Friday, July 24, 2009

There's a High Tide a-coming !!

Today was High Tide Day in Bombay. Exactly at 2:03 p.m it was to be High Tide reaching 5.05 Metres.

Normally I do not think that too many people pay any attention to the comings and goings of the tides - high, low or otherwise. I suspect a good many are completely oblivious to the fact that such a phenomenon exists. They know that theres a sea out there, a moon and the earth that we stand on - but beyond that I doubt very much that they would have considered that there could be a relationship between these.

But in these last few days we have been so inundated with the news that a big, huge, MONSTER high tide was coming our way that every inhabitant of this great city of ours and his uncle now know that there is more to that sea out there than it lets on.

The local media has had a field day (when do they not have a field day?) Schools were declared shut weeks in advance, some offices worked last Saturday as a precautionary compensatory working day, travel advisories were relayed to potential travellers from far off places, and notices were put up in housing societies advising one and all about the great coming! And no one, unless absolutely essential, was to wander out.

Today arrived and all that was supposed to be done was done. The schools remained shut, the University put off some examinations that were scheduled for the day, roads around the beaches were cordoned off, life-guards were posted at important beach locations, armed guards too. The Media began the countdown to the great event. I watched it on TV. There was a lot of water - the sea usually has a lot of it. There were a lot of people thronging vantage points, there was traffic stopped on the road, and there was the Media all excited about the highest high tide coming in man's recent memory. Some said it was the highest this century, some said it was the highest in a century. Whatever.

I could understand the excitement of the media. Medical science has advanced to an extent where today you can surgically implant it in them. But what puzzled me was the countdown to 2:03 pm - what exactly was supposed to happen at that moment? The way they were going on it almost seemed as if at that precise moment there would be this huge big MONSTER tide thing that would come charging in off the sea and gobble up all the helpless people gawking at all the water around! I guess that explained the armed guards hanging around - to protect against such an eventuality!

Well 2:03 came and went, and I couldnt see any monster. The media guys couldnt either but that didnt stop the excitement in their voices (the implants doing their job). They went on about the exciting spray of water on their faces and some other things I couldnt decipher.

So there you have it. The day of the High Tide in Bombay City. Monster or no monster, one thing was sure - there was major water pouring out of the ears of the people who lived near the water on the beach fronts. And for everyone else, it was the words High Tide !!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Whats beyond Plan B?

Have you ever wondered why there is always only a Plan B?

Why not a Plan C, D, E or more?

Says a lot about the confidence mankind reposes in itself. I will never need more than a plan B. Whatever needs to be taken care of Plan A will handle, if that dont happen, then plan B will see me through. No one, not you, not me, not the fat pig on a farm somewhere on this planet, ever think beyond a Plan B.

Ever wonder why? The why is that we are a very smart, highly intelligent and extremely capable race absolutely able to handle whatever it is we need to handle with the help of at the most two plans. Hence plan A, which most of the time, is all that is required. And sometimes, when in a moment of temporary insanity or acute disorientation we lose our bearings, we need to fall back on plan B.

But thats it. Beyond Plan B, the frontiers of our knowledge end. Beyond that there is nothing. And nothing is something we do not want to have anything to do with. So, there you have it. Plan B is where it all ends. At least as far as we as a collective race seem to know.

Now there may exist a plan C, D or more. If there is, then those who have used them are a very rare breed. Very rare from being either very dead or wandering the other world as some vague astral bodies.And from them there is very little that we will learn.

So, for now, and for some time into the foreseeable future, Plan B is all its going to be. That smart, deep thinking, highly intelligent fallback mechanism used by you, me and those fat pigs on a farm somewhere on this planet.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Fourth Road To Greatness

"Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them".

The origin of this quote:

From Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, 1601:

In my stars I am above thee; but be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em.

 The great Bard wrote these lines when there were maybe a little over sixteen hundred people inhabiting this planet. Hence it was easy to distribute greatness amongst themselves. Well we have come a long way since then and have multiplied as a people many many many times over. Which has led to a fourth category which is: those that were out fishing when the three categories were being distributed and are now surrounded by people who were either born great, achieved greatness or had it thrust upon them.

How do you identify such people? Look for the ones that stand around asking themselves these questions - Am I born great?  Have I achieved greatness?  Have I had greatness thrust upon me? Uh...Um..Er... Strike three - I'm out!!

The Great Ones (irrespective of how they came by it) have always blazed trails through uncharted waters and unexplored territories and trundled down roads less traveled always knowing in some eerie way the 'how' and 'why' of doing it and they seem to be doing just fine. They have relied on their learning brought on by years of experience, inner enlightenment and a vision playing on a plasma screen the size of a small building inside their heads. They have this inner guiding spirit steering them through turbulent waters. For the rest of us there are the "How to..." books.

Considering that more than half of my childhood pals that I grew up with are now well and truly settled in the first bracket, I cant help but come to a shattering conclusion that its a little late in the day for entertaining any hopes of falling into the first category. Another not so shattering conclusion is that I need to consume as many of these books as possible in as less a time as possible. This two-pronged goal at this stage appears no less formidable than a double-barreled shot gun. Pointing at me.

