well, failure at community management is the most common mistake committed by brands. This hurts their chances to make any breakthrough in lead generation, client servicing, and becoming a brand that is social and connected.

Why this happens?

1. Lack of Objectives: Facebook is a great marketing platform or that’s what you heard from someone. However, don’t forget that the rules of marketing still uphold for the social network. Start by defining your social media objectives. What do you plan to do with your Facebook page and the SM identity in general? What are the end objectives? Thinking about these questions would help you define your branding and content strategy.

2. Push Strategy: Give your fans what they want and not what you are. Post what you core community is interested in and not just what you are good at. Bottom line is do not hard sell trying to make a traditional sales pitch. Be social and become part of the conversation!

3. Know your community: Make use of range of free analytic tools like Facebook InsightsSocialMention and Google Alerts to know where your community resides and what they are talking about. Start listening to their conversations on social networks, blogs, forums and jump in where ever you can without being too nosey.

4. Have a content strategy: Develop a social media calendar for your  content strategy that could deliver high engagement levels i.e. where users willingly choose to embrace you brand. You can do that by developing Facebook apps, coupons, contests, videos, cartoons etc. Your fans or their friends will always trace back the links to your online identity getting you more traffic and viral engagement. Never abandon your Facebook page and always keep it updated.

Remember social networks like Facebook helps you embrace social i.e. relying on users recommendations and likes to give thumbs up to your products and services, so that even their friends become positively disposed towards your brand. Can you choose to ignore it?

The above post was first published on oDigMa’s blog

2011 as year of Social Media revolution

2011 was truly the year when Social Media and technology took big leaps making its presence felt in the mainstream discourse of the country. Impressed by the revolution brought about by Arab spring, Indians immersed themselves watching desi viral videos, tweeting about their love for fighting corruption and also being threatened of censorship.

The year of Social Media revolution

Anna’s fight against corruption proved how to use Social Media socially in true terms. From uploading Anna’s speeches to YouTube right from Tihar jail, to letting supporters know the nuances of Lokpal through collaborative Google docs and presentations. Facebook and Twitter was used to their best advantage garnering more than half a million followers on Facebook, and thousands of tweets every hour.
Internationally, the Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi in Dec 2010 e posted his last message on his Facebook wall before setting himself on fire after repeated police harassment. What started in Tunisia was tweeted and blogged throughout the Middle East leading to Arab spring. Countries like Egypt, Libya and Syria erupted despite government imposed internet blackouts. Armed with their cell phones and access to proxy servers the Arabs let the world know about their revolution through YouTube, twitter and Google Maps among others. Common people like Google employee Wael Ghonim played their part in mobilising people, reporting the massacres and atrocities by using technology to stay one step ahead of the government.

India Wakes to Flash Mob viral video after 26/11 anniversary

A group of 200 dancers dressed in casuals danced to the tunes of ‘Rang de basanti’ at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus generating more than a million hits on YouTube within first 4 days. Organised by Mumbaikar Shonan Kothari this flash mob synced into the national psyche riding on a patriotic wave.
Inspired by the CST Flash mob, cities like New Delhi and Chennai organised their own riding the viral wave. Talking about viral Videos, Kolaveri Di a love song sung by Dhanush went viral within 24 hours of its launched. Loved and tweeted by celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan led to the viral onlslaught on YoutTube. In little over a month, the video now has 30 million hits and has been even featured on YouTube’s blog. Several remakes of the original version has only led to its popularity establishing the importance of video as a critical content marketing tool.

Social networking top pass time among Indians

Nothing suggested otherwise but the final reaffirmation came in the month of December through a a report titled ‘It’s a social world’ by ComScore which proved beyond doubt that online Indians are truly social as much as their international counterparts. From a total online population of 45.9 million users, 43.4 million spend time on social networks like Facebook, Orkut, BharatStudent, LinkedIn and Twitter. 94.8% of online Indians use social networking, that is an average time spent of 3.4 hours. Facebook became the dominant network in India last year and continued to stay ahead of the competition.

India gets tough on Social Media

Kapil Sibal, the Indian took the Social Media companies by the horns asking them to remove offensive material from sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google. As netizens cried censorship there was confusion all around regarding what measures he intended to take to clean the web for Indians. Pharses like #idiotKapilSibal were most tweeted the day this announcement was made. Sites like Facebook and YouTube have extensive set of guidelines to remove defamatory content from their streams. However, Kapil’s pre-screening of content was considered just undoable and simply an impossible task which would required millions of pages to be screened.

India delivers Akash, the world’s cheapest tablet

What was supposed to be worth $35, the Indian tablet was launched for $60. The wifi enabled tablet based on Android operating system is set to revolutionise the education sector. Akash was widely reviewed internationally for features that prove its worth for the money with rugged features suited for Indian conditions. However, it was also criticised for its poor battery life with limited options for apps,, software, and not so impressive construction.

Lets sign off 2011 with this interesting video from Google