The Indian consumers have become more aware about their dependence on petrol and with that have ushered in the era of online shopping. Whether its vegetables, furniture, books, electronics or cloths everything is available a click away today and people prefer to shop online in the comfort of their homes. Who would want to burn petrol and bear the claustrophobia of a mall or a hyper market when all those things can be ordered to your doorstep through the internet. The COD or Cash on delivery system has help clear the long held skepticism that the Indian consumer possessed of ordering things online due to the need to use a debit/credit card online. This has helped companies like Flip kart and Snap deal grow exponentially over the past two years. With 3G getting cheaper and covering more area day by day soon Indian’s will have all the more reason to resort to online shopping.
Today when a person wants to go out to see a movie or eat at a restaurant, the tickets/ reservation is done online. People religiously follow their favorite bars, cafes, clubs, retail shops, etc on social media websites, which help them develop their following towards an outlet by staying updated on the go. By staying updated people avail certain offers, discounts, contests, etc which takes the consumer to business relationship to a level where if a customer is interested enough he can take a step further and avail various privileges from his preferred choice of businesses. Social media has begun to play an important role in regards to marketing and public relations for many companies. Social media gave birth to a new channel by which companies get l to reach various people from different parts of the world sharing the same consumer interests. Corporations get to connect at a far more personal level with the vast clientele base they have. The impact of social media on the economy and society is profound and shall keep increasing as India progresses toward better connectivity.]]>
Since the Industrial revolution the various technological mediums through which people communicate kept changing and evolving. Over the years the masses have instantly adapted to new mediums and are eager more than ever to plunge into the future of social networking. From writing letters to instant messaging the evolution of social interaction among humans is ever so rapidly changing and growing. Today we are living in a world where every person is connected to every aspect of their lives online. May it be work, friends or family we share and connect with everyone through online social media. Basic but important tasks like banking, booking tickets, shopping, using maps, etc have been changed forever by the use of the online digital media. While the modern day consumer enjoys the blessing of convenience the internet brings along with it, there is something else it has inculcated in its global users i.e. a second mother tongue.
When the Short Messenger Service (SMS) hit globally texting became the communication sensation, with 3.5 billion users worldwide it is the most widely used data application. People using texting and instant messaging felt the need to make the process time saving and thus people began forming abbreviations of various words which was the conception of a second mother tongue, a global one. After a decade of SMS being around the abbreviations such as gtg, asap, lol, brb, etc became part of a universally accepted and understood lingo which was being formed. Short words like ‘what’ got shorter by removing a single letter and began being used as ‘wht’.
These minute differences created by many unknowns around the globe have shaped the way we communicate today with anyone and everyone digitally. Some say that it has ruined the originality of the English literature for future generations and they will never know what actual language was. The generation of connectivity, convenience and networking has brought with it the age of poor grammar. This brings us to the question that in today’s day and age how important is the use of correct grammar?
Grammar laid the foundation responsible for our linguistic communication today but as history shows it has been ever evolving and changing. If one can send and receive information in its entirety by using the global lingo it solves the purpose of it being an efficient medium of communication. Hence instead of being uptight about how the English language is used, people must learn to embrace the change. The global lingo breaks all cultural, geographical and religious barriers creating a standardized medium of communication understood by all. The shortening of words has saved a lot of people a lot of time of their lives in the long run, they just don’t realize it. The global lingo is an evolution of the English language created by the global citizen with an aim to be an efficient medium of communication which saves time. With more than half the global population being a part of this lingo and the rate at which smart phones and tablets are spreading people are yet to find out that they have subconsciously developed a second mother tongue.]]>
I on the contrary have chosen to write about a lesser known area that is almost always directly linked with the productivity of your setup and the level of customer satisfaction you are able to provide.
Not everybody is fortunate enough to setup shop in areas of the country where there are virtually no power-cuts, those who have will already know how fortunate they are.
For the rest of us though here are 5 ways to make the best utilization of time and resources when the power grid fails.
