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June 22, 2012

The Three Marketeers!

 

Guest Post by

Priya Thampi, PTA, MFGADT, Infosys

 

Threemusketeers.jpgNo this adventure is not about Athos, Porthos and Aramis from Dumas. The three inseparable friends in my plot are Emotion, Reason and Memes.  They form the foundation and focus for the modern age Marketing.


During the advent of marketing in history, direct human interaction either in the markets or social spots were the only way to promote a product. Now Marketing happens mostly in unknown territories and the market cover they have is absolutely incomparable to the traditional ways.  But again what we lack is the human touch, which was the unique selling factor in the old strategies. How do we decipher mouse clicks and keystrokes to influence and persuade the subconscious brains? Let's see how our three marketers help us in achieving this economy of emotions.

Emotional Marketing evokes ego and passion within a person. It attaches trust and value on brands that proves lifelong commitment from the customer. People wear brand logos to show their fealty and trust. Brand has moved from products to lifestyles and sometimes even cults. Human emotions have changed history and its power has even touched moon. What are these emotions in marketing.... Promotions and Campaigns form the emotions online. They affect the right lobe of brain and get the quick attention of the Customer. EQ plays a large role in getting footfalls.

 
Now let's see what does our left brain have to say. He is the Reason and goes by facts and figures. He needs relevant information in the context. Product features, comparisons, reviews and ratings make his cavalry.  Absolutely cut throat and objective in nature. These decisions are pure and unbiased. But yes in digital context very much influential. Sites are nowadays equipped not only to give information about their own products but also to compare them with their competitors. This information helps a person to reason out his decisions.


So what is Memes? In lay man's word, it's the cultural counterpart of genes and is passed on by non genetic means. Mainly through behavioral imitations and influences.... Do we hear a social bell ring here!  These Memes influence our mind and initiate reactions that creates shift in behavior which is the ultimate goal for any Marketing campaign. These Memes in affluence with Emotions form a very powerful persuasion factor. Memes can be words, pictures, sounds or actions that elicit some desire in a human brain. 

A bitten apple takes us to Steve Jobs; a Red Cross sign rings an ambulance bell, Santa brings us those Christmas Carols! These are some forms of Memes.
Marketing.pngThese three friends work together to help a customer take a decision with the experience provided digitally. Emotions grab attention, followed by Memes that evoke desires and actions. Reasoning adds up to reinforce a decision.

 

June 21, 2012

The Challenge of Business Requirements vs. Business Processes

Guest Post By,

Michael Aston, Senior Technology Architect , MFG ADT Online, Infosys

Every so often I come across a project where the scope is to produce a like-for-like replacement of an existing system.  I'll tell you right now, these projects are doomed to failure.

These projects occur for a number of reasons.  Perhaps an existing product is no longer supported, or perhaps the business is trying to consolidate on to fewer technology platforms.  In some cases the drive it to reduce recurring costs, in others the lure of a new technology has been irresistible.  No matter the originating factor, they display the same barriers to success.

Firstly, in these projects the users aren't complaining about the existing system.  It's a familiar beast, warts and all, and they're in their comfort zone using it.  It's become the technology equivalent of your favourite armchair; maybe it's a bit scruffy and the cushions don't match, but woe betide anyone who suggests replacing it.

Secondly, the existing system will have been around for a while.  Given long enough, people will adapt to anything and the alternatives will no longer seem viable[1].  In the case of established software, business processes mould themselves to fit the tools available, accommodating their quirks and peculiarities.

And so why does this spell disaster?  Because while delivering a new system ensures months of business change preparation, retraining, transition planning, system lockdowns and post-release teething problems, the best you can hope to achieve is to deliver something as good as what they currently have.
 
And let's face it, you're not even going to manage this.  Their business processes, and hence their requirements, are specifically tailored to the methods and peculiarities of their current system.  Each adaptation of their approach to accommodate a limitation of their old system has now become an intrinsic part of their business process.  Every feature they used just because it was there has now become a hard requirement for the new system.  The only system that can ever fully meet their requirements is the one they currently have.

So what do you do?  Go back to basics, challenge the assumptions, and keep asking 'why?'.

'Why does it work that way?', 'What are you trying to achieve?', 'What is the underlying business need?'.

And don't let them off the hook there.  Dig deeper:  'What would happen if we did this?', 'Would the business objective still be met if we didn't do that?'.  You'll need to peel back the layers of the current process to discover the original requirements, the ones buried under years of adaptation to accommodate the incumbent system.  Once you uncover these, you're finally in a position to exceed the client's expectations and deliver something better than what they currently have.

