Wednesday, 26 October 2016

User Data Shock

Do you know how much data you are using on your smartphone? We got adblockers online but perhaps ads that use less data should get more airtime online on your smartphone, thereby making advertisers more data conscious?

Taking stock of the "serious problem" of automatic video downloads without consumers' knowledge, telecom regulator Trai today said it may come up with technological solutions to tackle these unsolicited online advertisements that lead to "data shock" for users, reports Times of India. "Let us see if we can do it without a consultation paper...whether we are able to come up with some technology solutions, which we will recommend," Trai Chairman R S Sharma said on the sidelines of a CII event. Yesterday, Trai had conducted a session in collaboration with IIT Hyderabad on the issue on "unsolicited downloads and background actioning of data" where officials of technology companies including Google and Facebook also participated, he said. 

Explaining the issue in detail, Sharma said, "When you visit a page there are videos running in the background and those videos are downloading data, and there are other kinds of advertisements also running." He said this was a serious problem as it leads to "data shock" with users consuming data without being aware of it. Besides technology solution, consumers also need to be made aware of options available to them to block the auto downloading of such videos, he added. "How can you switch off your background data...there are systems available on iOS and Android...there are setting where one can block the downloading of the background data...that awareness campaign can also be done," he said. Sharma indicated that Trai would prefer to take the route of technology tools and awareness, rather than regulation to overcome the problem.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Artificial Dispute Resolution

Might we see arbitral disputes or even criminal trials being decided by AI?

Using Artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning technology, a team of researchers has predicted outcomes in judicial decisions at the European Court of Human Rights (EctHR) with 79% accuracy, reports Times of India. The AI method, developed by researchers from University College London (UCL), University of Sheffield and US-based University of Pennsylvania is the first to predict the outcomes of a major international court by automatically analysing case text using a machine learning algorithm.

"We don't see AI replacing judges or lawyers but we think they will find it useful for rapidly identifying patterns in cases that lead to certain outcomes," said Nikolaos Aletras, who led the study at UCL's computer science department. "It could also be a valuable tool for highlighting which cases are most likely to be violations of the European Convention on Human Rights," Aletras added. In developing the method, the team found that judgments by the ECtHR are highly correlated to non-legal facts rather than directly legal arguments, suggesting that judges of the Court are 'realists' rather than 'formalists'.

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Building Brand for Bootstrapped Startups

Building Brand for Bootstrapped Startups is always the challenge.

Pune headquartered Brand Launch Center (BLC) under the aegis of Seagull Advertising, has announced a new Startup Launch Accelerator aimed at helping consumer focused startups with their go-to-market strategy with a clear 180 day programme, reports Times of India, Wings for Profit. Brand Launch Center currently only works with consumer facing companies who are functionally and operationally ready to go-to-market. Sameer Desai, chief strategy officer, BLC said, "While working extensively with early-stage companies in the past few years, we have realized that most start-ups fail despite innovative ideas and products.

They fail not because of the product/service, but because of their inability to create a strong brand image among target consumers and the absence of go-to-market strategy and execution. Brand-building and go-to-market is a major challenge for the bootstrapped startups, whose marketing budgets and knowledge of execution are often constrained. BLC provides a 360-degree strategy to start-ups to overcome their brand-building challenges, that too in 180 days."

Chandni Jafri, CEO, Mumbai Angel Network also announced that they are launching Pune chapter of Angel Network with Brand Launch Centre's help. The Startup Accelerator program will provide solutions ranging from mentoring, branding, working capital, advertising, digital marketing, on-ground-activations, public relations and funding, sales, marketing automation, HR, corporate finance, legal and co-working. So far, BLC has worked with startups across different industry segments, including electric motorcycle brand Tork, and Green Salute, a waterless car wash service.

Friday, 21 October 2016

App Behaviour in India

A study of app behaviour in Asia  provides useful insights for developers and marketers alike.