Well. So the next time I walk into a bookstore, instead of browsing through all the delightful sections where I would normally find books that I would acquire and consume with great delight, I would like this time to make my way very purposefully to the sections where all the "books-that-really-matter" are. Now this is a little easier said than done. First, I need to identify said books. And second, of the identified books, I need to select the ones that I can afford to acquire, consume and benefit from. Which is where I start getting woozy.

And this is where you come in. With your vast experience and knowledge, with all the learning of having traveled paths less traveled,  of having navigated choppy waters that defied navigation, and holding high a guiding light that has lit up and shown many the way. If you would be so kind as to shed some of that light my way, I would be grateful, and as a sign of my gratitude help you hold the light up so that you may rest your weary arm as you make your journey through life spreading enlightenment all around! And if that were to appear to be a bit intimidating, then a simple thank you and I would be on my way.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Social Media Ad spend on fast track!

Social Media Marketing is set to show rapid growth, according to a recently published report from Forrester. According to the report, the overall ad spend in the US alone for 2009 will touch 25 Billion USD (which is around 12% of the overall ad spend) and grow to almost 55 Billion USD (21% of overall ad spend) by 2014.

Looking at the components of the interactive ad spend projected for 2009, Search Marketing takes the lion's share with around 15Billion USD, Display Advertising is next with around 8 Billion USD, then comes email marketing with a little over 1 Billion USD, followed by Social Media at around 700 Million USD and mobile marketing at 400 Million USD.

The interesting part of the report is the forecast made for the social media spend growth. It is projected to reach a little over 3 Billion USD, with a CAGR of 34%. Compare this with the growth projected for Search Marketing, which is projected to grow at a rate of 15%.

The two important points of the report are that Search will continue to lead interactive spend followed by display advertising and that owned social media assets (like internal blogs, community sites) are really the only emerging media getting traction in today's economic climate.

OK. So where do we get these numbers for India? The surprising thing is that there is a dearth of authentic numbers and statistics that can be used. My search for this source continues.... and if there be any out there who can shed some light on this, please do so. Thanks in advance.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

As I wandered down these strange lanes....

Wandering down the dark alleyways of Cyberspace it is easy to get caught up and overwhelmed by the sheer amounts of information swirling around. A whopping percentage of which is meaningless tripe, the remaining lays claim to the interesting, the useful, the immensely boring to the wonderfully inspiring. And whatever else I forgot to mention in the previous line. Given the marvelously wet weather outside, I went wandering down such alleyways and what did I see? Of course I was reminded of the "Where have you been my blue-eyed son" line from the 'A Hard Rain's a-gonna fall' song by Bob Dylan and all the wonderful things the blue-eyed boy saw, heard and met when he had been wherever he had been. I didnt see, hear or meet any of those, but I did see, hear and meet some interesting characters.

Like this weird, wacky world of the platypus. This strange looking mammal is a rare kind and is one of five mammals that lays eggs. The males have poison sacs that hold venom for disabling foes, the females secrete milk that collects in pouches which the young lap up. It looks like a beaver with duck's feet and bill - hence also called a duck-billed platypus!

Or this one which explains why Jamaican rum is like scotch. Nice. Actually, doesnt matter if it is like scotch or not. Scotch is nice. Rum is cool. One is fine things in life. The other is life. One has got class and finesse. The other - those and a cut above! And if one is similar to the other, well so much power to them.

Then theres this huge big migration that happens every year on the plains of the Serengeti and the Masai Mara. The migration of the wilderbeest. A phenomenon like no other. Its amazing. They spend part of the year moving from the plains of the Serengeti to the Masai Mara and once having got there make the entire trip all the way back. By which time I guess it would be time to go back again. The great big wandering show!

And wow! - this fascinatingly wondefully wonderful artist whose work one can go on spending hours with. I used to have posters stuck on my walls a long time ago. Those magical loops -defying logic yet perfectly possible. The waterfall, the ever-ascending and ever-descending stairs, the lines of people - its not possible logically yet follow the loops and it all becomes one free flowing uninterrupted loop! M.C. Escher.

And rounding it off - a round of funny umbrellas! Its raining its pouring - so make the most of it and step out with one of these wonderfully innovative creations. Let your soul float up and take a look down at yourself walking around and it should brighten up the bleak day a bit. If you cant find a way to detach, dont worry, the others around you will give you enough looks to convince you that you are standing out in all that gloom.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Who will walk this path? Indian IT and Web 2.0 Strategy Consulting

Theres one question that’s been occupying my mind a lot of late. My interactions with people in the industry and the resulting responses thereof are leading me to it. And the question is this. Are the Indian IT Organizations ready to take on Web 2.0 Strategy Consulting as part of their portfolios?

My short answer to this is No. Giving it a more discussion/debate flavour I would say that I feel that the Indian Corporate sector is still very wary of using Social Media as an Internet channel for marketing, this could be the primary reason that the IT industry is reluctant to get into this area. I feel that this in itself presents a consulting business opportunity.