This mind-set extends beyond the 'like-for-like' project.  It's not uncommon for project stakeholders to become confused between the 'what' and the 'how' of a requirement.  Too often you'll be told how the solution should work, rather than what it needs to achieve.  It's the challenge of every system integrator to remember that the client isn't always right.  When it comes to solving business problems using software, the integrator is the expert.

Each system and each product will have its own implicit approach to addressing the common business challenges in its domain of use.  Allowing the business processes to flex to accommodate the technology platform increases the long-term likelihood of a successful implementation by encouraging the business to adopt best practices which have already been tried and tested by both the product vendor and their client base.  It's inevitable you'll face resistance to change when pushing this approach; it's common to assume the current way of doing things is the right way.

But stand firm and you'll be putting your project on the path to success, and perhaps you'll even help them understand their own business a little better along the way.


[1] Consider the QUERTY keyboard - specifically designed to slow down typing speed (to stop the arms of the letters on the original typewriters from jamming), and yet still the de facto standard throughout the English speaking world.

 

June 15, 2012

Data Alchemy

Guest Post by

Priya Thampi, PTA, MFGADT, Infosys

 

Alchemy is an ancient science practiced to achieve perfection in both living and non living. In the modern e- world which lives and feeds on data, perfecting the DataAlchemy.pngbytes to sense our customers and shape our business is the biggest challenge for any D-alchemist...

 

Data in its infancy curve needs aggregation, a means to associate and transform itself in the best possible school of thoughts. These seasoned bytes thus major into Information in their adolescence. Specialization happens then on Natural Language Processing and of course Relationships which get them into the next phase of life namely Intelligence. These intelligent bytes live happily ever after!!!!

 

So that was the bed time story we all heard and slept over.... Let's try to see how happy they still are...

 

Derivation of Intelligence from data is the ultimate goal for any Enterprise and been happily done by the Business Intelligence platforms for the past 20-30 years.

 

But something was missing... was it to do with Data itself or its Creator... Actually the shift in perception happened from both ends leading to a new platform namely Analytic Intelligence...

 

DAtaLife.png 

 

BI is very conventional, old school and traditionally structured... so howz our new AI... He is fabulously ad hoc, unconventionally curious and fashionably unstructured.

 

BI is always a top down approach where requirements are pre defined and data for the same is identified and worked on.  Users are casual business executives and interested in knowing past metrics. Questions are always from the past... What, when, who, how ... The need is for corrective actions.

 

Now let's analyze AI a bit...

 

He has a bottom up outlook... Requirements are never there. Users are, ahem the CXOs and the analysis is always Statistical or Quantitative. Questions are tricky J why did it happen, will it happen again, what if, what else can this lead to. Here the need is to make Decisions...

 

So, what is this generation gap... And how can we bridge them...

 

This gap is the result of two major Mutants in the Intelligent Genre.... The Content Intelligence and the Continuous Intelligence....

 

Let's take The Content Intelligence first... It's all about analyzing information contained in various formats... structured as well as unstructured... Basically this variant likes to dress up and hide under different facets that need to be sliced diced and derived. He is deliberately enigmatic in nature.

 

He is definitely language savvy and relationship oriented.... Search engines and Text analytics are the platforms that groom him to deliver intelligence. Search over BI and BI over Search are some services that evolved out of these variations...

 

Going to the next one, basically Continuous Intelligence, we can aptly tag him with the saying "Change is the only Constant buddy". So, he is evolving and changing with every breath we take.... An interesting and dynamic persona J

 

Continuous Intelligence gives live commentary and helps in taking decisions that are accurate in the fast track digital life.

 

These two Superheroes combine to bridge the digital divide and make BI and AI wholesome and of course meaningful...

 

 

DataAnalytics.png 

June 12, 2012

The data R-evolution a natural selection or Adaptation to Net warming effect

Guest Post by

Priya Thampi, PTA, MFGADT, Infosys

 

datawarm.pngData, a species that originated through the evolution of human being and is the foundation to all revolutions in human history, very silently and without much ado went through a big DNA transformation in the recent past...

Information was passed on as inheritance and stored in scripts during the early civilizations. Slowly the society became more open and free to information. Leading to the first transformation in data namely right to information.

Then came the computers that freed the format in which data could be authored, stored or delivered... this was next revolution that changed the data to its core and housed it in bytes away from the brains.

Later the net was cast on information and data grew into a new cult namely internet. This change made data available anywhere anytime and in any format.

