Sunday, December 02, 2007

Never under estimate your ideas

If you are on an entrepreneurial high, never underestimate your ideas!

Many times, even before the idea crosses the mind, another brain signal warns "oh this is so naive, someone must have already done it" or "naah, this is too simple to be good". But, as soon as the active brain starts warning you, my gentle counter warning "think of your idea again; after all if everything has been thought of, challenge is to think of it again."

The Idea
Well, let me mention what made me write this. Just a few days back I was thinking that there should be a channel / new paper that would only talk about and show good news. It would have only the success stories of all celebrities as well as common people. I was so sick and tired of watching events, so disturbing, that yelled at me to say "why the hell are you living, the world is a horrible place". And I thought, for the new generation, for people already in distress, such a "happy" newspaper would be so rejuvenating and a positive reinforcement of goodness. But, then I did not give much thought - for logistic problems and secondly, because I thought it was too simple!

The Implementation
And next day, when I tuned in to an Indian channel, I could see, in all news channel, the glorious launch of e-newspaper called "Billion-Beats", started by the most illustrious former President of India, Abdul Kalam Azad. I was simply amazed!

I feel extremely happy because my idea got validated and I am encouraged to, next time, take myself more seriously. Or rather, may be, not so seriously. Who knows, a simple idea could be in the making of next Google!

PS: A demonstration of what a good new post can be read in my other blog here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Much more than just a commercial....

I like all Johny Walker commercials... and this latest "Black Label" ad is one of the best I have seen on television for a long time.

I am not crazy about whisky and I may not become a convert watching the ad. But, the splendid art element in the ad is indeed intoxicating.

Watch the ad as taken from YouTube here:

So, for now it is just watching and no drinking!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hasta la Vista (Microsoft) Baby!

Vista ... Yes, see you later... not now. I am better off with my X(P)!

I begin this post with an entertaining and quite telling video "Don't Give Up on Vista" Ad created by Apple Mac. [Embedded from YouTube]

Why do we hear everywhere only wrong things about Vista? I would have liked to believe, it was just me ... but I guess, this is not the case!

Microsoft does a good job, pushing the latest release of its software by bundling them with affiliated hardwares. Microsoft's, age long and by far marketing's one of the most successful product introduction strategy has helped Microsoft Sales... enumerous times.

However, if the product being introduced and pushed (read forcefully) to users is not yet ready, then this can have a catapult effect. Since, windows 95 all MS products have been released on later dates than announced and have been buggy. This has been talked about so much that probably users (and even MS developers) have started considering bugs as product features. But, with Vista it is not just about bugs - it is about pushing a product with new design, significantly changed interface without user's consent. Just when we thought, we are doing well with XP, the Vista unsettled us.

First, IT department installed Vista on all office PC's - I guess it was because keeping up with the latest MS release makes licensing and updates easier (another MS Strategy). Next, when I went to buy a new PC only a week or so after Vista was launched, none of the retailers carried a PC with XP. I had to adjust to the Vista Life at my home PC. Later, when I ordered my Laptop online, I made sure to check the appropriate Windows OS (yes, XP) for the laptop. Here again, Vista was the default selection. It sounds funny, because, in most places, I would prefer getting the most recent release of a product -fight to get it. But, with Vista, I am way too apprehensive.

Today, when I read this blog "Walking Off Into the Vista" on the New York Times, I felt I most definitely am not alone in agonizing.

Few days back I had written that competion for the online collaboration and enterprise application market is very engaging and it would be worthwhile to see how Microsoft responds to already leading players like Google and IBM. I also wondered then, how would Google be successful in converting MS Office users to Google Docs... As much as I see user's sentiments about Vista, I am made to belive that Google need not do a lot, Microsoft will do that for Google!

Having said that, I still believe that Microsoft will respond aptly to all these challenges. My bet is still on the Redmond dwellers.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Keeping your online customers yours - forever

An e-commerce website, if anything, is extremely slippery.

It is not enough to add stickiness factor to your website. Besides the content, a trustworthy functional experience is extremely important for your customers to be loyal and to continue business.