I have been doing a little bit of asking around and have got some feedback on this.

There is one view that that most 'IT' organisations, regardless of nationality, are very poorly equipped to provide web 2.0/social media strategy consultancy. What is required is a completely different skills set and background experience. The thought that leads from this view is that this is either missing or not being acknowledged in the industry.

There is another view which is similar with the additional input being that what is missing is the ability to think and act from the 'outside in' not just from the 'inside out'. In other words, being 'customer led' and using Marketing as a two-way conversation with your customers; a conversation with your network. Talking 'with' rather than 'at' your customers.

Another quite blunt take is that it is very tricky for a lot of organizations and that it is very difficult to teach an old dog new tricks.

What I strongly feel is that its not because of a lack of skill sets in any organization or that they are poorly equipped to handle consultancy in this area. Its more to do with a mind-set, being able to tune into the whole "relationships" and "conversations" pheonomena and be able to find ways to leverage that. Any IT organization is bound to have the skills and the ability to learn new technologies, so that cannot be an obstacle - its just opening up to the idea that there is a definite business opportunity in this area.

A suggested approach would be to have a 'new dog' working with the 'old dog', someone with a relationship/conversation mindset together with someone with strong IT skills.

We are talking about developing training programmes to try and achieve these 'hybrid' skills, say taking marketing graduates and training them in social media technologies; taking IT graduates and training them in the softer skills necessary for success in web 2.0

Do we have the vision to go down this path? Which are IT companies/Digital agencies that do offer these services at present? Are likely to try developing these “hybrid” skills in the near future?

What is your take on this?

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The largest social network – email !!

Which do you think is the largest social network in the world? Take a guess. The answer from the initiated and number followers would be “Facebook”, which has upwards of 200 million active users. Well, it would surprise you to know that that answer may not entirely be correct. What is today the world’s first and largest social network is – Email !

Jeremiah Owyang, the Forrester analyst of social technologies, has a very interesting take on this.

And to be sure, email does qualify as a social network – it has profiles just as social networks (the signatures in email can serve as profiles), they allow you to connect to people and exchange information which become conversations, and of course allow you to share things and collaborate with other groups.

In terms of numbers, just hotmail and yahoo between them have upwards of 650 million active users. The other means of social communication already has made inroads into email – we get notifications of all kinds regarding activities on social media platforms in our inboxes. So email already is part of the social sphere anyways.

More and more email Vendors are foraying into the social space
by adding “Share this” (called Social Pollination) type of features to direct email marketing pieces so friends can share emails with friends in social networks.

So what does the future of Email and Social Networks look like? J. Owyang thinks that they will probably the same. In the next few years, email and social networks will look the same and he expects email vendors like Google, Yahoo Mail, Microsoft Live to envelop the social experience. If you consider Facebook’s news stream or Friendfeed, these are starting to represent simlar content from emails –there is a definite merging happening

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Web 2.0: The Framework, Definitions and Technologies

Information overload results in an aching head. Which goes swimming. And battles strange hallucinatory creatures that don’t seem to go away. Is there a way around this? Maybe. But I cant think of any easy way. So embrace it and enjoy the ride.

Let me try and encapsulate information on Web 2.0, the wildly overwhelming beast that has versioned itself beyond its original presence.

The following is sourced from Web 2.0 Framework.

The Framework:

If we divide this up into 3 components: Inputs, Mechanisms and Emergent Outcomes.

The inputs would be:
1. User generated content: which would comprise of Text, Images, Videos, Interactive media, Virtual architecture.
2. Opinions: By way of links, Tagging, Ratings, Social connections
3. Applications: Web applications, widgets

1. Technologies: XML, APIs, Ajax, Ruby on Rails etc.
2. Recombination: Mashups, Remixing, Aggregation, Embedding
3. Collaborative Filtering: Ranking, Profile correlation
4. Structures: Folksonomies, Tag clouds, virtual worlds
5. Syndication: RSS

Emergent Outcomes:
1. Most interesting gets most visibility
2. Personalized recommendations
3. Meaningful communities
4. Relevant content that could be easily found
5. Enhanced usability
6. collective intelligence

The Characteristics:

What essentially characterizes Web 2.0 is that it is driven by participation. If you consider the common platforms like blogging, social networks, video and photo sharing sites, you will see that they all exist due to the content that they offer that has been created and shared by the users. Standards play a big part in providing common interfaces for accessing content and applications and this makes for easy integration across various platforms. The applications and content is decentralized. Web 2.0 is decentralized in its architecture, participation, and usage. Distributing applications and content over many computers and systems, rather than maintaining them on centralized systems gives it the power and flexibility that would have been lost if they were to be confined to a single monolithic architecture. The openness and modularity of Web 2.0 contributes to creating a whole that is larger than the sum of its parts. The control that users have over the content they create and share and the ability to create and manage individual identities is a crucial part of the Web 2.0 ecosystem.

