Friday, January 24, 2014

Frugal Innovation/Jugaad #6: The World's Best Designed Pizza Box

The World's Best Designed Pizza Box
(Excerpted from Quartz. Follow link above)
most pizza boxes are ineffective because they have holes on the side to release steam—but the heat is actually released from the top and bottom of the piesMehta’s solution is simple.
Cardboard, he explained consists of three layers: two flat surfaces and one ridged corrugated sheet in between. VENTiT boxes have holes in the two flat surfaces, but not in the middle layer. This permits steam to travel through the grooves in the middle corrugated layer, without getting trapped inside the box. More importantly, no additional material is required to manufacture the box. 

Now this is what I call a real "Jugaadoo" based on Jugaad (Frugal Innovation), repurposing something with minimal resources and making it significantly better while addressing a "steaming" need! 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

R.I.P. Content, Long Live Apps! : The next BIG disruption

Couple of days ago I came across Pratik Dholakiya's blogpost "Why Apps Will Dethrone Content as King of Digital Marketing" which had couple of interesting graphics:

Pratik makes a strong evidence based case for bidding farewell to the static web:

The sites with the best tools have almost always dominated the web, but this is changing from something we expect from elites to something we expect from every corner of the net. As we move away from the PC and onto our mobile devices, we increasingly find web browsers dull and boring compared to the immersive experience of apps.
Apps are the future of marketing. Don't say I didn't warn you.
And today I came across another interesting blog post with corraborating evidence. This time it is Philip Elmer-DeWitt's blog post : Apple's App Store: 'The insidious march of a disruptor". Here's a graphic from his piece which says it better than words:

He says:

To state the obvious: iTunes music downloads are down while downloads of apps are up sharply: 35% year over year and 50% in December alone.
He extensively quotes from Horace Dediu's : Of Bits and Big Bucks

Is this enough evidence?

Is the writing on the wall?

Are apps ready to be the disruptors dislodging other digital content for our entertainment time share. If yes, are marketers, content creators and others ready for it?

Who are going to be the big gainers or losers when the big shake out driven by this disruption happens?  

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Social Media 101: When Social Media meets a Burger

Twitter: I am eating a Burger.
facebook: I like Burgers.
YouTube: This is how I eat my Burger.
LinkedIn: My skills include Burger eating.
Instagram: Here's a classic picture of my Burger.
Blog: Here's my Burger eating experience.
Pinterest: Here's a Burger recipe.
Four Square: This is where I eat Burgers.
Snapchat: What Burger? you're too late.

Adapted from a comment I saw on LinkedIn. Can you think of any more to add?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Customer focused Information Architecture/Enterprise Architecture - A Commonsense Approach

I was in a conversation recently with a Fortune 500 manager handling Voice of the Customer (VOC) initiatives. I think she just needed  to vent steam. 

The gist of her story was that she felt her company was not treating customers right, making them run through hoops to get even basic information to help them understand their invoices and on and on. 

The processes and systems were not structured to deal effectively and efficiently with customer requests for information. 

“I would not want to be my own customer” is what she said as she described how on the personal front she had switched a vendor for providing the type of service her company was providing its customers.  

My question to her was how does the company treat its own employees? Do they have to run through hoops to get information, get claims reimbursed etc.? The answer was a resounding “Yes”.  I was not surprised. 

My premise is that customer service like charity “begins at home”. The reason is not just semantics or platitudes but more nuts and bolts. Organizational DNA has an information architecture strand. It remains same whether it is dealing with external customers or with internal employees. 

It is very unlikely that a company with excellent  internal processes would have lousy customer facing ones and vice-versa.

How can organizations get their Information Architecture right? My answer is “with some COMMONSENSE”, by building an architecture, systems and processes which focus on :