Of the 33 mobile apps Indians install on their smartphones, they end up using only about 9, a study by Google and TNS has found, reports Economic Times. In general, the “Mobile App Marketing Insights: Asia” study found that emerging markets have fewer installed apps compared to developed markets. 

The study looked at 10,000 smartphone users in ten Asian countries — India, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, Korea, Japan and China — in the age group of 18-64 to understand their app behaviour.

Surprisingly, India tops the list of users who have made an “in-app” purchase or made a payment for app related digital goods.   

App store searches and personal recommendations are top sources for new app discovery across Asia, but in India, suggestions from family and friends are the reasons a user would install an app.

Increasing the Payment Options

Taking on Visa and Mastercard with Rupay will be a tall order for India. If India's diaspora starts using Rupay then perhaps there is a chance.

India should try and replicate China's success in taking its payment network China Union Pay (CUP) global by developing Rupay as an alternative to other international payment systems in the medium term, said K V Kamath, MD and CEO, New Development Bank (Brics Bank), reports Times of India. According to Kamath, Brics nations can replicate success stories in other member countries through knowledge sharing at banking or government level.

"There is a lot of scope for two-way transfer of knowledge and that would be the key going forward. The knowledge exchange could happen at banking or government level. But I would think there should be a nodal point within the government, which has the ability to take a decision and invest, otherwise there could be transmission losses,"said Kamath. Besides CUP, India could learn from China's success in financing and implementing projects and in turn share its success in financial inclusion under the Prime Minister's Jan-Dhan Yojana.

Kamath said India can aim to replicate the success of CUP which has recently overtaken Visa in acceptance level worldwide. "Today, if you go to developed world, you will see ATMs that will transact on China Union Pay. I feel proud when I see that. A (Brics) member country has shown its ability to interconnect with hard currency markets," said Kamath.

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Investing in Content Creation

Shares in Netflix recently rose drastically due to higher than expected new customers signing up. Netflix says this is due to the original content it creates.

Investing in your own content creation for customer acquisition can pay off. 

Reliance Jio which has recently come on the scene has spent huge amounts buying content will probably think about creating its own original content for the Indian market to attract customers and differentiate it from the other telcos.

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

Gigs in India

The sharing or gig economy in India is going to be prevalent among the millennials, who may be more comfortable with consuming products without necessarily owning them.

The 400 million-plus millennials in India will have an increasingly active role to play in the economic and consumption story, reports Economic Times. The world over, millennials and post-millennials are influencing most aspects of business for brands and retailers. A need for a similar focus on the millennials is being acknowledged by the Indian business world as well. So, what is it that really makes them different, especially in the Indian context? 

The smartphone is their connect with the world — at work, with friends, it is their hyperlink to reading, shopping, entertainment, banking, eating out, dating. Unlike the older generations, the millennials are comfortable living in a virtual world. Therefore, technology and a virtual connect at various levels are now business hygiene when addressing this generation.

Millennials are India’s most confident, opinionated and expressive generation in India as yet — all of us have experienced that by now. This largely stems from being more educated than their parents, easy access to all forms of information, learning and technology, and growing up in a more economically secure environment than the previous generation. They are open to sharing their opinion, be it political, social, at work or at home. It also enables them to follow their dreams, and be more open to taking risks vis-a-vis the earlier generation. It becomes important for the brands and companies to engage the millennials through a two-way communication, for them to feel appreciated and connected.  

An offshoot of higher self-confidence, millennials are very comfortable in their skin and being their own person. Unlike the flower power generation of the 1960s, this individualism is a fine balance between conforming with some aspects of life and tradition and choosing to follow one’s own path. This reflects in almost all facets of life — education, vocation, lifestyle, work-life balance, relationships, family, religion, participation in groups and communities, social causes, Indianness, affinity to brands and many more. There is also a much higher acceptance and tolerance of others choices and individualism. It gives an opportunity to brands to personalise and customise to the “market of one”.