 

There after the Social revolution, that brought more human touch to the data. Brains and Bytes came together to give the emotions that this species lacked. Semantics, Sentiments and Influence became the language of data.

Data became more ubiquitous with smarter devices.

 

This is the long evolution curve that data has taken from a flicker in the brain to a pulse in the byte.

 

dataevol.pngWhile these changes were overt, Data went through some DNA changes in parallel that were not visible to normal eye balls but the effect was a chain reaction in itself...

 

The first visible change was in its state... the rigid predefined structure of data changed to a very fluid form with Velocity, Variety and Volume as its physical properties...These changes were neither very quick nor due to a single parameter. This gradual transformation was facilitated and triggered through human evolution and internet explosion.

 

Further the change was in the relationship stature these species had. It was very static and long term conventionally. Slowly the relationship status became dynamic and very contextual. Intent based associations and colonization became the social buzz word.

 

These associations flourished with emotions helped the human step successfully in this world of bytes....

datasema.png 

 

June 11, 2012

Tying the Traditional Buying Decision Process to Ecommerce

Posted by Varun Chhibber, Associate Consultant, MFGCSI- Digital Transformation Practice, Infosys

Ecommerce is still in its infancy in the manufacturing space as compared to other domains. Although the situation is improving and players are coming out with some innovative strategies to hook the consumers to the bandwagon.

I was pondering over the different facets of ecommerce and thought about tying the traditional & digital world together. As i went deeper I discovered that both these worlds are quite similar in terms of consumer buying behavior, although the tools that are used to influence the buying decision are vastly different.

ecommerce1.png

The diagram above illustrates the traditional buying decision process; where I have tried to tie each step of the process to the initiatives we can take to provide a wholesome experience to our users.

Need recognition & Problem awareness: The customer identifies a need, and this need can be induced by various channels such as advertisements & promotions on Social media websites.

Information Search: The next step in the process is to find information and usually consumers will search on the net, here SEO comes into play. If your website is not easily searchable, does not have convenient navigation & search capabilities, it can lead to loss of customers to competitors. If consumers can't search you, you don't exist!

Evaluation of alternatives: Do you provide comparison functionality? Let your consumers compare products, write reviews, give ratings etc. all this lends a 'Trust' factor to your site. Consumers like to 'consult' before buying and ratings, reviews etc. provides a good reference point for it.

Purchase: Provide your customers various payment options. Shopping cart should feature detailed product information and images providing a seamless experience to the user. Customer is king, treat them like one!

Post purchase evaluation: Let users write reviews, they may be positive or negative. Some bad reviews lend 'authenticity' factor to your review section.

 

Hygiene Factors: What are Customer's expectations?

A few standard features that are expected by customers and considered to be a given these days, if you are not offering these please pay attention:

 

ecommerce2.png

Ecommerce in the manufacturing domain has been traditionally Business to Business and has lagged behind the other sectors, which embraced Business to Customer digital innovations long time back.

It's now time for the manufacturing firms to take the plunge and reap the long due immense benefits of Digital commerce innovations!

June 5, 2012

What is Experience Economy? (Part 2)

By Shailesh Kumar Shivakumar, Technology Architect, MFG-ADT Online, Infosys

 

In my previous post, I briefly discussed the role experience is playing in few industries. Let's advance this topic by looking at few more concepts like evolution, realms and delivery of experience.

 

Evolution

Here is a brief look at the transformation in the economy which has started from commodity business and has moved towards to goods business, service business, experience business and we are all set for transformation business:

EconomyEvolution.jpg

 Let's look at the above evolution from a beverage industry perspective: 

Commodity business involves inputs for a goods or a service. For instance coffee beans, sugar, milk would fall into this business category. Goods business involves selling the end products like various types of Coffee manufactured from the above inputs. Service business involves providing value-added services on top of core products like providing coffee through vending machines, drive-in offers etc. Experience business involves unique shop, prime locality, in-shop youth-appealing-music, ambience, hospitality, merchandise products, gift cards etc.

 

Realms and delivery of experience

Researchers have identified following realms of an experience:

ExperienceRealms.jpg

 And following factors play vital role in delivering the experience effectively:

·         Create a theme around the experience. For instance a rainforest kind of atmosphere in rainforest cafe

·         Harmonize impressions with positive cues. For instance light-hearted jokes found in merchandise of a restaurant.

·         Eliminate negative cues. For instance "Use me" trash cans in a theme park.