At the end of the day, the online experience of each individual customer equates to your profitability, loyalty and brand equity. You do not want to take chances that compromises any three of these. Listed below are few key considerations to keep in mind to ensure that your online customer remains yours forever - that is, if you are a serious high-traffic website:

Error Messages Do Not help

A troubleshooting manual, an FAQ page or 'Send Feedback' button do not help when customers encounter error messages on your website

A most carefully drafted and user-friendly error message is not any better than the error itself. Consider an offline customer. If your doorway is under construction and you have clearly put instructions on how to enter your shop - it is quite likely that a customer will approach the next door shop. Just remember, it is way too easier for your online customer to move to a (next door) competitor site.

The key is to pro-actively keep your site error-free and take immediate action on every instance of an error reported.

Your Customers are not your Support Engineers or QA testers

They are not the most technology savvy users either. Do not treat them any different from how you would treat an offline customer.

Take for an example, I am flying a helicopter. I would most definitely like to get instructions about how to keep my helicopter flying or to land safely, if something goes wrong mid-air. But, on an e-commerce website, If I receive an error message during navigation / transaction, then I would have to be in my most generous mental states to make a complain about it. In most likelihood, I would silently move away from the site to a competing site.

The key here is - do not ask your customers to help you fix your websites problems. Fix your website problems, pro-actively, sooner than your customers encounter it - again and again.

Do not under-estimate ambiance and service

In a restaurant, for example, unless your returned food is repeatedly ignored, you will give another chance, if the ambiance and service is delightful to you.

Similarly, in a website, make sure that the few minutes of user experience there is as delightful as the ambiance of their most favored restaurant. This requires a lot of insight into user behavior and an understanding of the online design principles. In my experience, simplicity always wins. Most customers, do not need gazillion functionalities - they make key repetitive interactions with your site. Know these behavior and make your site to adapt to these behavior.

As for an offline customer who dis-likes polyester, you will not take him to the polyester dress section, instead show him/her more cottons, if that is what the liking is for. Similar personal attention should be given for an online customer. And not just the preferences should be noted for content displayed on the site, but also for the most used actions. I like the Microsoft metaphor of keeping the less used action items hidden. If they were all to be kept expanded through out, there would be no space left for writing, for instance in Microsoft Document.

The key here is - give your customers what they want. Step into the shoes of EACH customer and think through their minds to give them an experience that brings them to your website again and again - and also give tolerance to some error messages, that they may encounter occasionally.

Do not test the Patience of your Customers

Patience is a virtue. But, your online customers forget that just while they are online.

What makes your website the most slippery is trying your customer's patience. The number of clicks required to get a task performed, complicated navigation, redundant questions and irrelevant requirements - these are some of the aspects of a website that unreasonably try user's patience on a website. Avoid them, where and as much as you can.

The key here is - Identify and implement the state of equilibrium between form and function, when it comes to designing your website. If you give due importance to one over the other, you will make your website more slippery for some while trying to appease few others.

Take Away
Security, Privacy, Performance etc are some other key considerations that you should be vigilant about while maintaining a high traffic website. The points mentioned here are not comprehensive. They never can be. This dynamism in the phenomenon of user-website interaction makes the task of online marketers equally challenging, as well as rewarding.

A good insight and knowledge of your customers and a pro-active approach can keep your customers yours, forever.

Design Quote

I read a nice thought about good design somewhere that I found very appealing. Reproducing the thought in my words:

The Design Path

A good design traverses through the path of -

Comfort -> Contentment -> Joy -> Delight -> Bliss

Next time, when you critique a design, think of its journey into the making...

Monday, November 12, 2007

They walk among us ... someone we know?

I received this over email and found it quite funny. Just read through. Do you think you have one of these?


I walked into a Blimpie's with a buy-one-get- one-free coupon for a sandwich. I handed it to the girl and she looked over at a little chalkboard that said "Buy one – get one free". "They're already buy-one-get- one-free", she said, '"So I guess they're both free". She handed me my free sandwiches and I walked out the door. They walk among us and many work in retail.

A friend of mine bought a new fridge for his house… To get rid of his old fridge, he put it in his front yard and hung a sign on it saying: "Free to good home. You want it, you take it." For three days the fridge sat there without even one person looking twice at it. My friend decided that people were too untrusting of this deal. It looked too good to be true, so he changed the sign to read: "Fridge for sale $50." The next day someone stole it. They walk among us.

One day I was walking down the beach with some friends when one of them shouted, "Look at that dead bird!" Someone looked up at the sky and said, "Where?" They walk among us.