Millennials are comfortable with shared or gig economy, be it cars, travel, homes or office spaces, among others. The emphasis is on comfort, convenience and low investment on the basics of life, while they focus their energies on following their work, dreams and passions. Unlike the previous generations, who spent a large part of their life planning and investing for the future generation, the millennials are more comfortable living in the present and deferring planning for the future to another stage of life.

Millennial entrepreneurs have felt and spotted this need, and have innovated technology-led, new, shared economy businesses, including Uber, Airbnb, BlaBlaCar, Flyrobe, RentoMojo, to name a few. It is a growing opportunity for brands and companies to build on. Since millennials are the future drivers of consumption across products and services, it is imperative for all businesses targeting the Indian consumer to delve deeper into their mindset and connect with them at all levels.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Talent in the Tech Hubs

Tata on the lookout for talent in the tech hubs.

Tata Motors is in the process of setting up an office in Palo Alto, the startup hub in the US, joining a long list of global carmakers that have built up a presence in the home of the world's most disruptive technology companies.

The company, India's largest automobile manufacturer by revenue, is already engaged with half a dozen startups. The move to go to the Californian city is part of a plan to create a network of offices in global startup hubs — Tel-Aviv, Portland, Warwick and Pune being the other — and partner with budding technology entrepreneurs in its efforts to define the future mobility solution for the company.

A team of 10-15 executives will scout for technologies including on autonomous vehicles and alternate fuel to make Tata Motors future-ready against the world's leading carmakers, a senior Tata Motors executive told ET.

The strategy for the future goes beyond products to creating “innovative mobility solution” and the company is looking at how the startup world can contribute to the new future of automobile industry, with facets of shared mobility, connected vehicles technology and alternate powertrain taking the centre stage, said Tim Leverton, president and head of product and advanced engineering.

“The companies need to have skills which they did not have in the past; the only way to add new skills to forge innovation is tying up with the startup ecosystem from around the world,” Leverton said. While Tata Motors is currently engaged with half a dozen startups, according to Leverton, it probably needs to be interacting with 20-30 or more.

"How do you find out about the next big stuff? How do you know that it exists? Whether it is worthy enough to be able to shape it into what you want or even be part of something? These networks will allow us to access the new ideas for future,” Leverton added.

Technology, customer engagement and digital ecosystem are three key pillars of innovative mobility solution that Tata Motors is working towards and the new business models form the centre of this pyramid for future, the company said. The offices in Palo Alto, Tel Aviv and Pune will engage aggressively with startups, while the R and D initiative of National Automotive Innovation Centre with Jaguar Land Rover will focus on core automotive technologies. Tata Motors, for instance, won’t have to reinvent on the emission technology. It can dip into the solutions created by JLR and adopt it into its own vehicles.

The company realises that to tap into the dynamic world of startups, the approach has to be different. The head of engineering at Tata Motors said a lot of startups don’t want to work for a big group as they seek independence. They work in ones and twos and threes. And so the local office is needed to be able to interact in their terms and to get the value out of them.

“You need to be able operate a network of interaction with startups which is appropriate to the culture they have. You can’t apply a big corporate sort of normal regime of due diligence. You need to be able to say, ‘let’s do some work together’ and find confidence and then develop that to do it quickly," Leverton said.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

It Pays to Improve Your Digital Dharma

Digital ads, especially for the mobile format, are in demand and profits are to be made by those who can make good ads.

After telling stories on celluloid by way of 2-3 hour-long larger than life feature films, producer Karan Johar is now looking at retelling stories in 20-30 seconds by way of commercials, reports Economic Times. Johar’s Dharma Productions has entered into ad film making through a separate in-house division Dharma 2.0, headed by young director Punit Malhotra (‘I Hate Love Stories’ fame). Malhotra told ET that he had this idea of getting into ad films and provide complete creative solutions to clients.

“When I persistently presented the idea to Karan, he finally gave in and allowed us to launch Dharma 2.0. He asked me to ensure the quality of brand Dharma,” he said. The division has already got Aadar Poonawala and Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio as initial clients. “We have already shot campaigns for Poonawala’s Clean Initiative, Reliance Lyf ’s TVC with Priyanka Chopra and the latest Reliance Jio advertisement with Shahrukh Khan.