1. The resultant time from the the first powercut you face should be devoted towards understanding which points of your office you need backed up first.
Consider backing up all routers first, then proceed to desktops and finally secure points for laptops, phones, speakers or whatever. And in that order. Remember if you work through the nights keep an led back up lamp handy in the office.
2. Organise furniture around the office in a way that people .. mostly you or your colleagues can easily navigate through the office and out into the darkness when there’s a powercut lets say at 3 in the morning. This is where the led lamp comes in handy again …
3. Understand the pattern of occurrence of these powercuts, tip the local powergrid ..get him a beer do what it takes .. but get him to tell you the pattern, understand it and still better mark those times in your calendar as the times that you are mostly going to be doing nothing around then if backing up work points is not an option.
4. Get an invertor, an average inverter will not cost you more than 10k. But it is worth every penny. 2lights 2 fans and a lot of desktops, laptops and most importantly the INTERNET will work . A friendly word of advice .. if are not some one who uses tata, airtel or a main stream isp what you could do is ask your internet vendor to place the switch that provides internet to the locality on your invertor … this means you get to retain complete control over internet access.
5. Fix meetings outside office when you know that bracing the power-cut is not an option you have.
1. Digital Wiz – 1 – Gurgaon – some one who understands the medium at the back of their palms, we’re looking at people with 1 – 2 years of experience in handling Social Media operations.
2. Designer / Visualizer – 1 – Gurgaon – This someone has to be gifted with the skill to maneuver Photoshop. HTML CSS / Flash and allied skills will be a super bonus. we’d prefer some one with experience
3. Front End Developer – 1 – Gurgaon – HTML5, CSS3, AJAX, JS, what ever it takes to pimp our sites up upto 2 years of experience in the relevant areas.
4. Back End Developer – 1- Gurgaon – Some one who has a lot of keeda, enough of it at least to ensure that WordPress . Drupal and Magento customizations become a walk in the park for us. 1-2 years of exp obv preferred.
5. Digital Content Executive – 2 – Gurgaon – so if you can write and you think it makes a difference to people on the internet .. we are looking for you. give us a shout if you want to be the person writing for us.
call +91.981077818 – Venky email your cv’s to email@example.com]]>
DigiSense, a set on Flickr.
Sights from around our office.
Way more to come.
life @ DigiSense
Well, in the first week of January, things took an interesting turn and my friend found an Angel Investor. He was looking for people to start a web agency with. After a couple of meetings, things really looked up and interesting. Within the next 15 days, we had an office in New Bombay and 15 computers.
We together founded Aksip Innovations Private Limited.
Since then, we have been busy hiring people and getting in business. I have been too busy to update my blog, but now that things seem a little settled, I want to write more about our experiments with design and technology. We are still in the process of getting our website up. Its not that we are lazy, its just that I want the website to set standards for any other Indian Agency out there.
Our team currently comprises of around 10 fashion communication and fashion design students who have joined us from NIFT. We have three web designers with solid web designing experience and a few very talented developers who can do some serious code crunching. I will soon be putting up a list of our entire team on my blog and Aksip website.
We will soon start with our flagship application, but till then we are concentrating on building products for the market.
This blog was from a time before my involvement with DigiSense,
At Present and Out here We currently do online applications, internet marketing and online/offline design. If you are looking for smart people to handle your work, you can write in to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have ever used a Panasonic product in your life .. and mind you it could be some thing as trivial as an AA size battery which obviously none of you knew was ever manufactured by Panasonic or some thing super awesome like a Viera TV go ahead and LIKE this page ..
dont do this for me ..
Do this because
1. of the times you spent talking on your Panasonic cordless phone .. yes the one which you spent 15 hours a day talking to your gf / bf, friends, enimies, cousins, parents from almost any part of your house then.. (remember the time cell phones were not really some thing you could afford)
2. of the 35 times that you’ve watched top gun/ dil chahta hai / all the reruns of friends, how i met your mother, Joey, top gear, India Winning the Frikin World Cup (deserves a special mention … never throw that tv) or even aaj tak on your Viera.