·         Mix in memorabilia. For instance Sovereigns, T-shirts purchased as a token of remembrance inside a theme park.

·         Engage all five senses. For instance special effects like sprinkling, fragrance while viewing a 4D cinema

Adoption to the online world

As always online sites mimic the real world experience. Hence most of the online sites incorporate the above themes mentioned above to provide a unique experience for their visitors by providing all related and value-added services at a single place. At the same time they bundle the related products to cross-sell and up-sell. Amazon.com and Netflix.com are some of the classic examples of this model. Facebook has similarly enhanced user's social experience.

Manufacturing sites are providing product information, product comparison tools and cross-channel support providing a single-stop user experience and engage users by integrating with various social media platforms.

 

From experience to transformation

Experience is not the end of this value chain. Even though experiences are memorable, they would ultimately perish with time. Transformation business aims at a sustained and persistent change. In this economy the end customer becomes the product wherein he/she undergoes a personal change like a career enhancement, a better figure etc. The business acts as a supporter or enabler for this change. Customer would become the ambassador for the business.

Summarizing the importance of experience, Janet Prince in her book "Meaningful Pursuits" says: People ask, 'What do you want for your birthday?' I don't want more stuff. I want experiences....."

Next time when you visit a place like restaurant, do provide the feedback about the experience. The feedback loop helps the business to continuously improve. After all we drive the transformation and we are the true architects of our future experience!! 

 

What is Experience Economy? (Part 1)

By Shailesh Kumar Shivakumar, Technology Architect, MFG-ADT Online, Infosys

 

I recall that few years back if I have to shop for a branded shirt, I have to locate all good branded retailers in my vicinity, visit each of them and compare the quality and price before purchasing a satisfactory shirt. Similarly if have to shop for a shoe I should repeat the same process. Today, I see lot of shopping malls which offer wide variety of branded products from numerous vendors under single roof. I can just walk-in to this single place for most of my shopping needs. The malls are not just offering me all products under one roof, but they offer numerous other unique features: it has food outlets, kids' area, gaming centers, cinema halls which create a unique shopping experience and keep the shoppers engaged. Dubai mall has taken this shopping experience to next level by hosting one of the world's largest indoor aquariums which attracts all range of visitors and is considered as a main attraction of Dubai city.

 

Let's consider another example from a manufacturing industry: Maruti Limited which is the leading automobile manufacturer has enhanced its car purchase experience. Now the Maruti showroom not just sells cars but offer wide range of services around it. Most of these showrooms provide after sales services very near to the shopping floor and provides all kinds of car accessories. In some areas Maruti car dealers also provide "TrueValue" which helps Maruti customers sell/Buy used cars. The Maruti showroom near my house also offers a state-of-art driving school.

 

Similarly laptop manufacturer Dell not just sells laptops, but it bundles it with accessories, help customers to customize and personalize the laptops and offers world class after-sales service.

 

Like the above examples there are array of examples in almost all industries these days. Be it healthcare, travel industry, entertainment, e-commerce or retail, most businesses are offering value-added services around their core offerings. Not only it helps them to cross-sell and up-sell by bundling their products, but also and more importantly provides a truly enriching and all-round experience for the user which results in increased loyalty and customer retention.

 

There is a theme behind the above said transformation of moving from silo-shops to single-stop-shop; it's called "experience economy".

 

Experience Advantage

There is this popular saying: "Life is not the amount of breaths you take. It's the moments that take your breath away".  It is natural for consumers to be attracted towards a unique experience more than the actual product or service. The food is not much different between decent restaurants when compared to a revolving restaurant in the skyline of downtown. Given a choice which one do you choose? The answer lies in the unique experience it offers; be it ambience or uniqueness or restaurant theme or a special food or live music. So the food (which is the core business of a restaurant) is no longer the differentiator and does not provide a good competitive advantage.

 

Nicely packaged products or value-added services are no longer enough in today's competitive world. To attract and ultimately retain customers, business should offer some memorable events which engage customers and which have potential to become part of customer's memorable experience.

 

Most of the goods and services have already been commoditized. Bruce Greenwald envisioned this when he stated "In the long run, everything is a toaster". Quality products and value-added services alone are not sufficient to hold the customer (Shall we say that quality products and services are necessary but not sufficient?)

 

Speaking of experience, Disney theme park stands out as a marquee example as to how Disney is using the experience as a key differentiator in its offering. Its theme park not only offers the usual games and rides for kids but brings in lot of other things like live Disney characters, shows, fireworks, Disney theme all round, adventure games, courteous support staff, creation of fantasy world, attached resort and how can we forget that majestic Disney parade? I still consider my visit to Disney Land as one of my most memorable experiences. Disney has redefined the experience of a theme park.

 

Experience has always been the heart of user's focus point. Following are some of the example of experience-based offerings in various industries:

Not so long back

Today

Experience

Discrete resources ranging from Encyclopedia books to multiple online sites

Interactive learning sites like Wikipedia, howstuffworks etc.

Knowledge

Discrete reservations sites for travel, stay, city tours

Single integrated travel experience egg. Orbitz. MakeMyTrip, Expedia

Travel

Purchase DVDs for viewing movies

Highly interactive and rich media, online streaming, state-of-art recommendations. Eg. Netflix

Entertainment

Purchase the product

Compare, customize, bid, see recommendations, rate and review product, and view people from friend circle who liked it etc. Eg. Amazon, eBay

e-commerce/online shopping

Game parlors for specific ages

Games for all ages, actors, shows, Interactive games Eg. Disney theme park

Gaming/Family entertainment

 

As said earlier, the list is long enough and we can spot this trend in almost every industry.

June 4, 2012

Technology must adopt to deliver new Telematics business models

Guest post by Venkateswaran Vinod, Industry Principal, Engineering Services, Infosys

I just did an 'in-app' purchase that was pretty much impulsive and got me thinking about business models. If you think about it, these impulsive purchases have been borrowed from the retail industry which has had this for a long time now. Consumer buying patterns have been a study of interest for economists, retailers, technologists, and business people. Let's try and extend this model into telematics. One of the first things, which an auto OEM needs to decide while deciding on the telematics services, is the business model - Who is going to pay, what are the payment mechanisms, how frequent should it be?

The services have to be packaged, priced and promoted in such a way so as to appeal and make the consumer buy the service. At the same time, they have to be profitable and sustainable for all parties involved. There are many lessons that can be learnt from the adjacent industries such as consumer electronics, online retailing, and financial services. Having decided on the business model, the right technology has to be enabled to accept, process and realize the payments. 
Traditionally, auto OEMs are used to well-defined payment models and frequencies when selling cars, however connected services are challenging these established mechanisms. Today, there is just one popular business model among most automakers which is an initial trial period followed by a yearly or lifetime subscription for all the services. While this might work in the short term, as the services are expanding newer revenue streams must be considered. These models would provide convenience and choice to the customer while helping the provider to charge for services as well. Here are two models that are quite likely to take off given the buzz that they have created in adjacent industries.

  • Service based subscription: This is very similar to a mobile app purchase where the consumer is given the choice to buy a particular service. What I think will happen is time bound options for a service so for e.g. if you are traveling on vacation to another city, you might want a particular service for your vacation period in the city and not pay for it after that.

  • Monetizing telematics data: Most players in the ecosystem are realizing the value of real time telematics data and there are innovative applications by these industries. Pay As You Drive (PAYD) insurance, Location Based Advertising are examples of leveraging the telematics data. The monetization of telematics data can subsidize the service package itself

  • Bundling with other services: The wireless service provider or the automotive OEM can offset the telematics pricing by bundling it with the other packages offered by them to the customer. An example could be that if the customer opts in for real time driving patterns/ maintenance reminders then the telematics service package itself could be discounted.

The business model decision will drive the technology that needs to be enabled to implement them. Here are some areas that I think will have a significant impact as the business models continue to evolve -

  • Instantaneous service provisioning and delivery: Customers would expect that they can subscribe to services for which they be provisioned and service delivered instantly. Technology needs to make this entire process easy to use and accessible through multiple channels. A robust service delivery framework that can scale and be flexible is critical.

  • Ability to accept micropayments: The payment mechanisms have to be geared to accept micropayments and enable incremental/time bound service enablement. The revenue assurance systems have to be enabled to work with very frequent payments through multiple channels.

  • Addressing security and privacy issues: Data and communication security algorithms will play a critical role in sharing data across ecosystem partners. Technology needs to support privacy regulations and ensuring that what's shared is what's acceptable

  • Support infrastructure: Customer care technology, marketing and other customer touch points have to be enhanced to support this dynamic evolution of new services. Analytics of customer behavioral data combined with context and location information will be extremely powerful.
While business models will continue to evolve, automotive OEMs need to have a robust architecture that can support this evolution. Postponing the decision to invest in technology upgrades will only complicate and make it difficult to innovate in this dynamic space. In many ways, they feed into each other and successful OEMs leverage this synergy well

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