The Technologies:

Aggregation which is bringing multiple content sources together into one interface or application.

AJAX: (Asynchronous Javascript and XML) This is a combination of technologies that
enables highly interactive web applications.

API: (Application Programming Interface) This is a defined interface to a computer
application or database that allows access by other applications.

Embedding: Integrating content or an application into a web page, while the
original format is maintained.

Folksonomy: Rich categorization of information that is collectively created by users, through tagging and other actions.

Mashups: Combination of diff erent types of content or data, usually from diff erent sources, to create something new.

Remixing: Extracting and combining samples of content to create a new output. The term was originally used in music but is now also applied to video and other content.

RSS: (Really Simple Syndication) A group of formats to publish (syndicate) content on the internet so that users or applications automatically receive any updates.

Ruby on Rails: An open source web application framework that is frequently used in Web 2.0 website development.

Tag cloud: A visual depiction of tags that have been used to describe a piece of content, with higher frequency tags emphasized to assist content comprehension and navigation.

Tagging: Attaching descriptions to information or content.

Virtual architecture: The creation of avatars (alternative representations of people), buildings, objects, and other artefacts inside virtual spaces.

Widget: Small, portable web application that can be embedded into any web page.

XML: (eXtensible Markup Language) An open standard for describing data, which enables easy exchange of information between applications and organizations

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Here comes the rain !!

Once, when I expressed a complete lack of enthusiasm for the first rains that poured down on our heads, a friend had told me that I had no soul. How could you not like the rains - that getting wet in the first shower, that stomping around in the squelchy mud, that splattering of amounts of rain water mixed with what else etc. etc... how could I not like it...? Sad shake of head indicating that a soul challenged soul like me had a bleak future..(as bleak as the surroundings I had muttered to myself then). Well, its simply that... the onset of the monsoon does not exactly send me into raptures cartwheeling with joy through the wading pools forming on every street corner. So that makes me one against the rest of the world. OK. Dont get me wrong, I understand the importance of the need for the timely appearance of said rains. I understand the dire consequences that could follow if they decided to take a vacation on a whim. The absolute threat to the continued existence of man on this planet. And so I convince myself that this is the way that nature intended things to be - and so for the next few months, like I have been doing all these years, I will just put up with the rains, the mud, the squelch, the filth, the traffic jams, the wading pools and all.

Friday, May 22, 2009

"Smash@%$" "%#$Crunch" "@#@Pow !!!"

The online thesaurus has the following synonyms for the verb pulverize : annihilate, crush, decimate, defeat, demolish, destruct, dynamite, flatten, rub out*, ruin, shatter, smash, tear down*, vanquish, vaporize, wax, wreck

Henceforth, a new term will get added to the list: Gilly.

It means to do all of the above. Two times over.

After the Delhi Daredevils - Deccan Chargers IPL semifinal last night, Adam Gilchrist will find himself in the pages of dictionaries and thesauruses everywhere. And comic books will have a new term to add to their "smash@@$", "&%#crunch", and "*&#@pow"'s.

And the Daredevils will be the last ones to argue about it.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Consolidating my online profiles

I stumbled upon this new site that allows you to combine all of your online profiles and contact info into a Business Card 2.0: The site is You can set up a business card with all your information on it - profile details, contact information and a list of all your online sites where you have a profile and content on. A handy utility. You can check out my business card here.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Zoozoos

The best thing happening around the IPL TV broadcasts seems to be the vodafone ads. They are simply brilliant. The characters are great. Some of the situations (simple ones but made superb by the characters) are out of this world. I love the laughs. My favourite so far is the crocodile one.... check out the Vodafone Crocodile ZooZoo ad. here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Where black is the color and none is the number.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The incredible coolness of There's a storm coming. Lookout, you're moving too fast. Give it a rest.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

An Encounter

An empty sun hangs over a vast expanse of desert sand.

On the hot sand she sits, cross-legged, with beads around her neck and large rings on her fingers. She stares off into the distance as a fire rages behind her. The heat waves bounce off her hair and slam into me. My eyes hurt from the brilliance in her eyes and the wicked glint from the jewels studding the rings on her fingers. My head pounds as my ears fill with the clanging of loud bells. I sit down across her and my thoughts vaporize. The air suddenly goes cold and the sky turns black. Time freezes as the raging fire is now a blazing splash of bright orange against the black sky. She looks hard into my eyes till she can see the very depths of my soul. I look into her eyes and my mind reels as I race back in time to the dawn of civilization and then back again.

She reaches down and grabs a handful of sand. She runs the sand through her flaming hair.

"Wisdom Persists", she says.

The fire rages with an orange fury as she walks away into the black sky.

Friday, March 27, 2009


"An old man came to our house this morning. He had a long white beard."

"What did he want?"

"I dont know. He said he lived very far away and if I wanted I could visit him."

"Where does he stay?"

"On a hill far away."

"Are you going to go there?"


"Why? Did he say something to you?"

"I asked him why infinity never tired of waiting."

"What did he say?"