While looking at a house, my brother asked the real estate agent which direction was north because, he explained, he didn't want the sun waking him up every morning. She asked, "Does the sun rise in the north?" When my brother explained that the sun rises in the east, and has for sometime, she shook her head and said, "Oh, I don't keep up with that stuff." They walk among us.

I used to work in technical support for a 24/7 call centre. One day I got a call from an individual who asked what hours the call centre was open. I told him, "The number you dialled is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week." He responded, "Is that Eastern or Pacific time?" Wanting to end the call quickly, I said, "Uh, Pacific." They walk among us.

My colleague and I were eating our lunch in our cafeteria, when we overheard one of the administrative assistants talking about the sunburn she got on her weekend drive to the shore. She drove down in a convertible, but "didn't think she'd get sunburned because the car was moving." They walk among us.

My friend has a lifesaving tool in his car designed to cut through a seat belt if he gets trapped. He keeps it in the trunk. They walk among us.

My friends and I were on a beer run and noticed that the cases were discounted 10%. Since it was a big party, we bought two cases. The cashier multiplied 2 times 10% and gave us a 20% discount. They walk among us.

I was hanging out with a friend when we saw a woman with a nose ring attached to an earring by a chain. My friend said, "Wouldn't the chain rip out every time she turned her head?" I explained that a person's nose and ear remain the same distance apart no matter which way the head is turned. They walk among us.

I couldn't find my luggage at the airport baggage area, so I went to the lost luggage office and told the woman there that my bags never showed up. She smiled and told me not to worry because she was a trained professional and I was in good hands. "Now," she asked me, "Has your plane arrived yet?" They walk among us.

While working at a pizza parlour I observed a man ordering a small pizza to go. He appeared to be alone and the cook asked him if he would like it cut into 4 pieces or 6. He thought about it for some time before responding. "Just cut it into 4 pieces; I don't think I'm hungry enough to eat 6 pieces." Yep, they walk among us and... they reproduce...

Thursday, November 08, 2007

A smile from Yahoo! today ...

For last few days, I have had some not so good experience with Yahoo! People who know me will identify the reason.

Anyways, today I was chatting with my friend on the chat interface of Yahoo! mail. And, the context sensitive messages of Yahoo! in the chat window really amused me. I thought, it was yahoo! way of bringing a smile to me.

Chat: My friend was in an 'advice giving' spree. For instance, she was writing stuff like - "bad thing happens for a reason" and "it takes a few tries to get there ..." etc.

Yahoo!: The context sensitive message from Yahoo! was "lianhlee is about to drop knowledge..."

Chat: Now, it was my turn to reply and i shot 3-4 messages at a time.
Yahoo!: And I was stopped by this message - "LIANHLEE IS TYPING! LIANHLEE IS TYPING!" This was hilarious!

My friend types slowly. This Yahoo! context message was "Tell Raunaq to use fingers of both hands when typing"

Well, simple and intelligent ways to hook people up. I loved this... it made me feel like I am talking to a friend in a familiar coffee shop surrounding. The chat window, created just the right atmosphere.

And thanks Yahoo! for this.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Wal-Mart embraces the Linux Installed PC (gOS)

Last weekend, we were shopping for a home-office PC.

While driving back, with a 'Vista' installed PC - we could not help but think about the dominance of Microsoft. I mean, not a single store still carries a Linux based PC. 'You can get them - but you will have to order online'!

So, this recent announcement of 'gOS', a linux based PC available in the 600 Wal-Mart stores immediately got my attention. For the product details and the news-wire read yahoo! and gizmodo.

As, I have mentioned in my comment in gizdomo, this new product will make initial connections with the linux users. When you cannot get a PC, even with "no OS" installed, the price point and its availability in stores, is a Green signal for the Green OS.

The 'g' in the name could not be any more relevant than it is now. I understand that the PC comes bundled with some of the 'g' apps and this time, I am talking about Google. The 'greens' adding up to the 'red' ticks for the folks in Redmond.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What is in your shoe?

In India, I have seen people stash cash and/or valuables in their shoes / socks. Especially, while traveling in public transportations, it is a good way to avoid pick-pockets.