“The idea of Dharma 2.0 is of creating a boutique production house for advertisements, digital and music videos. At present, we are looking at getting the right clients on board. We have 9 directors working with us with expertise in various genres. We tell clients, you pick a genre, we will give you the right director,” Malhotra added. 

Going ahead, in a bid to provide end-to-end creative solutions, Dharma 2.0 will look to offer services including scripting, cast selection, shoot location, shooting, as well as post production. “When we started talking about this, a few clients were apprehensive if we will be able to tell a story in 30 seconds. We have proved that we can,” Malhotra said. “We are very happy with the queries we are getting now.” On the cost of services, Malhotra said that Dharma 2.0 is very competitive. “Because we have the whole infrastructure in place, we can offer better quality at much lesser price. Our aim is to make good ad films,” he said.

This is not the first time for a creative studio to get into advertising. Yash Raj Films has created ads for Ching’s Secret, ‘Ranveer Ching Returns’ and ‘My Name is Ranveer Ching’. Last year, Sri Adhikari Brothers launched Katalyst Creates, while TV production company Shashi Sumeet Group also ventured into the TV commercials and corporate film making business with separate arm Shashi Sumeet Innovations.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

In the Sharing Economy, Share Yaar!

Sharing workspaces is becoming more common in India's sharing economy.

Every weekend, the party-goers flood into a New Delhi restaurant and dance club called Social, a three-story destination on the edge of Hauz Khas Village, one of the city's most popular nightlife neighborhoods, reports Times of India. After nightfall, the bar is busy and the dance floor is full. The lines regularly stretch out into the street. The dancing goes on until 1 a.m. But just a few hours later, the watering hole will be clean, the tables will be cleared of silverware and plates and the nightclub will have been transformed into a cozy office where no one gets fired for drinking at work. Everyone shares desks at Social: photographers, designers, journalists, software programmers. They bounce ideas off one another, hire one another and collaborate to expand their businesses. Everyone is either a freelancer or working for a small startup. As India emerges as one of the biggest markets in the world for tech-based startups, workspaces are transforming from traditional and hierarchical to relaxed and bar-like.

"It's the millennial personality," says 29-year-old Dinsa Sachan, a freelance journalist who works out of Social. "People don't want to bow down to random bosses in their offices. They are seeking more meaningful work. So, I think co-working spaces are like a melting pot for individuals like these." The first co-working offices began springing up in India about three years ago. Today, there are at least a dozen in New Delhi - though Social is the only one that also functions as a restaurant - with similar numbers in Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad, where most Indian startups are based. With more than 4,200 new technology companies, mostly phone apps or websites, by the end of last year, India now has the third-largest startup industry in the world, behind the United States and United Kingdom, according to The National Association of Software and Services Companies, or NASSCOM, an Indian industry research company.

Foreign-based investors are opening their coffers, and now comprise most of the money being pumped into Indian startups, NASSCOM says. Funding for Indian startups is growing at more than 125% a year, with an additional $700 million estimated to be invested before February 2017, according to a 2016 report by InnoVen Capital, an Asian venture capital firm. Riyaaz Amlani, the owner of Social and a powerful force in the changing Indian restaurant scene, said he noticed a demand for cheap office space in prime New Delhi locations and decided on a fluid concept for his restaurants. There are now 14 Social outlets across India, all of them also co-working spaces. "Increasingly, offices started becoming more like cafes, right? Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter," the 41-year-old says. "If you get into a traditional office environment, you know, it's all very cut-and-dried. It's all very hierarchical. Your importance is measured by the amount of square-foot" your office has.