"Nothing. He picked out little stars from his long white beard and scattered them on the ground."

"What did you do then?"

"I looked down and saw the little stars changing colors. I noticed I could not see any blue. And I wondered why blue was the most brilliant of all colors."

"Was he saying anything then?"

"No. I asked him what the space between In and Out meant to him."

"Did he answer?"

"No. He just shrugged his shoulders."

"Maybe he didnt know the answer. Did you ask him anything else?"

"Yes. I asked him why blue was the most brilliant of all colors."

"He must have answered that."

"No. He just asked me if I liked fish."

"What did you tell him?"

"I took everything I found inbetween In and Out and placed it in the palm of my hand. I then held out my hand to the old man and asked him to tell me what he saw there."

"Did he see anything there?"

"I dont know. He looked at it for a long time. He then turned his head and pulled his beard. He suddenly stood up and muttered something that I didnt understand and suddenly broke up into a thousand and fifty two pieces. And suddenly they all disappeared."

"What do you think he was trying to say."

"I dont know. I will just have to wait for him to come back and tell me about infinity, the color blue and the space between In and Out which I now will have to keep holding in the palm of my hand."

"What do you want to do now?"

Come, lets go play cricket with the others."


Sunday, March 15, 2009

A little break, a little madness, a little fun

A little dose of Little Zizou and you’re all set to restore your belief in humanity. For long I have maintained that we are a serious nation that takes the serious bit a little too seriously. It is sheer physical inability that prevents us as a collective from turning into a non-stop never-ending in-your-face manifestation of the classic Lament !! Your eyebrow twitched? Look around you pal – what you see is not normal. It was not meant to be this way – ok so you went and made a mess of the way we as a historical collective turned out to be but that doesn’t mean you resign yourself and the rest of your ilk to eternal gloom. But there is hope. You see it in the changes happening around you. There is more merriment in the air, there is more laughter, and there is more of the chill-pills going around. But theres still a long ways to go, but then its happening.

Little Zizou, written and directed by Sooni Taraporevala, is a delightful film that takes a look at the wacky, funny and endearing ways of a local parsi community. Its like the ads say – a little madness, a little fun. And that’s how things should be.

So what do we have?

Cyrus II Khodaji (Sohrab Ardeshir), who is

- The self proclaimed voice of God going to deliver his people from whatever it is they want to be delivered from and return them to “Purity”
- convinced the Russians are going to invade, because they have indicated their intentions of doing so by laying claim to the faith.
- raising an army – PLO (Parsis Liiberation Organization) – to try and stave off the Russian invasion.
- The same army which after two-and-a-half rounds of an attempted march past pack up and go home.
- is assisted by (Shernaz Patel ), a hip-flask swigging, proper, overworked, underloved personal assistant who helps with the daily chant rituals

Boman Pressvala (Boman Irani), who is

- determined to expose Cyrus II Khodaji for the fraud that he is
- uses his newspaper to print his rants against his methods (including photographs of his attempts to put together the “army”).
- In love old music, has a blast with all his 100+ year-old friends at home
- totally disapproves of his daughter going out on dates

then we have:

Xerxes, who is Little Zizou, named after Big Zizou (Zinadine Zidane), bunking school every opportunity he gets to play Zizou in cybercafes and waiting for the big day when he will meet his idol.

Artaxerxes, working towards becoming a graphic novelist,sketching every minute he can find, and also working on a secret project with two buddies on restoring an old abandoned cockpit of a 747 Jumbo Jet into a flight simulator

Zenobia, who talks Artaxerxes into chauffering her around while she meets up with her boyfriend.

Liana, who loves animals more than humans, rats on her older sister’s escapades and is insanely jealous of Xerxes because her mother showers a little too much affection on him

Roxanne, Boman’s wife, who appears to be the only stable character in the whole film.

Roxanne's mother, who stays in a derelict ruin of what used to be a hotel in the old glory days, who has fought with everybody in the little seaside town and has a bunch of stray dogs to keep her company. She also offers to help Roxanne and promptly forgets all about her offer the next morning.

And a whole bunch of other wacky characters each playing a role in this little mad outing that is a fun watch. If you are quite up to here with all the stuff that is going on around you, and need a little break, a little madness, a little fun – then a couple of hours watching this one would be time well spent.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Through the Gloom, a plume did bloom...

If you call this bad poetry, then bad poetry it is. If you call it half-baked lasagna, then lasagna it is. It is whatever you want it to be. Because, today it is you, and you may not be aware of this, it is you who decides. Surprised? Whoa. Yes it is. Wake up and smell the coffee. Was a time when the customer was king. Today it is you. And you dont need to be a customer either. You just need to be one of those teeming masses out there with just half-a-finger access to either a keyboard or some other internet-enabled device. Just that places in your grasp an enormous amount of power. The power to bring a kingdom down to its knees. The power to change the way history is taught in middle school. The power to, well, to brand anything any way you want, or even deny it one if you so decide. Never before have the words "power to the people" resounded so solidly across the cosmos. And therefore, you, the empowered one, have more than enough reason to smile, no to beam, laugh, guffaw, dont, for goodness sake, walk around with your chin hanging down to your toes and walk around like a zombie who has had buckets full of gloom dumped on his head. Get over it. There is no gloom. There is no downturn. Hell, there is no turn either... if at all there is its all in your head!! So stop with your sob stories and tragic acts and GET A LIFE!!!