Interestingly, a shoe company called ArchPort has taken the same metaphor and designed a shoe that not only protects the soles, but also protects valuables. These shoes and sandals have a small locker in the sole, where cash, keys, coins etc can be stored. See the pictures below:

I am not sure if these shoes will score any points in comfort or style, some key attributes that we look for in shoe. But, it definitely gets my thumbs up in creativity!

So, watch out for the shoes. There may be more to them than just soles ...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

From the Innovator's Dilemma

One of the most interesting and relevant books that I have read so far is the triology, starting with "The Innovator's Dilemma". I often read the book(s) to remind myself about complacency, stagnancy, comfort that is being developed, the success trap ... of many companies in industry that I work in, or of companies in adjacent industry ... or of companies, which are in their most glorious days today. Or, I often observe these companies and their moves to understand their response to the disruptive technologies or their preparedness for the same.

A glaring example of a flourishing industry that saw the death of many of its leading firms, as explained in the book is that of Disk-Drive industry. I am sure, you got the point. However, the author's explaination on how he chose this industry as an example to prove his theory of "How Can Great Firms Fail" is equally exemplary. In author's own words:

"When I began my search for an answer to the puzzle of why the best firm can fail, a friend offered some sage advice. 'Those who study genetics avoid studying humans,' he noted. 'Because new generations come along only every thirty years or so, it takes a long time to understand this cause and effect of any changes. instead they study fruit flies, because ther are conceived, born, mature and dies all within a single day. If you want to understand why something happens in business, study the disk drive industry. Those companies are the closest things to fruit flies that the business world will ever see.' "

Disruptive changes in the Disk Drive technology defined a whole new paradigm of performance. And the adopters of these technological changes were the new entrants into the market and not the incumbent leaders - engrossed in listening to their customers and engulfed in success trap.

Interesting ...

Monday, October 08, 2007

Content Plagiarism and a piece of cake ...

Recently, I have been quite interested in the problem of web-based content plagiarism.

I own the content on my page and it is my intellectual property. I do not mind if someone else copies my content as it only validates my authority on the subject. However, I definitely demand credit for the piece of information extracted from my site. If a site earns revenue with stolen contents, I would like to see a fair distribution of the monetary gains.

The intention is very clear - copy what I permit you to copy, give me the credit and share with me the benefits that you earn off my content - and I do not mind. This, also is the point of contrast from the more familiar concept of DRM.

Where as DRM is restrictive, a company came up with an innovative solution that offers protecting the Intellectual Property, but in most liberal way. Attributor, based in Redwood City has launched a product to track and report back on the copied content, sniffing billions of web pages.

By far, Attributor has the first mover advantage with AP and Reuters already Attributing. There is another solution offered by blogwerx "Sentinel", which promises to solve similar problems. I do not see this company very promising for several reasons [read thumbs down on investment, team, state of product, product vision, initial beta hiccups] - the Home Link on their website does not work, if anyone is reading. A May blog by the CVO (Chief Visionary Officer, eh... ) states that "Sentinel is not dead as yet". Not updating the post for next 5 months is not being alive either.

I found another cool tool, which may not have serious business potential and / or relevance - but the simplicity of the tool caught my attention. My feminine instincts would like to call it "cute". Check the Duplicate Content Tool here. This tool compares two websites on the similarity of textual / HTML content.

The success of this or any other clones in this space would be based on the business value that these solutions promise to bring to the publishers of content and the business/revenue model that they adopt.

Plagiarism of web-content is definitely a problem, the solution for which seems to be evolving. This could be disrupting for many players in the web world. A worth following up proposition for the days to come!

And as far as I am concerned, my birthday cake has "Happy Birthday to Amita" written and I get to cut it! You can share as much of it as you wish - if you are invited to my party... That is the point!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The web of Insecurity

Take a look at the following:

Some Phishing Data
$10 to $150Price range on the black market for a full set of identity information
50 cents to $5Price range per stolen credit card number
196860Unique phishing messages detected by Symantec for the first half of 2007, up 18% from last six months of 2006
52771Number of active bot-infected computers per day in the year's first half

Data: Symanted Internet Security Threat Report Trends [2007]

The report above is just an indication of the wild business of phishing flourishing out there. The most recent hit, a huge theft of credit card information, was felt by Vertical Web Media, Chicago Publisher of Internet Retailer magazine and millions of its customers.