·                     Collaboration – “Can we all work together ?”
Are people, systems, processes, technologies working in a collaborative way? Does the architecture support that? Has it emerged from that?
Ownership and Oversight - “Who is minding the candy store? ”
Governance, Stewards
Mediation – “ Can we get a referee ? ”
Who breaks the tie of conflicting information needs? How?
Maintain  - “Houston! We’ve got a problem”
Does the architecture facilitate trouble shooting, problem solving?
Open- “Help yourself”
Does the architecture facilitate users/customers helping themselves? Does it help in monetizing new value streams?
New – “ What have you done for me lately”
Does the architecture showcase new and emerging trends? Does it have the flexibility to leverage them?
Strategic – “ Boldly go where no man has gone before”
How effective is the architecture in enabling the future state vision for the organization
Enterprise wide- “ whole kit and caboodle”
Can the architecture be scaled for the entire organization?
Necessary – “Keep the lights on”
Does it ensure that  legacy systems stay operational and can be leveraged to the extent possible
Scout, Speed, Scalable, Selective - “We are the Special Forces”
Does it allow innovation : a small "Special Forces" contingent which can quickly scout new options , build prototypes, execute limited precision deployments for a selected target audience. Focus is on 4 S's : Scout, Speed, Scaleable and Selective.
Evolutionary: Parameters, Process, Performance – “Go with the flow”
Plan, Build, Run: The larger "Infantry" component focuses on scaling up some of the early wins of the Special Forces component , establishes a process framework around it and launches them for mass deployment. Focus is on 3 P's: Parameters, Process, Performance.

And if organizations do not get these right, they end up with:

Conflicting priorities and resource allocations
Rapid growth of unorganized data and inability to deal with emergence of newer technologies
Arbitrary decision making focused on the short-term/tactical rather than the strategic
Political jockeying amongst departmental heads in the organization and within IT departments resulting in sub-optimal decision making.

Needless to add, this results in crappy service for both external customers and internal employees.

But as they say “Commonsense is very uncommon”

Rochester, not 2 cities but Rochester: One City. For All.

I was one of the two guest essayists for op-ed pieces in the Sunday (Jan 5, 2014) issue of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (highlighting the inauguration of the new mayor - Lovely Warren's term).

The other guest essayist was Joe Seligman (President, Univ. of Rochester). His essay "A new way forward" focused on the need to further strengthen the symbiotic relationship between the University of Rochester and the City of Rochester.

My own piece "No more two cities"  focuses on the need to move beyond the divisiveness of the electoral campaign ("two cities") to a new paradigm (Rochester: One City. For All.). A message which can resonate well with other cities too (esp. New York City where the contest also saw the "two cities" theme play out.)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year Musings : "small data"- Is it the next BIG thing?

Every Yin has a Yang, Destruction has creation, BIG DATA should have small data, right?

 Lol, leaving metaphysics aside there indeed is "small data" and it could very well indeed be on the way to being the next BIG thing (am I stretching the pun too far?)

Researchers at Cornell NYC Tech describe it as "Small data are derived from our individual digital traces. We generate these data because most of us mediate or at least accompany our lives with mobile technologies." and have already figured out some uses for it esp. in the medical realm. They also talk about the need of this "trail of breadcrumbs" to be shared back with the users who create them rather than it being the preserve of the service providers only.

Think of a patient suffering from a debilitating disease who starts a new medication. An app based on the small data generated by his/her cellphone usage can detect that s/he is up and about at 7 am now instead of 10 am and notify the patient as well as the doctor about efficacy of the medication.Cool indeed.

Relevance to say a Printer/copier company? I would think that the clicks from meters on the printers which flow back to the company could be considered "small data" - bread crumbs generated during the process of usage of the printer. Right now they are primarily used to determine billing and replenishment of supplies etc. by the company. Stored up history of meter data could be viewed as "Big Data" - available to be mined for trends etc.

But could the "small data" itself be wrapped up and provided back to the customer as a monetized service? Copiers/printers proactively telling the users - " You are going to exceed your color print limit on this printer, better pick printer XYZ to minimize your monthly bill". I would think. yes. But then I may be getting ahead of myself. Lol, that's why I call these "musings".

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Murmurations....and Information Architecture

Murmurations. What is that? It's the flight of flock of starlings - millions of birds that fill up the evening skies crisscrossing in intricate patterns without ever colliding. 

What's that got to do with IM or Architecture - exactly my thoughts before I had fathomed that Architecture arises from the abstract before it gets to the stage of boxes and lines on Visio diagrams. 

J.P. Rangaswami (salesforce) got his inspiration from food laid out on on a plate and Don Tapscott (IT visionary) laying out four principles of the Open World gets his from the murmuration of starlings. The murmuration starts around 14:30 in the video.

Interesting indeed. 

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