OK. So you find you suddenly have in excess of a thousand hours in a day. Has confused the hell out of you? Right? If it has, then you desperately need to get a life, cos you pal, more than anybody else, needs it. People go through life begging for that extra few hours that they may be granted where they could do exactly what they wanted. And what, you ask, is to be done to fill up those thousands of hours? If you have to ask that question, then you definitely, really and desperately need to get a life. Buddy, theres a million things you could do with all the time you have on your hands. Read a book. Read many books. Write a book. Sing a song. Learn to play the guitar. If you run out of guitars play the drums. Take acting lessons. Dont have the money - stand in front of mirror and practice. Because thats what will teach you. Cook. Read up on the history of your country. Go in search of an exotic rare flower that has eluded man all these years. If you dont know what it is, make one up and go look for it anyway. Conserve. Contribute to the green movement. Save a whale. Plant a tree. I could go on all night but I guess you got what i am trying to say. So. Just go out there and like the wise men behind those shoes said - Just Do It!

For at the end of the day, or the end of whatever defines units of sunlit time in your part of the world, it is you who can influence you into doing whatever you think you need to do to see through all the gloom, and enjoy the plume that will bloom... or you could sit with your chin keeping your toes company and regale passers by with your grand tale of woe! Up to you, Charlie!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Curious Case of backwards movies....

I have seen movies that were told chronologically backwards - Memento was one of them. That made sense. Then today I saw "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" - and it didnt make any sense. Oh the story did make sense and it was interesting in its own way but I couldnt buy into it and the way it started and made its way to the end was something I was not comfortable with at all.

It starts with a baby who is like 200 years old when it is born. Yes. Thats right - it's the size of a baby but thats about it - it looks like an old man. And as the boy grows up its watching an old old man gaining in height and reducing in age... and it goes on and on and on to its logical end. Actually its an interesting story - the film is based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald and made into a movie by David Fincher and it stars Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchette, Tilda Swinton and an old man who has been struck by lightening seven times and is still around to talk about it. And also a huge grandfather clock that runs backwards.

So, a movie where a clock runs backwards, time moves as it should, and a man whose life runs backwards.

Didn't cut if for me.

Older, no wiser...and having a ball !!!

There comes a time in everyone's lives when they have a single moment of clarity in which they see very clearly and in great detail every single moment of their life passing in front of their eyes. And then the next moment they are dead. There are also, in addition to these kinds of moments, others too that occur in everyman's lives, only they are not quite so dramatic and final in their manifestation. These are a little less spectacular and definitely a lot less life-threatening. These are those moments that drop by occasionally. This is when the individual upon whom they decide to descend will put aside whatever he may be doing, pull up his favourite rocking chair, fix his favourite drink and light up a cigarette. He will then sit back and with a vacant and forlorn gaze in his eyes stare off into the distance at nothing in particular. In his mind he would call it an extended moment of nostalgia. Others would call it an extended instant of temporary insanity. Whatever.

When we get older, we try and convince ourselves that we also get wiser. We tell ourselves that we need to mellow down, take things easy, be more tolerant and understanding. And then when we have these other "moments" descend on us we permit ourselves a short commercial break from our daily older wiser lives to indulge in nostalgic journeys into the past and bask in the warm feeling that it brings on. And having reveled in it we snap out of it and get back to our dumb dreary older wiser life existence. For that is what older wiser people are supposed to do. Right? BULL.

There is this huge hovering conspiracy occupying the environs surrounding me that is trying very hard to drive me down that lane. They have been trying now for the last decade or so ever since I crossed over into the accepted older-wiser-mellower mad-man phase of life. When they realized that this person (meaning me) was showing no signs of having realized that such a passage had taken place, they tried nudging with little hints at first, and then with less subtler means such as holding up placards, writing on walls, making announcements on TV and finally screaming at the tops of their voices - first individually then in large collective groups. And when they saw that this person (meaning me) was continuing to ignore them despite all their efforts, they went into conspiracy mode. Much strategy happened, much planning happened, much tandoori chicken happened, but to no avail. This person (meaning me) would not give in.

And so it goes on. The conspiracy hangs heavy in the air. This person (meaning me) hangs loose in and around various places on this planet. Its a standoff. And it will continue for sometime. Who will blink first? Who will back off first?

The conspirators, hanging heavy in the air, cannot afford to. For if they do, they fall flat on the ground and end up with egg (or mud if there are no hens around in the neighbourhood) on their face. Not too good for them. And if this person (yeah - meaning me) backs off, he becomes an old, wise, staring-off-into-the-distance-with-stupid-smile-on-face, nostalgia-afflicted nut.