This information came a week after TD Ameritrade Holding disclosed that attackers from half a dozen IP addresses worldwide made off with personal information, including credit card numbers and email addresses of about 6.3 million customers. The report, the incident all point to one vulnerability - the most widespread vulnerability of organizations from security threats.

Many organizations are realizing this and shielding themselves by putting in place a security team and a security infrastructure. But is that enough? I will write about some of the security initiatives that organizations should adopt to escape from the vulnerability in a future post. If your organization is not yet serious and proactive about the security threats, then the risks are very high!

Jim Motes (CISO of Perot Systems) puts it aptly:
"The sophistication of these attacks being used today, hasn't been offset by an equal sophistication of the tools we use to prevent them"

It's all about Attitude, Baby! Or not?

India recently won World Cup in cricket, by beating archrival Pakistan in a very closely played match.

The highlight of the entire series was a young, in-experienced but enthusiastic team. Led by 26 year old Dhoni, the team had mostly new players. After victory, when Dhoni was asked, how he made the decision to choose the last bowler - one who could have changed the fate of the game, Dhoni replied -

"I had asked Harbhajan (an experienced player). But, he did not sound confident. On the other hand, Joginder (a newbie) was very excited and wanted to take the responsibility. I gave the balls to Joginder. At that point it was very important to have a player, who was more excited and confident in taking the responsibility rather than experience."

This came from a cricketer, in the context of the game. But, I think this has profound similarity in the corporate world.

More often than not, we default most of the initiatives, major projects, big decision-making to the most experienced team member. And in the process, we overlook, some of those very enthusiastic, 'ready to take challenge', 'wanting to prove their worth' individuals and instead give them the 'follow the instruction' kind of tasks.

While, these decisions are never conclusive - they are often dependent on the context in which you work - I want to end with the thought that once in a while "just question your defaults!"
You will have the answers to make a conclusive decision.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Run... to be on the same spot - world is changing fast

Henry Ford has been reportedly quoted to say "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses".

As much as it is important to "listen" to the market and get the pulse of consumers, innovative products are more often than not, created as an outcome of internal brainstorming. It is the ability to identifying the cutting edge technology and more importantly making a business proposition with the technology that sets apart an innovative product from the most 'made-to-suit-market' products.

No, I am not denying the importance of products that are build to fulfill the market need. I am a firm believer that products should be build to fill a gap in the market, rather than a gap in a companies product line". In this space, however I am talking abut what leads to an innovative product.

Talking of which, think of it - if before making iPhone (or iPod or iMac) ... apple product manager had asked the users of smart-phones, mp3 players or desktops, what features they would like to have, I am sure it would not be any close to what the current form and shape of these products are.

The take-away from this is - as much as customers, consumers, analysts are important input sources - for innovation, build your own solid team of architects, engineers and product managers.

I leave you with last anecdote for today. The inventor of Medical Devices "Dean Kamen" once asked where you would put a third eye if you could have one?" Everyone in the audience said on the back of their head; without hesitation, generally, on the back of the head. But when Dean said, "what about on the tip of your finger?" everyone agreed, without hesitation, that that was much better!

Reserve your "Online Suite ... "

In my earlier post, I had said that it would be worth watching how the market for collaboration shapes up and most importantly what (if anything) would be Microsoft's reaction.

In Sep 24 2007 issue of Information Week, they have covered the same topic "Google, IBM take another run at Microsoft's Office Suite". The article has an inset on "How the Packages Compare", which I am copying in my today's post.

Microsoft Office: Feature-rich; incumbent has familiarity on its side.

Lotus Symphony: IBM brings clout to OpenOffice

Google Apps: Presentation software added to productivity suite Free, open source apps get updated

SUN Startoffice: Forerunner to OpenOffice, part of Google pack.

I am looking forward to Microsoft's online response!

The Cost-Cutting Conundrum

It is all about ROI.

Cost-cutting, increasing efficiency, keeping things simple... and at the end of it all meeting the ROI - is an ubiquitous corporate challenge. But in most cases the hidden-costs of 'cost-cutting' and complexities of the 'simple' business provide a skewed image of the reality.

Corporates that operate on a consistent theme (read pressure) to cut costs actually have their spending focussed on short-term, tactical projects. This potentially leads to a lack of a "strategic fit" and hence majority of such projects end up with higher costs, and potentially increased complexity.