3.of all the times that you have just not been bored because you had a panasonic stero system donkey’s years back and a panasonic cd / dvd player little less than donkey’s years back
4. of all those places that you’ve been to where more than 50% of the electronics that’ve been used have in some way or the other been a PANASONIC !
if you are still reading this you are either
a. cursing me
b. reminiscing every moment you spent with each one of the Panasonic produtcs you had
if your cursing me i have no clue why you even read the whole thing and if you arent go like the Panasonic India Page http://on.fb.me/k7GoGw
If you Eventually Decide to Like the Page Share an experience that you had with your Panasonic Product.
Part of getting organic Social Media Traffic]]>
This was pretty easy when I was freelancing and I always had friends around to work with. There was always this quite little multi-tasker inside me who wanted to work on multiple projects at the same time. If there were designs that I had to submit while I was writing code for another project, I would outsource it to a friend knowing that I am going to get good work. When we started out with a new startup, it didn’t seem that difficult hiring a team. After all, I had been taking hiring decisions for a major part of my career and knew how to pick out the good ones. Well, it got awfully difficult but we learn’t a few very important lessons:
Mistake – 1: Hire freshers
When you are out of college, you are like that kid who just got his new bike. You have a new degree, your weapon to conquer the world. A rush of blood to the head and you want to change the world. That smell of passion is the smell you want in a startup. Also, it is easier to write on a clean slate. I always supported hiring people with little or no experience and then training them. At Directi, we pulled it off fairly well. So, did a lot of other companies I knew about. It is not cheaper, the money you save hiring a fresher, you spend training them. The problem arises when you realize that both these costs might not always be the same. Freshers come with one extra burden, they don’t much about whats happening in the _real world_. To build something better, you should know what the benchmark is. Here, training is the easiest part, callibration is the most dificult.
Companies like Directi pulled it off well because they had a set training structure and people who had the time to sit down with these freshers and train them. In a startup, this is usually not possible.
My personal advice, if you hire freshers, hire the ones who have been freelancing atleast for a year.
Mistake – 2: Hire to get my boring job done
I was talking to a friend recently about something completely random. The conversation comes to getting something done and he is like “The other day I was reading about this founder who said: if you find something boring, hire!”. I was like, yeah, thats exactly what I did too. There were so many things, which weren’t exactly boring, but things I would have wasted a lot of time doing; instead I hired someone to take care of that for me. But, what I realized after reading Jason Frieds tips is that this is not always the case. An excerpt from that article says:
“How do you know if you really need someone? A good rule of thumb is this: Have you already tried to do the job yourself? If you haven’t done the job, you don’t really understand the job. Without that fundamental understanding, it’s hard to judge what constitutes a job well done.”
I had to setup the intranet, setup an Active Directory Server, basic office infrastructure. I hired someone to get this done. Ideally, I should have taken sometime off and done it myself to figure out that there wasn’t much work anyways. I mean, for two months this guy would have work to do, but after that its just managing stuff and we could have done that ourselves.
Mistake – 3: Hire A+ people
Everyone you talk to would tell you this. Hire A+ People. Hire the best. My mistake – I hired them even though I did not need them. While we were selecting people, we came across candidates who were really good at their job. We wanted great people so we hired them. Being a startup is very volatile. Especially one in the web design business. Just because a person is good at one job doesn’t imply he’s great at the other.
More than an A+ guy, you should be looking at someone whos versatile. Someone who wants to learn more and strive to get there. The world is not black and white. You need to hire from that grey area which has people on the move. People who would put in that extra effort to get there.