So - standoff. And it will continue. Till the tandoori chicken lays an egg. Till then let floating conspirators stew in their collective strategic sauces while this person meaning me continues his research into investigating the basic interconnectedness of all things.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

You have to Listen

Using social media for marketing throws up its own challenges. Heres one perspective looking at it from the customer's point of view. The first thing on his or her mind is yeah all thats fine but how do I measure return on investment? How do I know it works? What is the criteria for measuring success? How will I know that this is worth spending money over? The answer depends on what it is that he or she is looking for. Spreading brand awareness? Acquiring new customers? Converting customers? You can answer these questions if you know what social media marketing involves.

It all starts with listening. To your customers and potential customers. In traditional marketing this is called Market Research. You pay agencies to do this or you have an inhouse research department that carries out market research. They would do this either using surveys or using focus groups. Surveys would be aimed at a selected group of people and specific questions would be asked which would give you answers. Focus groups would involve a session with a selected group of people who you could keep asking questions and get answers from. In both these cases, you would get answers. You would not necessarily get insights. This is because you might not have been able to get a target audience that is necessarily representative or maybe you just didnt ask enough right questions. And here is where listening in the social media space makes a difference. Here you are not asking questions and getting answers. Rather you are listening to people talk to each other and in the process stand a much better chance of gaining insights from their conversations and comments than you would from direct question-answer sessions.

The next stage involves talking. This in a traditional context is marketing. Which is again a one-way outbound communication to your target audience using different media. In the social media context it would be more participating in and stimulating two-way conversation that your customers have with each other, and not merely what you have to say to them.

Sales - this would be the stage where you energize your audience and have them sell to each other. This is where once you have built up a loyal following of customers, they would then in turn advocate your product/services and bring in more customers so that your loyal following increases.

The support stage would be where you help these customers support each other. Again here the key is in enabling conversation amongst themselves to allow them to support each other along with help from your side. Finally the development process would also involve key customers who have become advocates of your products/services and include them in the development and design of new products/services.

The key to all of the above is being able to provide the necessary and relevant tools and platforms to your customers based on their social technographic profiles. Your objectives should be clear and based on this your strategies and selection of technologies should follow. Any approach to social media marketing necessarily should involve People, Objectives, Strategies and Technology. And in that order.

What are your views on social media marketing? Do you think it works? Take the poll shown alongside.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

It takes Genius....

“Intellectuals solve problems, geniuses prevent them.” - Albert Einstein.

In the wake of the upheaval caused by the near collapse of a leading IT firm, there has been a sudden increase in the concern for Corporate Governance across the Corporates in the country. These companies are now focusing their attention on how they can prevent problems from occurring in their organizations. The 2008 financial crisis has further emphasized the fact that prevention is often a far less bitter pill for an organization to swallow than the cure.

Policies, Procedures, Processes - you can draft these and cast them in stone till you are blue in the face, but an organization that cannot implement them, and having implemented them, monitor them well enough day after day, is still going to end up with egg on their face. What is required is a weapon that will allow the organization to keep things in order - monitor, detect, remediate and then track through to closure any material weaknesses that may inherently be lurking in the system. There are those who place a great deal of faith in their abilities to implement said processes and procedures and use paper and pencil to monitor and track without putting into place any system citing budget crunches to get around investing in a compliance system - but the simple fact remains - you cannot get around it. Prevention is better than cure. Detecting and nipping in the bud any problem lurking in the depths of the organization is better than wrestling with and putting it down once it has reared its ugly head. In short, as the quote says, intellectuals solve problems, geniuses prevent them. And we have today that genius - and its name is technology.

Theres a very good blog post that talks about The Genius of Compliance Technology, which brings out nicely the fact that Compliance and risk management professionals that effectively utilize technology can make the difference between successful and unsuccessful firms.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Social Technographics

Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff analyses the social phenomenon of the forces created by customers connecting which they call the groundswell.

The book classifies people according to how they use social technologies – called Social Technographics. There are 6 types of people who make up the rungs of the Social Technographics ladder.

1. Creators: A Creator is one who will publish a blog, publish their own web pages, upload videos they create, upload audio/music they create, write articles or stories and post them.

2. Critics: These are the ones who respond to content from others. They post ratings/reviews of products/services, comment on someone else’s blog, participate in online forums, contribute to/edit articles in a wiki.

3. Collectors: They organize content for themselves or others using RSS feeds, add tags to web pages or photos, vote for websites online.

4. Joiners: The ones who connect in social networks. They maintain a profile on a social networking site and visit social networking sites.

5. Spectators: They are consumers of social content. They read blogs. They watch videos of other users. They listen to podcasts. They read online forums. They read customer ratings/reviews.

6. Inactives – who are none of the above.

Taken together, these groups make up the ecosystem that forms the groundswell. By examining how they are represented in any subgroup, strategists can determine which sort of strategies make sense to reach their customers.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A milestone!

According to the comScore World Metrix audience measurement service, the Internet surpassed 1 billion visitors in December 2008.