Instead, Enterprises should identify the areas where cost cutting could be mortgaging their future as a consequence and block them from being "crunched". For example, if resources are budgeted for a next-gen product but not on migrating old customers to the next-gen, will eventually lead to a support nightmare and a serious implication of maintaining two different product cycles. Thus adding to the cost, eventually.

Another excuse for management to not allocate resources is on Projects that do not lead to Direct Revenue. Some executives, like to call it is "cost-centers". Examples of such could be - Security Infrastructure, Developing an Integration Platform etc. Not investing in such initiatives may in the near-term prove to be profitable. However, delaying improvements in these areas could cost far more in the long run.

Some of my key observations and thoughts about cost-cutting are:
- Save recurring costs. Maintaining an old system that is under-utilized and/or not adding value can be costlier than spending some more resources to revamp.
- Full-time vs Contract. There are some functions, which are critical, but required for a specific time frame. For example, for a non-UI based organization, having a UI designer full-time may be a recurring cost. Rather, companies should evaluate operating with a contract position.
- Reduce Redundancy. Many corporates work in islands of functional areas. If there is an information that can be consumed by more than one function, then all efforts should be achieved to minimize redundancy of the information source . Areas of reusable components - information, resource, system - all that can be re-used should be identified and allocated with a common budget.
- Having a common goal. All functional areas should be encouraged to work on a common operating principle. This will tremendously help organizations to streamline cost goals and work collaboratively to achieve them.

Caution - any such organization wide theme (be it cost-cutting, efficiency improvement, managing simplicity) involves change. If all functional areas are not aligned together to embrace the change, then this will lead to one more wasted effort!

Before you make any judgment, think of the cost-cutting conundrum - are you really saving company some money or is it the other way around. The later affirmation could be very dangerous!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

One Up for Collaboration!

There is a blood bath going on here in the collaborative enterprise suite. Well, almost !

It would be interesting to watch how some of these equations get formed and right now, I am waiting for Microsoft to play its cards...

Already taking the stride are:
- Google - Google Docs (includes docs and spreadsheet) and Google Presently presentation s/w)]

- Yahoo! - with Zimbra acquisition

- Lotus Symphony... (I think, Lotus is the pioneer in collaborative space!)

It will be a while before any of these get enterprise wide acceptance. Considering many issues related to compliance etc yet answered... Nevertheless, the way market is shaping up, it is worth the watch. I would like to see how MicroSoft responds ... and can they all co-exist or what will be the impact on market share. I can say for sure - these all players are very aggressive about this space!

My 2.0 cents :)

Lights, Camera and Action

Ever wonder, how do sales people react to lost deals? Broadly in two ways -
Type 1. Pessimists sales person will see this as a personal defeat and feel less confident in next case.
Type 2. Optimists sales person will immediately try to find an opportunity to turn the game around.

For example, say a competitor snatched the contract right under your nose. Type 1 sales person will feel the efforts wasted and drink it over with a dozen glass of beers. Type 2 sales person, will still go to the beer bar, but focus on the fact that the contract is just for 1 year. He will try to bring acts together and build a case, again to reach up to the prospect to displace the competitor.

Even in a lost opportunity, a sales person who is optimistic, will see a ray of hope. Armed with just a ray of hope, the type 2 sales person will keep acting. Action will take this sales person reach places. He or she may not reach the destination, but in the process will find several open / hidden routes to many different paths. This will keep him / her active again for a long time.

For a Type 2 Sales person - there is no STOP time. If you have a story - all you need is some action. This is true always - somethings don't change. Even the silent movies of yesteryears needed "Light, Camera and Action!"

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Dylan Viral

There is a "You". There is your "Social Network".
And there is a "Channel".

This is all it takes to spread the message fast, in marketing parlance, virally. Almost all!

The Dylan Viral
[get infected and more]

The edge of the Dylan Viral is that it appeals you to indulge. It shows you a flick and challenges your creativity. I chance landed on a very interesting blog - with a lot of stickiness factor. The writer keeps the 'goal simple' and effectively touches upon 7 tricks for successful viral marketing. I thought, why not analyze Dylan Viral using the borrowed tricks*.

1. Make People Feel Something
Like I said earlier, the Dylan Viral challenges my creativity. I applaud at my own creation and want to share it within my close network. Sometimes, just to share. Otherwise, just to show-off. In any case, the objective is very clear. It makes people think and keeps them engaged through out.