Mistake – 4: Hire people who can’t take decisions
There are queen bees and worker bees. The worker bee has to go collect some nectar to make honey for the queen bee’s fat ass. All the while, the queen bee pretends that its getting all the work done. This has been drilled in everyone’s heads, specially people working in corporates. Industries involving a lot of manual labor, have a very stringent corporate structure. A person on the job is treated more like an indentured servant. Open door policies are a sham. I realize the reason internet companies have achieved so much is because we treat humans like humans. I am not denying the fact that we work longer and sleep lesser, I am just stating a common fact, everyone is supposed to do their job. In here, its all about the respect you command, not demand.
At Aksip, teams are very small. Each team has an acute set of tasks. Such micromanagement leaves everyone in charge of themselves. Its all about doing your work your way and creating a kick ass product. We are in the service industry and we make sure that our clients are always talking to people who design and program their applications, not sales people.
When I had started out, people found it difficult to understand what I was trying to preach. Most of my colleagues were freshers who had no idea of what an IT company is really like and the others were from a band of IT companies in India, run like a government office; where, if you want to suggest a feature to your manager, you need to fill out a form and mail it to him. Which would be eventually turned down; and even if it is actually implemented, your boss gets all the credit. I have heard these tales with utmost amazement. So, when I asked my colleagues to dress causally or try to come up with ideas for the project, brainstorm how we can do things better OR very simply take decisions that change the course of the project, they panicked. Blasphemy! they screamed. I realized they were good workers but they couldn’t take decisions. This I realized is a very important trait that distinguishes startup people from the other folks. It is very important because these are the people who are supposed to be leading teams and taking decisions a year from now. You need people who are confident about what they know.
Mistake – 5: Hire when in doubt
My last boss, Abhijit, always asked me to let people go even if I had a little doubt about them. I was always of the opinion that once you train them and show them how things are supposed to be done, things would be taken care of. It was only at Aksip I realized that if you like a few things about a candidate simply means you don’t like the other things. I have hired people believing I will work on their strong points. But, the bad parts are all the more evident once the guy is working with you. One very good method, is to ask the guy to work with you on a contract basis, or for one project. This helps you take a calculated decision.
Well, this is like a six month review of running Aksip. I like to look at this as the things I have learn’t. I must have been through at least 200 interviews in the last 3 years of hiring people. One thing I have learn’t is that – there are no tricks or methods of judging people. For me its liking the person enough to work with him. Is he passionate about work? Does he like to have fun? Can he talk to people confidently? Can he write well? Is he passionate about something else apart from work? Its a few basic traits that YOU like and the gut feeling.
When I pit the two against each other, after hours of fighting, GIT goes around SVN, making a lethal cut around the hamstring – blood gushing out like a fountain; GIT pierces its blade in the thigh and hangs on to it. Jabbing SVN with its blades, its makes its way to the top. The huge creature is helpless, trying to shrug it off, moving around in circles but not able to get the sneaky bastard off. GIT reaches the head and with one blow gorges SVN’s eyes out. The huge creature falls down with dust around it. Its followers are still trying to revive the creature for one last stand against the agile and fierce fighter. With GIT victorious, I wanted to deploy all my code using GIT. I worked on multiple projects during my freelancing days and had a lot of code which other developers, who are now maintaining those websites, needed access to. So, I started looking at GIT repository hosting providers. I could have created a GIT repository on my server, but there are advantages of using a hosting service. I went to github straight away, but you have to pay to host private repositories. I had already spent a lot of money setting up the fight between SVN and GIT and with expenses increasing each day, I decided to look for free services.
The first one I found was a ‘humble’ looking website called Unfuddle. Most of my buying decisions and software decisions are based on how awesome they look. Unfuddle looked like a school project ( They look quite awesome now – do check them out) It provided everything and came highly recommended from the discussions on StackOverflow.
The base package starts at $9/month but they also have an always free plan that provides 200MB of space, 1 Project, 2 Collaborators, 3 Notebook Pages and SSL
My Opinion: Check it out if you want it for a single project. It will give you a lot of options.
Beanstalk — Version Control With A Human Face
The next one called BeanStalk had a slick looking website with a superb Feature Tour. I really like the website and was quite impressed with the functionality too. They also provide SVN/Mercurial hosting. The personal plans start at $15/month but also have a free plan that gives 100 MB Storage, 1 User, 1 Repository.
Assembla also was recommended by a lot of people who have been using GIT for their personal projects. A lot of freelancers who work on multiple projects use Assembla because they give unlimited repositories, unlimited users and 1 GB storage. They were the best in my review and don’t give a lot of features. This is good. I am a little skeptical about using services that promise everything. I would rather use services which do one thing, but do it really well.
Assembla is for hosting projects and collaboration. It cuts out all the noise and lets you focus on the task at hand. Also, they have a great documentation.
This service is from the folks at Atlassian. They are well known for JIRA and Confluence and many such products. We used the whole Atlassian suite at Directi and liked it pretty much. So, when it came to selecting between Assembla and BitBucket, I chose bitbucket, only because it looked better than Assembla, was very simple to setup and gave me UNLIMITED private repositories with UNLIMITED storage space. I mean who does that for a free account. the only limit they put is on the number of users, which is 5. I have around 6 projects hosted there and share it with everyone. I can easily give access to my repositories, create teams and share code with other developers.
I find Bitbucket to be the best amongst the options I have seen.
There are more hosting subversion hosting providers out there who support multiple formats. Almost all the providers mentioned in this post support SVN and Mercurial too.
If you need to see more options, you should visit my Delicious Stack on this (yes, i still use Delicious).
While this revolution was taking place something else was brewing the background at a much larger scale. Till not too long back Orkut was an intrinsic component of this new development, but before anyone could take notice Twitter and Facebook had ensured that Orkut was no longer in the picture, all of this in a couple of years.
Having managed the eCommerce & digital marketing operations at a group level for a chain of hotels, I have had to opportunity to understand the shifts and trends to the dynamics in digital marketing at a micro level as far as the hospitality sector is concerned.
A majority of hotel groups until 3 or 4 years ago, really cared only about room sales through the GDS and OTA’s, they never really bothered about anything other than the booking engine system on their respective website’s, this they thought was enough to capture the internet audience thanks to a limited understanding of user behavior on the internet and the lack of any sort of far-sight on their end.
Having said that, it is very difficult to blame hoteliers entirely; hospitality is undisputedly the most complicated vertical as far as the service sector is concerned. Major reasons that contribute to this complexity are:
a. Extremely Human resource intensive
b. Extensive Inter-operational dependencies
c. Extremely finicky clientele
d. Capital Intensive business structure.
e. Extent of localization is huge
This being the case any changes that need to be adapted in terms of a marketing approach or strategy take ions if not ages to adapt.
Coming back to the point when TripAdvisor launched India operations in Aug. 2008, the hospitality industry was still waiting for OTA’s and Aggregators to do an encore of what they seemed to be able to manage with the aviation world. This in my opinion was the defining moment as far as entry of travel social media in India was concerned. 08 went by 09 went by too and in 2010 when the hospitality giants awoke to realize that social media is a place they needed to be on it was possibly too late, no doubt trip advisor was doing an awesome job of getting users to talk about their stays at various hotels across the country and rate different properties, but by then Facebook had surpassed every possible social networking portal to amass a 5 million odd registered user base with engagement and interaction levels that were unheard of.
Hoteliers consistently shied away from Facebook and twitter because in their minds, social media was the enemy; a platform where the smallest service glitches could snowball into a PR and Operations nightmare, so they stuck to providing worthless template based management responses on TripAdvisor and expected miracles to happen. Until a few months back this had been the story.
But as I have seen off late, hoteliers, PR managers & e-marketing managers in the hospitality industry are realizing the importance of being actively present on social media platforms. They are gradually making an effort to reach out to those people on the internet who are the very reason they’re in business. This is a good sign and there is still quite a distance for them to go unlike the more evolved and digital savvy sectors like entertainment, retail among others.
This was a prelude to more of what I will put up in the future. Till next time I will be glad to take any comments or questions.