The co-working spaces are also very young places. Most Indian startups are created by people under age 28 who often cannot afford skyrocketing rents in big-city office districts. Membership fees at most Indian shared offices are usually less than $100 per month. They also come with free access to networking events, investors' conferences and even parties. At Social, members also get lockers, free internet and can redeem their monthly fees for food and drinks. Rishi Jalan, a 25-year-old who started a sports management company for student athletes two years ago, said the free flow of ideas and inspiration is one of the top reasons people choose to work at a shared office space. "I know so many of my friends who actually went to a co-working space and found their co-founders," says the Cornell University graduate. "Everyone, I feel, in these kind of co-working spaces in Delhi, is a guy who's motivated. Firstly, because you have to do that if you're an entrepreneur. And secondly, they're all ready to share their ideas."

Like Jalan, many young Indians are moving away from traditional low-paying, entry-level jobs and want to do something of their own. "In my day, we didn't have this opportunity available to us," says Amlani, the Social owner. "Our heroes were rebels and rock-and-rollers, and the millennials' heroes are people like Mark Zuckerberg, and Elon Musk, and people who want to change the world with an app," he said. "They're blazing their own trail. And that's amazing. And we're just happy to facilitate it in a very small way."

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

Monday, 10 October 2016


The large tech giants, such as Microsoft, Apple, Google and Facebook, have acquired almost 140 Artificial Intelligence (AI) companies since 2011 and that includes about 40 buyouts this year alone.

Google's Assistant, Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri, Microsoft's Cortana and Facebook chatbots are all just the beginning of where these tech firms are heading with AI.

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

Sunday, 9 October 2016

The Empire Strikes Back: Fight to be the Biggest R-etailer

Walmart, the world's biggest retailer, is ramping up its e-commerce capability to take on Amazon. Walmart purchased, the fastest growing online retailer, recently. Walmart has also heavily invested in its logistics with new automated product sorting and tracking technology to compete with Amazon. Walmart has acquired several e-commerce startups since 2011. 

Walmart means to cause disruption to the disruptor, Amazon.

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Don't Want Your Boss to Know?

LinkedIn starts a new feature to let you secretly search for jobs online without your boss finding out. With this service, called Open Candidates, you can privately let recruiters know that you are looking for a new job opportunity. You can select the sort of company you are looking for, relevant roles, size of the organization, etc. Recruiters on LinkedIn will be able to see that you are looking for a job but people within your own organization won't know. Open Candidates is currently available in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia and will be available elsewhere later. But LinkedIn doesn't guarantee your current employer won't find out about your job search.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Reversal of Fortune

Reverse auctions, or reverse bidding, a proven business model in advanced economies, are catching on in India, where a number of startups have sprouted to tap into opportunities in a range of sectors, reports Economic Times. In the US, for example, the leading reverse-auction player Priceline is listed on the Nasdaq and has a market value of nearly $75 billion. 

What happens in a reverse auction is that instead of the service provider quoting the price, the customer makes the first move by suggesting a price she or he is willing to pay. This information is passed on to sellers on the platform, who then compete and make a counter-offer, if needed.

Subscribing to New Business Models

Subscribing to New  Business Models

As the Indian e-commerce industry gains pace and size, several entrepreneurs are experimenting with new business models in a bid to get consumers to buy more products online, reports Economic Times. About half a dozen ventures are offering a range of products, including cosmetics, educational toys and gourmet food on a monthly subscription basis, mimicking a model that is very popular in global markets.

"Subscription-based selling is cost-efficient for a startup like us since we get a better estimate of demand and there is no need to store inventory," said Arunprasad Durairaj, co-founder of recreational toys provider Flinto.

The seven-month old company founded by Durairaj, 32, and Vijaybabu Gandhi, 33, has already signed up 3,000 monthly subscribers for its activity boxes aimed at enhancing a child's motor and social skills, creativity and memory.

Durairaj quit his job with Samsung in Korea and came back to India to start Flinto Box with Gandhi who earlier worked with mobile application platform provider July Systems. "My six-year-old son Aryan waits for his Flinto Box every month, and I am happy to see him play with it since it teaches him something new," said Sandeep Bhatnagar, a software professional, who pays Rs 995 for the service every month.