2. Do Something Un-expected
When I first saw the Dylan Viral, I did not think it was a viral. I felt, it was a cool medium to quickly create your advertisements. I was surprised at the thought, that you could have a template for marketing your products. Isn't marketing all about differentiation? Could there be a possibility to have a template for Advertisements? Well, seeing this in action, made me think for a while - "this might work". And yet, this was not what I first thought.

3. Do not try to make Advertisements, It sucks
Well, yes! The Dylan Viral is anything, but an advertisement. It just lets you be in charge. You drive the show here - not the singer, neither his songs. No product involved (yet, it sells).

4. Make Sequels
Well, the sequel of this message is in-built in the design. This is a creative master-piece. It again lets you be in charge. Create as many sequels as you want. It is you who is driving the campaign. Exhaust only when you have no more willingness or creativity left. Or you reconsider your social network. You might be lacking one.

5. Allow Sharing, Downloading and Embedding
Now, this is where, I don't think I can eulogize the Dylan Viral. For some reasons, the thing about incompatible Flash Version, its availability only via Email, the fact that it cannot be embedded etc makes it difficult to share easily. Why??? I wonder why this was neglected. Or if there was a purpose (read exclusive sharing) , I fail to understand what.

6. Connect with Comments
Allowing users to comment not only gives you the feedback, but also serves as a pull strategy to have users stop by a little longer and interact in a more direct way. The Dylan Viral provides the option to add comments. But the entire interface looks deterring to me. I think, the creative and implementation team don't get along well.

7. Never Restrict Access
The incongruous interface and imposing the need to have right version of Flash breaks the fluidity of the process. Nevertheless, if someone has driven all the way to Yesomite, the fear of bears will not stop him from camping. It takes learning only once. After that you know that you must keep all edibles (including lipsticks) in the food stations. And yes, in the Dylan Viral, which link to click.

Will Dylan Viral do its Job?
I do not know the future of Dylan Viral. It may fail, or it may succeed. That is the challenge of marketing. There is nothing as "tried and tested" formula. Its unpredictability keeps the game interesting. Net savvy people: If you are Dylan Fans, you may want to show it now.

For now, all I can say is - watch out for the new Dylan Release on October 1st. Acknowledging my limited creative talents, I infect you with my two Dylan Virals:

* Thanks to Thomas Baekdal for his excellent articles that inspired me to write this one.

Dylan Viral can be embedded. Not so straightforward, but it can be. See here for an example.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Usability: Scenario Based Design

Stories are useful, diverse, and pervasive

I talked about Storytelling in my previous article. Using narrative in design and development that is more systematic and auditable than “just making up stories” is a challenge for the Engineering Techniques and Processes.

An approach that is systematized but still preserves the strength of storytelling is discussed in this article by PennState HCI:

Good Article on Story-Based QA

"Tell me a story" - and I will listen.

Storytelling is one of the most effective means of communication. A good narrative of an incidence or a scenario can most efficiently replicate the same, preserving the truth and sharing the experience.

No wonder, storytelling as an Organizational Communication Tool is being discussed and talked about lately in great detail. I recently read a good article on Story-Based Quality Assurance.

I leave the story-telling part for the article here:

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

vu jàDé - the new innovation mantra

The word innovation has become a common place. Every one talks about it these days ... the resumes have paragraphs dedicated for innovation and not any fault of candidates, the job descriptions demand that.

I feel, as an act, innovation has been talked about so much and used in so many connotations that if tomorrow someone really innovates a process/product/service, we will have to call it something else.

Amidst plethora of definitions and suggestions about innovations, one that got me amused came from a talk show on CNBC.

The speaker suggested a term "vu jàDé" as an enabler of innovation. "vu jàDé" is the reverse of "Déjà vu", which means - An impression of having seen or experienced something before.

So, to be able to innovate, place yourself in an unknown territory each day and find a way to come out of it. While Déjà vu lets you to believe that you have been to a place you have never been - vu jàDé will let you to go to your most familiar place and look at it differently.

For an example,
you reach your office every morning and you start your day afresh - looking at a thing from a completely different angle. Can you do it? Well the answer will lead you to answer another question "Can you innovate?"

And no, there is no such word as "vu jàDé" ... yet!