When the number crossed 1 million, no one was counting. It kind of crept up and slid into the pages of history. But this time around they were prepared. The big countdown etc.

China has taken the lead in the number of internet users worldwide. India, being the second most populous country in the world however lags behind but is poised to eventually overtake the US, Japan and Germany

Read the complete article here.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Pigs That Glow In The Dark

Scientists in Taiwan say they have bred three pigs that "glow in the dark". In a news article Taiwan breeds green-glowing pigs, the scientists are reported to have claimed that while other researchers have bred partly fluroscent pigs, theirs are the only pigs in the world which are green through and through - heart, internal organs and all.

Apart from the revolutionary strides human research will take with this development, there is an incident that immediately springs to my mind which, given that fluroscent pigs existed then, would have turned out quite differently.

There was a report in a local newspaper of a small town up in the hills, which reported that a local drunk had his toes chomped off by a pig in the night while he lay in a roadside ditch in a drunker stupor. Well if said pig had been a fluroscent green, some passer-by would have noticed pig in the act and alerted the authorities. Or drunken man may have been roused from his slumber by all the fluroscence hovering around him while pig feasted on his body parts. Maybe none of the above, but it still doesnt take away from the fact that things will be different if you have "pigs that glow in the dark" running around. No more problems with pigs that vanish into the night, green glowing pigs are always easier to find. No more problems with monster pigs creeping up on you while you sleep to chomp off toes or other body parts. They would attract a lot more attention than the drab non-glowing variety.

Some day many more will go the green way.

And your breakfast on the odd day then could very well be - Green Eggs and Ham !

Friday, February 13, 2009

Those who use Twitter - Are they twits?

These past few days I have been trying my hand at Twitter. For the longest time (not that its been around that long) I had kept away from it, but I do want to know what accounts for its immense popularity and rapid rise in the social space. I had signed up a long time ago and after the initial couple of "tweets" - thats what they are called when you say something on twitter - I had stayed away from it, not for any specific reason, but just because - well, just because. After a few days I have picked some people to follow, found that there are some who have decided to follow me and apart from that I am still trying to sort out the fuzz from the buzz. I guess it takes a little getting used to. I have the TweetDeck set up so I dont need to login everytime and everytime I look theres this whole bunch of new "tweets" that have come in from those that I am following. My dilema right now is - what exactly does one do on Twitter - or, what is expected, acceptable etiquette or behaviour on this wonderful tool? So now that I am on it what exactly should I do - or not do? And the answer came from where else but Twitter .... heres the link to this good helpful article which was 'tweeted' by one of the people that I am following that explains so nicely what the whole thing is all about.

Happy Tweeting!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

One Hat Too Many

One of the responses to my attempt at making the grand sweep from wandering generality to meaningful specific was thats all very fine and good luck but what if you end up with something which is generally meaningful but specifically absurd?? Wonderful I say... because the whole point is to try and move away from the general somethings, the wandering generalities that clutter our minds and paths and home in on something which is specific, focussed, measurable, quantifiable, absurd though it may be, but then what the heck - absurd can be good, absurd is innovative, there are entire movements devoted to the absurd, so it really is not that bad. Its like someone said its better to be specifically absurd for a day than be generally meaningful your entire life. OK. Maybe nobody actually said that, but there have been similar statements made - or words to that effect anyway. My point is, like I said before - so having made it, will not get into it again.

Hats. Suddenly theres too many to wear. I know the times they are a-tough and we are tottering on the brink of a cataclysmic downturn (arent we into it already?? i know - i know - the tunnel it is dark and lovely) but does that mean that many hats is the flavour of the season? You know what? It just may be. It is.

This is the one time, painful and tough as it may be, that is going to throw up opportunities for you to innovate in more ways than you thought possible. This is the time when you can, apart from panicking and flailing limbs in all directions hoping to catch something, home in on opportunities that you dig up, or create them if necessary. And to do that you will have to wear hats - many of them. You do not know when you will need to be what to whom. So carry them around. You may need a small truck to cart them around, but do it. Innovation is the name of the game, and only those that do, will still be around when the sun comes pouring in at the end of that tunnel. Innovation. Adaptability. Agility. Dynamically Reconfigurable. You get the picture. You could also check out this blog post that I found interesting.

And once you see it through, you can go back to your fancy suits, cigars, golf and cars. But till then, its the hats that are going to see you through. And if they call you the Mad Hatter... let me tell you, the madder, the better!

Monday, February 09, 2009

From a 'wandering generality' to a 'meaningful specific'

I saw this video of an interview given by Seth Godin where he talked about the power of tribes and why it is important to have a tribe. He says that you dont need to sell to the world. If you can get a tribe of a thousand people that buy into your idea, then each will go out and get in a thousand more. He also talked about being the best at something specific than trying to be one of the crowd while attempting too many things. Pick what is important to you, what is your world, and be the best at it. And theres the killer line where he talks about how if he were to attempt too many things he would be a 'wandering generality' rather than a 'meaningful specific'.

Click Here to watch the video.