Apart from a fixed customer base, the subscription model is favoured by young ventures for the recurring monthly sales, predictable inventory pile and a steady cash flow.

With the Indian e-retailing industry estimated to be worth 12,000 crore, such models will only grow, said experts. "Subscribers tend to buy more, spend more and, therefore, margins go up; they are the more profitable customers," said Ankur Bisen, senior vice-president at retail consultancy Technopak.

Investors are already seeing the potential in these models. Chennai-based Flinto received $400,000 in its first round of funding according to Rajesh Sawhney, the founder of early stage investor GSF, which incubated Flinto. The company, which started with an initial investment of 7 lakh, aims to earn revenue of 6 crore in the next ten months.

Other ventures offering a similar service include Canary Crate and Small Brown Box. Subscriptions are also proving to be popular in the food and cosmetic space with ventures such as Gourmet Box, BakeBox and Smart Eats in the food business and Fab Bag in the cosmetic business.

Fab Bag inspired by US-based startup Birchbox, was founded about two years ago by IIM Ahmedabad graduates Kaushik Mukherjee, 31, and Vineet Singh, 30. The company sells high-end branded cosmetic and beauty products to its subscribers as samplers each month.

"I bought my first Fab Bag in July and now I have a year's subscription since I get international brands at very low prices," said Neha Yagnik, 28, a home-maker from Udaipur. has about 35,000 customers, of which about a quarter are from smaller towns and cities, who lack direct access to big-name brands.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Digital Content Marketing Strategy: How Useful is Twitter?

News on CNBC today shows large companies like Salesforce, Apple, Google and Disney downplaying Twitter that they may not make any bid for it.

Twitter may not be able to make sufficient profits as a standalone company but as part of a larger tech company, like FB, Google, Apple or Amazon would be an invaluable tool in their digital content marketing arsenal to have.

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

India wants to go Totally Digital

From paper tigers to the digitally empowered? Can Indian Government Ministries go totally digital? Or perhaps the question should be: should they go totally digital?

After its announcement to go "totally digital", the Coal Ministry now wants other ministries to do away with physical files and move them into a digital format, saying it will help ministries exchange papers and documents electronically, reports Times of India. Meanwhile, the Coal Ministry has advanced the date for going "totally digital" from November 1 to October 16.

"We have discovered the value of transparency and technology in the ministry first in the context of the coal block auctions, then in the context of increase in coal production and now (we are) taking the final step in the terms of doing away with all physical files," Coal Secretary Anil Swarup said. 'US in strong support of Digital India programme'. "And we are now writing to other ministries that if they also do the same thing then the inter-ministerial movement of papers and files would be electronic. We are very hopeful that it would happen," he added. "Our obsession with technology has gone to the extent that within the Coal Ministry from October 16 this year...there will be only digital papers and digital files which will move in the ministry...No physical files under the ministry," Swarup said. "Date for going totally digital in Coal Ministry advanced from 1st Nov to 16th Oct. All files and papers to move in digital format," Swarup had earlier said in a tweet.

In line with the Centre's ambitious 'Digital India' initiative, the Coal Ministry had earlier announced that it has decided to move all papers and documents in digital format, a move aimed at bringing more efficiency and transparency. Among other ministries, the HRD Ministry had also said it is working to ensure that degrees and certificates are given to students in digital format from the 2017 academic session onwards.

HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar had said the government wants to make the whole apparatus digital and besides receiving certificates in digital format, students would also be able to upload their other certificates and awards in digital format, he had said. The government had launched the Digital India Programme last year with an aim to transform the country into a digitally empowered and knowledge economy.

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Google Hardware Store

Google Hardware Store

Google's new smartphone Pixel aims to get people to use more Google apps, continue dominance of Android on smartphones and get more people using Google's wireless phone service. I can imagine Facebook wanting its own smartphone or device with its apps pre-installed.

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar